Squadrons provide an important supplement to the capital ships of Star Wars: Armada. As of Wave 1, the Imperial Navy has four basic squadrons and five character squadrons to choose from. Today, let’s take a look at what the character TIE squadrons have to offer.
IN SHORT: Tougher and harder hitting than regular TIE squadrons, character squadrons open up an intriguing set of abilities for Imperial commanders.
“HOWLRUNNER” TIE FIGHTER SQUADRON: Howlrunner is a straight up force multiplier. She makes any friendly squadron with the Swarm rule at distance 1 better by granting 1 additional blue die for attacks against enemy squadrons. Also note that this includes the Counter rule TIE Interceptors have, increasing their already ridiculous attack power even more and making opponents think twice before shooting at them.
Because Howlrunner makes everything around her better, she can quickly tip the scales in larger engagements, but that power also her makes her a choice target. Even though TIE Advanced Squadrons do not benefit from her ability, it can often be advantageous to fly one with her TIE swarm to provide some insurance.
Brace and Scatter defense tokens are great, but accuracy results can negate them, and Howlrunner only has 3 hit points. Still, for 16 points, Howlrunner is an excellent investment in lists with large numbers of TIE Fighters and Interceptors.
“MAULER” MITHEL TIE FIGHTER SQUADRON: Mauler is kind of like Howlrunner in reverse. Whereas Howlrunner wants to hang out with a group of friendlies, Mauler wants to get stuck in with clusters of enemy squadrons. His ability grants automatic damage after he moves, inflicting 1 point of damage to any squadron he is engaged with.
Of course, moving into a big group of enemy fighters isn’t always the smartest idea, and Mauler can’t move while he’s engaged. Fortunately, Imperial players have the tools necessary to give Mauler the support he needs.
TIE Advanced really shine in the protection role, sopping up damage that would otherwise pound Mauler to dust. And Admiral Chiraneau on a nearby ship can permit Mauler to move even while engaged, allowing players to get the most out of his automatic damage ability.
Mauler is a high risk / high reward character squadron and needs adequate support to really shine, but there’s no denying he can inflict a lot of damage when used right. Not bad for 15 points.
SOONTIR FEL TIE INTERCEPTOR SQUADRON: It’s bad enough taking damage from TIE Interceptors just for attacking them. Well, Soontir Fel does this and inflicts damage for not attacking him. Seriously, opponents should just get used to taking damage around this guy no matter what they do. Add in the Brace and Scatter defense tokens, and Soontir Fel becomes very frustrating to take down.
TIE Advanced Squadrons can even be used to force the automatic damage. As long as Soontir Fel is engaging that enemy, they will suffer 1 automatic point of damage whenever they attack the TIE Advanced. The only downside here is the TIE Advanced doesn’t share Soontir Fel’s blistering top speed of 5, which could restrict players under some conditions.
TIE Interceptor or TIE Fighter Squadrons also provide a nice bonus to Soontir Fel by triggering his Swarm rule and benefiting from it themselves. This is even more effective for Soontir Fel because of the combination of Counter of defense tokens. Under normal conditions, Soontir Fel will be dishing out plenty of Counter attacks, and having an extra reroll in those attacks is definitely a nice bonus.
Soontir Fel will inflict damage in just about any combat situation, forcing your opponent to make uncomfortable decisions. That’s not a bad ability for 18 points.
DARTH VADER TIE ADVANCED SQUADRON: Vader is all about dishing out and soaking up damage. With the critical symbol counting as regular damage on his attacks and an additional black die in his anti-squadron attack, Vader can inflict a ton of pain. Note, however, that he does not cause critical effects to trigger.
When targeting enemy squadrons, he will easily out-damage even TIE Interceptors, and his anti-ship attack is on par with TIE Bombers, minus the critical effect.
With 5 hit points and 2 Brace tokens, Vader isn’t going down easily. However, his Escort ability, shared with all TIE Advanced, is something of a mixed blessing. While it does mean Vader can be an effective meat shield for someone else, it also means that regular TIE Advanced Squadrons can’t protect him.
At 21 points, Vader is a very hefty investment for a squadron that is designed to be shot at first. However, his resilience and damage output certainly make him a viable alternative to regular TIE Advanced Squadrons.
MAJOR RHYMER TIE BOMBER SQUADRON: Rhymer is an incredible force multiplier for bombers. Any friendly squadron at distance 1 may attack ships at close-medium range. This is a huge boost in range, and the fact that Rhymer dishes it out to anyone near him makes him a flexible addition for Imperial players.
Also note that Rhymer’s ability does not have any restrictions like Howlrunner’s does. His range increase is not restricted to craft like TIE Bombers, though undoubtedly squadrons with the Bomber rule receive the most benefit. After all, swarm of TIE Fighters can do a surprising amount of damage to an enemy capital ship as all those blue dice start to add up, and Rhymer helps get those hits in.
The range increase has other benefits, too. Bombers rely heavily on Squadron commands, particularly against the faster and more maneuverable capital ship types. However, with the wide strike envelope afforded by Rhymer, bombers have a much greater chance to target enemy ships without moving.
Like most character squadrons, Rhymer can take advantage of a TIE Advanced wingman, but in this case, Rhymer helps out the TIE Advanced as well, extending the range of its black die for anti-ship attacks. He also comes stock with 5 hit points and two Brace tokens, making him a tough proposition to take down. Honestly, his only downside is his lackluster anti-squadron attack.
All this for only 16 points? Yes, he really is just that awesome.
POWER DENSITY: Okay, so regular TIEs are great bargains when you look at their stats in a point for point comparison to the stats of character squadrons. Standard TIEs are potent little troublemakers, especially stock TIE Fighters and Bombers. However, there’s a second side to this discussion, and that is Squadron commands.
The big disadvantage for forces that rely heavily on standard squadrons is the need for higher Squadron values and/or more Squadron commands to get the same mileage from his or her TIEs. I like to call this attribute “power density,” and it’s definitely an advantage that swings in favor of characters squadrons.
2 TIE Fighter Squadrons put out more damage than Howlrunner, but then, they also require twice the Squadron value to get the jump on the enemy. That’s the hidden cost at work. Sure, stock TIEs are cheap, but they also require plenty of love from their capital ships to be the best they can be.
LISTS FOR FUN: How about a look at a list heavy with characters squadrons? Let’s take a look at the Admiral Motti’s Flying Aces.
Victory I-class Star Destroyer (73)
– Admiral Motti (24)
– Admiral Chiraneau (10)
– Flight Controllers (6)
Gladiator II-class Star Destroyer (62)
Gladiator II-class Star Destroyer (62)
Soontir Fel TIE Interceptor Squadron (18)
Darth Vader TIE Advanced Squadron (21)
“Mauler” Mithel TIE Fighter Squadron (15)
TOTAL: 291 points
First, the Victory will be dishing out a generous quantity of squadron commands to support the three character squadrons. Let’s take a look at how that plays out.
Things start off with enemy squadrons taking damage when Mauler shows up (and he can always get that move if needed because Admiral Chiraneau is on board the Victory). Then the enemy takes some more damage when Mauler, Soontir, and Vader unload, and since both Mauler and Soontir have Swarm, they enable each other’s rerolls. Plus Flight Controllers are along for the ride because who doesn’t like TIEs with an extra blue die per attack?
Also, two Gladiators are included, upgraded to Gladiator II’s, for fire support against enemy squadrons as well as general anti-ship destruction. Because while these three aces are awesome, a little help is in order from the capital ships. Then once your opponent finally gets around to attacking your squadrons, Darth soaks up the damage while Soontir inflicts automatic damage on anyone who attacks.
Is it ideal? Probably not, but should be fun, and isn’t that the point? 🙂
SUMMARY: Some bring pure and simply destruction, while other grant huge benefits to nearby friendly squadrons. Either way, there’s no denying that TIE character squadrons are a diverse and powerful group with plenty to offer any Imperial commander.
Categories: Star Wars: Armada