Wave 7 Preview – Kihraxz Fighter

I’m writing these in reverse order, because this article came out today so if I write about it now I’ll still be on the cutting edge, and the preview about the Hound’s Tooth can come after, since that’s already old news. So, here’s the link to the FFG article: link

When wave 7 was first previewed, the immediate comparison with this ship was with the Rebel X-wing. That was even the official comparison. This article does continue in that vein, but makes a pretty darn good case that this ship is better than the X-wing, even though it seems to be trying to argue that they’re comparable. Their first point is in favour of the X-wing, since it has a better hull/shield divide of the 5 health (3/2 instead of 4/1). They’re right, of course, that this is better, but personally I’ve found the difference pretty small. Just today I played a game with my buddy James where he had an E-wing (2h/3s) and a HWK (4h/1s), and we didn’t notice a huge difference in their abilities to absorb damage, other than the obvious difference of the E-wing having more agility. We only landed one crit all game (a direct hit on his Eaden Vrill to end the game), and maybe if there had been more crits rolled we would have noticed it more, but it just didn’t seem like that big a deal. Where the divide becomes more obvious is when you have something like R2D2 or R5P9 that lets you regenerate a shield. Having more shields becomes much better then, because more of your health becomes recoverable. But still, the Kihraxz doesn’t have a droid slot, so so unless we get a new illicit upgrade that’s going to let it recover health, that particular advantage of the X-wing becomes moot.

The next difference they point out is in the upgrade bars. Astromech and torpedoes vs illicit and missiles. They do a great job of explaining how much better missiles are than torps (gee, thanks for rubbing salt in that one FFG), and while they concede that illicits are no astromechs, they still point out some really cool and interesting things you can do with that slot, like Glitterstim and Hot Shot, that you just can’t with the droids. Considering again how useless most of the droid lineup is, this definitely isn’t scoring any points toward parity, but continues to push the K fighter ahead. As a primarily Rebel player, I do get a little bitter over the illicit/astromech comparison. The illicit stuff is just so cool, and the droids should be, but they’re just not. And they’re expensive.

The dial is the next thing they discuss. The K loses the 1 straight and the 3 turns in favour of getting a 1 turn, and turning the 2 banks into greens. They also gain a 5 flip in addition to the 4 flip that was already there, but I think that’s less important. I know that the 1 turn and the 3 turn are an important pair, in that two ships flying side by side that want to make a 90 degree turn should do a 1 on the inside and a 3 on the outside in order to stay in formation. So neither the X nor the K have both, so that formation system doesn’t work so well, but I may think that the 1 turn is much more useful than the 3 turn. And having green maneuvers that aren’t straight in the 2 speed is a huge deal. If the X-wing wants to do that it needs to take another point into the R2 unit. Which leads us to the most important difference…

The point cost. The Cartel Marauder is the PS2 version, and clocks in at a mere 20 points. It’s only 1 point less than the basic X-wing, but that 1 point is the difference between being able to field 4 ships and 5 ships, so it’s a pretty big deal. As if X-wing pilots aren’t bitter enough already about the ship getting mothballed, here comes the other generic to compare to the 24 point, PS4 Red Squadron: a PS5, with an EPT slot, at TWENTY THREE POINTS. I’m kinda worked up about it. This pilot card really feels like a giant “screw you” to the X-wing. Unless it’s a preview of an upcoming X-wing fix, which is sorely needed. Grrr.

So these guys are getting their actual pictures so that I don’t have to retype their abilities. Poor Graz, he’s got a cool pilot ability, but he’s never going to see any action. The article describes him as an expert jouster, but no one is going to get excited about it. I mean, yeah, it’s cool, but the inferiority of green dice has been well established. It takes him up into E-wing territory in terms of survivability, but even 3 agility targets aren’t that hard to hit. On top of that, poor Graz doesn’t have an EPT slot. I thought we’d learned our lesson on this guys. Giving the PS3 A-wing an EPT and not the PS5 Arvel Crynyd was a bad time, so why would you think it’s a good idea here?? Moving on, Jokename GIJoeVillain has a great ability that will be a lot of fun, and he’s the first PS9 Scum Pilot, so I suspect he’s going to see lots of play. He is one point less than Wedge at the same PS, and the same as both Wes and Luke who are both PS8, so it lends some more credit to the idea that the K fighter has had all its point costs scaled back by 1. Again, single points can be pretty critical in a squad building game, so I think it’s a big deal, but maybe Talon isn’t going to be as good as Wedge, so the point value makes sense.
Anyway, I’m still really hoping for that X-wing fix.
https://images-cdn.fantasyflightgames.com/filer_public/8e/73/8e733e59-454e-4524-b788-b9aad6e9ad41/swx32_lightning_reflexes_card.png
This is the last thing I want to talk about from here, since it’s pretty cool. It basically turns any maneuver into a k-turn (or S-loop, I guess), once a game. It’s a lot like Adrenaline Rush that way, in that it’s a one-use card, and it is appropriately cheap. I’m not totally clear on the implication of the “after Check Pilot Stress” clause. I think it means that he clears stress before receiving the new one, or that he can still take his action, or something. I don’t want to go all rules lawyer on it tonight because I’m sure someone on the subreddit or at the store or something will be able to tell me really simply what it means. Anyway, I do think it’s a good upgrade and a welcome addition to the game.
The other comparison that I’ve seen made for this ship is with the StarViper. I haven’t had a whole lot of experience in the Scum meta, but judging by what I see online it does seem that the StarViper has fallen by the wayside. People bought it to get their hands on Autothrusters, and haven’t had a whole lot of use out of it since. Although this is a cheaper alternative mid-cost fighter, I’m a little concerned that it will suffer the same fate. Anyway, that remains to be seen.

Wave 7 Annoucement

Well it’s finally happened. I was wondering where Wave 7 was, because typically FFG has been a big jerk and announced the new wave RIGHT before the current wave hits stores, so I’m a little disappointed buying the new ships because I’m all excited for what’s next. They didn’t do that this time, so I’ve been able to savour the new Scum and Villainy, but here we are, finally got wave 7!

In case you hadn’t heard, this was announced at Star Wars Celebration over the weekend, it’s just that today we got an actual announcement article, not just some pictures. All the pictures I’m going to use are pulled straight off their announcement article. Here’s the LINK

So, the ships we got announced:

  • Hound’s Tooth Expansion Pack
  • Kihraxz Fighter Expansion Pack
  • K-wing Expansion Pack
  • TIE Punisher Expansion Pack

It looks like the first two are for the new Scum faction, which is great because getting more variability into a new faction is important. The K-wing is Rebel, and the TIE Punisher is Imperial. Be warned, I’m not much for squinting. I’ll spend some time talking about the visible combinations, but I’m not a big fan of trying to figure out all the little words on the cards.

On the Scummy side of things, let’s take a look at the Hound’s Tooth.

https://images-cdn.fantasyflightgames.com/filer_public/0e/1c/0e1c20f2-8c14-41c5-99ba-446b7a1549a7/swx31-hounds-tooth-layout.png

There’s been lots of expectation for this ship, it seems. I’ve never particularly had a love affair with Bossk or the Trandoshans, so it’s a little whatever for me, but hey I love new toys. Let’s start with the stat lines. 3/1/6/6. My first comparison point that jumps to mind is the Shuttle (3/1/5/5). Cool, it’s a little beefier, and has what appears to be a hundred and eighty degree firing arc out the front. The shuttle’s big weakness is its giant blindspot and inability to quickly turn around. The YV-666, as this ship is officially called, has a smaller blind spot for its primary weapon, but the real difference to the shuttle will be its maneuver dial, and we don’t have anything to go off with that. The highest pilot for the Shuttle is 27 points, the PS8 Captain Kagi. We can see the PS7 Bossk comes in at a whopping 35 points, so this is definitely a different calibre of ship from the shuttle. Of course it has the Illicit slot, which seems to be standard on all Scum ships; it has a full 3 crew slots, whoa, right up with the Decimator. And then it looks like missile, cannon, and EPT. The Shuttle didn’t have an EPT on any of its ships, so that’s another interesting difference.

As far as squinting at cards goes: Bossk’s pilot ability looks like it reads “When you perform an attack that hits, before dealing damage you may cancel one of your (crit symbol) results to add 2 (hit) results.” Well that’s super cool, it’s a built-in, guaranteed Direct Hit. Great pilot ability. The Hound’s Tooth title card got discussed in the article, and wow is that ever cool. The ship has an escape pod, that is a Z-95. There’s already speculation on the subreddit about how that’s going to work in tournament play, and I have no answers until FFG releases more info, but I love the idea. The Pup’s card has a star over the pilot skill, so I’d assume that your pilot skill (and probably ability) stays the same when you “eject”.

I see a copy of Stay on Target, Engine Upgrade, and Lone Wolf, all cards I’ll be happy to have a spare of. Beyond that, there isn’t much else to say here.

Next up we have the Kihraxz Fighter. Holy smokes I had to check three times to make sure I’d spelled it correctly. My immediate thought on seeing this was “Oh, it’s an x-wing for Scum.” In fact the article comes right out and says that. I like the look of this ship. I think I actually like the look of this ship better than the E-wing.

Talonbane Cobra? That’s a comic book character if I’ve ever heard one. Anyway, I’m not going to make any more fun of the name, cuz the pilot ability looks cool. When attacking or defending, double the effect of your range combat bonuses. That’s super cool, because the way I see it, you get 2 extra red dice at range 1 and 2 extra red dice at range 3+ (remember the recent changes to epic rules), but the opponent doesn’t get either. That’s a lot of fun.

I’m real happy to see another copy of Predator there. I really like the look of that Glitterstim card. For anyone that doesn’t know, Glitterstim is basically the Star Wars version of… cocaine? They mine it out of the ground on Kessel, you stick it under your tongue, and… things get spicy? I don’t know. Anyway, this card is an Illicit upgrade, and looks like a one-off Push the Limit, which I think is pretty cool. Actually, it’s better than that. It doesn’t have any trigger condition other than a time, so you can do it even if you were action denied, or if you’re stressed. It’s basically a Focus token that you don’t spend, so you have it for your attack and for every defense roll, which is terrific. I love that card. Let’s jump over to the Rebels.

I’m a little skeptical of this ship. I don’t hate the look of it, which is a complaint I’m hearing a lot, but I do worry a bit about what it’s going to do to the meta. I mean, it looks like it’s a B-wing on crack, and the B-wings dominate the meta on the Rebel side. Well as a heavy hitter they do. The Z-95 is super popular, and the Warthog has given rise to more Y-wings, and of course the ever-popular Falcons and Outriders, but I still see a LOT of B-wings around. Still, on the K-wing the top pilot we see is PS8 and costs 29. Compare that to the top X-wing pilots, at PS9 and 29 points, and that suggests to me that the low end PS2 pilot is likely going to be around 22 points. You could field 4 of these. Anyway, as a primarily Rebel player I don’t mean to whine, it’s just that I don’t like seeing ships get “replaced”. I’d rather see a new ship fill a new role. My beloved X-wings sit on the shelf for many players because they can’t justify taking it without an elite pilot; they either take a B-wing or a pair of Headhunters, and I can’t fault them. So, I don’t want to play a game where a whole class of ship gets relegated to nothing because of a new release. FFG has been really good about releasing updates to underused ships to bring them back, like the Aces packs, and the TIE Advanced updates coming with the Raider, so I doubt that they’re going for that with this ship, but I see the possibility for it. Anyway, enough of my rant, let’s look at the ship.

It’s the first small ship with a turret for its primary weapon, and it’s just a 2, so it’s not game-breaking. It does have more health overall than either the Y-wing or the B-wing, which I believe makes it the most HP of any small ship (tied with the TIE Punisher, see below). Dang I said dang, look at that upgrade bar. Looks like a turret, 2 torpedoes, a missile, a crew, and two bombs. Shoot that’s a lot of slots. I’m kinda giddy thinking about it. Actually I just realized that I’m looking at the PS8 and there’s no EPT slot there. Huh. Interesting. I guess the ship could get pretty fierce if you added in a Predator or something.

There’s a pair of upgrade cards there that say “twin something Turbo”. I’m guessing it says Twin Linked Turbolasers, and that it’s a new turret upgrade. The ship has a turret slot and no other turret cards, so that’s kind of my logic there. A bunch of neato looking upgrades there that I can’t see what they do yet. But, we do see Advanced Slam.

Slam is the new action that comes standard on the K-wing, and boy has it got people talking. It’s currently only on the K-wing, but there’s speculation that some coming ships may have it, including the long-desired assault gunboat. Personally, I’m still waiting on the Skispray Blastboat, but that’s beside the point. Slam lets you use your action to basically take another movement. You have to do it on the same speed that your standard maneuver was, and it costs you your ability to attack for the turn as well, but holy smokes can you cover distance quickly doing that. The Advanced Slam modification allows you to take an action after performing the Slam action, and it doesn’t even cost you a stress, so for 2 points that’s pretty close to a no-brainer. My only question is, why would you want to take another action when your weapons are disabled and you only have 1 defense die anyway? My only thought is to take a target lock in preparation for next round. Because I don’t actually see that getting a ton of use, I don’t actually see this as a no-brainer, but that may change with some experience with the ship.

Last I wanna quickly talk about that pilot ability on the PS8. Miranda Bond? I can’t really read it. But the pilot ability seems to be “Once per round when attacking you may either spend 1 shield to roll 1 additional attack die, or 1 fewer attack dice to recover 1 shield.” Oh I love that. That’s just too cool. I can totally see that coming in super handy. I mean, you kind of end up throwing your attack if you go down to just 1 attack die, but being able to recover a shield is crazy helpful. I’m glad it’s on the attack though, because could you imagine if you could do the SLAM thing to jump across the map, and then be recovering shields while they catch up? You’d never go down! So it’s good that it sort of requires you to throw the attack.

I’ll be honest, I hate the look of this ship. People are saying it’s an established ship because of Galactic Battlegrounds, which I played a whole lot of back in Junior High, and honestly I thought it looked stupid there too. It’s a little bit like the TIE Defender: we need an upgrade, so let’s throw another solar panel on/we need an upgrade, let’s throw some more pods on! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come to like the TIE Defender, but its never had the aesthetic appeal of the TIE Interceptor.

I like the feeling of this stat-line. Actually it’s the K-wing stat-line, just with the hull and shield values a little mixed. Hey, does anyone remember I said a while ago that it seems that FFG believes that 1 agility die is worth 3 health? My theory holds true. What’s that, you want me to recap it instead of going hunting? Well, alright, since you asked so nicely. Basically, look at the basic TIE fighter. 3 agility, 3 hull. Then look at the TIE bomber. 2 agility, 6 hull. Now add the TIE Punisher: 1 agility, 9 health total. Even on the Rebel side this is true to a certain degree: X-wing/HWK, 2 agility, 5 health total. Y-wing/B-wing, 1 agility, 8 health total. To be honest, this rule seems to have more exceptions than rules, and takes no mind to the point costs of the ships, so it’s probably not a very good theory, but it is an interesting connection.

The Punisher comes with Boost, which is not something I was expecting to see on a bomber-type ship. It’s cool though. It adds another bomb slot to the TIE bomber list, as well as giving it the ever-popular Sensor upgrade slot. 27 points for the PS7 compared to 26 points for the Bomber PS7 means this ship is very competitive with the Bomber in terms of cost. As I said with the K-wing, I’m a little concerned we’ll see this ship basically phase out the TIE Bomber. It doesn’t stand to knock out the Defender or Squint or something, but even with the new X1 title I think we’ll be a little hard pressed to take an Advanced over this. It’s a little bit of the X-wing vs B-wing debate. So again, a little worried that we’ll see a narrowing of the field in terms of viable ships, but I do have faith that FFG is keeping an eye on that and doesn’t want to see this game go that way.

The last thing I want to talk about for this post is the supposed “Munitions Fix”. FFG seems to be making a big deal about the Extra Munitions card, but I don’t really see it. I mean yes it’s cool, don’t get me wrong. But really, paying 2 points and burning a torpedo slot to double up is a hefty price to pay. Look, it’s an absolute waste on the X-wing, E-wing, and Decimator (and the Slave I, remember the Title card gives you a torpedo slot), because these ships only have 1 torpedo slot. (Well, less so a waste on the Decimator and the Slave I, because you can also equip bombs where the upgrade will come in useful, but still. It would be wild if you could have both the Slave I title and the Andrasta title, and effectively be carrying 6 bombs. That’d be pretty wild. Obviously you can’t, and that’s fine, but I’m just saying) So this upgrade card does nothing to fix munitions for some of the ships, in particular a ship that has from the LAUNCH OF THE GAME been telling the designers that the munition slot on it doesn’t work. TIE Bombers, Punishers,and K-wings will all benefit from Extra Munitions, since they have a pair of Torpedo slots and host of other munitions slots that will all be doubled, but again you’re now sinking a LOT of points, and you spent 2 points on the Extra so there’s going to be a feeling of needing to carry more projectiles to make the cost/value ratio on this upgrade card more worthwhile. That’s part of where this won’t even do well on the Y-wing and B-wing: you’ve only got one more slot. So yeah, you can now equip a single Proton Torpedo and have it shoot twice. You’ve saved yourself 2 points over just taking them both. If you do the Bomb loadout on the Y and roll something simple like Seismic charges, you’re not actually ahead any points at all, except for the fact that you can’t double up on a bomb loadout with the Y. If you’re rolling Flechette Torps then you’re in exactly the same place for having taken the Extra Munitions over just another copy of the card. Except that maybe you’re a little more vulnerable to the Munitions Failure crit? This card could work on someone like Nera Dantels, who really does want to be using torpedoes and could roll something like double Advanced Torpedoes, saving herself 4 points, but that’s a pretty narrow application.

I feel like we need a blanket point cost reduction on all missiles and torpedoes (ok maybe not Flechette Torps, but pretty well the rest), not a card that’s going to guilt us into taking more of these point-sink weapons. Maybe it’ll work, but I’m not super hopeful about this particular fix. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up seeing a card pack that just reworks all the missiles and torpedoes. I’d pay for that.