Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Masters Rhymer and Jonus - Imperial Aces of Ordnance

                Ever since I started playing X-wing Miniatures I have loved the play style of Ordnance. As exciting as dogfights are, they get somewhat old for me. I also really enjoy flying patterns that involve strafing runs and weaving chases. I was attracted to the idea of extended use of ordnance and so the Tie Bomber was the first expansion I bought for my Imperial set. However after several failed attempts on my part - and some research online - I learned that if I wanted to use missiles I would need to make it cost effective. So began my journey of finding effective ordnance builds. And I must apologize somewhat for my previous posts because of my heavy use of the Extra Munitions card. Wave 7 has not yet come out so it's not doing us a whole lot of good right now. I do hope that you can see my excitement for the Extra Munitions upgrade and can see how it will really make torpedoes and missiles cost effective. But until it arrives we need to work with what we have now. And with genuine excitement I wish to present to you the Tie Bomber. People generally think of the Tie Bomber as only bulky and difficult to maneuver. It is my desire to cast the Bomber in a new light, specifically the light of being the only ship that doesn't need the extra munitions card in order to be cost effective.
                The first reason why the Bomber itself is effective with ordnance is because it has the Elite Pilot Talent slot. To create a strong missile platform we must overcome the lack of dice modification. One way to do this is to equip a dice-modifying talent and the naturally occurring EPT on a relatively low cost ship is the specialty of the Tie Bomber. So let's look at some talents we could equip to boost our ordnance game.
                I will start off by eliminating both Veteran Instincts and Push the Limit. Not only are they overused and expected by opponents, they just don't complement the Bomber's style. Also on my list of no-go's is Opportunist and Lone Wolf. So which EPTs will work? Here are some that perhaps you overlooked for your bombers:
                The first one I wish to talk about is Predator. It's reroll ability is traditionally thought of as used for primary attacks but nowhere on the card does it exclude secondary rolls. A Bomber with Predator gets to reroll one attack dice on its ordnance and gets a whopping two rerolls against pilot skills 1 and 2. This makes those low pilots not just vulnerable but squishy, especially if your ordnance shot is followed with concentrated swarm fire.

Predator Bomber:
Bomber w/ Jonus - 33 Points
                2 Concussion Missiles

                Another great talent we can look at is the Outmaneuver card. Yeah, yeah, I know, when the crap is a Bomber going to outmaneuver an enemy? The answer is around turn 3-4. Most bombing builds involve strafing in, firing a missile during the alpha strike, dropping a bomb and then veering off or K-turning. But Tie Bombers have the wonderful 1 forward maneuver which is allows you to arrive late for the party. What if instead of sending in your whole force, you have your bomber and an escort lag behind and give covering fire from afar? This means after the initial engagement your opponent is in a pincer and has a really tough choice. They can fly forward to go after your bomber and thus expose their backs to your swarm which just K-turned. Or the enemy can K-turn himself wishing to dogfight your swarm and now your bomber is behind them. In the first situation, the bomber can drop a bomb and zoom off to meet up with its allies. But in the event of the second situation, you have successfully gotten your bomber behind enemy lines without any effort on your part. Then to top it off, why not shoot them from behind with a Flechette Torpedo or Ion Missile, locking in the choice they made to stress their own ship? Since this EPT is not a one-use item you can enjoy playing non-stop mind games with the enemy fighters. All it will take is one good pot-shot in the backside and they will be hesitant to K-turn the rest of the game.

Covering Fire Bomber:
Bomber w/ Jonus - 35 Points
                2 Flechette Torpedoes
                Ion Missiles
                Seismic Charges
                Munitions Failsafe

                A card that is frequently overlooked because of potential friendly fire is Ruthlessness. Yes, having it is a lot like playing with fire but if you learn to control it you can greatly benefit. A Bomber with Ruthlessness essentially turns any ordnance into a mini Assault Missile. Heck, if you use Assault Missiles themselves they will give range 1 splash damage plus one more hit. The enemy will be scared to keep close ranks and will give up the advantage of formation flying. You, however, will make sure to stay in formation thus protecting yourself from friendly fire and gaining the upper hand. For only three more points a bomber carrying low-damage ordnance now becomes scary with the threat of splash damage.

Assault Bomber:
Bomber w/ Jonus - 35 Points
                Flechette Torpedoes
                Cluster Missiles
                Ion Missiles
                Munitions Failsafe

                The Adrenaline Rush upgrade is somewhat looked down upon because it is only a one time use. But there is a specific reason that this upgrade card is included in the Tie Bomber expansion. Ordnance users are more reliant on actions than other ships so it is crucial you get them. The Tie Punisher coming out in Wave 7 will have a Systems slot and so can take the Advanced Sensors card to ensure actions. But Adrenaline Rush works just as great during that one time you really need it. You can bait ships into chasing you, then K-turn, get an action from AR, and fire ordnance back at them. Or if you are good at planning a few turns ahead you can get a target lock on a ship, do a red maneuver and still take a focus to fire an Advanced Proton Torpedo. Better yet, the enemy does not know when you will use it and that gives you even more power from the card. A bomber with AR can make a surprise move at any moment so the very threat of it can make an opponent play far more defensively than they would want to. So, again, mind games are a good strategy with bombers.

Strafing Bomber:
Bomber w/ Jonus - 34 Points
                Adrenaline Rush
                2 Flechette Torpedoes
                Homing Missiles
                Seismic Charges

                The last card that I feel is overlooked is Determination. But it is a wonderful choice for your named bomber. With 6 hull and no shields Tie Bombers are deathly allergic to critical hits, especially early ones. They are beefy enough that things like Direct Hits don't phase them. Instead what really hurts is to get a pilot critical, namely the evil Injured Pilot card. If you are going to invest the points into getting a named bomber then it is wise to include Determination to protect your PS and pilot ability.This upgrades make for great defense and lets your bomber keep flying past the early game.

                The second way that Bombers make naturally effective ordnance users is in their Pilot Abilities. Let's take a look at the two named pilots we have for our Bombers and see if we can't learn something new.
                Major Rhymer is the head of Scimitar Squadron and was code-named Scimitar 1 during the Battle of Endor. He never appeared on screen during Episode 6 but he faithfully defended the Empire and the second Death Star. His pilot ability implies that there is a reason he is the best in the Bomber fleet. He is so good with ordnance that he can successfully fire missiles in ranges where they should be ineffective. With Rhymer, Proton Torpedoes can be shot at point blank range and APTs can be lobbed out at range 2. This greatly increases his attack effectiveness as well as decreases his blind spots. Picking him makes for a fun and flexible play style, though he is a bit more expensive. But his biggest strength, in this writer's opinion, is in his ability to shoot Proton Rockets at mid range. In the lore, Proton Rockets are actually capital ship shells but some crazy, unknown pilot once decided to strap one on to his fighter. They found that if you got to point blank range and fired them straight on course then they could catch fast moving snub-fighters. Of course, the more agile your own ship was the better the shot you had. This lore is reflected in the Proton Rockets card in that in requires a focus rather than a target lock to shoot. And because X-wing players want the highest attack value possible for the rockets the meta has tied them in our minds with A-wings and Advanced Ties. But though Rhymer won't get as much damage out of a rocket, he is the only pilot that can shoot them at range 2. This makes it a very excellent dog fighting tactic and is one of my favorites to fly.

Dogfight Bomber:
Bomber w/ Rhymer - 35 Points
                2 Proton Rockets
                Seismic Charges

                Our other star of the day is Captain Jonus. He was also a part of Scimitar Squadron and was Rhymer's second in command as Scimitar 2. Although he was also in the Battle of Endor, Jonus's real claim to fame is when his ship was almost eaten by a giant space slug. Tasked as one of the bombers to find the Millennium Falcon in the asteroid field of Episode 5, Captain Jonus must have dropped one too many bombs and made the natives unhappy. Thankfully he escaped the jaws of death and made it into our X-wing miniatures game. Jonus was known in the Extended Universe to prefer to take point on bombing runs thus providing cover for his squad mates. This makes his pilot ability of giving rerolls to allies with secondary weapons very iconic. A bomber squad with Jonus can be both very deadly with ordnance and tanky enough to outlast the enemy. One way you can consider flying him is with the Squad Leader upgrade and Ion Missiles. That way he can set up shots for his allies next round and then give them both an action and rerolls for their attacks.

Tag-N-Bag Bomber:
Bomber w/ Jonus -30 Points
                Squad Leader
                2 Ion Missiles

                Before I finish I want to also make a plug for the generic bomber pilot. They have a lot to offer as well. A Scimitar Squadron Pilot with just a Seismic charge makes a cheap tank to fly point and protect your swarm. Or the same pilot with 2 homing missiles makes for a low cost, high damage missile platform. And there are plenty of others good combinations.

Tank Bomber:
Bomber w/ Scimitar Pilot - 18 Points
                Seismic Charges

Assassin Bomber:
Bomber w/ Scimitar Pilot - 26 Points
                2 Homing Missiles

               This combination of the cheap EPT slot and pilot abilities allows the Tie Bomber to not need Wave 7's fix to be cost efficient when using ordnance. So give the Tie Bomber a run. Try out some of these builds and see if they appeal to you.  It make take a little more work on your part to create the right build but it is definitely worth it. Have fun building and flying!

As promised, all the Bomber builds I have presented here are cost effective with ordnance points. But that doesn't mean Bombers won't benefit from the Extra Munitions upgrade. In fact, every build I have described here will become even more cost effective and a bit cheaper. So keep practicing flying great bombers now and when Wave 7 comes out they will become even more amazing.

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