X-Wing Miniatures Wave 4: The TIE-Defender

The Tie Defender

Fantasy Flight Games revealed the 4th wave of X-Wing Miniatures. They are scheduled for the second Quarter of 2014, though delays are not unknown with these miniatures.

Unlike the majority of earlier X-Wing miniatures, the new ships all come from the Star Wars Extended Universe (or EU, as fans like to call it in defiance of the European Union).

I am not familiar with the Star Wars EU, so I’ve been reading. I thought I’d blog about it!

I start with the TIE-Defender, the perhaps strangest looking ship in the wave, and a truly elite Empire fighter.

#1 – Origins of the TIE Defender

The TIE Defender was originally introduced in the 1994 video game Star Wars: TIE  Fighter.

From the get-go, the TIE Defender was a high-level / end-game type of ship. Players were able to fly the ship in the single-player version of the game, but it was purposefully left out of the 1997 multiplayer version of the game for balance-reasons.

As the second multiplayer version was still based on the 1994 game, the TIE Defender was still in the ship files of the game, with a description reading: ”Advanced space superiority fighter. This craft is too powerful to be put in this simulation. Dream on, fanboy!

So yes, it’s always been conceived of as a spectacularly good space ship.

There is also a Lego kit for the TIE Defender, which likewise labels it …

The Empire’s most advanced TIE fighter design, the TIE defender was built in response to the Rebellion’s highly-skilled starfighter forces.

#2 – The TIE Defender in the X-Wing Game

Tie Defender X-Wing Miniatures Expansion

In the X-Wing Miniatures Game, the TIE Defender arrives with 3 attack dice, 3 agility, 3 hull points and 3 shields! It’s easily one of the most survivable small ship out there.

Ion Pulse Missile

Moreover, gleaning at the pictures, it seems to get

  • a missile slot (being the Empire ship of Wave 4, that adds an Ion Pulse Missile)
  • and (!) a cannon slot (and comes with an Ion Cannon card),
  • it has a (previously A-Wing exclusive) green 5-straight maneuver on that dial (and the vague promise of a “never-seen-before-move-option)

In a nutshell, the TIE-Defender will be elusive like a TIE-Fighter (but no Evade), have more shields than an X-Wing, fly fast like an A-Wing (no boost) and lay down firepower like a B-Wing!

Fortunately, it looks to be suitably expensive for what it does. The Skill 1 Pilot appears to start at 30 points, before you’ve added any upgrades, cannons and other fancy stuff. With a named pilot (who can take Elite Talents) and full armament, a tooled-up TIE Defender will easily break 50 pts, putting it squarely in the large ship category as point costs go.

#3 – Why I Like It!

Of course, dogfights between Rebels and Tie Fighters in the Star Wars movies (and the X-Wing Miniatures Game) have a certain default-narrative. It’s all about a few hardy Rebels outnumbered by throw-away Empire pilots. Classic “good” underdogs vs. evil masses.

The X-Wing Miniatures Game (and many computer games before it) capture it nicely by making TIE-Fighter generally more fragile (but cheaper, to balance things in the game), and Rebel ships more hardy and versatile.

The TIE-Defender (and, inversely, the Z-95 Headhunter for the Rebels) in this 4th Wave for the X-Wing Miniature game turn that logic upside down, introducing tough, versatile high-point Empire ships and cheap Rebel ones.

One can still play “classic” Rebels vs. Empire with the ships from the movies, but the 4th Wave of ships helps to play some counter-cliché versions of the game. Moreover, for people (like me) who don’t really enjoy buying buckets of TIE Fighters to start gaming, pricey ships like the TIE Defender help a lot to build a small starting-squadron to start playing with.

What do you think? Excited for the new X-Wing ships? Excited for the TIE Defender? Or could you do without?