After the first three waves, Fantasy Flight had exhausted all the ties in the original movies. I was never very into the extended universe and was really wondering where they were going to go for wave 4. What they came up with has to be some of the most anticipate ships in the game, the stealthy and powerful Tie Phantom and the versatile and strong Tie Defender.
Let’s start with the one that has imperial players everywhere drooling: the Phantom. One look at the card and you’ll see why this ship is making waves. Its attack stat is 4. If you haven’t picked up a dice expansion set yet you’re going to need it now. If you wander further down the card you’ll find the new and complicated cloak action. Like all previous releases, the kit comes with a good explanation of how to use the new ability, but to give a quick description; it gives the ship a much better chance of closing the gap with its low agility and when you drop the cloak you get a big burst of extra movement. Other included abilities are exactly what you would expect when you see the word “Tie.” The final bonus to these new ships is the crew and sensor slot that comes with each ship. All of these perks come with a few costs. First, considering the two shield and two hull values, the phantom certainly earns the title glass cannon. Second, the literal cost. The point cost of the phantoms run from 25 to 32. This makes them the most expensive small ships we have until we get to the Defender.
The expansion comes with four ships, two of them being characters. The ships will be covered in much more detail in our “Imperial Domination” series, but a sneak peak is in order. “Whisper” gives you the ability to bring the pain and then get defensive by giving you a free focus token if you hit. “Echo” has the potential to be the most maneuverable ship in the game. To illustrate what I’m talking about, take a look at this photo from Fantasy Flight. This shows a few of the options for a single movement turn with “Whisper.” Keep in mind that this is without the boost action, and the movement dial is set to a hard one right turn in each maneuver. If you decide to start running this ship, I would definitely recommend sitting down alone and seeing what your options look like before seriously employing it. This ship is quick and strong, but easy to lose, and taking the time to grasp its insane movement capabilities is the best way to keep it firing into the enemy as long as you can.
While the second half of wave four hasn't turned as many heads as the Phantom, I’m here to tell you that many of you will find it is a much stronger addition to your lists. The Tie Defender has a very easy to memorize stat line, threes across the board. It also carries the same ability bar as a Tie Bomber. With all four of the ship options, we find a cannon and a missile upgrade slot. That’s right; empire faithful can now bring a heavy laser cannon or an ion cannon on a small ship! Once again, we have two characters; Rexler Brath and Colonel Vessery. Each warrants their own article but basically, they both make your attacks do more than base damage. Brath lets you spend a focus token to flip any damage cards dealt by him during one attack. If you focus and don’t need it to reroll, you can spend it to make your attack an absolute devastation. The Colonel lets you acquire a target lock immediately after you roll attack if there is another friendly target lock already on the enemy. This allows you to reroll for free as long as you are focusing fire. The final interesting fact I want to cover in this brief overlook, is the movement dial. Like all Ties, it’s maneuverable. For the first time, however, we have a white K-turn, the four K-turn to be exact. This lets you get right behind your enemies or quickly return to the fight without worrying about a stress token. Like the Phantom, we see a big jump in point cost. The Defender is going to set you back 30 to 37 points. With the offensive kit and the surprising maneuverability, the under the radar half of wave four may be the real MVP.
The final pieces of the wave four puzzle are the upgrades. In short, you want them. I have a friend who is considering purchasing this wave just to use the upgrades for the rebels. Munitions Failsafe can make you really get the fullest out of your Tie Bombers. The Ion Cannon can cripple a fast enemy. You’ll have to choose between the two Phantom modifications to bring, but both give you free actions and help keep those cloaks up and viable. Predator and Outmaneuver give you a chance to really pin down enemies and hit hard. Round out the group with two new crew members and a sensor upgrade and this wave could truly be called game changing.
In conclusion, wave four is a need to own for any Imperial commander. New movement possibilities and some of the hardest hitting the dark side has seen so far makes this wave a potential meta shift in list building and gameplay.