Monday, 18 November 2019

X-Wing Buying Guide - First Order

"Let the past die.  Kill it, if you have to"


The First Order are the bad guys who have emerged from the scattered remnants of the Empire to threaten the galaxy anew in The Force Awakens.  Here you'll find Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma and General Hux as the most recognisable protagonists, usually surrounded by their TIE Fighter escorts.  There's also the first signs of ships coming in the Resistance cartoon series, with Major Vonreig's deadly red TIE Interceptor coming in Wave 6.

The First Order currently has one of the smallest selections of ships in the game with only four available.  You're going to see an awful lot of that familiar H-shaped TIE Fighter profile in a First Order squad, although the First Order do at least have the good graces to put some shielding onto their TIEs before they push them out the door to die.  The headline-grabbing aces in the First Order fly Kylo Ren's TIE Silencer from The Last Jedi, which is a deceptively tough ship to kill, and the selection is completed by the hefty Upsilon Class shuttle which has fearsome firepower to bring to bear... so long as it can turn fast enough to keep shooting at things!

The First Order certainly leans into it's Imperial heritage when it comes to the ships it uses, although they tend to be more advanced variants.  You'd be wrong to assume that they follow the Empire's playstyles though, and Fantasy Flight have clearly made a real effort to ensure they have a different feel.  Yes there are TIE Fighters but they tend to have independent abilities rather than rewarding being played as a swarm of TIEs like the Empire does.  And although they have some speedy ships and high Initiative pilots in the likes of the TIE Silencer and Quickdraw they don't really (yet) have the elements that would support an Imperial Aces style.

What the First Order has instead is... uh.  Their ships really reward being flown as... uh.

Ok, it's not clear.  It's really hard to put a First Order squad together that has a strong strategic goal and doesn't just look like a bunch of ships that happen to have turned up on the table at the same time.  That's not to say it's a bad faction, just that First Order lists tend to just play the game with little subtlety or overarching grand plan other than 'try and shoot them faster than they shoot us'.

NOTE: that variety and openness of First Order squadbuilding is celebrated in this blog!


One advantage that buying into First Order has is they tend to be quite self-sufficient for having the right upgrades in their expansion packs, especially in the TIE/fo expansion.  A budding Resistance player almost has to buy their Conversion Kit a First Order player can build a pretty good squad straight out the expansions, not least because their ships are so good with few or no upgrades at all.

And it's also true that because the First Order squads so often tend to look like a random collection of ships it means you can basically start out by buying almost any selection of First Order expansions and it will probably add up to a working squad...

Random First Order I (200pts)
  • Kylo Ren (TIE Silencer) - Advanced Optics
  • Major Vonreg (TIE/ba) - Proud Tradition
  • Scorch (TIE/fo) - Fanatical
  • Lieutenant Rivas (TIE/fo)
Purchases Required: TIE Silencer expansion, Vonreg's Interceptor expansion, 2x TIE/fo expansion  ($80)


Random First Order II (200pts)
  • Avenger (TIE Silencer)
  • Zeta Squadron Survivor (TIE/sf) - Special Forces Gunner
  • TN-3465 (TIE/fo)
  • Lieutenant Rivas (TIE/fo)
  • Seinar-Jaemus Engineer (TIE Silencer)

  • Purchases Required: 2x TIE Silencer expansion, 1x TIE/sf expansion, 2x TIE/fo expansion ($100)  


    Random First Order III
    • Commander Malarus (Xi Shuttle) - Fanatical
    • Seinar-Jaemus Engineer (TIE Silencer)
    • Seinar-Jaemus Engineer (TIE Silencer)  
    • Zeta Squadron Survivor (TIE/sf)
    • Lieutenant Rivas (TIE/fo)

    Purchases Required: Xi Shuttle expansion, TIE Silencer expansion, 2x TIE/sf expansion, 1x TIE/fo expansion  ($110)  

    Because there's not really a clear way to build 'a good First Order squad' it means there's not many bad decisions to make when buying into the faction.  The only ship you really need to think carefully about is the Upsilon Shuttle which probably isn't worth the immediate investment as you also have to buy the Conversion Kit just to put it onto the table.

    DISCLAIMER: This advice is accurate at the time it's given.  Because X-Wing uses flexible point costs they could easily change and make a bad ship good or a good ship bad.  I can't predict that, I'm afraid, but this is the best advice we can give right now.


    TIE/fo (Wave II)
    Easy to fly, Strong

    Although it doesn't sound like it would make much difference the extra shield that First Order TIE Fighters get over an Imperial TIE does make a pretty big difference to how frequently they'll explode on you.  What doesn't change, though, is that they're still not a particularly potent damage threat as they only have the same tiny laser cannons that the original TIEs had.  

    At their current low points cost in the game that limitation barely matters and you can feel pretty safe to stock up on multiples of these TIEs as they will be the backbone of many First Order squads.  Be it filling in alongside aces like Kylo Ren and Major Vonreg, or supporting Commander Malarus in her Xi Shuttle, the First Order TIE is a dependable annoyance for your opponent to deal with, and in characters like Scorch, Null and Lieutenant Rivas there are plenty of good pilot abillities to squeeze in.  Just as importantly the TIE/fo expansion pack includes both Fanatical and Advanced Optics upgrade cards, which you'll probably want for your other First Order ships.

    Also of Interest: None

    Special Forces TIE Fighter (Wave 4)
    Easy to fly, Average Strength

    The Special Forces TIE Fighter (or TIE/sf) is the ship that Finn and Poe escape in at the start of The Force Awakens - the two-man variant with an optional rear gunner.  The TIE/sf combines the raw speed of a TIE Fighter with the durability of a T-65 X-Wing to create a decent, if unspectacular, all-rounder of a ship that has a flexible threat profile depending on whether you add the Special Forces Gunner upgrade or not.  The addition of Passive Sensors has also given the TIE/sf a new lease of life as a potent long-range missile carrier and squads of five TIE/sfs have had a decent amount of success.  Just beware that assembling such a squad is going to stretch your wallet - those Passive Sensors only come from a couple of expansion packs!

    Also of Interest: Fanatical (TIE/fo expansion), Passive Sensors (Naboo N1 expansion, Hyena Bomber expansion), Concussion Missiles (First Order conversion kit)

    TIE Silencer (Wave 4)
    Easy to fly, Strong

    The TIE Silencer is the ship that Kylo Ren flies during The Last Jedi and it's for the elite of the First Order pilots.  As it's both very quick and very hard to kill the TIE Silencer is probably the most obviously beginner-friendly ships for a First Order player to start with and there's multiple strong pilots for the ship including Kylo Ren himself.  The recent points changes in 2020 have also dramatically reduced the price of the most basic Silencer pilot and it's becoming something of a force in its own right.  From a ship that you tended to only need one of (for Kylo Ren) the Silencer has pushed it's way towards the front of the queue to compete with the TIE/fo and TIE/sf as an effective brawler.

    Also of Interest: None

    Major Vonreg's TIE (Wave 6)
    Hard to fly, Average strength

    One of the early themes of the First Order was that they don't really have any specialists and everyone was pretty good at a bunch of things rather than mastering one thing: a bit tough, a bit fast.  Major Vonreg's TIE Interceptor changed that somewhat by adding a nimble but fragile fighter which takes real practice before you can get the most out of it. Vonreg's TIE is a very deceptive ship - it's not as good at avoiding incoming fire as it first looks so has a tendency to explode more often than you'd want - but in the hands of brave pilots it's also capable of throwing out a lot of damage before it ultimately leaves the table.  It's an exciting ship I unreservedly recommend for adding variety to First Order squads when you're ready to challenge your piloting skills some more.

    Also of Interest: Daredevil (Fang Fighter, RZ-1 A-Wing, N1 Naboo Starfighter, TIE Interceptor)

    Xi Light Shuttle (Wave 7)
    Easy to fly, Strong

    In brief, the Xi Shuttle mainly exists for the Commander Malarus pilot, who is a powerful addition to squads of otherwise efficient First Order thugs, giving them a real boost in firepower.  The Xi Shuttle isn't really a starting point for a First Order collection but once you've had your fun making all sorts of mixed squads in the faction and you're looking to get serious then Commander Malarus is certainly capable of helping you get there.  This expansion also comes with Agent Terex crew (good for supporting First Order aces) and Automated Target Priority tech (good for your thugs).

    Also of Interest: None

    You'll need to source a First Edition model and buy the First Order Conversion Kit to fly these ships

    Upsilon-Class Shuttle
    Hard to fly, weak

    The mighty Upsilon Shuttle certainly casts an imposing shape on the table and as one of the few ships in the game with a natural 4-dice primary attack it's capable of withering fire on anything that strays in front of it.  Like the Empire's Lambda Shuttle the Upsilon is very slow and clumsy so keeping enemies in your firing arc can take a lot of forward planning.  You need to work hard to make sure that the fight happens where you want so you can position the Upsilon there ahead of time, especially as without the Lambda's rear arc gun the Upsilon Shuttle can easily overshoot the fight and take an age to turn back around.  There are some potent pilot abilities, and Lieutenant Tavson in particular can be a real pain to try and kill, but in a world of mix-n-match First Order squadbuilding the Upsilon Shuttle is the one ship that you need to plan long and hard for once you include it. 

    All that said... I bloody love the Upsilon Shuttle.  I love how it looks, I love it's big 4 dice gun, I love the challenge of ensuring I actually get to use that big gun.  Sometimes the heart overrules the head :-)

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