Forgotten Aces: Kyle Katarn

In X-Wing you have many different ships and pilots to choose from, each with unique abilities. Some of these pilots and ships are overlooked by the tournament goers and the Meta at large, getting little to no representation at the tournament level. I call these overlooked Pilots the “Forgotten Aces.” Last time I looked at Horton Salm and his unique pilot ability. This week I look at a pilot from the impeccable Dark Forces games and personally a character I grew up loving, Kyle Katarn.

Kyle Katarn is known in the books and games to be a believer in the blaster and not much of a pilot. This suitably lands him in the mid-range of the named pilots (PS 6) with a highly supportive ability in a ship that is seen as a support vessel for the Rebels. His ship, the HWK-290, is a interesting ship that can hold it’s own with 1 shield, 4 hull and 2 agility to get it past some tricky shots. So why is Kyle missing from the tournament tables?

I am going to be so bold as to say that the major reason for Kyle’s obscurity in builds actually comes from a strange prejudice players have towards the HWK-290 in general.

The HWK is the only ship in the game with the unfortunate problem of having 1 base attack. This makes it’s turret slot an almost auto-include, with the traditional choices being Ion and Blaster Turrets.  Having this necessary upgrade attached to the ship and, add this to the fact that it’s 1 shield makes it the rebel ship most susceptible to critical hits, and you get a formula that makes a lot of people scared of flying the HWK.

The truth about the HWK-290 is that it’s an amazing ship when you dedicate points to it.  The points you dedicate to it can be currently  used for two different effects.


At the cost of 7 points you can equip any of the pilots of the HWK-290 with a Blaster turret and Recon Specialist.

This turns the ship into an effective range 1-2 counter to Phantoms, Interceptors or any ship it would have trouble getting shots on due to the HWK’s lack of a K-turn.  If you choose to also put the Moldy Crow Title on this type of HWK you will be able to keep every focus you did not have to use that round for defensive. On Kyle, this is even better because you now should have a very impressive stack of focuses to hand away to your allies when they really need it.

This Kyle build is a good one to have in your list if you need the extra firepower from the blaster turret, and if you have any ships that really need the advantage of an extra focus.

Such as Jake Farrell, who could use the focus Kyle gives him to boost  or barrel roll after all other enemies have moved. This can allow him to boost out of a tricky situation or into the perfect shot.



Pic1655679 jan-ors
You could also opt for a Ion Cannon and have it play much the same role as the Y-Wing does in many squads, using the Ion cannon to slow down or trap manoeuvrable enemy ships. Unlike the Y-Wing, the HWK has an added bonus of a crew slot.  This crew slot could now be used for Jan Ors as a crew member, and will allow you to change your list’s Focuses to Evades during times your really need it. Pair this combo with the Moldy Crow Title on board Kyle’s HWK-290, and you can now hoard focuses and then pass them as Evades to any ship in your squad and give it a better chance during a joust.

This Kyle build is the perfect compliment to any list that needs extra defence and can use the Evade token to keep the right ship on the table longer.

Such as Keyan and all his fellow B-Wings, who could use the Evade token they normally can not have to augment their 1 Defence Die.

The most important thing to remember when choosing to fly Kyle and the HWK is to focus on Synergy. With the recent release of the “Scum” faction who revel in stealing your focuses, Kyle can be an even stronger boon to your squad. He can guarantee your pilots will keep their focus against thieving enemies.

autoAs well, Kyle can now take a low point Autoblaster Turret with Predator to get a few auto-hits into any enemy that dances with him at range 1.

The possibilities are high for this team player, and I know he can find himself firmly planted in a synergistic and unconventional rebel list posed to fight the new Scum. 


3 thoughts on “Forgotten Aces: Kyle Katarn”

  1. It’s an Island Rogue Love-In on DB416 today LoL! Nice article. I’m one of those people afraid of running HWK-290s because of their high point cost as they need turrets in order to contribute offence. With Autothrusters out all turrets take a huge hit and make Soontir Fel immune to everything except the Autoblaster.

    Even with the Autoblaster, getting range one at low Pilot Skill with no reposition ability and with that bad dial looks like a huge challenge for an expensive ship. Is it worth the points for Rebels to run in our current meta? I can’t say as I don’t have enough experience with the HWK, but it looks like a scary proposition on paper.

  2. Very sneaky idea combining Jan crew with Kyle’s pilot ability, especially to keep someone like Keyan alive.

    Glad to see I’m not the only HWK supporter around here.

  3. Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with Kyle’s ability. The problem is by the time you put a turret + crew + title on him, he’s eating up a third of your squad… for a support ship. I generally want a support ship to be in the 20-25 point range (e.g. 1/5 to 1/4 of my squad) saving most of my points for my more significant threats. I find a good opponent can safely take out the other ships and leave Kyle for last, since Kyle doesn’t do much when he’s by himself.

    Compare Kyle to other Rebel support ships that are either much cheaper (e.g. Airen Cracken) or are decent threats themselves for similar or less points – e.g. Dutch Vander + ICT, Biggs (although he serves a very different support role), or even the rarely used Garven Dreis and Etahn Abaht.

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