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.”
This weeks Forgotten Ace is a pilot that flies one of my favourite ships in the game but even I have not used him much, Rexler Brath.
Rexler is seated in one of the Empire’s most solid ships for attack, defense and survivability, the TIE Defender. He clocks around PS-8 and has a very interesting and complex pilot ability.
So why is Rexler missing from the tournament tables? In my research of all the nationals of this past year, not one top 16 list had a Tie Defender in it. I’ll start by looking at the Defender as a ship itself and then focus in on Rexler Brath in depth.
The Tie Defender has an amazing base to look at, 3s across the board. It can hit you with an attack of 3 solid dice and take an attack on 3 dice and come out with a shield or two missing. Not even the Rebels, known for their tanks and survivability, have a ship that is so sturdy. However, with the lowest cost for the Defender being 30 points, it really isn’t a cheap investment and will be a major part of your team if you put it on the table.
30 points will get you Soontir Fel with Push the limit, a ship that can attack with the same vigor, defend with the same vigor, but is missing those three shields to make him live. (It is a fact that in X-Wing, Soontir’s signature move is to whiff at least 1 time on a defense) That’s a lot of points to be paying for shields, it’s points all invested towards making your ship survive and you want it to survive. So how do you do this? The answer lies in the 3 defense value.
Defend The Defender
TIE Defenders love defensive buffs, anything that can give you an extra defense die, or augment your defense is what these ships need.
The simplest way to do this is to invest 3 points in a stealth device, which will give you a 4 defense die roll until you are hit by an attack. This can be a bugger to shoot through, or go away on the first attack. Defense dice are finicky at best, they will often give you a blank result instead of the evade you needed, but at 4 you are averaging out at about 2 evades on regular. I have yet to lose my stealth device on a Defender in turn 1, but I have had it go a lot sooner than I wanted it to. This is a gamble of an upgrade, but if you have 3 points, I think it’s worth it.
A safer way to get an extra defense dice is to stay at range 3. With the Defender’s move set and barrel roll, this isn’t all that hard to do. If you have the stealth device on, it’ll be a total of 5 defense dice to chew through. However, your opponent will get that range 3 advantage as well, unless you upgrade your defender in it’s offense.
Destroy The Enemy
The Defender comes with a Cannon slot, a mean little slot that can up your killing power exponentially. When spend a chunk of your points on one ship, like the defender, and you are faced with an enemy force that is larger than yours, you want to even the playing field quickly.
For a solid 7 points, you can invest in the HLC. This will ensure you can throw 4 attack dice at your opponent from range 3 and have them take it with no extra defense. When they shoot back at you, you get your extra chance to survive.
For only 3 points, you can invest in the Ion Cannon. This can attack at range 3 as well, ensuring your opponent doesn’t get an extra dice. However, you only have the potential to do 1 damage with this attack – at first. You see, at range 3, if you are able to ionize your target and force it to move 1 forward, the Defender’s white 4 K-turn will put you directly behind it for a very nice, very mean range 1 attack with your opponent facing the wrong way. It’s a fun and effective move to use with a higher pilot skilled Defender, but not possible with Delta Squadron, due to it’s PS-1 making you K-turn before most anyone has moved.
The Missile slot on the Defender can also be utilized for a destructive cause. However, most missiles come in at 4 attack dice. It’s not an efficient point investment for only 1 range 2-3 attack with 4 dice when you can get unlimited 4 attack dice attacks in range 1 with the ship’s primary weapons.
You could add a Proton rocket to the ship for only 3 points, giving you a mean and clean 5 attack in range 1 and hopefully vaporizing the person you are now staring directly in the face. However, I’d rather spend those 3 points on a Stealth Device.
Don’t Go in Alone
Defenders are solid ships to fly but they thrive off of support. The most stark example this neediness is Colonel Vessery.
Vessery needs other ships out there with Target Locking abilities, or his ability is useless. Vessery can get a lot of damage and mayhem done if you throw a well equipped shuttle at his side.
Or for the more insane, a target locking mini-swarm.
He’s not the only one that needs support though. Any Defender totting a HLC can greatly benefit from Captain Jonus as a Wingman.
With the use of Jonus’ ability to augment your attack to hopefully 3-4 hits, you can save your focus for use on defence. Or, you could save your focus for a certain other Pilot’s ability…
Bringing us back to our Forgotten Ace, Rexler Brath. Rexler needs to keep his focus until the end of his attack, which is a hard thing to do when your only action was to focus. This is where you bring in the support to make him effective.
If you want to give HLC to Rexler, you can fly him with Jonus and make it so Jonus’s re-rolls give you all the augmentation you need, as well as giving him Predator for a total of 3 re-rolls on every attack. (basically a free target lock)
You can also put the often overlooked Jendon on the board, and pass off a target lock to Rexler, allowing him to Focus and Target lock, hopefully allowing you to get a hit through to flip into a critical.
Or, you could go a very self-sufficient route and but PTL on Rexler, allowing him to Focus and Target Lock on his own. However, I would warn you that it’s hard to de-stress a TIE Defender.
Your green moves are limited to straights only. If you give Wingman to a friendly ship nearby, he could take away the PTL stress for you at the start of combat, which makes it a bit more of a viable strategy.
The best choice to get that focus flip became legal just a few days ago with the release of Wave 5. Now Fleet Officer is a viable option!
On any ship with a crew slot (hi Decimator) for the cost of an action and a stress, you can give 2 friendly ships at range 1-2 a focus. Don’t forget with the new FAQ, the ship using Fleet Officer counts as a friendly ship in range 1-2 of itself.
With this crew, you can give Rexler a focus on top of the focus he already has if he preformed focus that round. Allowing him to augment his attack dice with one focus and saving one to make those hits flip into criticals. This will finally give Rexler’s ability a proper chance to spring into action, and even if you don’t get any hits through the enemy’s shield in that turn, your second focus is in your pocket for defensive augmentation.
With Wave 5 and the release of Fleet Officer, Rexler Brath can come into his own as a force to be reckoned with. I am going to continue to hone my skills with him, test lists against the best opponents I can find and see if I can get him high up on the Tournament ladder. I’d like to show everyone that he is not an Ace to forget about!