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Hot or Not: Empire Edition

Space Bone-Arm is back with an article highlighting the most recent points changes! While early tournament results are rolling in for Store Championships (and the UK Games Expo is occurring as I write this), the Space Bone-Arm crew is still a bit uncertain as to what the meta will shape out to look like.

I thought it would be a fun exercise to poll the Bone-Arm crew and force them to judge a selection of pilots in a new segment titled “Hot or Not”, where we judge X-wing pilot (not people!) strength post May points changes. Members of the Bone-Arm crew were presented with a single pilot and their respective changes, asked to declare “Hot” or “Not”, and then given an opportunity to provide a hot take explanation for their vote.

Did the length get out of hand due to all the changes that AMG implemented? Yup! Is it too long for non-Space Bone-Arm members to read? Probably!

Let’s get into it with the Galactic Empire faction!

Gar Saxon: Gauntlet Fighter

Old: 8 points and 18 loadout.

New: 7 points and 18 loadout.

Slots: Talent, Crew, Gunner, Payload, Illicit, Modification, Configuration (Gained an Illicit slot)

Steve: Not! The ability is conditional and you can just take Rear Admiral Chiraneau instead. The potential Tarkin/Mando Optics combo is overrated.

Kevin: Not! Seven points is still expensive and the ability requires solid flanking to get off.

Jon: Hot! **No explanation given, but I respect it.

Ted: Not! Use those seven points for extra bodies, not this guy. Have fun trying to make a flight pattern that fully leverages that ability.

Final Verdict: Not! While the points drop helped, Gar Saxon is not hot enough to see the table in our (not expert) opinion.

Fifth Brother: TIE Advanced v1

Old: 5 points and 10 loadout.

New: 4 points and 7 loadout.

Slots: Force, Talent, Sensor, Missile (Lost a Cannon slot. Gained a Missile slot)

Steve: Hot! I do love it when the devs try to make bad cards see play. The only time homing missiles see play is when they’re viable on this fool. There might be better options for 4 pts, but I like the design and it doesn’t break the bank.

Kevin: Hot! Homing missiles are back! Should be a good filler piece in the right list.

Jon: Hot! Homing missiles trigger his ability, nice.

Ted: Hot! Stock is up at that price with a missile slot.

Verdict: Hot! Homing missiles might be stapled to him, but he will finally start to see more play and can nicely alter opponents decisions.

Grand Inquisitor: TIE Advanced v1

Old: 6 points and 17 loadout.

New: 5 points and 10 loadout.

Slots: Force, Force, Talent, Sensor, Missile

Steve: Hot! Fun to fly and gets a procket. Still a little expensive, but much more viable.

Kevin: Hot! Prockets with brilliant evasion/FCS, i5, and a cool ability? What’s not to like for 5 pts.

Jon: Not! Situational and still not as powerful as the past. Maybe has a place as a 5 pt high initiative filler?

Ted: Hot! Probably still bit pricey, but now he’s spicy.

Verdict: Hot! Grand Inquisitor is finally at a price that feels fair and playable. He was previously overshadowed by BoY Vader, so the 1 point discount gives him room to breathe.

Captain Feroph: TIE Reaper

Old: 4 points and 9 loadout.

New: 4 points and 6 loadout.

Slots: Talent, Crew, Modification, Modification

Steve: Not! Seventh Sister should have gone up 1 loadout point instead. Now Feroph doesn’t have enough loadout to be taken over Vizier with Palp.

Kevin: Not! What can he even take now?

Jon: Not! Seems like damage control for having him in every Empire list. Still a good ship, but neutered.

Ted: Not! He’s probably fine, but was slapped down.

Verdict: Not! He might have a place in squads that want a more defensive support piece, but losing force crew took Captain Feroph down a notch.

Darth Vader Starter Set: TIE Advanced x1

New: 6 points.

Steve: Not! Nice ion missiles, nerd.

Kevin: Hot! Good alternative choice for BoY Vader at 6 pts. Ion missiles are dumb, but he still gets extra actions. Losing FCS and Pattern Analyzer seems worth the 1 point discount.

Jon: Hot! Extra actions is good and afterburners is always good on Vader. The missiles are probably fine in niche cases when at range 3 and you want to predict next turn movement or knock off a lock.

Ted: Not! This is not exciting.

Verdict: Tentatively hot (I get to decide tiebreakers)! BoY and custom Vader will probably be more popular, but this seems like a solid option.

Maarek Stele Starter Set: TIE Advanced x1

New: 5 points.

Steve: Not! Probably too expensive while 4 pt Maarek exists. Plus he lacks FCS.

Kevin: Not! I was torn on this one, but 5 pts is being a competitive price point and I’m not sure he cuts it.

Jon: Hot! While FCS would be great, he has a ton of value upgrades. I think it makes him worth it for 5 pts.

Ted: Not! I don’t like him. His crit choosing is rude, please don’t use him.

Verdict: Not! I actually think Maarek is very close to being hot and will probably see some play (Ted’s sarcasm brings this to a tie).

Maarek Stele: TIE Advanced x1

Old: 5 points and 14 loadout.

New: 4 points and 10 loadout.

Slots: Talent, Talent, Sensor, Missile, Modification

Steve: Hot! He’s a 4 pt, i5, hard hitting piece. Solid value.

Kevin: Hot! He probably needs some support, but 4 squad points is hot.

Jon: Hot! Got a nice cost reduction and can still take some nice upgrades.

Ted: Not! He’s mean. Too mean for 4 points. I don’t like this.

Verdict: Hot! He was nearly unplayable at 5 pts, but is super appealing at 4 pts. He still might want a support piece to help him out, but that feels less bad at 4 pts.

Seventh Sister: TIE Advanced v1

Old: 5 points and 14 loadout.

New: 4 points and 6 loadout.

Slots: Force, Talent, Sensor, Missile (Lost Talent slot)

Steve: Not! Unless you want to fly a thematic list, you’re looking at Fifth Brother or other 4 ptrs first.

Kevin: Not! Feels a lot worse than Fifth Brother.

Jon: Not! Just seems like they’re intending to have us not fly her.

Ted: Not! Why does Empire have all these double force jerks. Boo!

Verdict: Not! Overshadowed by other 4 pt ships (Fifth Brother, i5 x1s, etc etc).

Major Vermeil: TIE Reaper

Old: 5 points and 16 loadout.

New: No changes.

Slots: Talent, Crew, Crew, Modification

Steve: Not! Still a little expensive and no bad defensive bonus. Probably just dies.

Kevin: Not! “Vizier” will be the new go to Reaper for 4 pts with Palpatine, not this guy.

Jon: Not!

Ted: Not! Too pricey, find a different ship for less.

Verdict: Not! “Vizier” is probably still the pick at a cheaper price with room for a good support Force crew. The talent slot and offensive ability doesn’t make him worth it.

Darth Vader: TIE/d Defender

Old: 9 points and 14 loadout.

New: 9 points and 10 loadout.

Slots: Force, Tech, Cannon, Missile, Configuration (Lost Talent slot)

Steve: Not! I wasn’t high on him previously and now he lost Juke.

Kevin: Hot! Juke or not, Vader Defender is still hot to me.

Jon: Not!

Ted: Hot! Good, slap him down. It’s hot to see him lose stuff.

Verdict: Not! While I personally believe Vader Defender will still be strong, losing Juke does takes his strength down a notch. I suspect we will see less play than before, especially with a second 6 pt SL Vader available to players.

Iden Versio BoY SL: TIE/in Interceptor

Old: 6 points.

New: 5 points.

Steve: Not! Meh.

Kevin: Not! Going not mostly because 5 points is a competitive spot. I would rather have Second Sister TIE/in.

Jon: Not! Still pretty expensive for an i4 TIE/in.

Ted: Hot! Fun, but probably too pricey for an Interceptor. At least the ability isn’t broken.

Verdict: Not! Good ability is overshadowed by the competitive price point.

Lieutenant Lorrir: TIE/in Interceptor

Old: 4 points and 6 loadout.

New: 3 points and 6 loadout.

Slots: Talent, Modification, Configuration

Steve: Hot! Three points with Sensitive Controls and Trick Shot could be good and fun.

Kevin: Hot! More three point filler is hot.

Jon: Hot! Fun ability and cheap. Feels like a low initiative Guri.

Ted Hot! Give him some more LV, he needs help at i3!

Verdict: Hot! What’s not to like for an 3 pt filler ship. Probably the correct choice for a 3 pt limited Interceptor. Fun ability and low initiative. Could mess with board states at i3 with funky system phase barrel rolls with Sensitive Controls.

Soontir Fel: TIE/in Interceptor

Old: 6 points and 15 loadout.

New: 5 points and 10 loadout.

Slots: Talent, Talent, Modification, Configuration

Steve: Hot! Unfortunately, even with shield, he’s still going to get one-shotted at range 3 obstructed.

Kevin: Hot! He was already seeing some play at 6 points. He gets less toys now, but losing 5 points hurts less. Make aces great again!

Jon: Not! Might be more playable, but I’m not convinced he’s worth 5 points with this LV at upgrade points increases.

Ted: Not! His bullseye shenanigans got rekt if you decided to take shield upgrade to prevent the one shot.

Verdict: Tentatively hot! Five points means that he’ll slot into squads a lot easier. Losing Predator+Crack Shot+Shield Upgrade is rough, but a well flown Soontir will always be a menace.

Iden Versio: TIE/ln Fighter

Old: 3 points and 8 loadout.

New: 4 points and 8 loadout.

Slots: Talent, Talent, Cannon, Missile, Modification

Steve: Not! This was necessary, but without her, named TIE/lns are probably dead.

Kevin: Not! Dead at 4 points.

Jon: Hot! Probably still recommended in most TIE/ln lists, but would need good wingmates to be worth it.

Ted: Not! Bad Iden.

Verdict: Not! The change was probably necessary as Iden can just be unfun to play against, however it likely means that she doesnt see the table for this points cycle.

Seyn Maran: TIE/ln Fighter

Old: 3 points and 8 loadout.

New: 3 points and 12 loadout.

Slots: Talent, Cannon, Modification (Gained Cannon slot)

Steve: Not! Not enough to be relevant.

Kevin: Not! The TIE/sa Bombers and Lt. Lorrir look better for 3 points.

Jon: Not! Syen has one job, get a crit. The cannon slot doesn’t help at all.

Ted: Not! Cool, take ion cannon? That ability is blank and boring.

Verdict: Not! Seyn got a nice little loadout increase and a cannon slot, but it neither really helps maximize her ability. There are better options for 3 points.

Magna Tolvan: TIE/ln Fighter

Old: 3 points and 10 loadout.

New: No changes.

Slots: Talent, Cannon, Modification

Steve: Not! Awkward support piece. One more point gets you an ultra consistent “Vizier” with Palpatine, just find the points for that.

Kevin: Hot! I’m going hot as a cheap coordinator.

Jon: Hot! Good action economy for not a lot of points.

Ted: Not! Unchanged? Da fuq? I have to answer? No talky.

Verdict: Not! After submitting a personal “Hot” vote, I realized that she can no longer take Heavy Laser Cannon and Squad Leader. Decidedly worse as a cheap support piece.

“Rampage”: TIE/rb Heavy

Old: 5 points and 16 loadout.

New: 4 points and 10 loadout.

Slots: Talent, Cannon, Cannon, Gunner, Modification, Configuration

Steve: Not! His ability gives him a death wish. The TIE/rb Heavy is not a good chassis to have a death wish.

Kevin: Not! Heavy’s still suck. Ubbel had a brief time in the sun, but AMG needs to put in more work to make them viable.

Jon: Hot! Definitely more playable, but not great against higher initiatives. Four points feels good.

Ted: Hot! Deese bois never gonna be super viable.

Verdict: Not! Ted’s non-Hot reasoning sums it up. “Rampage” should feel a lot better for 4 points, but he’s unlikely to be super viable. At least you wont feel bad when your 4 point ship dies to a crit chain?

Rear Admiral Chiraneau: VT-49 Decimator

Old: 8 points and 26 loadout.

New: 7 points and 20 loadout.

Slots: Talent, Torpedo, Crew, Crew, Crew, Gunner, Payload, Modification, Title

Steve: Hot! He’s going to see a lot more play. However, I still think that with all the jam and green tokens flying around, the classic RAC crew combos won’t be as strong as they used.

Kevin: Hot! He’s the i5 Decimator of our dreams.

Jon: Not! (Kevin: what a rebel)

Ted: Hot! Maybe one of my only real “Hot” ships in Empire. Way better than the 7 point Gauntlets with that i5 bowtie arc. Let’s see how we can make him zip and blast.

Verdict: Hot! The other 7 point Decimators had already been seeing play. RAC is an upgrade (although Morna has her own benefits) and will definitely get onto the table.

Tomax Bren: TIE/sa Bomber

Old: 4 points and 10 loadout.

New: 3 points and 10 loadout.

Slots: Talent, Talent, Missile, Missile, Gunner, Payload, Payload, Modification


Kevin: Hot! Suuuuper hot for 3 points.

Jon: Not! Basic bomber and his ability doesn’t scream useful.

Ted: Not! I just don’t want to see these everywhere…but it will happen.

Verdict: Hot! I think Steve and I (and probably Ted) would agree that Tomax will likely slot into the “go to” 3 point slot for most Empire lists. An i5 with Barrage Rockets + Saturation Salvo sounds great. Plus Bomblet Generation as icing on the cake.

“Deathfire”: TIE/sa Bomber

Old: 4 points and 11 loadout.

New: 3 points and 11 loadout.

Slots: Torpedo, Missile, Gunner, Payload, Modification

Steve: Not! No one will ever play “Deathfire”. I still find it funny that this was one of the first ever 2.0 pilots FFG revealed and they were hyped about him. I’ve literally never seen anyone play him. Just take Tomax.

Kevin: Not! What?

Jon: Not! Seems pretty generic. The other bombers have higher initiative and better abilities.

Ted: Hot! Cool dude, where are the other ships? Why can’t we just use trajectory simulator shens?

Verdict: Not! “Deathfire” got cheaper, but so did the other, more relevant TIE/sa Bombers. Just use one of the other ones.

Captain Jonus: TIE/sa Bomber

Old: 5 points and 10 loadout.

New: 4 points and 10 loadout.

Slots: Talent, Torpedo, Missile, Missile, Gunner, Payload, Payload, Modification

Steve: Hot! His ability is awesome. That said, 4 points + necessary ordinance wingmen may be too much of an investment.

Kevin: Hot! Situationally very hot.

Jon: Hot! Great centerpiece to a swarm/block with rockets/torpedos.

Ted: Not! Why take a 4 cost when 3 costs exist?

Verdict: Hot! You won’t be taking Jonus as a solo piece, but he could be a menace when combined with other TIE/sa Bombers.

Major Rhymer: TIE/sa Bomber

Old: 5 points and 12 loadout.

New: 3 points and 12 loadout.

Slots: Talent, Torpedo, Missile, Missile, Gunner, Payload, Modification

Steve: Hot! This guy has some wacky options, but Saturation Salvo + Barrage Rockets is probably too good not to take.

Kevin: Hot! Good looking hot 3 point option.

Jon: Hot! Good cost for initiative and ability.

Ted: Hot! He’s hot, but I really don’t like these bombers.

Verdict: Hot! I’m not sure he will ever be the first TIE/sa Bomber taken (looking at you, Tomax), but 3 points for this ability+loadout+slots feels very solid.

“Countdown”: TIE/sk Striker

Old: 4 points and 8 loadout.

New: 4 points and 11 loadout.

Slots: Talent, Talent, Gunner, Payload, Modification

Steve: Hot! Countdown is good. Now he can still tack Proximity Mines.

Kevin: Hot! Maybe the best Striker available?

Jon: Hot! Was already a good choice for the platform, more loadout = more dangerous.

Ted: Not! Booo this ability, rot in hell.

Verdict: Hot! Countdown was already a solid choice. The loadout increase helps him retain the most expensive Mine and/or helps him deal with other Talent point increases.

Honorable Mentions:

A couple of interesting omissions from the survey were:

Moff Gideon (bumped up to 4 pts and Cloaking Device went up): Very likely a “Not”. I can’t see people investing 4 points into him, although that ability is great. So it’s possible that someone finds a niche use.

Vult Skerris/Ciena Ree (both got moderate loadout increases): Very likely a “Not”. Neither was played very much before. However Ciena Ree can now take Predator+Crack Shot+Shield Upgrade. Vult Skerris can finally fit Shield Upgrade with Marksmanship. It’s possible that they make it into the meta.

BoY “Backstabber” + BoY Mauler Mithel (unchanged): The “BoYs” were both left unchanged. I personally think they’re “Hot” options still as a nice 7 point block.

BoY “Wampa” (3 points, unchanged): With increases to Iden Versio and Moff Gideon (TIE/in), BoY “Wampa” could be an interesting new 3 point option in a list looking for filler.

Hot or Not: Empire Summary

Our Empire recap rounded off with 11 “Hot” and 13 “Not” pilots. Empire was previously near the top of the meta, but that was powered by cheap efficiency pieces like Iden Version (TIE/in) and Moff Gideon (TIE/in). While both of those ships are likely to be pushed out by price increases, the new Standard TIE/sa Bombers could take their place as efficient jousting pieces.

As a degenerate Rebel (and sometimes Republic) player, I turned to resident Empire player Steve for insight into the faction as a whole. His abridged words are below:

Empire was previously in a very strong spot. However, with these points changes, most of the other factions have been pulled up to their level while a few Empire staples (Iden and Moff G) were nerfed. The overall trend of points reductions has left some Empire chassis in a weird spot.

TIE/ln Figther pilots needs to be 3 points as the generics are 2 points. The base stats of the non-BoY TIE/lns make it really tough on the named pilots now that their cheap insurance, Iden, is gone. Just compare their statline to 3 pt ships in other factions.

TIE Advanced x1 pilots seem to be in a better spot, but they can be awkward to fly with their reliance on the target lock action. I feel like they are some of the faction’s best options, but compared to 4 point ships in other factions, they feel a bit behind the curve.

The same principle applies to the TIE/in Interceptors. Soontir is down to 5 points, but the lack of loadout (and upgrade cost increases) hurts him. I’m not sure its smart to invest 4-5 points into a ship that can be one-shotted if you make a mistake. There are going to be even more arcs to dodge.

The new shining spot for Empire are the TIE/sa Bombers. They are super cheap and have the LV they need for the powerful Barrage Rocket + Saturation Salvo combination. I think Empire players may need to lean into the triple TIE/sa block to keep up with the increasing ship counts of other factions. Unfortunately, the TIE/sa is a high floor low ceiling option. A good player can avoid the TIE/sa and minimize their impact. Mag pulse can also just ruin their day. Just check the UK Games Expo results that are coming in. TIE/sa Bombers were top in faction, but none of those lists cracked the top 10.

Overall, I think Empire is in a tough spot at the moment. TIE/sa Bombers are their best cost effective pieces, but can be outplayed by a well prepared opponent. Other factions can be more points efficient with more effective pieces. Empire chassis have typically been effective at one thing and gotten a points reduction due to this lack of flexibility. Unfortunately, many other factions now have more versatile chassis for the same price. I’ll probably still play Empire at some local Store Championships as I love the Bombers, but I will likely move back to FO for competitive lists going forward.” -Steve

Well you heard it from Steve. While Empire has some new tools to try out, the faction no longer feels like top dog post-May points changes. While I’m certain players will still find success with Empire (three lists barely missed cut at UK Games Expo), I’m hopeful that the Battle over Endor Scenario pack will arrive with some new SLs that provide the faction with a fun boost in power!

New TIE/d Defender teased at Adepticon for the Battle over Endor Scenario pack! (apologies for low image quality)

I hope you enjoyed this version of “Hot or Not” for the Empire faction! I’ve already sourced votes and hot take opinions from the Space Bone-Crew for the Rebel Alliance changes and will probably continue with this series throughout the summer until we touch all seven factions.

I’m certain that many of you (including other Space Bone-Arm crew members) disagree with any of our “Hot” or “Not” designations! If so, leave a comment below!

Posted on: June 5, 2023

Written by: Kevin L.

1 thought on “Hot or Not: Empire Edition”

  1. After playing him a bit, I’d like to change my Soontir vote to “Not!” He doesn’t have enough lv to get consistent dice results for 5 points.

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