The Briefing Room: Pure Sabacc
Welcome to the Dice and Cardboard Briefing Room! In this series I'll write briefly about a pilot or upgrade that I've been experimenting with or enjoying.
In today's briefing we will discuss "Pure Sabacc" in the TIE/sk Striker.
"Pure Sabacc" first appeared in X-Wing and the only picture we have of him comes from the mobile game, "Star Wars: Starfighter Missions." His namesake is the one of the highest possible hands in the in-universe card game, Sabacc, totaling 23 and only beatable by the Idiot's Array. Thanks, Wookieepedia!
Since the card art shows "Pure Sabacc" flying over a snowcapped mountain, we can maybe assume that he did not participate in the Battle of Scarif and therefore survived the events of Rogue One. Good for him! Let's take a look at the card and what makes this pilot so much fun to put on the table:
"Pure Sabacc" zooms into battle in the very cool TIE/sk Striker experimental air superiority fighter. With a 3/2/4 statline it brings the all-important third red attack die that your basic Imperial ships lack and has the same basic action bar as a TIE/ln fighter but trades a green die for an extra hull point. The things that make it unique from other TIE models are the addition of a gunner slot, a device slot, and the Adaptive Ailerons chassis ability. The ability takes some practice to get used to, but when used well it makes this ship speedy and unpredictable and yields the opportunity to hedge your bets or bail out of a poorly planned maneuver. Stocks up on the Striker with the upcoming ROAD (Random Order After Dials) rule changes?
The pilot ability is what makes him nasty. "Pure Sabacc" rolls an additional attack die until he has been dealt two damage cards. This means that without any upgrades or support you can roll 5 reds at range 1!
Disclaimer: This build discussion was written prior to the February 2022 points and rules update and point values and upgrades may no longer be relevant!
So lately I've been list building with Pure Sabacc in two different ways:
- As a "pocket ace" to fill out a list when I need a solid ship but don't have points available for the usual suspects.
- As a distraction or lurking threat to force my opponent to think very hard about their target priority.
For the first use of "Pure Sabacc," as a capable ship to fill out a list, I like to keep him cheap. Predator to make the most of those red dice or Elusive to possibly keep him dealing extra damage longer will do nicely. Remember, the reason you're including him in this scenario is because you were a bit short on available points to begin with. Honestly, if I have just two points available I'd (at time of writing) just upgrade to "Duchess" to get to i5 and use her spectacularly flexible ability.
However, the most fun I've had with Pure Sabacc is when building and flying him as a potent threat that your opponent cannot afford to ignore. If you have a list with a centerpiece "ace" (think Darth Vader, Soontir Fel, etc.) your enemy will have to think long and hard about going after that ship and turning their back on the savage "Pure Sabacc." If they go after the Striker first to try and negate his ability then your other ships are free to wreak havoc unimpeded.
The first thing I'd consider is a survivability modification to keep his ability working longer. I prefer (and I'll die on this hill) Stealth Device over Shield Upgrade on any 2-3 evade ship. Sure, Shield Upgrade allows "Pure Sabacc" to take one more hit before that offensive ability turns off, but I'd rather do everything I can to avoid taking those hits in the first place. I invite you to use the Gate of Storms probability calculator to try the effects of both upgrades against different types and number of incoming attacks to see how you feel about this. Either way, if your enemy commits enough arcs to chasing "Pure Sabacc" that you start to take hits then that just means he's doing his job.
Next, let's fill that gunner slot. If I have the points available I'll always turn to Fifth Brother on any of the higher initiative Strikers. The ability can be brutal and that offensive mod allows you to use your action to barrel roll out of an arc, take an Evade, or save a Focus for defense. If you want to stay cheaper and you have Vader in your squad, BT-1 is a fun option to punish enemy fighters for taking red maneuvers or red actions. For the same price as BT-1 (at time of writing) you could also take a 2 point talent like Predator to help your offense as well.
Now this is a very expensive build for this ship and that's intentional. For him to do his job he needs to demand attention and that works even better when he's both a potent threat and a juicy pile of points. If he's attacked then try to keep the first engagement at Range 3 so you're rolling extra green dice, then use the Adaptive Ailerons to swoop in to Range 1, tie up the enemy's squad, and blow some ships away while your other pilots capitalize on the mayhem.
Do you fly "Pure Sabacc?" What's your favorite build or squad that includes him?