Welcome to The Hangar, pilot! In this series we talk about starfighters, freighters, shuttles, racers, bombers, gunships, and everything else in between. This is the chance to look "under the hood," as it were, and explore what makes our favorite ships great.
Sorry I missed last week! A busy work schedule and preparation for my Private Pilot checkride left me very little time for writing. I thought about throwing together a quick article comparing single piston engine training airplanes to X-Wing ships but after some consideration I realized nobody wants to read that...
Filling the first space in the Scum and Villainy hangar this week is the M3-A Interceptor! Coming to X-Wing from the Star Wars: Galaxies RPG, the "Scyk" is a versatile, relatively basic fighter that is forgiving and uncomplicated but in the right hands and with the right build can be deadly.
Designed and built by MandalMotors around the time of the rise of the Empire, The M3-A is a lightweight fighter that is supposed to be cheap and easy to operate with flexible upgrade options. Flown by nearly every pirate gang and crime cartel in the galaxy, the Scyk sports a small frame with minimal shielding and armament but the ability to mount ordnance on configurable weapons hardpoints. The M3-A is fast and nimble but also designed to keep a low profile, not posing much a conspicuous threat unless flown well or augmented with attached weaponry.
In X-Wing the M3-A fills a unique niche for Scum and Villainy. Without upgrades it would fly similarly to a TIE Fighter but, with the chassis ability to bring heavier firepower, it is often a cost-effective and relatively survivable means of bringing serious offense to a game. Note, however, that I said "relatively;" if you aren't able to sneak your Scyk in on a flank and the enemy focuses fire its 3 green dice will only help so much before the single shield and 3 hull melt away.
I mentioned the technically present hull and shield backed by 3 agility above, and the 2 red dice for the primary attack aren't really going to contribute too much unless you get in close. Luckily the M3-A's dial excels at getting in close. Notice that this ship really likes to go fast, but only in a straight line. You don't have a 3-hard turn and very few blue maneuvers to clear stress. What you do have, however, are some nice hard turn maneuvers and a Barrel Roll action to fight right up in your opponent's face. We acknowledged the weak primary attack, but of course at the bottom of each pilot card we'll have that Weapon Hardpoint ability that addresses the problem quite nicely.
Strategy and Tactics
As I tried to allude to above, like many Scum small ships the M3-A benefits greatly from effective range control. Fire your ordnance, if you brought it, from a safe range and then use that straight line speed to either zoom in for a knife fight or zip through the fight to come back around for another pass. If you're committing to the dogfight then you can use the 1-hard turn and barrel roll to stay tucked in tight on the enemy's tail or flank. Just be aware that this "Interceptor" does not have the linked actions or abilities that grant the coveted "double reposition" like the Fang Fighter, A-Wing, or TIE Interceptor. Know the limitations of this somewhat basic little ship: you will probably lose a 1:1 fight with a ship that has that capability.
In a squad the M3-A tends to perform best in numbers, either with other Scyks or a mix of other ships that distract your opponent and confuse target priority. Unless you fly really well or are intentionally using it as a distraction a solo Scyk is generally a dead Scyk. An M3-A alone can generally be ignored or mitigated but once you start to attack in numbers these cheap little ships can be overwhelming. At time of writing the M3-A recently got a nice points drop so it is possible to fly multiples with a hopefully bewildering mix of ordnance and abilities. Be aware that this ship has relatively few inherent opportunities to deliberately gain a Stress token aside from a couple of Koiogran Turn maneuvers so if you are using one of the many Scum pilots or upgrades that rely on friendlies being stressed you'll need to find a way to pass your Scyk that token. Protectorate Gleb on a HWK-290 works great!
I generally recommend loading your Scyk with the most devastating ordnance that its LV will afford, just be aware that at lower initiatives it may make more sense to switch from missiles/torpedoes to cannons unless you have a way of passing target locks to ships that move at lower initiative. Also be careful using bullseye-only weapons like Heavy Laser Cannon on low-initiative M3-As as lining up that bullseye against higher initiative ships can be tricky unless you're bringing them en masse to try and set up no-fly zones.
M3-A pilots, in my opinion, have some of the most fun abilities in the game in that they're pretty much all useful, relatively simple, and in a lot of cases involve fun triggers or an interesting decision.
Okay, so I know I just said that Scyk pilot abilities are all fun but Serissu's is relatively boring and just GOOD. It's like Serissu and everyone at range 0-1 of her gets Elusive without having to regenerate charges. Sure, your fate is in the hands of the dice gods, but if that reroll keeps you alive or lets you save a token then all is well. Remember: this works on Serissu herself (range 0) and can be used on as many attacks as you need as there is no charge.
Just give Serissu a good secondary weapon and fly her either alone or with a buddy or two and you have, in my opinion, one of the best "pocket aces" in the game. Serissu and Genesis Red are the two pilots who I would consider the Tier 1 M3-A pilots and are generally costed accordingly. Serissu currently features in nearly all of my Scum lists as she is a great, survivable flanking threat for relatively low points cost.
Genesis Red, or "GenRed," is our second Tier 1 Scyk pilot. GenRed, as a crime lord, preys on weaker ships at lower initiative. When engaging you'll want to choose a target that has already activated and has one or more green tokens. Perform a Lock action and gain whatever tokens the target has for a potent double-modded torpedo or missile. Goodbye, Moldy Crow or Millenium Falcon with Perceptive Copilot and Jyn Erso! Okay, so that second one is a bit tricky as all of those YT-1300 pilots are I5 or I6. Maybe a good time to bring Tapusk in the HWK or Maul in the Gauntlet for a higher-initiative Coordinate?
Quinn is the first of what I would consider the Tier 2 M3-A pilots. Still good, just generally not worth the same premium points cost as the two prior pilots. Quinn's ability is relatively straightforward: you essentially get a Reload action on a ship that wouldn't normally have it. Just don't forget that the ability can also apply to your talent, illicit, modification, etc. upgrades as well if you have them. I don't have enough experience with Quinn to really make a recommendation but I wonder if there are some fun combos out there.
Laetin is perhaps my favorite of the second-tier Scyk pilots. They say, "if you're going to shoot me you'd better get the job done with that first attack." Laetin can be very difficult to kill. I would almost always recommend adding another weapon to your Scyks to deal with the weak primary attack (I use Ion Cannon on Laetin) but Laetin currently has enough LV to equip Juke, which could be a bit silly but fun as Laetin is just about always able to be evading if flown well.
Tansarii Point Veteran
A generic Scyk. Everyone else has good abilities so only mess with these guys if you've already brought the other I3s and need another.
Another one that I don't use often but possibly has some fun applications in casual games, Inaldra can spend damage to take a risk. Seems like it's fun. At first glance I would say Inaldra likes a Shield Upgrade to be able to use that ability one more time but I'd question whether it's worth spending that many points to only slightly delay the inevitable. I'd rather load her up to do as much damage as possible and use those rerolls.
Sunny is a bit of a fan favorite as her ability is just too much fun! She is one pilot for whom I would consider not bringing a weapon upgrade since it makes it a bit more difficult to use her ability. It does pose an interesting question, though...at what point does it become more likely to end up with 3 hits on a two-die primary with Sunny's ability versus the possibility of a Heavy Laser Cannon and Predator yielding 4 hits and being able to add a 5th? Remember, as I understand it, Sunny's ability triggers after a roll or reroll, not after you have spent a token.
Well, the answer, according to Gate of Storms X-Wing Probability Calculator, is that we have a 19ish% chance of 4 hits on 4 dice (to change to 5 with Sunny) and a 50% chance of 2 hits on 2 dice (to change to 3) with both attacks benefiting from a single reroll. My advice? Don't overthink it. You're flying Sunny to have fun so just do what you want. In my experience Sunny is one of those pilots who lives in an opponent's head rent-free, as they say. She probably isn't quite as much of a threat as they think she is but she'll change their flying patterns and is capable of some surprising contributions to the game if given the chance.
Same as the TPV. There are better pilots but these dudes exist if you need them.
G4R-GOR V/M (available in the Hotshots and Aces card pack)
Here's another option that seems like it's just a goofy option for the memes but, upon closer inspection, may have some clever (and still fun) applications. Sure, it moves at initiative 0 very intentionally, so you can't ram enemy ships to ensure the ability can trigger, but you can use G4R to chase your opponent's ships all over the board and threaten whole areas of the mat with blocking maneuvers. If you manage to get an enemy ship to overlap G4R then the droid is effectively safe from attack and free to do as it pleases unless your opponent is willing to suffer a critical damage. Since G4R has the same 3 agility as any other M3-A then you could very well see the droid take no damage and deal a crit to the enemy ship it's overlapping. Sure, that's the ideal circumstance, but it sounds pretty funny. Just throw an Advanced Proton Torpedo or something on G4R-GOR to force your opponent to consider the need to eliminate it and send it out to cause mayhem.
That's our breakdown of the M3-A Interceptor! Who is your favorite Scyk pilot?