The Hangar: The First Order
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.
The first round of posts in this section will be breakdowns by faction of the ships that make up your squads. When I was new to X-Wing I read the excellent buying guides and faction breakdowns from the likes of Rogue Outpost, Stay on the Leader, Confessions of a Midwest Scrub's post-points change essays, and others (many others) and since I know I could sit and read different individuals' takes on this topic all day I thought I'd offer mine!
We'll focus on what X-Wing players call the "chassis" or the attributes of the ship itself independent of pilot abilities and points costs, except where these are notably linked. More in-depth looks at individual chassis with their pilots will follow and be linked from these intro articles. Ships are presented in a loosely "ranked" list, though for the most part this is subjective and based largely on my personal experience and preferences. With a few exceptions I will stick to ships that can be bought in their faction with 2.0 components, so I'll get to all ships that will be legal in AMG's Standard format in due time. For more information on all ships I'd also recommend the X-Wing 2.0 Wiki.
This week's topic, and the penultimate in our series of faction intros, is the First Order. On a basic level, the First Order is the Empire plus shields! The advanced TIE variants used by the First Order take the basic template of Sienar's Imperial designs and add shields and interesting new technologies in addition to changing the colors and, in some cases, flipping the wings in the other direction and making them pointier. For the sake of reference I'll be making comparisons to Imperial TIE variants but be aware that the FO TIEs can maybe bring more to the table if you look at them with fresh eyes. There are more or less direct advancements of the TIE/ln and TIE/sa Bomber in the TIE/fo and TIE/se, but also interesting new options with eye-watering new capabilities like the TIE/sf and TIE/wi Whisper. FO can be a very flexible faction, with each individual ship bringing unique capabilities to the table, and ship, pilot, and upgrade abilities buffing friendlies and freely throwing around stress and strain as a cost that highlights the fanatical beliefs of FO pilots. This faction has a strong identity in-game that works well thematically with what was established in the films: what if the Empire even nastier?
Another contender for objectively the best individual chassis in the game, the Silencer combines the hull and shields, primary attack, and ordnance abilities of an X-Wing with the agility, dial, and double reposition actions of a TIE Interceptor. Wow! You'll pay in points for all that capability but the Silencer and its pilots will always be a potent threat. It can also take advantage of FO-specific upgrades like Sensor Scramblers which allows it to cloak and become even more difficult to pin down and kill.
It's the TIE Fighter you know and love but now it can't be killed by a two-die attack (Hit+Crit, blank greens, Direct Hit)! The TIE/fo also features a slightly more flexible dial than its predecessor, adding blue 2-turns and swapping the 3-Koiogran Turn for 2-Segnor's Loops. Just like the Imperial TIE these tend to be costed efficiently enough to fly in groups with support from another unit, but some pilots have strong enough abilities to work as filler in your squad, including an actual I6 TIE Fighter ace!
The TIE/sf, though it looks more or less like a regular TIE Fighter, is kind of the first in our list to break the mold of "TIE variant but better" and add unique capabilities. The /sf, flown by First Order's Special Forces pilots, has the usual TIE forward-facing armament of two red dice, but adds a gunner controlling a front-to-back Heavy Weapon Turret. This allows you to either fire two reds from the front or back arc, or equip ordnance and fire it backwards. Add to that stronger shields than the TIE/fo, a flexible dial, and a full suite of actions that link to a white rotate and you have a powerful, flexible ship.
The TIE/ba, flown by Major Vonreg in the Resistance animated series, is essentially the TIE Interceptor equivalent to the TIE/fo. It has a reasonable amount of health at 2 hull/2 shield and the great 3 primary/3 agility statline we'd expect from an Interceptor chassis. The /ba has a full suite of actions that can be linked to either a Target Lock or Barrel Roll at the cost of a strain or deplete token. To make up for the objectively worse chassis ability compared to the TIE Interceptor, the /ba has what is probably a superior dial, with more speed 1 options and some great blue maneuvers. The name of the game with this Interceptor, as with the Imperial version, is to look for chances to take shots but not take any in return and equip upgrades that either increase survivability or boost your already formidable offense.
In addition to being downright scary-looking the FO Bomber, or FOmber, has a couple of neat tricks up its sleeve. 4 hull and 2 shields with 2 agility means it will take at least a couple of turns to destroy and, of cours, a two-die primary is not a big deal when the ship's intended purpose is to carry ordnance. Similarly to the other FO TIEs it has Segnor's Loops on its dials in contrast to the Empire's usual double K-Turn options. The chassis ability, Pursuit Thrusters, allows a Systems Phase Boost which is invaluable for mixing up your flight patterns or putting you in a good position to drop a bomb, contest an objective, or challenge an opponent's planned maneuver.
The Whisper, the new ship flown by Kylo Ren in The Rise of Skywalker is a tricky ship to use but can leverage some truly wild abilities to great success. To be quite frank, I don't play FO very often and I don't completely understand how this ship works. And it scares me. The Whisper has a strong Interceptor-style dial with the notable lack of a blue hard turn compensated for by some very fast blue maneuver options and 4 different advanced maneuvers. Its only explicitly forward-facing armament is a 3-red bullseye arc, supplemented by the same Heavy Weapon Turret as the TIE/SF. The action bar is slightly disappointing as it lacks any option to double reposition or reposition with a dice modification, something that fast and fragile ships like this generally want, but the Enhanced Jamming Suite Tech/Configuration upgrade adds multiple options linked to a white Jam, which is incredibly powerful even before the added ability to roll additional green dice based on ships nearby being jammed. This really helps with the fact that the Whisper only rolls 2 green dice before that modification, probably because those massive wings make it a pretty tasty target. I could try (and fail) to talk about this ship all day because it's just so interesting.
Xi-Class Light Shuttle
Currently the First Order's only crew carrier, the Xi-Class is...a crew carrier. 5 hull, 2 shields, 2 agility, and 2 primary attack are enough to get the job done but having only a front arc and no dial options to turn around is sub-optimal. The Xi does best when it hangs back and uses nasty FO pilot and crew effects to either boost its wingmates or oppress the enemy squad and the white Jam on the action bar comes in handy once it inevitably cruises in close to the fight. The Xi Shuttle is a sturdy if unremarkable way to get the job done and leans on the abilities of its pilots and passengers to combine with other ships in ways that can shine. A Xi shuttle can bring out the best in the other ships in your list in a dramatic way, just be aware that it won't be much of an individual contributor. I guess it does speak to the strength of the First Order's ships (or perhaps just the relatively small number of them) that this is at the bottom of my list but is still a perfectly good choice for your squad.