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.
I personally very rarely play Separatists and only online at that, so I reached out to a few friends to verify my thoughts on this one. The CIS have a unique faction identity that aligns with attributes of their ships. Droids fly best in straight lines or 90 degree turns and struggle with the nuances of banks. Since the pilots are not organic they Calculate rather than Focus, but the advanced technology of the droid fighters allows them to share their calculate tokens. The droids are not particularly strong one-on-one, but in greater numbers they synergize in potent ways. The organic pilots and upgrades often force the opponent to make a choice, then sync up with droid fighters to punish incorrect decisions. The unique Tactical Relay upgrades also allow you to synchronize your groups of droid ships and optimize their performance. These quirks make flying Separatists difficult to master but a player who is familiar with them can overwhelm an opponent who is not with an unrelenting barrage of cheap ships and dirty tricks.
Firespray Class Patrol Craft
Firesprays are good. Period. With a surprisingly flexible maneuver dial, dual 3-die attack arcs, lots of upgrade slots, and plenty of hull and shields a Firespray will be the centerpiece of your squad and can be really frustrating for your opponent to deal with. These ships can slow roll into an engagement, absorbing fire and punishing anyone who strays into their arc, or they can slash through a group of ships, dropping bombs in their wake and firing potent parting shots from that rear arc. They generally can carry crew and gunner upgrades that will synergize nicely with the Firespray pilot's ability or boost the capabilities of other ships in the list.
The Belbullab-22, or the fighter that General Grievous intended to escape Utapau in before losing his fight to Obi Wan, is a powerful multi-role starfighter. Somewhat filling the role of the "X-Wing" for the Separatists, it has a solid 3-die primary attack, a decent amount of hull and shields, and nice reposition (Boost or Barrel Roll) into red Focus actions that make up for the kind of funky dial. Sure, the Belbullab has plenty of maneuver options and a 5-straight, but the 3 hard-turn being red, the relative lack of blue maneuvers, and only one advanced maneuver mean you'll likely be taking advantage of that reposition to optimize your shots. The Belbullab also has a neat exclusive upgrade in Impervium Plating that allows you to avoid taking critical damage.
Vulture Class Droid Fighter
Here it is, the staple of the faction, the clanker equivalent of the TIE Fighter. As a cheap chassis the Vulture is actually pretty great once you get used to its quirks. The maneuver dial is weird. Relatively few options, banks with higher difficulty than hard turns, and some wild close-in advanced maneuvers to turn around. Additionally, the linked Barrel-Roll to red Calculate action can come in handy. If an opponent isn't ready for it a Vulture can pull some eye-watering moves...if they get the chance. A 2-die primary, 2 agility, and 3 health mean that a lone Vulture is going to struggle. However, in a coordinated group they shine. With their swappable ship ability (Networked Calculations)/standardized Modification (Independent Calculations), Grappling/Landing Struts Configuration, and support from a friend carrying a Separatist-specific Tactical Relay droid, your Vulture swarm can be configured to your taste and do wildly different, fascinating things, including landing on obstacles and acting as nasty little swiveling turrets.
Hyena Class Droid Bomber
The Hyena is just a beefier Vulture that can carry a bit more ordnance and that is reflected in the stats. It adds two hull and changes the linked action to Barrel Roll to a red Target Lock. The Hyena can still land on obstacles using the Landing Struts Configuration and, like most Separatist Droids, can use either Networked or Independent Calculations to either share calculate tokens with a nearby friendly or double-Calculate at the cost of stress (stressed droids?).
HMP Droid Gunship
These things look COOL and, like their droid friends, have their tricks and quirks. The HMP replaces the Networked/Independent Calculations ability of the other Separatist droid ships with Networked Aim, a sneaky ability that allows you to reroll dice based on how many friendly ships are locking the defender instead of spending your lock for rerolls. This does, however, mean that the HMP needs to be flown with other ships that like to Target Lock. The HMP has a 180-degree primary arc which is useful for ensuring you'll get shots on target but it only fires a two-die primary. To compensate it can take a host of cannon and missile upgrades and maximizes time on target with the Repulsorlift Stabilizers Configuration. The Config allows it to perform banks and turns as sideslips to scoot sideways around the table.
The Tri-Fighter flies and fights a lot like a TIE Interceptor. Fast, agile, and well armed but fragile. It has the same Networked Calculations ability as the Vulture and Hyena droids, allowing Tri Fighters to share their calculate tokens with squadmates, and can also equip the Independent Calculations upgrade if desired. Its fast dial and good statline are supplemented by linked actions from repositions and a Configuration that allows it to SLAM into a better opening position in the first round or two.
Nantex Class Starfighter
The Geonosian Nantex gives the Separatists another Interceptor-like ship but with some unique capabilities that have nearly broken the balance of the game on a few occasions. In addition to its 3-die bullseye arc, the Nantex has a two-die turret that can be rotated after fully executing a maneuver in exchange for gaining a tractor token. The player can then use the Ensnare Talent to choose to transfer that tractor token to another ship in the turret arc at range 0-1. When used effectively an Ensnare Nantex can pin down an enemy ace and allow its droid squadmates to pick it to pieces.
The Separatists' lone large base carries a lot of sneaky toys into battle and can be pretty tough if well-supported. The expansion also supplies the hyper-useful DRK-1 Probe Droids. The Infiltrator has a decent maneuver dial for such a big ship but is let down by the fact that it only has a front arc primary and it takes up a large portion of your list that may be better filled with multiple droids. The Scimitar title adds cloaking and jamming, though, which is pretty neat.