If you are anything like me, you have loved the sleek look of the TIE Interceptor since first seeing it in “Return of the Jedi”. What with its heavy laser cannons and cutout foils, it had the look of precision murder in its design. Also, if you are anything like me, you couldn’t wait to field them in X-Wing, probably purchasing two before ever opening the first one. Then, like me, you shrieked in disappointment as they got blown to smithereens quickly.
Well, there is a right way and a wrong way to fly these awesome starfighters, for sure, and if you merely look at the fact that they have guns like an X-Wing and agility like a TIE you are probably doing it wrong. And I’m not being critical; I was that way, too. In order to optimize these ships and their capabilities you will need to change the way you play.
The Ship Itself
Let’s begin by looking at the beautiful model you have before you. The stats boast an impressive Attack of 3, Agility of 3, Hull of 3, but no shields. It also has a maneuver dial that is virtually made of green moves. It can Focus, Evade, Barrel Roll, and Boost as standard actions.
If you have the TIE Interceptor booster, you have three generic pilots and three named ones (“Fel’s Wrath”, Turr Phennir, and Soontir Fel) covering Pilot Skills of 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9 and ranging in points from 18 to 27. With the Imperial Aces set you have one more generic (Royal Guard at PS6) and four more named pilots (Lt. Lorrir, Kir Kanos, Tetran Cowell, and Carnor Jax).
The obvious pro to this ship is its attack power, hitting as hard as a Firespray or X-Wing. The hidden gem is its maneuver dial. The super secret bonus is its boost and barrel roll action options.
The cons are its lack of shields (which Imperial players should be accustomed to by now) and its point cost. A PS1 Interceptor costs 150% (18 pts) of a PS1 TIE Fighter (12 pts) and only brings one more attack die. This works out correctly, as two Interceptors throws the same number of attack dice as three TIE fighters (6 dice total). But, I contend, if you are bringing PS1 Interceptors (Alpha Squadron) you have already made a mistake.
The total selection has an impressive two generics (Sabre Squadron and Royal Guard) with an Elite Pilot Skill slot, and most of the named pilots have this as well.
Pushing Some Limits
I have always been oppressed by the will of the dice Gods. When I need to make some saves, I fail them all. The first time I fielded Soontir Fel I put Stealth Device on him and took an attack at range three through an asteroid and blanked all six of my green dice. This kind of experience has been shared by many Interceptor players, and is a source of stress for the player even more than his pilots. So, I came to the conclusion that I would need to fly as so to throw as few green dice as possible, thus minimizing the effect the Lords of Chance could have upon me and my victory.
To do this I had to change the way I flew. When you have the durability advantage coupled with good firepower (X-Wings, B-Wings) a straightforward approach of barreling in a wedge formation right at your opponent works well. When you don’t have any shields, this is a horrible idea. Sure, you might get lucky and survive with some focuses and fortune, but chances are more likely than not you will be struck down. Think of it this way. An X-Wing takes 5 hits to be destroyed a B-wing or a Y-Wing 8, an Interceptor only 3. You will need to be smarter than that.
I fly my Interceptors at an angle. A 45 degree angle if I can help it. I can correct the 45 degree angle with a Boost if I need to, or flip it entirely with a turn (and the 2 turn is green on that dial, with a 1 turn and a 3 turn as white options). A Turn then Boost (Turn and Burn) can move 135 degrees in a short amount of space. Combine that with a barrel roll between the turn and the boost and you have tightened your turn radius even more.
But that means two actions. Yes, and that’s where Push the Limit becomes the most important 3 points you will ever invest. A Royal Guard Interceptor with Push the Limit (PTL) as its Elite Pilot Skill is 25 points. It also moves on Pilot Skill 6, making it one of the fastest generic ships, and thusly attacks before every other no-name ship. You can bring four at 100 pts.
Build Prototype Alpha
4x Royal Guard Pilot (TIE Interceptor) + PTL
This build works fine against most others, provided you remember how to use PTL. Always try to clear the opponent’s fire arc in preference to Focus or Evade. Use the Barrel Roll. Use the Boost. Focus when you can. If you cannot clear arcs then Focus and Evade to maximize your chances for survival. PTL every round where there will be shooting, and spin out of it with either a 2 forward, 2 bank, 2 turn, 3 forward, or 4 forward move to shed that stress. Stay at an angle where you can use simple geometry (Darth Pythagoras would be proud) to spin and roll away. Make your opponent cringe as he gives up actions to K-turn to try to get a shot.
And for the love of Fel, get in close. This is a knife fight. Cackle with glee as you throw four red dice time and again when return shots won’t be an issue.
But, the lack of any named pilots can be troubled by a tight three ship synergistic build with multiple PS 7, 8, 9s because you will need to second guess where Wedge is going to end up. It doesn’t always work out.
Build Prototype Beta
2x Royal Guard Pilot (TIE Interceptor) + PTL
Kir Kanos (TIE Interceptor)
Carnor Jax (TIE Interceptor)
This adds two named pilots with special abilities to the mix, and while they don’t have PTL on themselves, that’s of little consequence. Use Carnor to jam up the enemies from using Focus and Evade themselves, and keep Kir back a ways to add hits to his attacks. You still have darty-shooty Royal Guards, too. Expect Carnor to be a big target, but that will buy time to maneuver the others.
But, for me anyway, this is absent a key element in Imperial builds – the blocker. Lacking one or two PS1s that I can use to disrupt opposing moves and deny actions because of the bump makes me nervous, so I changed it a little.
Build Prototype Gamma (Carnor’s Crimson Guard)
2x Royal Guard Pilot (TIE Interceptor) + PTL
2x Academy Pilots (TIE)
Carnor Jax (TIE Interceptor)
For me, this balanced the slick surgical strikes of the Royal Guard with the blunt trauma of the TIE fighters. It gave me blockers, and kept Carnor in place for a diversion.
I took this build to the Assault on Imdaar Alpha and placed second my first time flying it. I had trouble against a very well commanded swarm of 7 TIEs, but easily picked apart a less well commanded swarm of 6 TIEs. I decimated a 2 B-Wing, 2 X-Wing list and handily defeated Han Solo and two Rookie X-Wings. It was a matter of target selection and decimation … concepts I will discuss more fully in another article.
I hope you found this helpful and it makes you rethink all those pretty Interceptors you have in your case. I didn’t even discuss other special uses of Interceptors (like Soontir Fel with PTL) yet. If you paid attention you learned the following things:
- TIE Interceptors are nice ships, and with Push the Limit they are even better.
- Fly at an angle if you have the agility advantage. Take away shots coming at you, because that’s much better than rolling green dice.
- The Interceptor maneuver dial is made of green, so stress all the time with PTL and then spin out of it.
Let me know what you think in the comments. And, as always, Fly Casual.