The TIE Defender is a Small Based ship released as part of Wave 4 of the X-Wing Miniatures Game and it forms part of the Imperial Fleet. In the fluff the TIE Defender was, by far, the most advanced ship of it’s kind but, unfortunately, it was far too expensive to be put into general usage and so only a limited number were ever produced. Those that were produced continued to see usage for a significant period of time.
As normal the Defender comes in the standard small ship blister pack. The ship is housed in an inner blister to secure it for transport and it is positioned in a front facing position which provides a good view of the whole ship. The tokens and cards are, as always, hidden behind the star field backdrop insert. In this expansion you get-
- TIE Defender Small Based Ship
- Small Ship Base with 2 pegs
- TIE Defender Manoeuvre Dial
- 11 x Cards (split between Pilot cards, Upgrade cards and Rules cards)
- 19 x Tokens (more on the actual split a little further down)
The Defender is an odd looking ship. To me it looks out of proportion and oddly large for a small based ship, owing to the way that each of the 3 wings is split down the middle with each half angled outwards. It doesn’t have the sleek look of ships like the Interceptor or Phantom and therefore doesn’t look as agile as it is. It is painted in the standard blue/grey and black of the Imperial fleet and, just as I said with the Phantom, the paint job is nice enough but it’s hard to get excited about grey and black.
The normal 4 Pilot cards are divided in the customary way, 2 Generic and 2 Elite. Even the cheapest ship weighs in at 30 points, which is high, despite the excellent stat line of all 3’s. The Elite Pilots are both expensive at 35 and 37 points each for Colonel Vessery and Rexler Brath respectively. Both Elite Pilots have interesting abilities, Vessery’s allows you to acquire (and therefore use) a Target Lock after rolling attack dice but before modifying them. Rexler Brath has an exceptionally powerful ability which allows him to spend a focus token in order to flip any damage cards face up after attacking, making it one of the few ways to actually cause critical hits to Chewbacca.
The art on the card is nice enough, the Generic pilots are missing something and don’t really stand out but I think that the scene on Colonel Vassery’s card is particularly nice with the ship being under lit by the sun that it is in close proximity to.
You get 5 Upgrade cards in this expansion, which is pretty standard for a small ship expansion. Of the Upgrades included only Predator is Unique to the set but it is also a particularly useful upgrade that kind find a place in many lists, especially those with Gunners so as to maximise it’s usage.
- Predator (unique to this set)
- Outmanoeuvre (also found in the E-Wing expansion)
- Ion Cannon (also found in the B-Wing, Slave-1 and M3-A Interceptor expansions)
- Ion Pulse Missiles (also found in the Z-95 Headhunter expansion)
- Munitions Failsafe (also found in the Z-95 Headhunter expansion)
The art on the cards is average, none in particular is especially standout here. Given that almost all of the Upgrades can be fund in other sets, sets you would generally buy multiple copies of, this isn’t a set to consider buying just to ensure you have all of the Upgrades you might need for a tournament list.
Also included in the set are 2 Rules cards, specifically the Ion card and the Titles and Modifications cards.
The Defender comes with all of the tokens you need to use the ship, including any of the Upgrades included in the set, without needed to buy any other expansions. The tokens included are-
- 2 x Small Ship Base Tokens (double sided as Delta Squadron Pilot/Colonel Vessery and Onyx Squadron Pilot/Rexler Brath)
- TIE Defender Manoeuvre Dial.
- 3 x Shield Tokens
- 2 x Ion Tokens
- 1 x Stress Token
- 1 x Critical Hit Token
- 2 x Focus Tokens
- 2 x Target Lock Tokens (double sided as letters W and X)
- 6 x Ship ID Tokens (3 each of numbers 37 and 38)
The Defender is an intriguing ship, on paper it should be an absolute monster to fight and should see significant tournament usage, yet it doesn’t. This is likely to be, in part, because it is very expensive to field, costing close to 50 points if you use an upgraded Rexlar Brath and considering it doesn’t mount a turret weapon, thats a stiff price.
The Defender also makes an attractive target and considering that it lacks the Evade action and can’t fit AutoThrusters due to the absence of Boost, it is hard to make it as durable as an Aggressor or slippery as a Phantom. In my experience Defenders go down quickly in games because they attract significant fire and green dice are fickle things that fail more often than succeed. The trick with a Defender is to be unpredictable with it, it has a white K-Turn on it’s dial, something that can only be achieved with Upgrades on other ships, and that means that it should never be out of arc and, combined with barrel roll, should be a fairly strong arc dodger.
Considering Rexlar Brath’s Pilot Ability adding a Heavy Laser Cannon is an attractive option. It ensures a 4 dice attack at any range and any and all hits can be changed to critical’s for the cost of a single focus. Add in Predator to provide a reroll if needed and the Defender becomes a deadly, if expensive, killing machine that would excel at being kept at range 3 to benefit from an additional defence die. The likelihood is that it would die in a few short turns which would mean pointing it at a priority target and settling it loose. In particular this set up excels at killing other Imperial ships or anything with little to no shields.
The Defender is by no means a ‘must have’ ship, the roles it excels in can be better filled by other ships and the points can be better spent elsewhere, especially if you are interested in competitive play. With that said, it’s a fun ship, it has some interesting tricks and it can be utterly lethal for the short period of time it stays on the table and therefore t’s certainly worth breaking out for fun games.
The Defender is in the same place as one of the other releases in Wave 4, the E-Wing. It’s expensive for what it does and it needs a niche to truly shine. The E-Wing found that niche when paired with the Outrider and therefore it’s only a matter of time until the Defender finds it’s niche and gets it time to shine but, until then, it’s a ship that will see more time on the shelf than the table.