The TIE Phantom is a small base ship release for the X-Wing Miniatures game that formed part of the forth Wave of releases for that game. The Phantom is a unique ship within the game as it has sole use of the Cloaking action making it a formidable challenge in the hands of a skilled opponent. Within the Star Wars Universe the Phantom was an experimental ship developed in secret but it never saw widespread use as it was very expensive to build and required rare materials for it’s Stygium Particle Accelerator.
As always the TIE Phantom comes in the standard small ship blister pack. The ship is visible from the top down and is angled so it is facing upwards giving you a good view of the whole ship. The cards and tokens are hidden behind the star field insert and the ship is protected within an inner plastic inset to hold it snugly during transport.
Inside the blister pack you get-
- TIE Phantom small based ship
- Small Ship Base and 2 pegs
- 1 x TIE Phantom Manoeuvre Dial
- 12 x Cards (split between Pilot cards, Rules cards and Upgrade cards)
- 18 x Tokens (I’ll provide an exact split a little later)
The TIE Phantom is a nice looking ship, it has pointed wings that are reminiscent of the TIE Interceptor and the 3 of them sit evenly spaced around the central cockpit. The cockpit itself is longer than the earlier TIE Fighters and this accounts for the fact that the Phantom can accommodate a crew member. The ship is painted in the standard blue/grey and black of the TIE Fighter line of ships and the paint job on this ship is even and neat, although I can’t call it stunning as it’s hard to get excited about a ship painted grey and black.
The Phantom comes with the standard 4 Pilot Cards, split evenly between Generic and Elite Pilots, two of each. The lowest pointed ship, the Sigma Squadron Pilot, comes in at 25 points meaning you could field 4 of them in a standard Tournament list if you wanted, although you would have to be very skilled in manoeuvring to avoid a quick and painful defeat. The Elite Pilots are the standouts here as their abilities make the already unpredictable and agile ship significantly harder to track or damage with one ability guaranteeing an extra evade token and the other providing more options with which to decloak.
The artwork on the cards is nice and up to the normal standard of the Pilot cards with Echo and Whisper being the best looking of the bunch. Echo in particular is illustrated so as to show the Phantom decloaking which is a nice touch.
The weakness in the Phantom is it’s relatively low Pilot Skill values since all but the most skilled of players rely upon being able to decloak, attack and recloak before being shot at in order to get the extra 2 defence dice for being cloaked. This can be remedied somewhat with the addition of Veteran Instincts but even so, high PS pilots, such as Corran Horn, Han Solo, Soontir Fel and Darth Vader can get the drop on the Phantom and so counter it’s daunting defences.
You get 5 Upgrade cards in the set, 3 of which are unique to the expansion although of those, 2 are usable solely by the Phantom at this point as they provide upgrades to the cloaking ability.
- Tactician (unique to this set)
- Recon Specialist (also available in the HWK-290 expansion)
- Fire Control System (also available in the B-Wing expansion)
- Stygium Particle Accelerator (unique to this set)
- Advanced Cloaking Device (unique to this set)
You get a good set of Upgrades within this set, all of which are useful on the Phantom and, if not solely for the Phantom, on other ships. The Advanced Cloaking Device is a must on the Phantom and I have yet to encounter one flown without it, being able to cloak for free after hitting with an attack is just too attractive an ability. This, of course, means that the Stygium Particle Accelerator sees little play, despite it being cheaper and exceptionally useful in it’s own right.
The Fire Control System can be helpful on practically any ship, given that it essentially makes all attacks more accurate through providing never ending target locks and in particular Corran Horn finds this upgrade exceptionally useful. Tactician is one of the few ways of consistently dealing stress without having to hit with an attack or take stress yourself. This makes it oddly useful for Rebel forces looking to try and shut down a Phantom since stress can all but shut down a Phantom by preventing it from decloaking or can make it very vulnerable if stressed while visible.
I rarely mention the rules cards in anything other than passing but given that the Phantom has the unique actions of Cloak and Decloak I though it was worth highlighting. These actions have been much discussed since the ship was released and have been heavily criticised for being overpowered, which I don’t think is the case, at least to the degree that many believe.
In late March 2015 FFG released updated FAQ and Tournament rules for the X-Wing game and included therein is a change to the order in which the Phantoms actions are performed which has subtly lowered the power of the ship by 5-10%. I encourage you to head over to the FAQ page and download those rules for yourself.
As always FFG make sure that they provide sufficient tokens so as to use the ship without buying any other expansions and this includes the upgrade cards. The tokens in this set are-
- 2 x Small Base Ship Tokens (double sided as Echo/Sigma Squadron Pilot and Whisper/Shadow Squadron Pilot)
- 1 x TIE Phantom Manoeuvre Dial
- 2 x Shield Tokens
- 2 x Focus Tokens
- 1 x Evade Token
- 1 x Cloak Token
- 2 x Target Lock Tokens (double sided letters Y and Z)
- 1 x Critical Hit Token
- 1 x Stress Token
- 6 x Ship ID Tokens (3 each of numbers 41 and 42)
As I’ve said, the Phantom is a unique ship, it is undoubtedly the best arc dodger in the game up to and including the Wave 6 releases, but more than that, it has an ability that literally no other ship so far released has, it’s ability to cloak. This ability gives it the unsurpassed ability to have 4 defence dice at range one and 5 at range 3, plus an Evade token if you take the Evade action or use Whisper. Add to this the fact that the Phantom is the only ship to have a native 4 dice attack, 5 at range 1, and it is easy to see why it is such a monster in the right hands.
On a personal level and as a primarily Rebel player (I’ve only recently felt the lure of the Darkside, but I did buy into Scum and Villainy on release day), I have a long standing hatred of the Phantom. I don’t believe it is over powered and the recent FAQ certainly helps even out any small imbalance there was but that doesn’t change the fact that it is infuriating to face and always required a hard counter, or great luck, to stop. In skilled hands the Phantom is formidable and should rarely ever end up in arc for an enemy ship, regardless of it’s excellent defensive capabilities, it should be unpredictable but utterly devastating.
Prior to the recent FAQ the Phantom was a must for any Imperial player, working well when paired with a Decimator or a TIE Fighter Mini-Swarm. Now, it’s weaker certainly, but only insofar as it is slightly less unpredictable in it’s movement but that doesn’t make it less of a threat, rather it just makes it more of a priority target. The TIE Phantom is still a ship that any Imperial player should own, it looks awesome, its interesting and different and it’s by far the most forgiving ship with which to learn the important skill of arc dodging, just don’t expect anyone to like like it hen you put it on the table.