The TIE Punisher is a small based ship expansion for the X-Wing Miniatures Game. It came out as part of Wave 7 of releases for that game and forms part of the Imperial Faction. The TIE Punisher is also known as the TIE Interdictor and was developed as an advanced version of the TIE Bomber. The ship itself first appeared in a the 2001 Star Wars computer game, Galactic Battlegrounds as the TIE Interdictor and was renamed the TIE Punisher by FFG for this release.
The TIE Punisher is one of the larger small based ship expansions and, as such, comes with more content than the standard small ship expansions. In this expansion you get-
- 1 x TIE Punisher Small Based Ship
- 1 x Small Ship Base and pegs
- 1 x TIE Punisher Manoeuvre Dial
- 19 x cards (Split between Upgrade Cards, Pilot Cards and Rules Cards, more on the specifics soon)
- 20 x Tokens (more on the specifics soon)
The TIE Punisher is a big ship and, as such, it comes packaged so that it’s visible from a top down perspective. As normal is comes packaged inside an inner blister to protect it while in transit and the cards and tokens are stored behind the artwork in the background. As I said earlier, the TIE Punisher comes in one of the larger small based ship blisters that was started with the StarViper in Wave 6 and, as such is a particularly chunky ship.
When Wave 7 was first announced I wasn’t all that keen on the Punisher, it looked weird with it’s extra pods, like someones first attempt at a conversion with the belief that more pod=better. Now I’ve had my hands on it my opinion has risen significantly. Whereas I originally thought it looked weirdly out of proportion I now think it looks suitably imposing as it is massive, at least twice the size of the TIE Bomber that it improves upon. Originally I thought the extra pods looked out of place, now I think that they look like a logical progression. If the Empire to try and build and advanced TIE Bomber, the Punisher is exactly what it would look like.
The painting is fine, nothing special as with most of the Imperial ships. It’s painted using the more blue-grey colour scheme as opposed to the white-grey colour that some of the other ships use. It’s neat enough on my model, with no spillage and the wash looks ok and brings out enough of the detail.
As per the the norm for small based ship expansions you get 4 Pilot Cards in with the TIE Punisher, 2 Generic and 2 Elite. The Pilots are-
- Black Eight Squadron Pilot
- Cutlas Squadron Pilot
The art on the cards is pretty solid, with the exception of Redline, who I think looks a bit dull. I particularly like the look and name of the Black Eight Squadron Pilot. In terms of Pilot abilities both Redline and Deathrain (who, due to a typo on a post I read, I now always see as DeathTrain and that means I hear this as his theme song when I see his card) have useful and interesting abilities. Redline gets extra locks allowing him to make the most of the vast amount of ordnance he can carry and use and Deathrain can drop bombs in front of him, which seems like an immensely useful ability.
You get 9 upgrade cards in the TIE Punisher set, almost double the amount you generally get in a small based ship expansion. Most of the Upgrades in this set are unique to the ship or Wave making it particularly valuable for a number of reasons. The upgrade cards are-
- 2x Twin Ion Engine MK.II (Unique to this set)
- Flechette Torpedoes (Also found in the E-Wing and Rebel Transport sets)
- Extra Munitions (Also found in the K-Wing set)
- Cluster Mines (Unique to this set)
- Ion Bombs (Also found in the K-Wing set)
- Enhanced Scopes (Also found in Rebel Aces)
- Advanced Homing Missiles (Also found in the K-Wing set)
The art on the cards isn’t too bad, I like the Twin Ion Engine MKII and the ION Bomb in particular. That said, while good art is a bonus it’s not the art that we want the upgrades for. Of the set a fair amount is unique to the Wave as a whole, with several upgrades just being duplicated from the K-Wing. Of the Upgrades that aren’t unique to the Wave the reprints seem to be of cards only found in Rebel sets, giving Imperial only players a way to get them without buying ships they won’t use.
I’ll come onto the ordnance upgrades in a second as I want to mention the Twin Ion Engine MKII first. This is a great card, you get a pair of them in the set and they fit particularly well on older Imperial ships such as the TIE Advanced and the TIE Defender. In particular putting this modification on Juno Eclipse, in her TIE Advanced, really expands the use of her pilot ability and turns all of her bank manoeuvres green, which is a pretty significant bonus.
Moving onto the ordnance, of course the Extra Munitions upgrade is the big change. For a measly 2 points you get to double your use of all other loaded munitions, giving you enough ordnance to last an entire game and if you tie (no pun intended) in with the pilot abilities of the Punisher you get a pretty brutal set up.
Cluster mines, times right, pose a devastating threat, especially if you can combine them with an ion effect and cause a ship to float through all 3 and the Ion bomb allows you to do just that, even with a large based ship. Doubling up on these effects (using Extra Munitions) could severely cripple and possible kill a large based ship very quickly.
The Advanced Homing Missiles, while limited to range 2, are a legitimate threat to any low hull ship since they can cause a Critical Hit without needing to wear down the shields first of all and considering that they only need a Lock to activate, but don’t spend it, you have a much better change of making sure the attack works.
Owing to the new Ordnance types and the extra munitions you get a fair number of tokens in the set, some of which are only found in the K-Wing. What you get is-
- 1 x TIE Punisher Manoeuvre dial
- 2 x TIE Punisher Small Base Ship Tokens (Double Sided as Redline/Black 8 Squadron Pilot and Deathrain/Cutlass Squadron Pilot)
- 3 x Shield Tokens
- 5 x Extra Munitions Tokens
- 3 x Cluster Mines Tokens (these combine to make a single cluster mine)
- 1 x Ion Bomb
- 1 x Focus Token
- 1 x Stress Token
- 4 x Ion Tokens
Strangely, especially for a ship with a Pilot that doubles up on them, there are no Target Locks included in the set and, also, there are no ship ID Tokens in the set.
The TIE Punisher is a solid ship. I think it’ll make a good core ship for a 3 or 4 ship list that can cause significant damage to single targets or act as a controller, funnelling enemies to specific points. It’d be very easy to overload the ship, after all Redline has 7 Upgrade slots on top of a base cost of 27 points and so fully tricking the ship out could approach the points cost of many of the traditional ‘fat’ ships, which would be counter productive I think.
Much like the K-Wing, the Punisher is both a ship expansion and a reboot for ordnance in general. It contains interesting possibilities to boost ordnance on a small cluster of ships, including the Punisher, K-Wing, TIE Bomber and Y-wing, providing potential for a new kind of bomb heavy list to make appearances in the wider meta. Only time will tell if the boost is enough to make ordnance a viable option for top tier lists but, if nothing else, it’ll add another fun element to the game.