Guide: What ships should I buy for X-wing? Imperial Edition

Note (July 17, 2017): This is currently updated to include Wave 11. You can find the Rebel and Scum versions of this list.

X-wing is a fun game. It is also a game that has been out for a few years now. As such, it’s accumulated quite a sizable number of components. Right now, if you include all announced (though not yet released) ships there are 25 different ships you can fly in the game. Plus two Epic level ships. And that doesn’t tell you the whole story. Due to some ships coming in multiple different forms, there are now a total of 31 total different expansion packs (plus the Core box itself).

If you’re someone who is new to the game, one of the most often asked questions is what to buy next after the Core Set? (This is often followed by how do I store all of these things but we’ve already covered that one before).

We’re going to endeavour to try and help you answer that question. To do so we’re going to assume the following:

  1. You aren’t one of those people who buys 5 of everything no matter what. You’ll do that anyways no matter what we say. And we love you for it because you’re the reason FFG keeps making more awesome ships.
  2. You plan to try your hand at the tournament scene, some day, maybe, at least. If not, then you’re free to proxy any upgrades or pilot cards you want.  This means you can get away with just purchasing the ship models you want to use.
  3. You have the Core Set. You need that to play so we’ll assume you already have access to everything in there.

Today we’re going to start by looking at the Imperial ships. In future articles we’ll do the same rundown for Rebels and Scum. But one way to make easing into the game more manageable is to focus on a single faction at a time.

How will we rate each expansion? We’ll look at a few things

  • Max Squad– For the ship(s) in this expansion, what is the maximum that you could potentially fly in a 100pt squad. Very rarely will you ever have a reason to buy more than this number unless you are really into Epic play.
  • Standard Squad– This will be the number of ships of this type that you will typically see wielded in a squad. This number will often be a range as some ships can be wielded well in a number of different formations.
  • Unique Upgrades– What unique upgrades come with this expansion, and only this expansion? Many upgrades can be found in a few different packs so you will have different ways to obtain them. But some have only one avenue to acquire.
  • Valuable Upgrades- While these upgrades aren’t necessarily unique to this ship, they are ones that are used frequently in many different builds. Having many of these is not a bad thing. Note, this isn’t a complete list of the upgrades that come with the ship, just ones that have good value.
  • Suggested Buy: This is our recommendation for the most balanced amount to buy to gain the most benefit from the ship and upgrade cards it contains. We’ll give a little rationale behind it but this isn’t a full review of each ship so it won’t be very detailed.

So without further ado, let us begin by diving into the Imperial Fleet.

Note: This is currently being updated to include Wave 8 and all announced expansions as of Jan 2016.

firespraySlave-1 Expansion (Firespray-31)

  • Max Squad- 3
  • Standard Squad- 1-2
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent- Expose
  • Valuable Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent- Veteran Instincts
    • Secondary Weapon- Heavy Laser Cannon
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP- $30)
    • Most players will fly a single Firespray in a build. While there are good dual Firespray builds it’s not very common. The main reason to buy more than 1 is to get another copy of Veteran Instincts, which sees a lot of use. If you never plan on buying a Millenium Falcon Expansion get two Firesprays (but then, why are you playing this game if you don’t intend to buy the Falcon?)

lambdaLambda Shuttle

  • Max Squad- 4
  • Standard Squad- 1
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Crew
      • Darth Vader
      • Rebel Captive
      • Navigator
      • Flight Instructor
    • Modification- Anti-Pursuit Lasers
    • System- Sensor Jammer
  • Valuable Upgrades
    • Crew- Weapons Engineer
    • Secondary Weapon- Heavy Laser Cannon
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP- $30)
    • If you ever plan to fly a ship with crew, you need this ship just for the crew that come with it. Vader and Rebel Captive are some of the most useful crew cards in the game. Sensor Jammer is also a nice upgrade in the right builds. While the shuttle itself can be hard to use properly, the upgrade mix makes it worth the cost. Plus, it looks sweet.

tieadvancedgreyTIE Advanced

  • Max Squad- 4
  • Standard Squad- 1 (-4)
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent- Squad Leader
  • Valuable Upgrades- 
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Expert Handling
      • Swarm Tactics
    • Secondary Weapon- Cluster Missiles
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (-3) (MSRP- $15)
    • The TIE Advanced is an odd one at the moment. Until the Raider was announced, the only time you saw an Advanced on the table was if someone wanted to bring Darth Vader. But the Raider gave the Advanced a much needed upgrade. If you don’t plan on getting a Raider, just get 1 because you have to have Darth Vader

tieadvproInquistor’s TIE Advanced Prototype

  • Max Squad- 6
  • Standard Squad- 1-2
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Secondary Weapon- XX-23 Thread Tracer
  • Valuable Upgrades- 
    • Modification- Guidance Chips
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP- $15)
    • The TIE Advanced Prototype has a lot stacked against it. It’s another relatively cheap two attack Imperial ship. That means it has a lot of competition to get put on the board. The Inquisitor himself makes up for this to a large degree with his pilot ability making him a pilot you’ll likely want to fly. Additionally, the pack itself if valuable if you want to make use of ordinance. Guidance Chip is almost essential and the Thread Tracer is useful for an ordinance swarm. So you might want to get more of these if you want to pursue that route but for the ship itself, one is probably plenty.

TIE Aggressor

  • Max Squad- 5
  • Standard Squad- 2-4
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent- Intensity
    • Secondary Weapon- Unguided Rockets
  • Valuable Upgrades- 
    • Secondary Weapon
      • Twin Laser Turret
      • Synced Turret
    • Modification- Lightweight Frame
  • Suggested Buy: 2 (MSRP- $30)
    • The Imperials finally have a ship with a turret upgrade slot. I’m mixed on whether that’s a good thing or not, I personally would have given the Aggressor a rear arc instead of a turret. That said, this does bring some nice things to the Empire. Unguided Rockets make your Bombers and Punishers true ordnance carriers as they can now fire off missiles every round. You’ll probably want two copies of this ship because TLT’s work great in pairs and its useful to have multiple copies ofUnguided Rockets and Lightweight Frame.

tiebomberTIE Bomber

  • Max Squad- 6
  • Standard Squad- 2-4
  • Unique Upgrades
    • None
  • Valuable Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent- Adrenaline Rush
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP- $15)
    • Bombers can be a lot of fun and very tough. But in general, ordnance is rather lackluster in this game. For that reason you can be hard pressed justifying a Bomber list. You want to get one  so you have ordnance options for your fleet and to have Jonus available as a support ship. With the additional upgrades out there, like Guidance Chips and some cards from the Imperial Veterans you could field a nice four bomber squad but that’s more a specialty list.

tiedefenderTIE Defender

  • Max Squad- 3
  • Standard Squad- 1-2
  • Unique Upgrades- None
  • Valuable Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Predator
      • Outmaneuver
    • Modification- Munitions Failsafe
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP-  $15)
    • TIE Defenders originally had some problems. But they do have a few things going for them; they look really awesome and they come with good upgrades. With the Twin Ion Engine Mk II and the Imperial Veterans pack they get much closer to over powered. Getting two of the original is all you’ll need with a third coming from Veterans.

tiedefenderredImperial Veterans

  • Max Squad- N/A
  • Standard Squad- N/A
  • Unique Upgrades- 
    • Elite Pilot Talent- TBD
    • Crew- System Officer
    • Modification- Long Range Scanners
    • Title
      • TIE/x7
      • TIE/D
      • TIE Shuttle
  • Valuable Upgrades- 
    • Elite Pilot Talent- Crackshot
    • Secondary Weapon- Tractor Beam
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP- $30)
    • This expansion really makes the TIE Defender and Bomber more useful and versatile. It is pretty essential to make those ship’s valuable. Can you get this and skip the standard pack? Personally, I prefer the Defender without the red paint job but that aside the pilots in there are good to have. Additionally, this comes with enough title cards to use with a standard set so it’s useful to get both.

tiesfSpecial Forces TIE Fighter (TIE/sf)

  • Max Squad- 4
  • Standard Squad- 1
  • Unique Upgrades
    • System- Collision Detector
    • Tech- Sensor Cluster
  • Valuable Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent- Wired
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP-  $15)
    • This ship is part of a wave specializing in different firing patterns. Equipped with its title you get a ship that can fire either with three dice (making it the same stat line as a T-70 Xwing) or fire twice, once from each end. You’ll most likely see these flown as a lone pilot to add some rear arc coverage to a squadron.

tiefighterTIE Fighter

  • Max Squad- 8
  • Standard Squad- 4
  • Unique Upgrades- None
  • Valuable Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent- Swarm Tactics
  • Suggested Buy: 2 (MSRP-  $30)
    • Outside of a full 7-8 ship TIE swarm, the most common group is a mini-swarm of 4 ships. How many of these packs really depends on whether you get the original core set (which includes two) and if you get the Assault Carrier (also includes two). You’ll definitely want on pack for Howlrunner, everything else aside.

tiefoTIE F/O

  • Max Squad- 6
  • Standard Squad- 2-4
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent- Juke
    • Tech- Comm Relay
  • Valuable Upgrades
    • None
  • Suggested Buy: 2 (MSRP-  $30)
    • This ship also depends a bit on your core set choice. If you get the TFA core it comes with two. But you’ll want the pilots and upgrades from this one as well. It’s worth having a total of four.

tieinterceptorTIE Interceptor

  • Max Squad- 5
  • Standard Squad- 1
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent- Daredevil
  • Valuable Upgrades- None not listed above
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP- $15)
    • The main reason to get this pack is for Soontir Fel. If you want to fly more than one Interceptor, you’ll want to get Imperial Aces.


tieinterceptorredImperial Aces

  • Max Squad- 5
  • Standard Squad- 1
  • Unique Upgrades- 
    • Elite Pilot Talent- Opportunist
    • Modification- Targeting Computer
    • Title- Royal Guard TIE
  • Valuable Upgrades- 
    • Elite Pilot Talent- Push the Limits
    • Modification
      • Hull Upgrade
      • Shield Upgrade
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP- $30)
    • With this expansion and the regular TIE Interceptor you can fly any variation of good TIE Interceptor squad; typically 3 Interceptors. Otherwise, you’ll probably only be flying Soontir Fel but using several of the upgrades from this pack.

tiephantomTIE Phantom

  • Max Squad- 4
  • Standard Squad-  1
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Crew- Tactician
  • Valuable Upgrades
    • Crew- Recon Specialist
    • System- Fire Control Systems
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP- $15)
    • You’ll rarely want to fly more than one Phantom in a squad. They just work best as a lone flanker ship. Most of their unique upgrades can only be used with this ship, so you’ll always have the amount you need. The exception is Tactician and there is a valuable place for using many of them in a few squads.

tiepunisherTIE Punisher

  • Max Squad- 4
  • Standard Squad- 1
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Modification- Twin Ion Engine Mk II
  • Valuable Upgrades
    • Secondary Weapon
      • Extra Munitions
      • Advanced Homing Missile
      • Cluster Mines
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP- $20)
    • This ship really felt kind of disappointing. The addition of Guidance Chips might help bring it back to life but I’ve felt no real need to run it more than once. The Twin Ion Engine Mk II upgrade is useful though as most of your ships could take it and see a benefit.

TIE Striker

  • Max Squad- 5
  • Standard Squad- 2
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent- Swarm Leader
    • Modification- Lightweight Frame
  • Valuable Upgrades- None
  • Suggested Buy: 2 (MSRP- $30)
    • These ships make a nice addition to the Imperial fleet. Not as evasive as most TIE’s they have the option to make up for that with Lightweight Frame. What they really excel at is being hard to pin down. With their Adaptive Ailerons they can end up in hard to predict positions that most other ships can’t achieve. They are also pretty cheap for a three dice attack ship.

Upsilon Shuttle

  • Max Squad- 3
  • Standard Squad- 1
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Crew
      • Kylo Ren
      • General Hux
      • Operations Specialist
    • Tech- Targeting Synchronizer
  • Valuable Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent- Snap Shot
    • Tech- Hyperwave Comm Scanner
    • Modification- Ion Projector
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP- $40)
    • This shuttle is a bigger, meaner version of the Lambda. It’s more expensive but worth it.  Four dice primary attack is very powerful and the named pilots are all useful. Kylo has an EPT which no shuttle has had before. Major Stridan is the ultimate support pilot. And Dormitz can really make setup interesting.

decimatorVT-49 Decimator

  • Max Squad- 2
  • Standard Squad- 1
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Intimidation
      • Ruthlessness
    • Secondary Weapon- Ion Torpedoes
    • Crew
      • Fleet Officer
      • Mara Jade
      • Moff Jerjerrod
      • Ysanne Isard
  • Valuable Upgrades
    • Obstacles- Debris Fields
    • Modification- Tactical Jammers
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP- $40)
    • These ships work best in a squad with smaller ships in support. You almost never see a list with two of them. But the pack is valuable for all the unique upgrades it comes with aside from the ship itself being quite a beast.

0131161951 (1)Imperial Raider

  • Unique Upgrades- 
    • Crew- Emperor Palpatine
    • System- Advanced Targeting Computer
    • Title- TIE/x1
  • Suggested Buy: 0-1 (MSRP- $100)
    • I did not list all of the unique features of this ship as most of them are for Epic play only. If you want to play Epic play, definitely get this ship. If you don’t but love playing TIE Advanced, get this ship. Otherwise, don’t bother getting this ship.

0131161956Imperial Assault Carrier

  • Unique Upgrades- 
    • Crew- Agent Kallus
  • Suggested Buy: 0-1 (MSRP- $70)
    • I did not list all of the unique features of this ship as most of them are for Epic play only. If you want to play Epic play, definitely get this ship. It also comes with a pair of TIE Fighters and a bunch of good pilot. It’s worth considering for that reason alone. But it also looks great on the self, especially with TIE fighters actually docked underneath it.

Missing Upgrades

Below is a list of the upgrades (that you can use) that you will not have access to by solely buying Imperial ships. The ones that are bolded are the most useful for Imperial ships, though all have their place.

  • Elite Pilot Talents
    • Adaptability (Mist Hunter)
    • Calculation (Starviper)
    • Cool Hand (T-70 X-wing)
    • Decoy (Z-95)
    • Draw Their Fire (Millenium Falcon)
    • Expertise (U-Wing)
    • Lightning Reflexes (Kihraxz)
    • Lone Wolf (YT-2400/Hound’s Tooth)
    • Rage (Punishing One)
    • Stay on Target (YT-2400/Hound’s Tooth)
    • Trick Shot (Heroes of the Resistance)
    • Wingman (Z-95)
  • Crew
    • Saboteur (HWK-290)
    • Bombardier (K-Wing)
    • BoShek (Quadjumper)
    • Hot-Shot Co-Pilot (Heroes of the Resistance)
    • Inspiring Recruit (U-Wing)
    • Tail Gunner (ARC-170)
  • Secondary Weapons
    • Arc Caster (C-ROC)
    • Autoblaster Cannon (B-Wing/IG-2000)
    • Autoblaster Turret (Most Wanted)
    • Blaster Turret (HWK-290)
    • Bomblet Generator (Scurgg H-6)
    • Conner Net (K-Wing)
    • Cruiser Missile (Scurgg H-6)
    • Dorsal Turret (Ghost)
    • Flechette Cannon (M3-A Scyk)
    • Ion Turret (HWK-290/Y-Wing)
    • Mangler Cannon (IG-2000/M3-A Scyk)
    • Proton Rockets (Rebel Aces/YT-2400)
    • Seismic Torpedo (ARC-170)
    • Thermal Detonators (Ghost/Quadjumper)
  • System
    • Accuracy Corrector (Starviper/IG-2000)
    • Electronic Baffles (Mist Hunter)
    • Minefield Mapper (Scurrg H-6)
    • Reinforced Deflectors (Ghost)
  • Tech
    • Pattern Analyzer (Heroes of the Resistance)
    • Primed Thrusters (Heroes of the Resistance/Quadjumper)
  • Title
    • Andrasta (Most Wanted)
  •  Modification
    • Autothrusters (Starviper)
    • Countermeasures (YT-2400)
    • Engine Upgrade (Millenium Falcon/Hound’s Tooth)
    • Experimental Interface (YT-2400)
    • Vectored Thrusters (ARC-170)


Total suggested cost for released content at MSRP is $380 for your Imperial Fleet. For non-faction with the most valuable upgrades plus Epic ships it is another $310. Those are some big numbers, but DON’T PANIC.

First, unless you can afford it, don’t buy all these ships at once. This guide is just your goal of where to aim for your fleet. Second, you can often get these ships 30% cheaper if you buy online. This article makes no judgement on buying online vs at your FLGS.

Second, remember this is just a GUIDE, a suggestion. It’s like the Pirate Code. Take from it what you will. Above all else, X-Wing is a fun game, so buy the ships you most want to put on the table.

With the ships and quantities listed here you’ll be able to make almost any Imperial squad you might want. Fringe lists (like 5 Interceptors) will be out unless you stock up more on particular ships. But most good lists use a mix of ships so you never need more than a few of each type.

Suggested Buy Order

Here is my suggested buy order (not including unreleased content). It includes non-faction ships in italics which have the most useful upgrades.

  1. 2x TIE Fighter
  2. 2x TIE F/O
  3. 1x TIE Interceptor
  4. 1x Imperial Aces
  5. 1x Inquisitor’s TIE Advanced Prototype
  6. 2x StarViper (Autothrusters)
  7. 1x TIE Phantom
  8. 2x TIE Stiker
  9. 1x TIE Defender
  10. 1x Imperial Veterans
  11. 1x TIE Bomber
  12. 2x TIE Aggressor
  13. 1x Scurgg H-6 (Bomblet Generator/Minefield Mapper/Cruiser Missile)
  14. 1x TIE/SF
  15. 1x Heroes of the Resistance (Pattern Analyzer/Primed Thrusters)
  16. 1x Upsilon Shuttle
  17. 1x Lambda Shuttle
  18. 1x VT-49 Decimator
  19. 1x U-Wing (Inspiring Recruit/Expertise)
  20. 1x TIE Advanced (because Vader)
  21. 1x Imperial Raider*
  22. 1x TIE Punisher
  23. 1x Firespray
  24. 1x Millenium Falcon (Engine Upgrade)
  25. 1x YT-2400 (Lonewolf)
  26. 1x Mist Hunter (Adaptability)
  27. 1x Imperial Assault Carrier

*If you decide to buy the Raider, it’s worth considering getting it earlier along with a shuttle and a TIE Advanced. Emperor Palpatine is a good card and TIE Advanced are only really good with the upgrade that comes with the Raider.

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Wayne Basta

Wayne Basta

Editor-in-Chief at d20 Radio
Wayne is the managing editor of d20 Radio's Gaming Blog. He also occasionally writes books.
Wayne Basta

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