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

Note (January 17, 2018): This is currently updated to include Wave 13. 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 48 different ships you can fly in the game. Plus five 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 58 total different expansion packs (plus the two different Core boxes).

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, someday, 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.
    • Note: Upgrades that are unique to ships only available in this pack are not listed.
  • Notable Upgrades- While these upgrades aren’t necessarily unique to this ship, they are ones that are unique to the wave or 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 are worth noting.
  • 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. We tend to lean toward two copies of each ship on average to maximize squad options and access to upgrades. But sometimes you only really need one of a ship. Sometimes, you’ll definitely want more. And in reality, you’re probably good with just one.

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

Alpha Class Starwing Expansion (Gunboat)

  • Max Squad- 5
  • Standard Squad- 1-2
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Secondary Weapon
      • Linked Battery
      • Jamming Beam
  • Notable Upgrades
    • Modification
      • Advanced SLAM
    • Secondary Weapon
      • Cruise Missile
  • Suggested Buy: 1-2 (MSRP- $30)
    • If you played one of the old Star Wars games (X-Wing or TIE Fighter) you’re familiar with the overpowered nature of the gunboat (technically not part of the name but this is how everyone will refer to it). FFG has done a good job of balancing it so that it can be powerful but not overpowered. They work nicely as a pair but you can fit one nicely into a lot of different squadrons.

Slave-1 Expansion (Firespray-31)

  • Max Squad- 3
  • Standard Squad- 1
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Expose
  • Notable Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Veteran Instincts
    • Secondary Weapon
      • Heavy Laser Cannon
  • Suggested Buy: 0-1 (MSRP- $30)
    • Most players will only ever fly a single Firespray in a build. While there are good dual Firespray builds it’s not very common. If you never plan on flying Scum you might want to skip this as the Imperial version isn’t as good as the Scum…who am I kidding. It’s Boba Fett’s ship. Of course, you’re buying one.

lambdaLambda Shuttle

  • Max Squad- 4
  • Standard Squad- 1
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Crew
      • Darth Vader
      • Rebel Captive
      • Navigator
      • Flight Instructor
    • Modification
      • Anti-Pursuit Lasers
  • Notable Upgrades
    • Crew
      • Weapons Engineer
    • Secondary Weapon
      • Heavy Laser Cannon
    • System
      • Sensor Jammer
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP- $30)
    • If you ever plan to fly a ship with crew, you need this ship just for the crew that comes with it. Vader and Rebel Captive are still very useful crew options. Sensor Jammer is also a nice upgrade in the right builds, though it is no longer unique to this pack. The shuttle itself can be hard to use properly, its still the best transport if you want to get Palpatine on the table. Plus, it looks sweet.

tieadvancedgreyTIE Advanced

  • Max Squad- 4
  • Standard Squad- 1
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Squad Leader
  • Notable Upgrades 
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Expert Handling
      • Swarm Tactics
    • Secondary Weapon
      • Cluster Missiles
  • Suggested Buy: 1  (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
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Secondary Weapon
      • XX-23 Thread Tracer
  • Notable Upgrades 
    • Modification
      • Guidance Chips
  • Suggested Buy: 1-2 (MSRP- $30)
    • 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. If you never want to use ordinance, one is of this is plenty. But

TIE Aggressor

  • Max Squad- 5
  • Standard Squad- 2-4
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Intensity
    • Secondary Weapon
      • Unguided Rockets
  • Notable 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 it’s useful to have multiple copies of Unguided Rockets and Lightweight Frame. Additionally, it is the only (current) source of Intensity, a very nice EPT in the right hands.

tiebomberTIE Bomber

  • Max Squad- 6
  • Standard Squad- 2-4
  • Unique Upgrades
    • None
  • Notable Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Adrenaline Rush
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP- $15)
    • Bombers can be a lot of fun and very tough. For a long time, ordinance was 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 ordinance 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
  • Notable 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 overpowered. Getting one of the original is all you’ll need with a second coming with Veterans.

tiedefenderredImperial Veterans

  • Max Squad- N/A
  • Standard Squad- N/A
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Crew
      • System Officer
    • Modification
      • Long Range Scanners
    • Title
      • TIE/x7
      • TIE/D
      • TIE Shuttle
  • Notable 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 the originals (Captain Jonus and Coloney Vessery specifically) 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
  • Notable 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
  • Notable Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Swarm Tactics
  • Suggested Buy: 0-2 (MSRP-  $0-30)
    • 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 you get 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 likely want one pack for Howlrunner, everything else aside.

tiefoTIE F/O

  • Max Squad- 6
  • Standard Squad- 1-4
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Juke
    • Tech
      • Comm Relay
  • Notable Upgrades
    • None
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP-  $15)
    • You get two of these with the core set and while you would really like to have some more copies of the upgrades in this pack, you’ll most likely only ever use them on Omega Leader, which comes with this pack.

tieinterceptorTIE Interceptor

  • Max Squad- 5
  • Standard Squad- 1
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Daredevil
  • Notable Upgrades
    • None
  • 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
  • Notable 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
    • None
  • Notable Upgrades
    • Crew
      • Recon Specialist
      • Tactician
    • 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
  • Notable 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 Imperial ships could take it and see a benefit.

TIE Silencer

  • Max Squad- 3
  • Standard Squad- 1
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Debris Gambit
    • Tech
      • Threat Tracker
  • Notable Upgrades
    • Modification
      • Autothrusters
    •  System
      • Sensor Jammer
    • Tech
      • Advanced Options
      • Primed Thrusters
  • Suggested Buy: 1 (MSRP- $30)
    • This is a really nice ship but kind of overpriced. It’s a pretty big model for a small base ship but still, $30 for one really feels overpriced. That said, it’s cool and very fun to fly. With so many green maneuvers you can really make this thing dance.

TIE Striker

  • Max Squad- 5
  • Standard Squad- 2
  • Unique Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Swarm Leader
  • Notable Upgrades
    • Modification
      • Lightweight Frame
  • 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
  • Notable Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Snap Shot
    • Modification
      • Ion Projector
    • Tech
      • Hyperwave Comm Scanner
      • Targeting Synchronizer
  • 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 all have their place. 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
      • Ruthlessness
    • Crew
      • Fleet Officer
      • Mara Jade
      • Moff Jerjerrod
      • Ysanne Isard
    • Obstacles
      • Debris Fields
  • Notable Upgrades
    • Elite Pilot Talent
      • Intimidation
    • Secondary Weapon
      • Ion Torpedoes
      • Proton Bombs
    • 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. Of particular not, it is one of two sources of alternative obstacles in the form of Debris Fields.

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. If you really want to use Emperor Palpatine, 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 pilots. 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
    • Bombardier (K-Wing)
    • BoShek (Quadjumper)
    • Courier Droid (Phantom II)
    • Hot-Shot Co-Pilot (Heroes of the Resistance)
    • Inspiring Recruit (U-Wing)
    • Saboteur (HWK-290)
    • 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/Ghost/Resistance Bomber)
    • Cruiser Missile (Scurgg H-6)
    • Dorsal Turret (Ghost)
    • Flechette Cannon (M3-A Scyk)
    • Harpoon Missile (Guns for Hire)
    • Ion Turret (HWK-290/Y-Wing)
    • Mangler Cannon (IG-2000/M3-A Scyk)
    • Proton Rockets (Rebel Aces/YT-2400)
    • Scrambler Missiles (M-12L Kimogila)
    • 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)
    • Trajectory Simulator (Resistance Bomber)
  • Tech
    • Pattern Analyzer (Heroes of the Resistance)
  • Title
    • Andrasta (Most Wanted)
  •  Modification
    • Autothrusters (Starviper)
    • Countermeasures (YT-2400/Shadowcaster)
    • Engine Upgrade (Millenium Falcon/Hound’s Tooth)
    • Experimental Interface (YT-2400)
    • Vectored Thrusters (ARC-170)

Summary

Total suggested cost for released content at MSRP is ~$425 for your Imperial Fleet. For non-faction with the most valuable upgrades plus Epic ships it is another $335. 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 judgment 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. 1x TIE Fighter
  2. 1x TIE F/O
  3. 1x TIE Interceptor
  4. 1x Imperial Aces
  5. 1x Inquisitor’s TIE Advanced Prototype
  6. 1x TIE Advanced (because Vader)
  7. 1x TIE Silencer
  8. 2x TIE Striker
  9. 1x TIE Defender
  10. 1x Imperial Veterans
  11. 1x TIE/SF
  12. 1x TIE Phantom
  13. 1x TIE Bomber
  14. 2x TIE Aggressor
  15. 1x Upsilon Shuttle
  16. 1x Lambda Shuttle
  17. 1x VT-49 Decimator
  18. 1x U-Wing (Inspiring Recruit/Expertise)
  19. 1x Heroes of the Resistance (Pattern Analyzer)
  20. 1x YV-666 (Engine Upgrade/Lone Wolf)
  21. 1x Mist Hunter (Adaptability)
  22. 1x TIE Punisher
  23. 1x Scurgg H-6 (Bomblet Generator/Minefield Mapper)
  24. 1x Firespray
  25. 1x Imperial Assault Carrier
  26. 1x Imperial Raider*

*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.
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