For 18 points, you can have either of these 2 in your squad:
Mauler Mithel (MM) with Veteran Instincts
Alpha Squadron (AS) Pilot
MM will be a Skill Level 9, vs a Skill 1 AS. Which means MM will shoot before or simultaneously with your opponent's squad, whereas the AS will have to survive longer in order to attack.
And MM will get 4 dice at Range 1, but 2 dice at 2 and 3, whereas the AS will also have 4 at Range 1, but 3 dice at 2 and 3. And if MM is at Range 1 to use his ability, he will likely be at Range 1 for your opponent as well, but being Level 9 he'll get his shot off before getting attacked.
And the AS has the Boost action, where MM doesn't.
MM will maneuver last, with possibility of losing an action, where the AS will move first and can block, and the Boost action comes in quite handy for blocking.
It's an interesting conundrum, so i figured I'd toss the question out to the community and see what people think. I think I know my answer, but I want to see what others think.
depends on what you want to do with your squad i guess?
+ you will most likely shoot first, being able to take out named pilots with low hp. having high PS also means you cna move into position better
+ you will be a target for most of the shots, so MM will help relieve the pressure off your other more important pieces eg. Phennr, Howlrunner etcetc
+ since MM has such a high PS, most likely your opponent would be using focus/evade instead of roll/boost. while this does mean that the shot will be more difficult to hit, at least you do get to shoot at him
- I do not think you are able to guarantee a range 1 shot for a majority of the time, so you will be stuck with 2 attack dice, which as you noted is rather ineffective against any imp ships running stealth device.
- even if you do get into range 1, it is dangerous / difficult for other supporting elements to keep up / join in, eg. Howlrunner, bodyguard TIEs (not sure if you want to count this), stuff with assault missiles on them like the Firespray or TIEadv, swarm tactics chain etc. Not so much of a problem with imperial builds i guess, but more of a playstyle issue.
- if you are running vet instincts, it becomes impossible to benefit from squad leader, so if your MM suffers any collisions and loses his actions, he's pretty much all on his own. unless you are hit with that 1 crit card.
- lack of boost action may hinder efforts at getting within range
- strange PS number (either 7 or 9) means that you most likely do not get to share the same movement timing with other imp ships, making maneuvering that little bit more difficult/irritating
- ship upgrade choices are pretty much limited to boost and shield. stealth is most likely not that good as you will be doing range 1 exchanges.
- range 1 exchanges means that most likely you will lose him at some point in time, and rather quickly too. again, this is more of a playstyle issue, but then again if your MM isnt in range 1, something is wrong with your playing
+ shared PS means ease of maneuvering with other ships of the same PS, which you will nearly definitely run
+ lowest PS of 1 means you get to move first, get your actions, and block stuff. yay!
+ you get to benefit from things like squad leader etc
+ boost action already on the ship, no need for upgrades.
+ 3 atk means you are still a threat at all ranges. gives you more flexibility movement wise, and you are also able to stay in formation with other supporting elements to enjoy their benefits, eg Howlrunner, swarmchains etc
+ ship upgrade choices are limited to shield and stealth
- lack of "presence" means that shots will most likely be directed towards other ships you are running instead of this ship
- PS1 means you will most definitely be removed before you can squeeze out a shot when you are low on hp
- low PS also means that your opponent can use roll/boost to get out of your firing arc with ease.
both ships/other considerations:
= at 3 hp, there is still the chance of getting one-shotted, especially at range 1. for MM, shield upgrade is highly recommended I feel.
= I feel it is better if you pick the choice that is more suited with the rest of your squad; makes planning decisions easier. eg. if you are swarming in with large numbers, alpha TIE/in is better since it is of a low PS, can be used to block stuff, and generally goes well with the rest of the squad idea. Similiarly, MM works better in a squad with all high PS/named pilots because of the mindset you will have when playing him matches the squad idea. If you were to switch them around, MM will be stuck with a bunch of low PS pilots, and he cant join in the blocking fun, will be a hinderance in your movements since he will be there and you cannot move him away to have somebody else move into his current spot without losing an action, and will most likely be taken out first simply because he stands out. Alpha in a high PS squad means that you are unable to take out low PS pilots before they are able to squeeze out a shot as effectively, which translates to more damage taken by your squad. movement wise it is also rather stressful, not only do you have to consider the big picture for the rest of your squad, you also need to think about this ship that will be moving before everybody else. While it is nothing much for a single game, if you are talking prolonged periods of playing (ie. tourneys), the stress will start to hit you after your 2nd or 3rd game, and there will be a lot of confusion with your movements after a while.