Why pick Imperials?

59 posts in this topic

So that turned out different. I started writing about the actual question, but it turned into this weird thoughtpiece about the game and my feelings about it. I do actually want an answer to the question posed below, but bear in mind that I got a bit into it. 


I wonder, if a new player comes into the game now, without much of a preference for either faction, lore, and theme wise, what should we say to them, what is the reason to pick Imperials? 

I normally just answer jokingly, something along the lines of "support your local Imperial garrison by signing up to the Imperial Academy!" etc. as if the thematic flavor of an evil empire isn't enough. Because at the end of the day, this is Star Wars. That's what it should be about. 

But not everyone feels that way, and if one wants to convince another to pick imperials purely for a gameplay reason what do we say? 


- Swarm play? The game has shifted to a state where swarms aren't much of a thing, and the cheap, efficient archetype is better fielded by the rebels (fairship rebels, and the new Phantom 2 also seems to play into this). 

- High agility aces? True, Imperials have the most of these, but with Fenn Rau, Vaksai TBC, and some other high ps scum ace (OT maybe) Scum aces just deal more damage and have built in additional defenses. Without the support of Palp the Imperial aces lost the high defenses these scum aces had to weaponize against. I think a Scum ace list is better than an Imp ace list.

- Once it was said that imperials were the ordnance faction, having access to ships fully loaded with ordnance upgrade slots. This of course have changed, Imperials being the worst at bombing by a large margin, and while having some success with high ps alpha strikes, the most dreaded ordnance carriers in the game were Miranda and JumpMasters. Clearly, saying that Imperials have the best ordnance game is not a valid reason to play them, even though, they aren't horrible. 

- Large ships aren't really a faction staple, having only maybe 2 decent large based ships, and none of the quality of Rey, Han, Dash, Dengar, Brobots or Hera. This is also amplified by the lack of crew and other upgrade types necessary to these builds, as the Decimator could become incredibly dangerous with just a bit of help and synergy. Nevertheless, large ships aren't an imperial thing. 

- As these conversations usually go, sooner or later people bring up the TIE SF and TIE/D Defenders, as valid imperial ships. And true, these heavy, elite fighters have the power and the tools to lay down some serious hurt, paired with ample defenses. This seems to be the way imperials are going at the moment, and the Gunboat seems to fill this niche as well. But maybe that's just the way the game evolves? The Wookiee Gunship is also an effective (and tanky) heavy fighter, and the Scurrg also boasts with some serious jousting power. The Kimogilla looks like it's going to be a similar craft, being capable of dealing higher damage in its special arc. Heavy jousters are everywhere, and maybe the beloved X-Wing will get a buff at last, seeing that we finally got the Gunboat. 


So what is there for Imperials? Swarms are meaningless, scum aces outdamage them, they were never really about large ships, they are beaten in jousting and there is generally a lot of hate for their faction staple "low health, high agility" philosophy. 

That paired with poor design decisions like not having a faction specific upgrade, while lacking severely in others, does not bode well for the game. Whenever I describe this situation to my friends who don't play X-Wing, they just say: "It's bad design", while shaking their head, baffled by the facts. In what game is it okay for one faction severely lacking a type of power boost, readily available to the other two, without having a unique strength itself? 


I myself can't bring myself to purchase or commit to another faction, but I like their mechanics. I like their ships. I prefer the Scyck to the humble TIE/LN mechanics wise. I think a slightly more expensive, beefier version of a similar ship has more potential. Not even mentioning the versatility it brings to the table. 

When presented with the idea of a cheap, high agility ship, I much prefer the one with a bit higher cost but large variety over the one that can do 1 thing, and that is being a bit cheaper. 

And this is the way I feel about a lot of Imperial ships. I love their theme and lore, and even the way they play... but from a pure gamist POV, I am merely okay with them. Scum has way more interesting combinations, synergies and builds, and I am not even talking about power here. I don't care about Tier 1, but the Tier 2 scum builds are incredibly fun. Rebels also have sooo many options for so many things. The A-wing, double EPT? Are you kidding me, that's awesome. The T70 looks awesome, and while I personally don't like PWT-s, I can definitely see what appeals to some players about large based rebel ships. 

It's just... the other factions have so many things going for them, plus they have regen, illicit upgrades, astromech droids... All of these are venues for new, fun mechanics, and badass ships, and everytime Imperials get something new, it is shortly available to the other factions. I mean, rebels have access to the TIE Fighter, and they are pretty much better pilots than Imperial ones. 


I am enjoying this game... immensely. But my relationship to it, is very aptly, much like my relationship with Star Wars in general. I adore it. I don't care for its flaws, I gleefully ignore them and enjoy my spaceships and spacewizards with laserswords. But that doesn't mean that the issues aren't there. And it certainly doesn't make it a better game. 


So... why pick Imperials? 


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23 minutes ago, RufusDaMan said:

So what is there for Imperials? Swarms are meaningless, scum aces outdamage them, they were never really about large ships, they are beaten in jousting and there is generally a lot of hate for their faction staple "low health, high agility" philosophy. 

Agreed that TIE/ln fighters struggle, but you may find that there's a niche between swarms and aces where the empire does very well - Heavy swarms like the Unguided Rockets TIE/sa or Adaptive Ailerons Scarif Defender have enough tricks up their sleeve to be interesting to use, but give you 5 ships to the 3 (or even 2) on the other side of the board, all with 3-dice attacks, something Rebels certainly can't do (scum can, but they have nothing as mobile as the TIE/sk or as tough as the Lightweight Frame TIE/sa at that points cost)

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40 minutes ago, MaxPower said:

Because they are cool.


28 minutes ago, FTS Gecko said:




22 minutes ago, Keffisch said:



13 minutes ago, DariusAPB said:

Because GUNBOAT!

Also TIEs, the fact it's fun to play a bad guy, the cool uniforms, TIE Fighter....
Lawful evil...


13 minutes ago, tsondaboy said:

THIS is why!




Yeah, that's all cool, but this is exactly the issue. The Empire is really cool, granted. Anything else aside from that? 

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To me imperials are the "Maneuverability Faction". Where Scum specialise in their dastardly tricks and a handful of overpowered vessels and rebels rely on crazy synergy (looking at you Biggs) it seems that the empire has the best board control.

The barrel rolls, boosts and downright good dials allow the imperials to maneuverability through tight rock formations with even their most basic craft. This however is currently their weakness, the game has moved away from sneaking in range one shots with gutsy plays and some tight piloting.

Board control comes with things like the Tie Interceptor or striker, with high mobility and decent damage striking power. Or with the ever K-Turning defenders, the tricky phantoms or the double arc SF's.

so you ask, why play imperials?

To me, board control is appealing, guessing where the opponent will manoeuvre and banking everything in that guess. It's high risk high reward gameplay that requires quick thinking and a (somewhat sound) plan.

For example, I've managed to beat FSR 2.0 when I've come up against it by using a tactic I stumbled upon during my first bout with them (completely by accident mind you). By offering up one of my three aces the other two can get behind it and give em ****, the inquisitor is my acceptable loss.

dancing the knife edge and running the superman dilemma of never letting yourself be caught in arc keeps things interesting. 

It's (almost) always a tough game and a single slip up can end in disaster.

but maybe I'm just a thrill junkie :/ 

looking forward to the Gunboat, I wonder which ace it will replace?

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Posted (edited)

I'd say if you still want to play a game that feels like you're playing classic X-wing, Imperials are the best faction for that.  That still boils down to style, essentially.  Other than that, they have far and away the best PS9 ships.  So if you want to own the PS race, Vader and Quickdraw are top notch pilots at PS11.  That's the strongest Imperial niche right now.

Edited by Biophysical

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4 minutes ago, RufusDaMan said:







Yeah, that's all cool, but this is exactly the issue. The Empire is really cool, granted. Anything else aside from that? 

They have very interesting tech/EPT combos available, the best support craft/crew, the best heavy fighters, still the best full swarms, etc.

Their ships are generally FUN to play, hyper-maneuverable, have all sorts of weird tricks (Ruthlessness, Oicunn, double-taps, cloaking, and so on).  I have a large number of Rebel lists that I really enjoy playing, but I definitely play Imperials the most.

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To me, the number one gameplay thing is the satisfaction.

Nothing else is as satisfying as outguessing your opponent and setting up a killbox with say 5 strikers or 5 ps 7+ crackties aming at them.

Or skillfully putguessing them with a phantom or carnor...

Granted, this volatile high skill approach doesnt win tournaments above storechamp lvl right now but its just... deeply satisfying.

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Some of the best 'budget aces' in the game - You may not be able to justify Soontir Fel in an environment laden with go-go-gadget bombs and autoblasters ignoring your green dice (it's not as bad as that, but I admit he's at a serious disadvantage compared to how he was), but for a comparative pittance of cost, pilots like Omega Leader are really nasty.

The 19-26 point all-up ships available to imperials are really good, to the point that you can easily fit in 4 ships worth the title of 'ace', even if they don't warp the game like Fenn Rau and co - and having four of them is a power all by themselves.

  • Veteran Instincts/Ailerons/Frame Duchess
  • Intensity/TIE V1 Valen Rudor
  • Juke/Comms Relay Omega Leader
  • Snap Shot Mauler Mithel
  • Wired/Weapons Guidance Zeta Leader
  • Trick Shot/Ailerons/Frame Pure Sabbac
  • Targeting Synchroniser Epsilon Ace
  • Swarm Leader Omega Ace

Are all really nasty when paired up and supported right, either as an 'ace swarm' in their own right, or as a third ship which is much more capable than a generic T-70 X-wing or equivalent.



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"If you're going to lose your shields anyways, why should I bother paying for them in the first place?", the TIE Fighter pilot's hears his father's words echo.

Gripping his controls, the pilot vectors in on the Rebel scum. Leeroy Jenkins will make his dad, and the Empire, proud.

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To the OP, you say you don't care for PWT, which I can totally sympathise with, but I really do wonder if that is because I'm exclusively play Imperial. 

I want the game go be about arcs and flying your butt off, about outmaneauvering, dodging the joust, laying the trap, about shots that count, about peeling away and looping back around. 

The PWT and more importantly the TLT take most of that away. So I admit I don't care for it either. The Aggressor looks great but a TLT carrier was never something I wanted. The Decimator is fine, you can realistically only bring 1, but the other factions can fill out their ranks with turret on turret. 

But I think there are definitely some advantages the Empire has and you might have outlined the main ones. 

1. The Heavy Fighter. Yes you need to fly Quickdraw well compared to Dengar's Turret but that 37pts of Expertise, FCS, LWF QD is a pretty good match for 53pt Dengar. QD, Vessery, Stele, Ryad, Backdraft and even Vader all qualify as Heavy Fighters and regen aside only Poe probably comes close to competing with them at the moment. They even have low PS heavy fighters like Defenders and Rocket Bombers that can pull some heavy duty work  

2. The Highest PS. Yes Nym has totally ruined Soontir Fel's comeback tour probably until X-Wing 2.0, but Empire still boast the best highest PS ships and the easiest ships to crack 11 and not even care about Nym anymore. Nym might have brought back the PS Wars but Empire still wins that race. 

3. Playstyle. Too long have we Empire players rested on the Emperor to provide unprecedented defence in battle, but Vader aside Plot Armour is not for the Empire. They are a fast, deadly dangerous faction willing to sacrifice pieces in order to bring about true victory. Obviously MOV (the most stupidly flawed system ever for determine game winners and cuts) really hampers this, but you need to embrace the fact that losing ships on the way to victory is fine. 


I'm taking Pure Sabaac, Vader and Quickdraw to my store championship this weekend. I know they can beat anything out there. I have practiced the and the burden to fly them well falls on me. As players, isn't this what we want?


And just a final thing, if you play Imperial v Imperial this game is so much more fun, or at least it was before the Aggressor. TLT spam might ruin that dream. 

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I think that the very concept of "faction" is highly overrated in people's minds. You don't "pick Imperial" or "pick Rebel". You pick a jouster list, an ace list, a bomber list etc, depending what fits your playstyle. Dashing Miranda has much more in common with Denym than with Fair Ship Rebels. For that matter you're also gonna have much better overlap of upgrades that you need in both cases. Factions only matter for fluff and - to an extent - to prevent some crazy combos.

As for your original question: I think that Imperials have two things going for them at the moment:

- They're very friendly to new players. Defenders, TIE/sfs, even certain TIE/fos (Omega, Zeta) are effective and relatively easy to use. Just point your ships at the enemy, arrive at the target at the same time and voila - you're likely to tear apart whatever's standing in your way without losing too much.  You don't even need to have too many upgrades and most of those you do need can be found in relatively few expansions. When you're still learning how to fly, I'd say that Imperials are the go-to faction. Fenn is dangerous, but he can go down super fast if you let yourself get caught in a bad position. Dash can do wonders in the hands of a good player but if you let the enemy focus him he'll go down in a couple of turns. Using Miranda effectively requires practice and excellent grasp of ranges and maneuvers. Flying Fair Ship Rebels requires not only the knowledge how to maneuver 4 ships with different PS without them hitting obstacles or getting constantly in each other's way but also how to plan 2-3 turns ahead so that a more nimble list doesn't outfly you. Vessery/Quickdraw/Omega on the other hand just... works. You can still make basic mistakes or land on obstacles of course, but you've got three powerful and reasonably tough ships with decent synergy (but not based on one gimmick). They can fly in a formation, but they don't have to. They're good in a joust and do reasonably well in a dogfight. They don't take forever to turn around or correct their position. No matter which one is left in the end, it's still a dangerous ship that can close a game single-handedly unless totally outnumbered. At high level of play these kinds of lists tend to be outmaneuvered but for newbies and even mid-level players they're perfect.

- I'd say that Imperials are currently at the top if you like to fly a big ship + ace combo. And by "ace" I mean a highly maneuverable arc-dodger, not a bomber. Scum have their Dengar + Fenn combo in that department while Rebels have to do with now somewhat antiquated Han + Jake, Dash + Poe or Rey + Poe (you can replace Poe with Norra for less arc-dodginess but better firepower and late-game immortality). Imperials on the other hand have RAC who can team up with a wide range of aces: Inquisitor, Quickdraw, Vader, Carnor, Whisper, even Rexler. I believe that the Imperial version of this archetype is the best because A) it can be flown at PS10 or above, which not only beats the other faction's counterparts but is also perfect for today's meta and B) certain crew options (Rebel Captive, Palpatine, Kylo) make it extraordinarily powerful. They can deny alpha strikes (high PS, Kylo),  do well against bombs (again high PS, RAC not too fussed about a bomblet, Quickdraw daring Nym to use a bomblet or an autoblaster against him, Palpatine lowering bomblet damage output) and - if flown well - can arc-dodge most of the other lists.


In other words, regardless of whether you're a newcomer or a seasoned veteran, there are interesting options to be found on the imperial side. They might not have Sabine, Biggs, Dengar or mindlink but they can still be highly successful.

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Two things really stand out to me for (small) imperial ships.

1) Agility - Thanks to LWF every small imp ship except for the punisher is "about" agility 3.

2) Post Maneuvering - Every small imp ship can barrel, boost, or both natively.

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1. Imperials: Iconic ships that take real pilot intensity to fly; when I'm really wanting to dive into a game with all my abilities, I fly Imps.

2. Rebels: Somewhat Iconic ships and some that are what?!? (well, there's Biggs, POE and the Outrider anyway) They do take set up and effort to move together but Regen and lots of HP make them very forgiving, or heck, just relax and fly all over rocks (haha); when I'm about half into really focusing in playing a game, I pick Rebs.

3. Scum: When I just want to play some kind of Space game and I would rather crack jokes and focus on other things but still have a great chance to win regardless, I play Scum. I like games best when I'm all in, so see #1 above.

SEApocalypse and Odanan like this

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