If you ask someone what their favorite type of scenes are in the Star Wars movies, you’re bound to get a few different responses. Some people love lightsaber duels, others might prefer the large-scale ground battles seen at Hoth and Geonosis. Others, however, might say the dogfights between starfighters. Now, in the aughts, Wizards of the Coast created Star Wars Miniatures (minis), which let people play out those lightsaber duels and ground battles on scales from small to epic. Wizards of the Coast attempted to enter the dogfight business with “Starship Battles,” which featured ships ranging in sizes from a lowly TIE Fighter to a Super Star Destroyer. Perhaps the game attempted to do too much in that regard, as for whatever reason it never caught on the same way minis did and lasted only one wave.
Well, they tried.
Well, in 2010, Wizards of the Coast lost the Star Wars licence for tabletop and role-playing games, and it then went to Fantasy Flight. Fantasy Flight actually eschewed the focus on ground combat that Miniatures had, and instead introduced X-Wing Miniatures, a game which focused solely on space combat, with an emphasis on dogfighting in particular. Initially, I wasn’t enamored with the concept, though some of that had to do with my lingering bitterness regarding the end of minis. That said, once some friends of mine got into it and I started playing myself, I actually quite enjoyed the game.
Fantasy Flight Games just last week announced the latest wave in the X-Wing Miniatures game. One of the things that I loved about minis, and came to love about X-Wing, was that they were both willing to look into the EU for source material for their pieces. Minis featured characters from novels, comics, video games, TV shows, and the films. At first, when I was only looking at X-Wing from the outside, and not actually buying/playing the game, I didn’t think that the EU was seeing any representation. However, there are only so many movie starfighters, and eventually Fantasy Flight really started to delve into the EU for ships. Let’s take a look at the wave that was just announced.
Now, if you’ve only seen the movies, you probably don’t recognize any of those ships there. Well, there’s a good reason for that: three of them are from Star Wars: Rebels, and the others are from even more obscure sources. X-Wing is a very fun game, but, like minis before it, it’s even more fun if you know about the pieces that you’re playing. So, partially, to inform those who may not know, partially for my own amusement, I thought I’d go through all of the Expanded Universe pieces in X-Wing in order of their release. A lot of the ships from the movies have pilot cards that are from the EU, in the interest of brevity I’ll be skipping those.
When I first saw the HWK-290 on the shelves, I had no idea what it was. Originally released in the third wave of miniatures, the most famous HWK-290 in the EU is the Moldy Crow, the personal ship of Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors. Kyle Katarn is famous for being the protagonist in the Dark Forces series of video games, and eventually made his way into the novels and comics. Once I realized what the HWK-290 was, I immediately gained respect for Fantasy Flight. It was a relatively gutsy move to put out a relatively obscure EU ship so quickly into the series, and I appreciate them for it. One interesting note on the ship is that while the Moldy Crow itself is no longer canon, thanks to the mobile game “Star Wars: Commander,” the HWK-290 has been legitimized in the new canon.
One thing that the EU did pretty frequently was make up new TIE fighter variants. While the Rebellion’s ships had eclectic looks, the Empire had a singular visual style that carried over into the Expanded Universe. Probably the most well-known of these variants is the TIE Defender. Introduced in Star Wars: TIE Fighter, the Defender served as a souped-up, more powerful version of the TIE Interceptor (and regular TIE Fighter, by extension). The Defender went on to appear in more video games, novels, and comics, before being canonized in the post-Legends continuity thanks to, once again, Star Wars: Commander. The Defender appeared in X-Wing’s fourth wave, which was also the first wave to be entirely based on Expanded Universe vehicles. Unlike many of the other ships on this list, the TIE Defender has gotten a fair share of collectibles produced, including an incarnation in the Titanium Series and a Lego set.
When it comes to EU ships, it doesn’t get much more classic than the Headhunter. First appearing way back in 1979 in Han Solo at Stars’ End, the Headhunter is as prolific a ship in world of Star Wars as it is in its real-life appearances. It’s shown up in myriad novels and comics, serving as a popular ship for those living on the fringes of the galaxy. So prolific was it that a variant of it actually showed up in The Clone Wars, being used by Republic troops. While that version was always canon, the Headhunter’s classic look showed up in Star Wars: Commander, once again sealing it’s canonocity.
Also coming in X-Wing’s Wave 4, I was actually surprised to find out how few appearances the Phantom has: it first appeared in the 1995 game Star Wars: Rebel Assault 2: The Hidden Empire, and didn’t appear again until over a decade later in Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption (some titles, huh?). The Phantom has a cloaking device, which gives it a fairly unique in-game mechanic for X-Wing. Despite its limited appearances, the Phantom got a lot of coverage in reference guides, which is perhaps why I was so surprised to find out it only shows up in two EU sources. Either way, it’s a nifty design that fits right in with X-Wing.
The last ship in Wave 4, the E-Wing originally showed up in Dark Empire, and showed up fairly consistently in post-Return of the Jedi EU until the canon reset. Designed as a replacement for the X-Wing, the E-Wing never attained the same level of exposure as some of the other ships on this list. One of the games that many of these ships appeared was Empire at War; however, due to the game taking place prior to the Battle of Endor, the E-Wing wasn’t able to appear. It’s still a cool design, and is probably the closest approximation to the TIE Defender that the Rebels have, in terms of overall popularity. To its credit, the E-Wing did get a very rare Action Fleet vehicle, meaning that its X-Wing piece is not the only official piece of E-Wing merchandise, and that counts for something.
The YT-2400 should remind you a lot of the Millennium Falcon, and there’s a good reason for that. The Falcon is a YT-1300 freighter, in the same series as this. Like the HWK-290, the YT-2400 is most famous for one particular ship, in this case, the Outrider. Introduced in the Shadows of the Empire multimedia project in the 90s as the personal ship of smuggler Dash Rendar, the Outrider and YT-2400s as a class have had a decent bit of appearances since then. In fact, the Outrider can be seen in the Special Edition of A New Hope, flying over Mos Eisley. How much you appreciate the Outrider will depend on how much you can approve of it and it’s pilot being a rip-off of the Falcon and Han Solo, respectively. I have a few close friends who love it, I know some out there who don’t care for Dash Rendar one bit. The good news for the Dash and Outrider fans is that thanks to being part of Shadows, there’s a decent bit of merchandise based on the two of them. Huzzah.
The Decimator is another ship that I didn’t recognize when I first saw it on shelves. However, as opposed to realizing my mistake like I did with the HWK-290, when I researched the Decimator initially I was just amazed that it ever got included in X-Wing. The Decimator has only two appearances in the EU: the MMORPG Star Wars Galaxies, and the video game Lethal Alliance. Lethal Alliance is a fairly forgotten piece of the EU, and despite being deliberately designed as an “evil” version of the Millennium Falcon, it was not nearly as central to Galaxies as the Phantom was to Rebel Assault 2. It’s probably that similarity to the Falcon that merited its inclusion in X-Wing: in the game, both the YT-1300 and YT-2400 have 360 degree firing arcs, giving them a huge advantage over ships such as the TIE Fighter that need to be much more carefully deployed. The Decimator served as that turret ship for the Empire, and was very useful in helping to balance the factions.
M-3A Syck Interceptor
Coming out in Wave 6, the Syck was one of the first ships in the new “Scum and Villainy” faction. It’s another ship with incredibly few appearances in the EU, appearing only in Star Wars Galaxies. In that game, it serves as a cheap, barebones starter fighter to the player, and in X-Wing it provides a somewhat similar role, serving as a low-cost fighter for the Scum. Frankly, there just isn’t that much to say about this ship, other than the depths Fantasy Flight is willing to plumb to find ships for its game.
The Starviper first appeared in Shadows of the Empire. There, one served as the personal ship of Prince Xizor, the Virago. For a while, the Virago was the sole version of the ship. It was in Forces of Corruption that the StarViper saw mass production, as a unit for the Zann Consortium. Thanks to its appearance in Shadows of the Empire and unique design, the StarViper has seen a decent bit of collectibles produced based on it, including one in the Titanium Series.
The IG-2000 is the ship of IG-88, one of the bounty hunters seen in the line-up in The Empire Strikes Back. Though only Slave I was seen in the films, eventually, all of the bounty hunters’ ships were revealed. The IG-2000 first appeared in “Therefore I Am: The Tale of IG-88” in Tales of the Bounty Hunters, and has had several subsequent appearances. Hasbro, in the Titanium Series, went through and did all of the bounty hunters’ ships. Fantasy Flight is doing the same, and the IG-2000 makes for a good ship to kick off the EU portion. It has a very unique design, and I think it’s rather cool.
I was quite excited when I saw that Fantasy Flight would be producing the K-Wing in one of their upcoming waves. Amusingly, I think I’ve only read one novel where it actually appears. It first appeared in the Black Fleet Crisis trilogy of novels, and has few appearances outside of that (it was apparently cut from Star Wars: Battlefront, which is a real shame. It would have given the ship some much appreciated visibility). It did get an entry in The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels, which is where I first learned of it. It has a really cool look to it (Look at all those guns!) and I was captivated rather quickly. It’s another prime example of Fantasy Flight digging deep to find ships for the game, and I appreciate it.
TIE/IT Interdictor (TIE Punisher)
So while this ship was originally referred to as the TIE Interdictor or Advance TIE Bomber, it appears in X-Wing as the TIE Punisher. Either way, its appearances are incredibly limited. It showed up only in Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, and its subsequent expansion pack, Clone Campaigns. It serves as, unsurprisingly, a more advance TIE Bomber, having four ordnance pods instead of one. It’s one of the lesser known/popular EU TIE variants, and as such I believe this is the only merchandise based off of it.
Kihraxz Assault Fighter
The Kihraxz appears only in Star Wars: Galaxies, as a potential ship for the player. Due to be released alongside the K-Wing and Punisher, this wave of X-Wing is their most obscure line-up yet. In fact, there’s only one fairly famous ship among the lot, and that would be…
The Hound’s Tooth is a YV-666 light freighter, and best known as being the personal ship of Bossk, another one of the bounty hunters from TESB. It also first showed up in Tales of the Bounty Hunters, understandably in Bossk’s story. It’s had a decent bit of appearances since then, and actually showed up in an episode of The Clone Wars. That gives it the unique distinction of remaining canon in the new continuity. It and Slave I are the only two to survive the reset.
The Ghost is the main ship used by the heroes in Star Wars: Rebels. It’s a modified VCX-100 light freighter, and is one of the first ships from Rebels to be included in the game. The ship was partially modeled after the B-17 Flying Fortress, and it’s a lot of fun in the show. Included in the pack with the Ghost is the Phantom, a smaller shuttle which can detach from the main ship. Being the main hero ship in Rebels, the Ghost has gotten a fair deal of collectibles, including a Lego set. The Phantom has gotten similar coverage.
The Inquisitor’s TIE Advance
Another ship from Rebels, the Inquisitor’s TIE Advance is a prototype version of the TIE Advance flown by Darth Vader in the Battle of Yavin. Once again, thanks to its appearance in Rebels it’s gotten a good deal of collectible coverage, including an action figure scale vehicle and Lego set.
Another one of the bounty hunters’ ships, the Mist Hunter belongs to 4-LOM and Zuckuss. A modified G-1A starfighter, the Mist Hunter only ever appeared in the duo’s story from Tales of the Bounty Hunters, “Of Possible Futures.” It received some additional coverage thanks to the Star Wars Collectible Card Game, and appeared in Hasbro’s Titanium Series.
The last ship in the most recently announced wave, the Punishing One is also the final bounty hunter ship. The personal ship of Dengar, the Punishing One is a JumpMaster 5000. It, like pretty much all of the bounty hunters’ ships, first showed up in Tales of the Bounty Hunters, though Punishing One went on to have a decent bit of appearances outside of that. Along with all of the other bounty hunter vessels, it got made in the Titanium Series.
The Imperial Raider was the Empire’s first huge ship in X-Wing, and thus far is the only ship actually created by Fantasy Flight and not taken from an existing EU source. The game needed an Imperial Huge ship to serve in a dedicated anti-fighter capacity (like the Corellian Corvette for the Rebels), but the most suitable EU candidate, the Lancer-class frigate, was viewed as too large for the scale (the Lancer is 250 meters, the Corellian Corvette only 150). Amusingly, the Raider’s in-universe backstory actually has it being designed as a counter to the Rebel’s star-fighter heavy strategy, filling a void found in the Imperial Navy. In essence, Fantasy Flight and the Galactic Empire were both interested in balancing out the conflict.
The Gozanti-class cruiser actually does appear in the films, in the background of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. However, as it is being produced by Fantasy Flight, it is much more recognizable as the Imperial Assault Carrier featured in Star Wars: Rebels. Capable of carrying several TIE Fighters, the assault carrier appeared in seven episodes of Rebels, as well as both TV movies, making it fairly recognizable from those appearances alone. Apparently the Gozanti featured in a good deal of episodes of The Clone Wars, but I personally never really noticed it until Rebels. Either way, it’s a cool design, and Lego actually just produced a set of it.
-This took longer to write than I expected, so I am soooo glad I didn’t bother giving backstory on any of the pilots or crew members for the ships. Take my word for it when I say that Fantasy Flight tries very hard to include existing EU characters whenever they can.
-The addition of Scum ships really gives Fantasy Flight a deeper pool to draw on, and there are still a bunch of TIE variants out there, but I still wonder when they’re actually going to resort to *gasp* ships from the prequels.
-I took most of my images from either Wookieepedia or the X-Wing Miniatures wiki. The latter is a great resource if you want to learn about the game, not as much for the lore behind the ships.
-I had a new bust show up today. Expect a post inspired by it in the not too distant future.