*Disclaimer: I’m just some rando who played TIE Fighter back in the day until his Sidewinder finally gave out. I’m not a professional. These loadouts are here for consideration and critique only – if I’m mistaken, please note that. I primarily play U-Wing Fleet Battles when I get some free time here and there between work and kid-duty. These are written from a NE Fleet Battle standpoint, YMMV.
I’ve included what tasks I’m doing with these five loadout builds, and the rationale behind it so you can get an idea of what I’m trying to do in each phase and substitute components that you like best. Support is really the Swiss Army Knife of the squadron and I dislike having the wrong tool for the job at any given time, so I’ll return to the hangar frequently to switch out during a match. Please note that I didn’t come up with the Wild Weasel name idea but it was just too cool to pass up. My apologies.
Build: “E-2 Hawkeye AWACS”
Phase: Initial Dogfight
Components: Guided Laser, Squadron Mask, Tactical Shield, Deflector Hull, Fortified Shield, SLAM Engines, Seeker Warheads (Substitute Targeting Beacons for Mask if desired)
Rationale: Your job in the initial dogfight is to influence the fight as much as you can without being in the fight. Stay alive, and tilt the field in your team’s favor. Shield and Mask have some of the longest ranged effects that will help keep you away from trouble.
Shield A-Wings and X-Wings first, you can usually get two off before engagement. It’s a flat 500 hp that stacks on top of their shields, so it helps them more than a beefy Y-Wing.
Squadron Mask right when you get in range of the enemy. I spam Target My Attacker. As soon as I get an enemy fighter, I hit the Mask. The Mask will affect all friendlies within 750 m of you. But it acts like a buff to their individual ship, so you don’t have to stay close. Hit the Mask, and then turn and burn.
Stay alive. Don’t get drawn into the fight: shield, mask, then retreat. I chose Seekers for this build because they are as close a thing as a sure bet to stopping a missile. Additionally, your increased shields improve your survival window, and the SLAM engine should make sure you always have boost on tap.
Ping targets and re-shield friendlies. While you are waiting on your Shield and Mask, cycle through enemy targets for a low health enemy and ping them. Everybody else has tunnel vision, and you can afford to be their eyes.
If low hp enemy gets disoriented and wanders too close, use the lasers to finish them off. But don’t get too cocky, kid.
Build: “EA-6B Prowler”
Phase: Anti-Cruiser Offense
Components: Laser Cannon, Resupply, Ion Torpedo, Slipstream Hull, Fortified Shield, Quadex Engines, Particle Burst
Rationale: If you’ve won the initial dogfight, you go on the offensive against the Cruisers. Ideally, this build has an X-Wing torpedo buddy, but even alone this build is helpful. Make torpedo runs on the Cruisers while resupplying and healing your allies at the mid-field position so they don’t have to go all the way back to the Frigates. One of the criticisms of torpedoes is that they are so slow they can be easily shot down which is valid, but I think even forcing the enemy to worry about them is a net win for a Support player.
Put a torpedo on a Cruiser. Immediately after releasing the torpedo bank hard 90 degrees to the torpedo’s flight path and boost to prevent the Cruiser from shooting the torpedo as it’s trying to hit you. If there is a missile headed your way, turn again, fly straight, and drop a Particle Burst.
Resupply friendlies at mid-field. Prioritize X-wings and Y-Wings. They may be carrying torpedoes and bombs and they benefit more from the health boost.
Stay alive. Note that if you die while your torpedo is inbound, it will disappear and do no damage. Zilch. Nothing. Nada. I will typically boost away and won’t come back into the fight until the torpedo hits or should have hit by then.
If a Cruiser’s shields are down and it is sitting at low health, boost in finish it off. Sometimes, in the heat of battle, your friendlies can get distracted.
Build: “AH-64 Apache”
Phase: Frigate Defense
Components: Laser Cannon, Tactical Beacon, Ion Missile, Deflector Hull, Resonant Shield, Microthrust Engines, Particle Burst
Rationale: Since you can’t “heal” the Frigates and you get the benefit of their covering fire, I prefer to try and lock down enemy attackers. This build makes the unwieldy U-Wing just nimble enough to keep targets in sight for a lock, which is shortened thanks to the beacons. Without countermeasures, enemies have few options to evade your missiles. Bombers will often just rely on their hull to see them safely through, and won’t realize they are about to be disabled near an angry Frigate.
Mark enemies with Targeting Beacons. Marking all four is great, but don’t wait too long. Marked enemies take 30% more damage, can’t use countermeasures and can be locked on in a shorter time period by your missiles, your teammates missiles, and the Frigate’s missiles.
Put missiles on enemies with priority going to TIE Bombers and Fighters. Weaken them with your Laser Cannon and ping them for help.
While waiting on your missile cooldown, look for pinged enemies or inbound enemy torpedoes. If there is a Raider up with shields, give it a missile.
Stay alive. Often in the phase, enemies either have tunnel vision on the A-wing attacking them, or have tunnel vision on the Frigate they are attacking, so you may be ignored. That’s good. Use the Frigates as cover if you need to weaving in and around and under their shields.
Get ready for a phase change. If the frigates are low, head back to the MC-75 to get ready. If things are going well and no enemies are in sight, help farm some AI.
Build: “AV-8B Harrier”
Phase: Flagship Defense
Components: Ion Cannon, Tactical Beacon, Tractor Beam, Slipstream Hull, Resonant Shield, Quadex Engines, Particle Burst
Rationale: If things have gone poorly, you will be defending your MC-75. Since you are so close to your flagship, wounded friendlies, can (and should) be zipping into the hangar if they are damaged. Your job is (like the nickname) to “harry” your opponents. And like a Harrier, you’ll be using your increased maneuverability and unique weapons platform to turn the tide.
Just like the Apache, you’ll be marking enemies. They will be swarming your flagship, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
Tractor beam a marked enemy. Bombers will be priority. However, if there is a Fighter or Interceptor that’s been a thorn in your side all match, now is the time to turn the tables. The beam benefits from the short lock-on period from the beacon. In my opinion, it must be used in conjunction with them.
Full disclosure: I haven’t had the time to practice a great deal with the beam, but from what I’ve observed in practice/matches as well as reading online, it slows them down to nearly a stand-still. It can be broken if you go too far away or if turn your nose too far away from them. They can only break the beam using boost. If necessary, slow down quickly and keep them in front of you. The Quadex and Slipstream help you maneuver to keep the beam intact.
While they are literally and figuratively stunned, use your Ion Cannon to disable them. Even if they boost away before you get them disabled, that’s a win. They may boost out into nothingness. They may boost toward your waiting fighters. They may boost into the side of the MC-75. They may have used their last boost. All good outcomes.
If you disabled them, ping them for your squadron. If the cooldown is back from your beam, repeat this vicious and cruel cycle. Even removing one bomber from the equation here can be a good use of your time, but this strategy obviously works best with a good team.
Build: “EF-111 Wild Weasel”
Phase: Anti-Flagship Offense
Components: Ion Cannon, Tactical Beacon, Squadron Mask, Deflector Hull, Scramble Shield, Quadex Engines, Particle Burst
Rationale: If things have gone well, it’s time to attack the ISD. Bombers should begin making their runs. Bombers like two things: A) to be left alone, and B) squishy targets. You’ll be giving them both.
Place your Targeting Beacons on the ISD subsystems. Keep in mind that an ISD is about 1600 m long and the range on the beacons is 1250 m, so you are going to get in nice and close. Make a pass across the ISD under boost and mark them. I do this even if the shields are up. The beacons last for 20 seconds and usually at least one fighter or bomber will slip under the shields – or hopefully the shields will come down in that window.
Loop around. Look for friendly bombers and fighters and boost toward them. Mask them for their approach. They can’t be missile-locked and I believe the mask interferes with the capital ship laser fire.
Stay alive as best you can. I’m fairly certain that Aux buffs don’t persist if you die, so you are going to want to boost in and boost out right away. Don’t bother strafing and don’t linger. Keep your shields charged for the Scramble effect and your boost meter full.
Repeat until you die, the ISD dies or the phase changes.
If you are an exceptional (or insane) pilot, and you don’t have mask up or beacons marked, make strafing runs on the Power Supply (which takes ion damage) or to disable the Targeting System to further improve your bomber’s survivability.
Build: “KC-135 Stratotanker””
Components: Guided Cannon, Resupply Droid, Tactical Shield, Reinforced Hull, Deflector Shield, SLAM Engines, Seeker Warheads
Rationale: This is the standard Support build, and you’d almost never be wrong to choose it, regardless of the phase/faction. If you’re not sure what to pick, pick this. The reasons I don’t like this build all the time are: A) Trying to boost in and resupply a wounded friendly often leads to your own death too, B) There are lots of times where I think you could be doing something more helpful for the team, and C) Why would they make a sweet hanger-landing animation if they didn’t want us to use it?
Tactical shield goes to A-wings and X-wings. Resupply priority is for Y-wings and X-wings.
Stay alive. If they are dropping hp fast and are far away, don’t do it. Be a savior, not a martyr. Be quick to turn and boost back home.
Just like the Hawkeye build, look for any low hp enemies and ping them. If you are protecting Frigates, look for missiles.
Proactively dumb-fire resupply droids at strategic locations. You can have three active. I feel like I always look back on a match and don’t do this enough.