TIE Bomber spam. It’s uncreative, one-dimensional, and can steamroll unprepared New Republic teams. That said, the Fleet Battles counter strategy is actually not that hard to get the hang of. I’ll dive into all of these points in detail, but to entice you to read in full, here is the top-level outline:
The X-Wing is the undisputed answer to TIE Bomber spam in Fleet Battles. However, you also need to have the right build. Burst lasers and barrage rockets, with ion missile. NOT ion primary weapon for the love of God.
An underappreciated tool to dealing with TIE Bomber spam is actually power management. On defense, you should strive to have overshields and laser overcharge as you meet every Imperial attack.
The key to efficient bomber killing on defense in Fleet Battles is – counterintuitively – using barrage rockets in head-on attacks from an angle or in favorable head-on trades, then swinging around to finish them off in a second pass. That sounds like madness and I hear you typing away furiously on your keyboard already… until I remind you that 1) you can refocus your aft overcharged shields forwards while exchanging fire during the head on, meaning that 2) you mathematically will survive an average head-on engagement with a TIE rotary cannon at typical combat flight speeds, 4) you have higher DPS with the right build and 3) a TIE Bomber can’t heal, but your shields will recharge.
Lastly, a support with targeting beacons cuts the time-to-kill on one or multiple TIE Bombers by 23%.
Let’s break all of this down in greater detail.
First, if you are new to the game, realize that TIE Bombers are disproportionately strong against newer players. The more you improve, the better you become at taking down TIE Bombers quickly, most notably:
Your accuracy improves, significantly shortening your time-to-kill.
Your flying, situational awareness, and use of the targeting system improve, accelerating your ability to respond to oncoming Bombers, ping targets, transition to the next target, and follow your target through maneuvers.
Your power management improves. Overshields can give you ~50% more health. Overcharged lasers deal 25% more damage. Getting better at recharging shields during lulls keeps you in the fight.
Second, against a TIE Bomber swarm attack, you absolutely goddamn need to have the right loadout. It’s 200% worthwhile to immediately swap to these loadouts on defense, even if you have to make the trip back to the hangar. Here’s what I recommend:
Burst Cannon – best DPS option while still offering 1000m range. 480 DPS, or 600 DPS when overcharged, not counting damage drop-off at range.
Seeker Warhead Countermeasures – Surprisingly useful. These can even counter a missile coming at you head-on as long as the oncoming missile is more than around 400m away.
Barrage Rockets – a key component of the build. 4 rockets/second fire rate, 400 DPS.
Ion Missile – Fast, agile, fairly reliable disable. Strips any shields. 1500m range allows for preemptive use in head-ons. Can immediately interrupt bombers attempting to deal capital ship damage.
Dampener Hull or Reinforced Hull as you prefer. The first option keeps you covered from missile locks from your target TIE Bomber’s teammates while you chase it down, and makes the build more versatile in dogfights. The second option straight-up makes you nearly as tanky as a full tank TIE Bomber with proper shield micro, but is sluggish in dogfighting and reduces your ability to reposition and respond quickly on defense. I prefer Dampener.
Fortified Deflector or Ray Shield as you prefer. The first option is better all-round protection in case you eat a Multi-Lock or Goliath missile or a missile from an Imperial escort fighter at some point, and is more versatile for general dogfighting. Second option is more protected against rotary cannon and corvette fire but less versatile. I use Fortified.
SLAM Engine – Passive boost charge gives you boost on demand to reposition to take down the next bomber. Lower max speed nearly irrelevant on defense.
Laser Cannon – 440 DPS, or 550 DPS when overcharged. When defending against a TIE Bomber team, you need to secure kills. Ion primary leaves you unable to finish off wounded targets independently.
Targeting Beacons – 30% damage amplification on marked targets, which can’t use countermeasures. Accelerates missile lock-on upon marked targets. Huge.
Ion Missile or Tactical Shield or Supply Droid, as you prefer. Ion Missile is valuable for the same reasons as it is for the X-Wing. Shield is preemptive protection giving your anti-bomber X-Wing comparable if not more total HP than a TIE Bomber. Supply Droid restocks your X-Wing allies’ Barrage Rockets, countermeasures, and Ion Missiles (can also place them preemptively around the battlefield, in which case they can also be used to self heal/resupply)
SLAM Engine – Passive boost charge gives you boost on demand to escape danger or reposition to help take down the next bomber. Lower max speed nearly irrelevant on defense.
Fortified Deflector – Resonant Shield is also an option, increasing your primary DPS on defense when shields are fully overcharged, but you often are taking fire from the enemy corvette/fighters, making Fortified Deflector better all-around.
Pick your hull and countermeasures as you prefer.
So how do you use this build to protect the MC-75 from TIE Bombers?
Let’s focus on the X-Wing build for a second. As a New Republic player, you should overcharge your shields upon respawn as a matter of reflex, followed by your lasers. With overcharged lasers and barrage rockets your total DPS is 1000 (note that you need to hold down, not tap, the secondary key to fire rockets at the full maximum 4 rockets/second).
Note a rotary cannon TIE Bomber with overcharge deals 957 DPS, 766 DPS without.
Note that this X-Wing build also absolutely shreds TIE Reaper supports – they are easy food that you can essentially kill at will if you have even a quarter of your barrage rocket magazine remaining.
With the Dampener Hull and Fortified Deflector, your X-Wing has 1080 HP in hull health and 960 HP in an overcharged forward shield arc, plus another 960 HP in the rear arc. If you have full overshields, get in a head-on engagement and focus all shields forward at the instant you start taking hull damage after your initial forward shields collapse, this gives you a guaranteed 3000 total HP in a head-on attack. With the Reinforced Hull and Fortified Deflector, playing as described above, you have 3840 guaranteed HP.
Now consider the fact that you can fully regenerate your shields – 1920 effective HP worth – whereas a TIE Bomber cannot heal.
Now consider the fact that many TIE Bombers run Unstable Engine for the speed and the meme explosion. This puts them at 3500 HP, less than a tank X-Wing build.
Now – and here’s the important part – consider the fact that during a head-on, the TIE Bomber can only reliably hit you with their rotary cannon (766-957 max DPS).
Accounting for damage drop-off, respective closing speeds, shield focusing, and (if the Imp is unskilled) rotary cannon wind-up time, the TIE Bomber can’t reliably kill you in a single head-on 1v1 pass. You will have out-traded him in raw absolute health (you have higher base DPS and barrage rockets experience no drop-off, plus recharging shields), and you will be right on his tail in a matter of seconds to finish him off.
I still do not recommend a sterile 1v1 head on – you take a lot of damage, leaving you very vulnerable to any Imperial following their bomber friend.
The great thing, though, is that this X-Wing build makes the head-on a little more favorable for you and mechanically challenging for the TIE Bomber, with the added benefit that in real Fleet Battles gameplay, they are often too slow to react to your oncoming attack, making sterile 1v1 head-ons rarer than you’d think.
First, the TIE Bomber is much more distracted than you are. They might have a flagship subsystem targeted, and they might be splitting their attention between the multiple red player dots in front of them. They’re usually getting locked-on by the flagship missile turret, etc… Often times, they don’t even respond to your head-on pass – if they respond at all – until well after you’ve already opened fire.
Second, your Ion Missile begins locking on at 1500m out. 1 second lock-on time. You can usually fire it slightly off-axis just as they approach or hit 1000m. So now, just as they are trying to respond to your head-on attack (assuming they even noticed), they have an incoming missile. Unless they 1) equipped seeker rockets or sensor jammer (noob alert LOL) and 2) react quickly enough to use countermeasures (while also trying to shoot you), you get a free disable and are now in an easy head-on engagement with an inanimate object. Shooting down the Ion Missile is a losing proposition for them too due to rotary cannon wind-up.
Third, your rockets really complicate their aim. The explosions across their windscreen can really screw with their targeting and push things even further in your favor.
So what this all means is that you sometimes get the full head-on pass for free (if they didn’t react at all, or were disabled by the ion missile), and otherwise get to trade very favorably. I often find that I barely take any hull damage and still have a usable layer of shields to work with. All of this becomes trivially simple with U-Wing support – Targeting Beacons, Shield, or both – or with any other supporting fire, decisively tipping things in your favor.
DO NOT take head-ons if:
You risk being exposed to fire from multiple Imperial players during your pass.
You’re not sufficiently armed/healthy
Oncoming TIE Bomber is clearly taking aim more quickly than you are
Oncoming TIE Bomber has an overshield thanks to a TIE Reaper support.
Oncoming TIE Bomber is significantly more skilled.
TIE Bomber activates Assault Shield
TIE Bomber fires Beam Cannon at you (likely won’t hit, but just to be safe)
In all cases, just come around and hit them from the rear.
Now, why are we taking head-ons again? The point is to deal significant damage early in the TIE Bomber’s approach, to minimize the time it takes you and your team to finish them off after your initial attack pass. It maximizes barrage rocket damage output. They can’t heal. If you’ve chunked them down to half health or less, assuming you haven’t killed them outright, they can be mopped up in a matter of seconds, allowing you to rapidly shift attention to another target.
Your Ion Missile should be off cooldown after you’ve finished dealing with one bomber, at which point you use your accumulated SLAM Engine boost and drift as needed to engage the next bomber.
Wounded? Low on rockets? Pop into the MC-75’s hangar for a quick heal and resupply, or coordinate with your U-Wing.
The best thing about this build is how generally versatile it is. TIE Reaper is healing them? Take a quick intermission to blow it to bits before returning to bomber hunting. Stationary TIE Interceptors or TIE Fighters trying to take out subsystems are blasted apart in an instant. Ion Missile makes you a serious threat in a dogfight, and the Dampener Hull choice gives you normal maneuverability.
Even one X-Wing with this build is a pain to deal with for a TIE Bomber spam team. Now imagine two or three. With a U-Wing support. If multiple X-Wings on your team are running this build and have intermediate situational awareness, you are able to deal with TIE Bombers with such frightening efficiency that defense is nearly trivial.
The Imperial team is forced to either feed morale to the New Republic hand over fist as they lose bombers, or to redistribute away from a bomber-heavy lineup and play the game with a more balanced team, often having conceded the initiative to the New Republic in either case.
Basically, I feel like the only reason why TIE Bomber spam is a thing is because many players still haven’t set up effective anti-bomber loadouts yet. One might counter that TIE Bomber spam remains imbalanced since it is an easier strategy to execute since the counter relies upon a specialized build and moderate mechanical skill, and you’d be partly correct. That said, Squadrons isn’t and should not be balanced with low-level players in mind. The game has mechanical depth and the ability to swap between dramatically different loadouts for a reason.
New Republic anti-bomber party composition suggestions:
Solo player: take the X-Wing build.
Premade party of 2: select two X-Wings as built above, or one X-Wing and one U-Wing as built above.
Premade party of 3: two X-Wings as built above, plus one U-Wing as built above.
TL;DR: Set up a dedicated anti-bomber X-Wing loadout. Overcharge shields and lasers on spawn. Look for favorable opportunities to proactively engage incoming TIE Bombers from head-on angles with ion missile, barrage rockets, overcharged lasers, and forward shield redistribution. Swing around to finish them off. The more you play and practice, the better at this you’ll get.
A U-Wing with the right build is really useful too.