Pilot Spotlight: “Deathrain”

My pride and joy. I’ve been flying Deathrain for a year now. Started out as a commitment to a cause: to fly what you want and fly it well, regardless of how low tier the ship was. Had the thing commission painted with some rocking hot rod flames. Because it showed up frequently on my blog it was gaining a bit of a reputation. Didn’t matter if you were the best player or you were flying the best list, it would not go down without a fight.

When 2.0 Deathrain was announced I was sceptical. No lightweight frame to keep him alive, red barrel rolls and 3 turns would limit the dial, and a medium base would make him an easier target. But after having played him in a few tournaments I’m prepared to give my verdict. I’ll take you through the build, each of its components and how to fly this bucket of bolts.

Deathrain with Barrage Rockets, Trajectory Simulator, Seismic Chargers, Proton Bombs. 59pts.

The cost to have him fully decked out is cheaper than he used to be. 34pts in 1.0 for a similar setup, 68pts translated. That’s a decent discount. Now Deathrain ain’t your typical run and gun shooter. He’s a support ship. Not the synergistic, pass the token type, but an aggressive area denial bumper car. He will pave the way for the rest of your squadron to throw dice at things.

His ability has changed a bit. After dropping or launching you have a free action of your choice, permitting advanced sensors style boosts and rolls to turn that average dial into a pretty bonkers one. So long as he’s got bombs you get two actions a turn and this is huge as action economy is at an all time high.

Unguided Rockets is back with a big improvement. You no longer have to rely on just a focus for mods. I wouldn’t concern yourself with trying to get that bullseye arc on. Let your opponent worry about that bit. If you get yourself into the position you want and still have an action to take you can always target lock. The big draw here is that not only is the Punisher’s gun upgraded from 2 dice to 3, but it denies range bonus at long distance targets. A useful upgrade indeed when paired up with the launcher.

Love it or hate it, this upgrade is here to stay. Bombardiers are just naff without it. Sure you can drop to catch out someone k-turning but if you have someone on your six you’re probably going to explode. Launching bombs or the threat thereof messes with your opponent’s engagement. Ask anybody they’ll tell you, getting the engagement just right is key to victory. This makes Deathrain a credible threat to your opponent’s plans and will likely be made priority one. That’s okay. That’s why he has 9 health. That’s more than two proton torpedoes can dish out. There’s nothing scarier than a 1 health Punisher directly in front of you when you’ve run out of shots.

I’m taking both Proton and Seismic. Two charges isn’t enough and having both options available gives me a lot more leverage when the shooting starts. Now let’s talk about reload. In the first round of the game you can launch a Seismic and reload as your free action. You’re safe to do this because the enemy is too far away. On the second or third turn you will need to judge distance. If you think Deathrain won’t have a shot then reload again, if not then focus. This will keep your supplies topped up for the coming battle. From this point on the only time you want to reload is when you know for a fact you ain’t shooting that round.

So that’s the build. Now talking about lists is just theory until you get some table time in. But you didn’t come to me for a lecture about practice! Here’s a sneak peek at some of my favourite things to do with the thicc boi.

Ringing the dinner bell: launching a bomb when both of you know it ain’t gonna hit anything. This is to provide your opponent with the knowledge of where the next one will land. It’ll be on their mind. Will they press on? Adjust approach? Or will they run away screaming?
Open up the map: who left all these large asteroids in the middle of the map? Oh wait that was me, well better clean the place up! On average you can remove two and reload your seismics, making a nice open space for your ships to move through.
The Strafe: a useful tool to keep that flanker at range and in arc at the same time.
I’m Out: when it goes south real quick and you need to escape but there is too much distance between the two sides.
The Boop: when you have a feeling the opposing side will dodge the bomb and Deathrain is having absolutely none of it. Ablative plating is for scaredy cats.

I’ve received a fair few messages since 2.0 released. Veteran players across the UK are putting Deathrain on the table and performing incredibly well. And you know the UK can play a mean game of X-Wing. Might as well try him out before he gets nerfed to hell. When System Open season comes around I wanna see a Punisher on every table. If that happens my job is done. xD