One of the key changes with the major upgrade on 4/21/2015 was an overhaul of the Starship Command and a redesign of the artwork and function of each starship. This rework was outlined by the devs (see here), but I want to go into a little more detail to show how those changes have affect game strategy.
The biggest change is that the starship command operates more like that barracks or factories, where each starship now has a different unit capacity instead of each starship being the same size. For example, with the old Level 7 starship command, you could hold 6 X-Wings. Now, the same starship command has an 18 unit capacity, but each X-Wing is 4 units, so you can only hold 4 X-Wings.
The X-Wing is a generalist starship, but it has been nerfed in its splash radius and in its effectiveness against certain targets.
You used to be able to knock out 4 tightly clustered turrets at once with an X-Wing. Now, you’ll do 75% damage to each one, at most, if you try to hit all four. A direct hit on a single turret will take it out completely.
Target: Credit Vaults/Alloy Depots
The same is true of resource vaults. A direct hit will take one out, but if you try and hit two or more at once, and you’ll only do about 75% damage to each one.
This is where the X-Wing got the biggest nerf. You used to be able to take out the HQ with 3 X-Wings (half your total capacity). It now takes 4 X-Wings (at level 8) to take out the HQ, which is significant because it would be a Starship Command full of X-Wings.
Training Time & Cost
The training time increased dramatically to 20 minutes for each X-Wing. The cost stayed pretty close to the same, if not a little cheaper than before. The increased training time makes it quite prohibitive to use the X-Wing, especially if you plan on taking out a HQ with them.
The X-Wing is still the most effective at taking out resource vaults, and for that reason alone it would be worth it to keep one handy. I’ve chosen not to use it, and I’ve regretted it a few times when a vault full of 100k credits was left untouched and unshielded. I might have to start having one in my starship command.
The Z-95 Headhunter has received, arguably, the most attention since the update. The primary target of the Z-95 is walls. This is why I use it the most. Like many players, many of these starships in my arsenal were not upgraded like the X-Wing was. My Z-95 is only at level 5, but even still, it can take out a wide section of walls (I’d estimate as wide and thick as 7-8 wall pieces) even though the walls are level 8. Not only that, but it can take out walls that are underneath shields, making the Mickey Mouse bases much easier for baiting the Squad Center. I have had very little trouble baiting squad centers with the update to the Z-95.
Why should I upgrade it? If it’s effective at taking out walls even at a lower level, it seems like a waste to upgrade it. However, it was quickly discovered that not only could you take out walls under the shields, but the Squad Center itself. At first, after the update, it only took 3 hits with the Z-95 to take out the Squad Center. Shortly thereafter it was nerfed so it now takes 6 shots with a Z-95 of each level to take out the SC. This seems like a lot, and it is, but the Z-95 has a unit capacity of 2, so you could carry as many as 9 in a level 7 or 8 starship command. Also, the cost and training time are about half of the X-wing.
The Z-95 is a must for every starship command. Even a level 4 Z-95 should be able to take out level 8 walls. I also use this capability to speed up my attacks so that my heavies can focus on shields and turrets rather than wasting time blasting through walls. One important note is that the Z-95 will only take out walls if the wall is the primary target and the walls must all be connected. If they are disconnected then the splash damage will end there.
The primary target of the Y-Wing is traps, and it has a large splash radius. I don’t know of anyone in our squads that uses the Y-Wing since Rebel Soldiers are easily (and less expensively) used to take out traps. Also, with the Vanguard soon getting a “reassignment” to be trap hunters, we may not even need to use Soldiers for that either. It has a unit capacity of only 3, but it takes 15 minutes (at level 8) to train.
Unless the Y-Wing is given a splash damage that covers most of the map so it takes out all the traps, I see no reason to use the Y-Wing. The devs are going to have to go back to the drawing board on this one. Since none of the starships are effective at taking down the mech that’s in the SC, like the UMHC and ATAT, I’d suggest that it be redesigned for those targets.
The primary target of the B-Wing is turrets. It is heavily nerfed against all other targets. Don’t bother trying to take out a vault at the last second with it because it will be futile.
The B-Wing will take out turrets that are within 2 tiles of the target, and give 50% damage up to 4 tiles away. The turrets don’t have to be touching for the splash damage to take effect (unlike the Z-95 with wall pieces).
My B-Wings are only up to level 5, but they still do significant damage (66% damage to level 8 turrets) and soften up the turrets so that my offenses can take them down quickly. This is most obvious with the hailfire and its splash damage.
The unit capacity, cost, and training time of the B-Wing is identical to the X-Wing.
B-Wings are another “must have” in the star command. I personally keep 2 with me (along with 5 Z-95 Headhunters). Taking out turrets quickly is so critical to a successful offense.
Low Altitude Assault Transport (LAAT)
The LAAT is the new addition to the starship command, and it is unlocked with the level 9 HQ. The LAAT does significant damage to the immediate area surrounding the target, it can target under shields (and do significant damage to the shield if dropped next to the generator), and it deploys 5 Rebel Soldiers of the same level as the LAAT itself.
It was initially thought that the primary purpose of the LAAT would be to trigger the SC or take out a shield. But the Z-95 and A-Wing seem more effective at those two goals. I have seen one replay where an ATAT (from the SC) was on a long walk and the Rebel Soldiers from the LAAT were dropped next to it and took it out before it could reach its target. It might also be effective if you run out of troops and you have a few distant buildings to take out to get that 3rd star.
With a unit capacity of 7, a cost and training time 75% higher than the X-Wing (training time at level 8 is 35 minutes), the LAAT is more like a fun toy to play with every once in a while rather than a staple of the starship command. At best, the jury is still out on this one. I can’t find a reason to recommend its use.
When the A-Wing was first introduced, it was promised to effectively take down shields, but before the update it took 3 of them to do so. The A-Wing can now take down a shield of equal level in one shot, or possibly two shields if you target right where the shields converge.
Again, my A-Wings are at a much lower level, and so I have not used them yet. I have seen others use them quite effectively. For example, rather than use 6 Z-95s to take out a SC, if you can use an A-Wing to take out a shield and X-Wing to take the SC. This would only work if there’s a single shield covering the SC. I’ve also had the Imp equivalent (the TIE Advanced) take out shields and then the TIE Defenders (B-Wing equivalents) take out most of my turrets before any troops were deployed.
The unit capacity (5) and training time (25 minutes at level 8) make the A-Wing an item you’d want to have handy, but not use every time.
The HWK-290 didn’t get changed with the starship command update. Its unit capacity is 3 and training time (at level 8) is 15 minutes. It is still very effective at taking out SC troops. As I said before, my HWK-290 at level 6 has no trouble taking out all level 8 troops in its splash radius.
I still highly recommend carrying the HWK in the starship command. Its training time did go down a little and the cost went way down. You may not need to upgrade it too high with your event points, but you should have it at least at level 5 or 6.
My starship command is at level 7, and my only motivation to upgrade it to level 9 is the 2 additional units it can hold. So, with a unit capacity of 18, I’m going to be using (once they’re all upgraded):
1 A-Wing (5 units)
1 B-Wing (4 units)
1 HWK-290 (3 units)
3 Z-95 Headhunters (2 units each)
It was asked in our general squad chat what everyone uses in their starship command, and I don’t think anyone had an identical answer. I recommend that you experiment with each starship and how they can be used to compliment your attack strategy. Maybe you’ll find a combination different from mine that works better for you. And maybe you’ll even find a use for the Y-Wing. Please comment below about how you use the updated starships and which ones you carry with you.