|The Raider is amazing.|
I've only played a couple of games with these now, but damn, are they seriously good for the points. It goes without saying that I think these guys will be fantastic with guys like Screed or Ozzel because of how they're able to deliver their damage. They can get in, do some damage, and get out. Best of all, they're' very flexible in that they can kill squadrons reliably with their black dice and re-rolls, and also have the firepower to put a dent in bigger capital ships.
I think the two most important upgrades to take with the Raider-Is are Ordnance Experts and Assault Proton Torpedoes. Some people might look for things like Expanded Launchers, but I think that's a little too rich for my blood. The 4-point Ordnance Experts is just one of those force multipliers that will give and keep on giving. If you roll poorly, OE will help turn those crappy blank blanks into double damage triggers. When shooting at enemy squadrons with black dice, you can re-roll any blanks you might have for almost a guaranteed double hit. This amount of firepower is just overwhelming coming from such a small ship, and with a command value of 1, you can easily queue up Concentrate Fire when you get in close range to completely surprise your opponents. Just the other night, I was able to drop in the front arc of an enemy MC80 and put out double-arc shots from the front and side, adding a black to my side dice, scoring TWO crit triggers for my Assault Proton Torpedoes, and since I wanted him to stay in place, I just rammed him. Boom, front shields gone, a flipped redirect token, 2 face-up crits and a face-down card from the ram. All from a ship that's literally a third of the points.
For the Raider-II variant, I think we're looking for Screed triggers here. As most of you know, Screed likes to turn ineffectual dice results into criticals. Luckily for us, the Raider-II has plenty of blue dice to throw out and the option to take things like Overload Pulse. While I don't like using Raider-IIs nearly as much as Raider-Is, I still think they will have some use with the right kind of fleet composition. Having all of your defense tokens exhausted by Overload Pulse is going to invite all kinds of hurt from an ISD carrying the Avenger title. If that doesn't scream pain I don't know what will. Screed also allows your APTs or Assault Concussion Missiles to trigger without fail, and you can potentially do massive amounts of damage from a tiny and cheap ship.
When it comes to potential, I think the biggest use for Raiders is not their AA, their annoyance, or their crit results, I think it's their speed. Having such a fast speed and small imprint, combined with ridiculous speed-1/2 double-clicks, allows the Raider to get into the most opportune locations. They can avoid firing arcs really easily and once they get in range, they can hold up even the mightiest ships like the MC80. In fact, I think one of the best uses of the Raiders is their ability to block. Yes, they only have 4 total hull, but if you can get in the front of a MC80 and hold them there for a turn or and hopefully messing up the movement of his entire congo-line is king. A lot of Imperial players are not used to the huge surge of damage coming in from Ackbar gunlines, and this is because most they're used to just charging straight forward. Nay, this is the wrong way to do it in Wave 2 as a dedicated gunline with Ackbar will just shred anything that comes close. What you want to do is play the game of the patient hunter; having your Raiders prowl the far flanks of your ships and look for opportunities to stop the movement of the guppies. Once you trap them in place, it becomes a turkey shoot because your ISDs or Gladiators will be able to better focus in on whatever you want to kill.
Overall, I think everyone should take a look at the potential offered by the Imperial Raiders. They're fast, flexible, and can easily apply critical effects while being a potent threat to squadrons. This might make them one of the most flexible in the game for their point cost. I can't wait to play more with them.