Typically the rebel pilot to compare with Soontir is Tycho. Both Soontir and Tycho are the top of their class and love taking stress. Tycho is even Soontir’s former pupil. However, what really distinguishes Soontir is his unique triple action ability. He can take any two actions with Push the Limit, and receive a free Focus token for his efforts (and one action can be a Focus, getting him two Focus tokens). Tycho doesn’t have that triple action economy, instead stuck always with just two actions. Tycho’s benefit is the use of the full range of his dial (minus K-turns), rather than always being stuck on green maneuvers, but unlike the interceptors, Tycho doesn’t have a Barrel Roll action.
If you want Soontir’s triple action, with Barrel Roll being an option, you need to go down the ranks to Jake Farrell. With Push the Limit and Jake’s native talent, he can take three actions, so long as one is a Boost or Barrel Roll. So now let’s see just how these two slippery pilots compare, starting with the stat line. We’re going to be assuming the two common builds: Soontir w/ Royal Guard Title, Autothrusters, Stealth Device, Push the Limit; Jake w/ Test Pilot Title, Autothrusters, Push the Limit, Veteran Instincts, Proton Rockets.
Soontir’s major advantage is 3 red dice, compared to Jake’s pitiable 2. To make up for this, Jake takes the massive Proton Rocket 5 die attack. This is where his triple action really shines. He can Focus, and use that to boost into Range 1, then Push to take a Target Lock, giving him a massive attack. (He can also use the TL to reroll eyes, just in case he needs the Focus to defend with.)
Jake’s major advantage is his hit points. He has 1 more total HP than Soontir, with two of those being shields. However, Soontir’s extra green die from Stealth does make them a bit closer on defense.
Then there’s cost. A fully equipped Jake is 33 points, while Soontir comes in at 35. Depending on what else is in your squad, those two points can make a big difference. [There’s also the option to ditch the Rockets for a Refit and bring Jake down to a lean 28 points, but it really cuts into his offensive ability. If you ditch the Rockets, it’s probably better just to go with the evasive Gemmer for just 25 points outfitted with Autothrusters and Push the Limit, or a Green Squadron for 22.]
Soontir and Jake’s stat lines only tell half the story. Where the real differences become apparent is in the meta.
Fat Han: Soontir has the clear advantage. With an Evade token from the Falcon title and C3PO guaranteeing 1 Evade result, Jake can’t deal damage from Range 2-3, and at Range 1 he’s incredibly vulnerable to Han sporting a Gunner crew. Soontir on the other hand can stay at range 2-3, plinking away 1 hull point at a time while Han’s 3 red dice prove ineffective.
Decimator: If Ysanne is onboard, Jake is going to have more trouble doing damage than Soontir, but unlike with Fat Han, it’s not mathematically impossible. (Kenkirk, Ysanne, and Palpatine though will render Jake useless.) But, if Vader is onboard, Jake is the winner. The Vader+Gunner combo puts 2 crits on Soontir, no matter how many Evade results he rolls. Jake’s shields earn their keep here. Jake can also fire off his rockets against a Decimator, clearing its shields in a single strike and leaving it vulnerable to crits. Soontir could do the same at Range 1 (where Jake would need to be), but his odds of a 4 hit result are much lower. Jake would sacrifice some defense to pull it off, but with his shields it’s a risk he can take.
Rebel Swarms: Soontir’s extra red die lets you rip through rebel ships a little bit faster, but Jake’s 2 dice are still enough to add up over time (do keep an eye on the clock). Jake’s Proton Rockets are very strong here, with the ability to clear an X-Wing or Z-95 out in one shot. It’s also good for removing a troublesome B-Wing or Y-Wing early to get a quick advantage. Jake and Han can potentially kill an 8 hit point ship before it can ever attack. (But, with Jake it’s probably smarter to hang back a bit, and only move in to rocket a B or Y that’s already been wounded.)
Doom Shuttle: Here again Jake is the winner. Vader is extremely dangerous to Soontir, while Jake can tear through half the shuttle’s hit points in a single shot, making Vader much less appealing to use.
Brobots: Advantage Soontir. With 88C giving a free Evade token and the 88s boosting into Range 3 a lot for Autothrusters, Soontir’s extra attack die becomes very important. Like with Fat Han, Jake has trouble doing any amount of damage — at Range 3, Jake needs the 88s to roll 4 eyeballs. There’s less than one half of one percent chance at that.
Corran Horn: Corran’s 3 green dice, Evade action, and ability to recover shields (with the popular R2-D2 build) makes it extremely hard for Jake to put damage on. So again, we see an advantage with Soontir’s extra attack die. However, with only 5 hit points on an E-Wing, Jake has the ability to put in a very devastating attack with the Proton Rockets. If anyone else in the squad can follow up with another shot, you can take out Corran in one round. The trouble is that Corran regularly is given Veteran Instincts, making him Pilot Skill 10. Jake will rarely be able to close into rocket range. In this case, Soontir has the advantage, especially since his Focus-Focus-Evade action can let him survive Corran’s infamous double tap.
Control: The difference in how their action economies work gives Jake a big advantage against ion cannons and stress effects. Soontir basically has the option of 1 action or 3 and a stress. Jake on the other hand can take 2 actions without a stress, taking a Focus and then a free movement action. This lets him remain very effective while not exposing himself to the threat of a double stress. The ability to remain stress-free also helps against ion cannons, since the 1 forward is a white maneuver. He can get ioned, and still perform an action, while Soontir would be stuck with his pants down.
Carnor: Soontir definitely wins here. The ability to Barrel Roll to get out of Range 1 or arc dodge is pretty clutch. Jake is left only with his Boost option. An A-Wing that can’t arc dodge is just an expensive Z-95.
Jake does have a very fun trick to ruin Carnor’s day though. If he’s just outside of Range 1, he can Focus and then Boost into Range 1, Push the Limit to Target Lock. Proton Rockets do not require you to spend your Focus token, so he can still fire them, getting a 5 die + Target Lock attack against Carnor.
Palob: This one’s tough, possibly a draw. Jake can take two actions (so long as one isn’t Barrel Roll) without giving Palob a token to eat. His ability to Target Lock is pretty useful. On the other hand, Soontir can Barrel Roll without giving up a Focus token. Soontir can also turtle up, give Palob a token, but still have 2 to use for himself. Jake can only leave himself with 1.
With two red dice and a Target Lock, Jake has a 56% chance of landing 2 hits. With 3 unmodified red dice, Soontir has a 50% chance of at least 2 hits. Slight advantage to Jake there, but Soontir also has a 1/8 chance of landing 3 hits. Jake is slightly more reliable, while Soontir has slightly higher average damage.
Unlike Carnor, Palob completely shuts down Jake’s ability to fire his proton rockets, so no chance to slip in and one-shot the fragile HWK.
One final thought: This is a very rarely used aspect of Jake’s ability, but he can activate his free movements outside of the normal action window. Lando can give him a free action, effectively giving Jake Advanced Sensors (plus a regular action after moving), and Cracken can let Jake move early in the combat phase. You don’t see this much though because these free actions work only at Range 1. Garven Dreis can help Jake, passing tokens at range 1-2, but since Dreis is only PS6, Jake will have already fired and the move doesn’t help a whole lot. The best support for out of turn movement would be Kyle Katarn flying a HWK with either the Moldy Crow title or a Recon Specialist. The timing (start of combat) is excellent, and Range 1-3 is easy enough to maintain. Jake can now Focus, Boost, be assigned a Focus from Kyle, and Barrel Roll, then Push the Limit and Evade or Target Lock. Very powerful combo, and it frees up an EPT slot. Being able to adjust your position at the start of combat means Veteran Instincts is less necessary. Jake can take Outmaneuver or Calculation instead.