Friday, November 9, 2012

Use the Force - A Review of X-Wing

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game
  • Designed by Jason Little
  • Published by Fantasy Flight Games
  • For 2 players, but you can really play with any number, so long as the fleets are balanced.
  • Playtime depends on what you're doing, most base matches will take 20-30 minutes, larger games run longer, it depends on how large you make it. Figure 60-90 minutes for most matches.

Back of the box
First off, don't let the title "Miniatures game" scare you off.  X-Wing plays a lot more like a board game than a traditional miniatures game.
X-Wing is a dogfighting game.  Players make moves, take actions, fly around in space, all with the goal of shooting the other guy down in flames.  It may not be an accurate space combat simulation, but wow does this feel like Star Wars.
Review Note: I'll be talking about the game in a couple different ways.  I've played some games with just the core set, but I currently have 2 core sets, and one of each of the wave 1 expansion ships.  I'll do my best to note where expansions come in to play.

Core Set: 1 X-Wing, 2 Tie Fighters, and all the components you need to actually play the game.  This includes movement markers, special tokens, attack and defense dice, ship cards, and a few upgrades.
My storage solution
Each Expansion: 1 Ship, a movement dial, unique(to the ship) pilots, some upgrade cards, assorted tokens. For instance, the Y-Wing comes with an Ion Cannon token.
Really, the pictures tell the story when it comes to components.

Storage pt. 2
Here's how turns work. All players select a movement on a movement dial for each of their ships.  Starting with the lowest pilot skill and going up, players reveal their move, use the movement guide to execute the maneuver, and then select an action to perform.  After all ships have moved, the highest pilot skill, and going down, makes an attack if they can.  Attacking is simple, roll dice equal to your attack value, 1 extra if you're at close range, while the defense rolls defense dice equal to their defense value, 1 extra if they're at far range.  If the attacker rolls more hits than the defense can evade, the defending ship suffers damage.  When you've taken damage equal to your hull rating, your ship goes boom.

The game offers a handful of scenarios, which I've yet to try.  I've been playing last man standing, which is a fun way to play.

X-Wing is full of interaction.  It's a game of out-thinking your opponent, trying to get the tactical edge, and exploit it.  It's a little slow at first, but the game quickly picks up and turns into a knock-down, drag-out fight.

X-Wing is Star Wars.  It may not be perfect, they're lacking a trench run scenario, which I feel is crucial, but it really feels like Star Wars.  Sure, it's not the same as reliving some of the battles using a video game, I was a big fan of the Rogue Squadron series, but this is a great tabletop adaptation.

Learning Curve
There's a medium learning curve.  There are intro rules, but they are very basic.  Still, if you've never played advanced boardgames, the intro rules give you a great jumping in point.  The full rulebook is involved.  There are a lot of things to understand, so it's best to take it step by step.  It may take a couple of games to start to understand what's going on, but you'll get there.

Why I like X-Wing
I've played Wings of War, which is a World War 1 and 2 dogfighting game.  I liked the game, but there were a lot of convoluted things going on. X-Wing is fairly simple.  Sure it takes some time, but the rules don't feel overwhelming.  The theme comes through amazingly.  I'd say the only game with a better theme incorporation, that I've played, is Star Trek Fleet Captains.
Why I don't like X-Wing
Price point.  Core sets are reasonable, ~$25 online for 3 ships plus a whole lot of cardboard isn't bad at all.  After that though, each miniature is $10-$12 online, $15 MSRP.  Now, I know that hand-painted minis are pricy, and these figures are worth it, but it can get expensive to have a large game, particularly if you don't have fellow players investing.

Depends on what you have.  The core set offers 3 scenarios, plus dogfighting and some customization with pilots and upgrades.  This is a great amount if you play it as a 2 player game and just as an occasional Star Wars fix.
The Tie Advance is just out of firing range
Once you add in extra ships, the replayability grows exponentially.  First, you'll want to play more often because the game just feels that awesome. Secondly, there are new challenges with fleet construction and point matches to keep things interesting for a long time.

The before and after of a maneuver
I think X-Wing is a great design.  It uses the license to full effect and has me, and many others, eagerly anticipating future ships.  The models are gorgeous, the gameplay is solid, though a bit random at times.  The game plays quickly, but allows for longer matches if players desire.  It really is flexible to whatever you're looking to get out of a skirmish game.  If you're even a bit of a Star Wars fan, you need to check this out.  

Also, the future is bright with this game.  Wave 2, due out in February, will bring in A-Wings, Tie Interceptors, Slave 1, and the Millennium Falcon.

Who knows what Wave 3 will have, odds are B-Wings and Tie Bombers.  After that, the possibilities are fewer for cannon, but they have so many places they can go.

*Note, all photos were taken on the back of my custom Star Trek Fleet Captain's Board. I thought the black made for a good setting.  
The box I use for storage is a Plano 5231. I'm probably going to get a 2nd one when I get more ships for the game.

Want to buy X-Wing product and support BoBG?

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