Monday, 4 February 2013

I spent 8 hours deciding the fate of the galaxy in X-Wing last weekend

I have been hearing fantastic things about the new Star Wars: X-Wing Miniature Game from Fantasy Flight Games since even before it was released. I've had it on my gaming wish lists since it was first announced. Well thanks to the generosity of a fellow Windsor area gamer, I finally got to give this new game a try. For about 8 hours. It's been a long time since I've done a marathon gaming session but that's exactly what happened a week ago Sunday. The original plans included trying out the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game RPG as well but we never got to that. We were having far too much fun playing X-wing.

X-wing is a non-collectible pre-painted miniature game designed to be played by two sides. The core game set gives you enough to play a simple game with one X-Wing facing off against two TIE Fighters. The game is mainly written for two players but more can easily be added with each person controlling one or more ships. Expansion sets exist and each includes one new ship and associated cards and counters. At the time of writing you can pick up more X-Wings and regular TIEs as well as Y-Wings and TIE Advanced.

A line of TIE Fighters from our first 100pt game.
The core set includes a set of rules of varying complexity designed to quickly teach and expand the game. With the basic rules you can begin playing, out of the box, in about ten minutes. Full rules add more complexity to the basic rules and add more strategy to the game. Advanced rules also exist that turn the game into a more traditional wargame with players spending points to build their armies before play.

Gameplay consists of players taking turns through a movement round and then a firing round. This is repeated until one side is wiped out or specific mission objectives are met. The movement round is the real meat of this game. Each ship has a maneuver disc that lists all of the possible moves the ship can make on it. Players simultaneously use their discs to select a move for each of their ships. This is done blind so that no one knows what the other players are going to do. Moves include things like moving straight, 45o turns, 90o turns and even a bootlegger style turn. What's brilliant is that each ships list of maneuvers is different., for example: X-wings are slower and less maneuverable than the TIEs. Some moves are considered hard, and stress out the pilots meaning they can't make any actions until they do an easy move and remove this stress.

Actions are a big part of the full rules. After each maneuver made with a ship the controller of the ship gets to do one action. These are based on what ship you have. X-wings have the ability to Focus or add Target Lock. TIEs can dodge, focus or do barrel rolls. This ads another level of variety between the ships. The combination of effective maneuvering, predicting your opponents moves and appropriate use of actions forms the core of the strategy in this game..

X-Wing forces set up for a 100pt game.
All of this moving about and using actions is done to set yourself up for blowing your target out of the sky. This is done by first checking firing arc and range with the included range ruler. There are three range bands and so far all basic weapons fire into all three, while some secondary weapons only shoot in a limited number of bands. Shooting people in band one gives you a bonus on attack while shooting people in band three gives them a bonus for defense. Actual attack and defense resolution is handled with unique eight sided dice. Red for attack and green for defense. The number of dice rolled is determined by range and by the stats for each ship. Evasion rolls on the defense dice cancel out hits on the attack dice. Various cards and actions can modify these rolls. Damage is tracked by damage cards with critical hits causing one of these cards to be flipped over and giving some additional effect. Shields reduce damage for ships that have them. When a ship has taken more damage than it's hull rating it is destroyed and removed from the game. For a regular game the winner is the player with the last ship standing. The core game also includes three different missions the players can try with different victory conditions.

X-Wing really hits it's sweet spot when you've picked up a few expansion ships and start to build your own forces. The standard game has players spending 100pts each to build their force. Points are spent first buying ships and pilots. The core game comes with a selection of named Star Wars pilots as well as some generic pilots and each expansion adds to this giving you about six new ship/pilot combos. In addition to buying pilots you also have the option to buy upgrades on a ship by ship basis. The upgrades you can choose are limited by the ships you have, for instance all X-wings allow for an Astromech Droid  to be added if the player wishes. Each upgrade breaks the rules in some way giving that ship more or better options during battle. Even with just the ships currently out there are a ton of possible combinations available with more being added with each expansion.

The big mess at the center of the table.
I've got to say that this one not only met my expectations but far exceeded them. I can't remember the last time a single game held my interest for an 8 hour stretch. The game is very quick to learn but not at all easy to master. The way the rulebook is presented slowly adding more variety and new rules was a prefect way to slowly learn the game without becoming overwhelmed. By the end of our first 100pt battle we hardly had to reference the rules at all, and by the end of the day I didn't even need to pick up the rule-book. Added to the fact the game is very solid is the fact that the miniatures look amazing. I'm not a huge fan of pre-painted miniatures, but these are more than your regular pre-paints. Heck I think most of the ships I have are painted better than I could do.

Overall: X-wing is a very solid tactical miniature game. It has amazingly painted and detailed pieces that are tied to a rule set that is just as elegant. The hidden movement system is completely brilliant and really helps to recreate a dog-fight feel that is perfect for Star Wars. Different movement dials for each ship combined with different actions, a variety of pilots and a selection of upgrade options means that each ship feels very distinct, each with it's own strengths and weaknesses. This variety combined with solid tactical gameplay means I should be coming back to X-Wing again and again.


  1. I was considering this game myself. And was even going to ask for it a a birthday gift this month. I just couldn't get over the $15-20 per ship expansion. ouch!
    I had pretty much given up on it.
    Now , your giving it such a positive review has me itching for it again. ugg curses :P

  2. Cat,

    If you shop around you may be able to find the ships cheaper than that. Personally I don't mind the full retail price if paying at a FLGS, especially one that would let me demo the game first. If you are willing to shop online you can usually find prices significantly lower. I've seen ships in the $11 range.

  3. I've got the same hesitation on the expansion ships for the game. I got the main game for Christmas, and it's a blast, but dropping that much money for a SINGLE ship and a dozen or so cards is just outlandish.

    1. I can't say I agree with that. This is a miniature battle game and if you compare the prices it's the cheapest one out there. A single unassembled, unpainted Games Workshop character model will cost you up to $60. That's with no cards, no counters, etc. Example:

      With X-wing you get a fully assembled and expertly painted model for about 1/5 of that cost.

    2. Be a little more fair here. that model is 3x the size of a x-wing mini.

      I personally don't like that the models are prepainted. Its kept me from trying the game. What if I want to play CorSec xwings? Wraith Squadron? possibilities would be a little bigger if the opportunity to paint our own were there.

    3. Okay true enough that is a much larger model. I could link to some $20 and $30 Battle Fleet Gothic minis ;)

      One thing you can do with the X-wing figures is re-paint them. I've seen some fantastic custom jobs online. Even just little touches like adding some OSL light out the engines and differentiating the different ships.

    4. The miniatures are actually quite spectacular.
      I have them displayed in my office at work when I am not gaming with them.
      Even non-gamers have remarked on the quality of the minis.
      And as Moe mentioned, you get expansion game cards and tokens for the ship. So it isn't just a miniature, it is a real game expansion package.