X-Wing is by no means a new game, but as one of my favourite games of all time I thought I’d share my thoughts on it, finally. As soon as they announced an X-Wing miniatures game all those years ago I was fully on board. I grew up with the Micro Machines Star Wars Action Fleet line of toys, as well as the first ever Star Wars Lego sets, and it was always the ships which were the most fun to play with. So when Fantasy Flight Games decided to sell my childhood back to me, the only thing I could do was ignore the groans from my wallet.
X-Wing: Miniatures Game
The X-Wing Miniatures game is based around the same system that’s found in Wings of Glory. It uses a set of movement templates that line up with the guides built onto the bases of the miniatures to measure movement. Each individual ship has a movement dial that represents each different move that it can make. And then for each ship miniature you have on the board you will have a corresponding pilot card. The pilot cards will either be generic like ‘blue squadron rookie’ or a named, and therefore unique, character like Biggs Darklighter or Han Solo. Each player simultaneously selects the movement for each ship on their ship dial secretly and you’ll reveal them – and move the ships accordingly – in ascending pilot skill order.
What you end up with is all of the low skill pilots (those generic novices, etc.) will move first and the skilled pilots will move afterwards, allowing them to better position themselves for attacks. The important thing to remember is that you’ve already selected every pilot’s movement. So, you cannot see how a novice moved and then adjust Luke Skywalker’s dial to be able to outflank that pilot. And that’s where a good portion of the skill of the game comes into play. X-Wing is all about anticipation and predicting enemy movement. That’s one of my favourite parts about X-Wing, that phase where you survey the board and try to see what your enemy is likely to do, and then planning your moves around that anticipation. Remember, though, that your enemy is doing the same thing, so you get this great multilayered tactical decision making process.
X-Wing is exactly what it says on the box, it’s a tactical single ship combat game. The ships are typically snub-fighters, although at this point, there’s a ton of larger ships, and even some massive Corvette class ships with their own rulesets. The epic games don’t interest me very much, because I’m in this game for the dog fighting. There’s plenty of times the chaos of a good dogfight is evident on the board. All those nice formations and attack patterns that you started the game with can often devolve into every man for himself and desperate opportunism. So bring your best piloting skills, and be prepared to adapt on the fly.
The combat, is represented as individual laser canon fire, secondary missiles and turrets as well as bombs and ion weapons. You’ll roll a number of dice each time you want to open fire based on the printed attack value on your pilot card and then modified by range. The dice are very cool looking custom D8’s. The dice chucking can be a little swingy, as they are in any game with dice, but defenders roll evade dice and there’s a ton of other options to modify dice with tokens or abilities, which keep any game competitive.
I love the combat system in X-Wing. It’s nothing new or groundbreaking, but it’s just solid. Combat is a culmination of your flying skills and when you roll those dice you get so many memorable moments. From direct hits, to agonizing misses, X-Wing evokes that sense of constant movement and trying to shake off people on your tail.
My wallet can’t afford a collectible game..
Can anyone’s? The reality of X-Wing is that whilst it’s been out a long time and there’s a ton of ships and expansions out there, you can get into it easily both competitively or just casually. The core set is ~$35, which is very affordable in this current age of $100 kickstarter euros. Trawling Amazon, or waiting for sales on Miniature Market or Cool Stuff Inc. can reap great results. So really this game isn’t as scary as it might first seem. My advice is to just look at what there is at your FLGS and then just go with the ships you like the look of or fancy flying.
X-Wing is totally worth it for me. Again, I play casually because competitions just aren’t my scene, but it’s a blast every time. Sure, I love Star Wars. Sure, I love miniatures. Sure, I love flight simulators. But you don’t have to be enamoured by all those things to like this game. It’s really easy to learn and fun to play, but rewards your investment. There’s so much to explore that if you do go down the rabbit hole you’ll have years of squad building, collecting, and combat ahead.