I finally got in several plays of the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game with my buddy Dan. A few people have already asked me how it went.
Get this game.
It’s a wonderful game, horribly addicting and plays out just like I wanted it to. The rules are complicated enough to keep the game interesting, but simple and easy enough to keep it moving at a fast pace! Our 2nd battle, which consisted of 3 TIE fighters and 2 X-wings at a 60 point buy ran us almost an hour. That’s fast!
The minis are really good (although one of my X-wings suffers from droopy laser cannon syndrome) on the whole they’re well crafted and look amazing. I thought the little plastic stands and poles would be precarious but really they do a fine job of holding these things upright and facing forward. The details on these minis are very, very good. No painting needed, no assembly needed. Just grab the base, grab to plastic poles and you’re ready to fly.
Tactically the game is fairly simple, with everything you need to play right out of the box. Simple though doesn’t mean unfulfilling or easy. Playing this game feels like watching a battle scene out of Star Wars, with more in common with a WWII dogfight than space combat. That’s right where I want this game to be. Fighter craft whoosh by each other, execute amazing maneuvers and come up shooting.
I love the fact that you can play this game on any surface. I was quite surprised at the size of the box when I purchased this and the reason it’s so small is that there’s no board needed for this board game. We played on my buddy Dan’s kitchen counter, which was just a bit over 3’x3′ and it was a great size for the ships we fielded.
The hardest thing about this game was reading through the directions and really getting a sense of play. I read through them once, then broke out and assembled the three minis that come with the base game and actually played out a short combat by myself. Once I had done that, it all made sense.
Now my only problem is I want more! More ships, more pilots, more add ons!
The game is set up quite nicely into several phases. If you’re interested, Fantasy Flight has the rule book up as a PDF here. First, each player enters the planning phase. Both players take their maneuver dials (handy little round dials that show what each ship is capable of) and plan their next move. They then place these face down next to each ship so the other player cannot read them. In reverse pilot skill order (each pilot has a skill number, from 1-9, higher being better) each dial is revealed and that maneuver is executed. The game comes with every template you’ll need to do these maneuvers, which is amazingly handy. Just place the template at the base of the mini, hold it down, and move the mini to the other side of the movement template.
After each ship has moved, they can choose to perform an action. Many ships have standard actions (such as save up a dodge, or gain a target lock) and higher scored pilots also have additional things they may do during the action phase.
Now that everyone’s moved, from poorest pilot to best, it’s time to shoot some stuff. In the combat phase, things go in reverse order. The best pilot gets to shoot first (if there’s a tie, the Empire has initiative, causing Imperial ships to move first, and shoot first). Dice are rolled for both offense (that red number on the TIE fighter card above) and defense (the green number). Hits and critical hits are totalled, while the defender gets to remove them. Whatever damage is left over is applied to the ships in a neat mechanic. Standard damage has the player take 1 damage card and put it next to the ship card. With a hull of say 3, it takes 3 damage cards to destroy that ship. If a critical hit is scored that same damage card is taken, but flipped over. It then has text and conditions that are applied to the damaged ship, limiting it in some way or causing even more damage.
Lastly we hit the end phase, where tokens are cleaned up and everyone still flying breathes a sigh of relief.
Some Last Thoughts
This game has gotten the mix of simple mechanics, interesting abilities and tense situations exactly right. It’s can get a bit tense (in a good way) as each player is waiting for the others to reveal their maneuvers and move these ships around. Will you end up in someone’s firing arc? Will they be yours?
I really like the movement and firing mechanics, with simple range finders and movement templates provided in the base game. It makes for a really fast game. From introducing Dan to the game through the completion of our second battle took an hour and forty five minutes. That’s great! Our first battle was one X-Wing vs two TIE Fighters. Our second battle was 2 X-Wings vs 2 TIE Fighters and a TIE advance. You’re fielding fairly small ‘armies’ in the game which makes it entirely manageable. This game reminds me just a bit of the old Car Wars game by Steve Jackson Games. A few templates for moving and range and you’re good to go!
The biggest downside I’ve found to this game so far is my almost physical need to acquire more ships! I haven’t yet had a chance to use my Y-Wing (a problem I’ll remedy real soon now). The wave 2 ships have just come out, introducing the A-Wing, TIE Interceptor, the Millenium Falcon and the Slave 1. Wow! The last two ships are a bit more pricey with an MSRP of $29.99 – but they’re also nearly 4 times the size of the other minis available for the game, and introduce new rules for larger ships.
It’s been a long time since I fell for a game so quickly and fully. I think the last title that grabbed me this hard was Dominion and the various expansions that are available for it. The base set of X-Wing retails for $39.99 (you can often find it at amazon for $30) and comes with three models (2 TIE Fighters and 1 X-Wing). 1st wave expansions include the TIE Advance, X-Wing, Y-Wing and TIE Fighter.
With the base game you can certainly play it and have fun but I think you’ll find yourself craving more. Some folks have suggested grabbing two base sets to get six ships total. I’m on the fence with this. By purchasing a TIE Advance, the X-Wing, Y-Wing and TIE Fighter expansions I was able to add 4 new ships to the mix and you get some unique pilots and add-ons such as astromechs.
Either way, if you’re the type to like this kind of game, you are going to want to acquire some more ships. If you’re really into it, you can even go so far as to download this fan made, scale Corellian Corvette and add it into your game.