Set S-Foils to Attack position…Turn, Aim and Fire!
“Blue 4 you have an eyeball on your tail,” barks over the com channel as you throttle up and pitch your X-wing hard to the right. The imperial Tie Fighter behind you is good, but you know you’re better. Up ahead you see a few rogue asteroids and you edge the nose of your ship just to the left of the biggest one. Several green lasers lance past your canopy. You grin to yourself using your rudder pedals to whip the ship round one, then a second asteroid. The Tie pilot follows you, but with his solar wing clipping the second asteroid spins him out of control.
Suddenly you spot your wing man Blue 3, chasing down a Tie Interceptor but as you watch, the Tie pilot manages to swing out and behind him. “Blue 3 make a pass of the asteroids and I’ll vaporize that squint on your tail.”
Blue 3 begins evasive manoeuvres luring the interceptor towards the asteroids. You throttle up your ship and burst out between two asteroids, just as Blue 3’s tailing interceptor shoots by, spitting out quad lasers that are eating away the shields of Blue 3. Your quad cannons lance out red and dead on target, exploding the Tie Interceptor. You ‘Whoop’ with joy as you burst through the centre of the vaporised Tie Fighter, right into dual cannons of the damaged Tie Fighter. With your shields overloaded from the explosion of the Interceptor, the dual cannons eat straight into the ship. Suddenly everything goes white and then black.
Moments later you hear “You’re good but no Wedge Antilles” as the simulator cockpit opens “Now let’s try it for real!”
X-wing miniatures game…So what is it?
The X-wing miniatures game is a fast pace dogfight game, with some of the most iconic star fighters of the Star Wars Universe. Designed for 2 players or 2 teams of players to take control of a handful of ships and try and out manoeuvre and out shoot each other.
Now don’t let the fact that it’s a miniatures game put you off, as you don’t need to spend any time gluing or painting, with all the ships being already assembled and painted to a very good standard.
There is a base game set that gives you all the counters, dice and ships to allow 2 players to get to grips with the rules. In fact the only thing missing is a black table cloth to play on! (It doesn’t feel quite the same using that red and white check thing normally left on the table, or the one with the big flowers on it).
Buying yourself a fleet…With Points!
Once you have decided which side to play, then you can go to town and buy all the ships you want to use.
To play the game you normally use forces of equal points value. A standard size game is 100 points and could be anywhere from 3 to 8 ships, depending on what you choose to take. This is a large part of the game, picking your ships, the pilots, the upgrades and equipment.
Now this is my first major Pro to the game and at the same time a Con to the game. All the ships are individually for sale, so if you want a fleet of just Y-wings, then no problems, you go out and buy 4 Y-wings and you have the models you need and the ship/pilot cards you need. However, after a couple of games you may notice your opponent play with weapons you could use, but you never seen before and hey wait a minute, where did you get that upgrade card from!
Well let me explain about what you get when you buy a ship. First off you get one lovely model with its stand and all the tokens it needs. You will get a range of ship/pilot cards that will range from un-named squadron pilots to well know pilots for that class of ship. Then you will get a set of equipment cards that will range from weapons, Astro-mechs, Upgrades, Veteran Skills etc… Now some you will have been seen before and some will be new, as this is FFGs way of expanding the game and it is part of their way of getting you to buy all the new ships. For Star Wars fans like myself that’s not a problem. I want one of everything, but the cost of the ships is not that cheap and now they are bringing out larger scale ships, so the cost of the game is only going up. It would be nice if every now and then they released a card deck with all the upgrade cards in. It would be nice, but it’s not a game breaker.
Thankfully there are several websites dedicated to this game, where you can find out what comes with what ships. So if you’re not a mad Star Wars fan like myself and you don’t want to buy them all, then you can check out what you do and do not have to buy.
How does the game fly…I Mean Play?
I won’t go through the whole set of rules (not that there are that many), but the basics go something like this. Every ship has a special dial which has every manoeuvre that particular ship can make, so everyone sets the manoeuvre dial in secret of every ship at the start of the turn. Then starting with the ship with the lowest pilot skill, you reveal the manoeuvre dial and take the corresponding template (no tape measure needed) and move the ship along the template. As long as you planned your manoeuvre right and you haven’t flown right into another ship then you get to perform a special action and then play proceeds onto the next ship increasing in pilot skill. Yes even though space is 3D this game is only 2D really. You can during your movement move through other ships, as if they are not there but for simplicity the designers decided you could not end your turn on top of another ship.
The nice thing with this method is that it means it limits each player’s down time, as you just go by pilot skill for the order. If my opponent had 2 ships one with a skill of 1 and a second with a skill of 9 while I had 2 with a skill of 5, then he would move his skill 1 first then I would move my 2 with skill 5 then he would move his skill 9.
Once every ship has moved then the shooting starts, this time it starts with the highest pilot skill and goes in decreasing order. Shooting is very simple; you roll a number of red attack dice based on the weapons power. If any hits are scored, the defender rolls a number of green evade dice for every successful evade you cancel out a hit. If there are any hits not cancelled out, then you take a number of damage cards equal to the hits that got through. This damage stays on the ship and if that damage was a critical then you flip over that damage card and do whatever the card says. If you ever have damage equal to or more than your ship’s hull then boom your ship is removed.
There are plenty more modifiers and rerolls that can be applied and I haven’t even touched on shields but I’m not going to reveal all here!
What’s the point?…Competitive or Story Driven!!
There are several different formats of play. Most people I know play the straight battles which are based on the normal tournament format, where you have an hour to destroy as many ships as possible. However, included in the base game and in several of the larger ships (the Falcon, Slave One and Imperial Shuttle) are special missions for a more story driven experience.
Your own imagination…The only Limit!
To prove this point let me tell you of a large game we played at Solent Wargamers just before Christmas. It was the clubs last meeting before Christmas and I wanted to do something fun so I decided to have a game where everyone could jump in no matter their experience. I came up with a mission where new pilots for both Rebel and Imperial were facing off in a desperate contest to prove themselves worthy pilots, while a Rebel Blockade runner tried to escape an Imperial trap. Everyone was given a basic ship of similar value and the idea was they were trying to kill as many enemy fighters as possible, before the Rebel Blockade runner escaped off the far end of the board. Thus we could crown the best Rebel and Imperial Ace pilots. Now I used fan made rules for the Blockade runner and Star Destroyer. Using models that I had sat on my shelves, as these ships are not yet released (I say not yet as the Rebel Blockade runner will be released later this year!)
My plan for the game I must admit was only a partial success, as the Imperial players decided to ignore the Rebel fighters and just go after the Blockade runner. While the Rebel players did focus on shooting up the inbound tie fighters, blowing quite a few up. However, the main objective of having fun was achieved and it was a great looking game with lots of theme as you can see from the photos.
Are there any problems?…With the game!!
While this is a great fun game capturing the feeling of a star-fighter dogfight in a simple 2D format. I know for some people the fact that you don’t have the 3D height levels for the ships really bugs them. “What do you mean, just because your ship got in my way means I have to back up and forego my action! It’s a space ship not a sea going one and I’ve got Wedge, one of the greatest Pilots, he’ll just fly over your little Tie Fighter surely”
This game has been kept simplified to keep the pace of the game going and there are other great games out there that will give you that level of detail, but most of them will take longer to play.
Another complaint I have heard and I do see their point, is in the movement order. As all the lower pilot skill ships go first they can and will end up in all the places you have set your higher pilot skill ships to move to forcing them to lose their actions.
The example can go like this; the basic academy Tie fighter moves and does his action. Now it’s your turn and Wedge’s go, who’s move ends up right on that academy Tie so he is forced back until he is only touching the Tie and he loses his action and now can’t shoot that tie as they are touching. How does this fit with Wedge being a far better Pilot, should he not get to react better to this action? This can be a real pain, but I do see why it is done like this and again it is to keep the rules simple. In all other move outcomes going second is a bonus, as you can see what the opponent has done and have a more informed choice when it comes to selecting your action. Also you have to remember while the rules are simple, like chess if you don’t really think about what moves your opponent is going to make, as well as yours, then you’re going to end up in trouble!
This is a solid little skirmish game which is very accessible to all levels of gamers. It is great for people who want to try out miniature games, as you don’t have to make or paint anything. It is great for the experienced Wargamers too, who want to have a change of pace, with a fast game that can be fitted into an hour. The movement while simplified, still offers enough choice to keep you thinking and on your toes most of the time. The continued expansion of ships gives you plenty of force options to choose from. Although I could not say this is a serious miniatures game, for me it is most defiantly fun and I keep coming back to play it again and again.
One final note to show that the games industry thinks the X-Wing system is good. WizKids bought the rights to use the game mechanic from Fantasy Flight Games and have produced their own Star Trek based game (Star Trek Attack Wing).
by Paul Gothard 010/1/2014
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By Day - Director of online Games and Toy Store Gamesquest. By Night - Father to two girls and husband to one wife! Board Gamer, Blogger and general dogsbody!