Saturday, 9 March 2013

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game Review

Introduction

I finally managed to get my hands on the Star Wars X-Wing miniatures game by Fantasy Flight Games. It's been pre-ordered for a long time, and OG Games have now managed to get stock from across the pond. For those who have been living in an exogorth, here's the official blurb:

Control the most advanced starfighters and outstanding pilots in the galaxy! In X-Wing Miniatures Game, you take the role of squad leader and command a group of merciless Imperial or daring Rebel pilots in furious ship-to-ship space combat. Featuring stunningly detailed and painted miniatures, X-Wing recreates exciting Star Wars space battles from small engagements of only a couple of crafts, to large conflicts where multiple squadrons clash. Select and equip your ships, pick your crew, plan your attack, and complete your mission. Taken from the FFG Site.

The first thing I'll say is that I love Star Wars, as if you didn't already guess from my internet handle. I was the kind of kid that ran around the woods with his mates and bashed the crap out of each other with plastic glow rods screaming the star wars theme. So as you might imagine, I had steep expectations.

In this review I'll talk mostly about the Core Set and its out-of-box gameplay, with only a small section on expanded play (as I only have two expansions currently).


Opening The Core Set

As with any other FFG game, you get an overwhelming number of components! The box provides all the movement templates, action and status tokens, range rulers, asteroids, mission counters, dice, cards and miniatures (two TIE Fighters and a single X-wing) you need to start playing. The only thing you have to provide yourself is a 3' x 3' gaming surface - I just used a square of black fabric from Hobbycraft, but it would have been nice if they included a play sheet or fold away board. Anyway, all of the included bits and bobs are printed on high quality card stock and feel as though they could handle some serious use. I was particularly impressed with the artwork on the cards and templates as they really give off a Star Wars 'feel'.

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game - My Ships

The ships themselves look like they came directly from the ILM archives, and are highly detailed. The models are adequately painted to gaming standard, and to be honest I probably won't even touch them up - although I may add Rogue or Wraith squadron markings at some point... but that's purely to satisfy my nerd cravings. The scale is just right, not too big to interfere with gaming and not too small that you can't see the details.

With all these components X-Wing initially seems to come across as a bit of hybrid game. Part miniatures, part board game. You can buy the Core Set and set up a game in minutes (once you've read the rules) using the pre-generated pilots and missions, just as you would a board game. No assembling and painting models beforehand. Of course you only get 3 missions in the rulebook so this approach may get tired fast. On the other hand, if you want to go deeper and craft your own squadrons (like a traditional miniatures game) you can - which I will cover later.

X-Wing Miniatures Game - Core Set

Another thing I wanted to say was the box itself is actually sturdy enough to hold your bits. I have two expansions and their plastic 'cradle' (for want of a better word) sits nicely inside with enough room for everything else. I've used resealable bags to store all the components and the rulebook sits nicely on top. This is a nice touch as the game can sit on a shelf with the rest of my board games, I don't have to buy any additional storage like I do with my other miniatures games and find a place for it.


Playing the Game

As a space miniatures game I was expecting pages and pages of rules (like Battlefleet Gothic), but was surprised when the rulebook turned out to be just under 30 pages, and only about half of that is actual rules. You can read the pdf, or watch the tutorial video on the FFG site so I won't go deep into the rules, rather give my overall impressions.


X-Wing is simple and easy to learn. The book is very well laid out and takes you through the game step by step. The game uses templates in order to determine movement and range, and custom dice for combat. Something I actually rather like and makes movement and combat a lot quicker with less contention. You don't have to look at any charts to see what effect your roll had on the game - it's already right there on the die face.


I also really like the 'hidden manoeuvre' aspect of the game, where you have to try and out-guess your opponent in where they will be moving next - with different ships having different manoeuvring capabilities. The combat phase is totally reliant on your movement (through firing arcs) so it adds a heavy dose of tactics to quite a simple game mechanic. With most ship stats being similar, manoeuvring well and outguessing your opponent is what will win you games. Another thing to add is that the rounds fly past, this game is so quick! With most of the decision making done simultaneously, both players have something to do at all times - none of this twiddling your thumbs for half an hour while your opponent moves and picks off your army.

X-Wing Miniatures Game - Game In Progress

I've played a number of games with my fiancĂ©e now (a non-gamer) and she picked up the rules after only two games. She even said she had fun, something she has yet to do for any other miniatures game I force her to play! I personally would have liked a little more detailed rules (being a seasoned miniature gamer), but the game is very quick to play and there isn't anywhere that says I can't make up some extra rules myself! You never know, they may being out an Advanced version some day.

X-Wing Miniatures Game - Game In Progress

Squad Building and Expansions

Where X-Wing diverges from its board game roots is the ability to build and upgrade your squad. Like all good miniatures games it uses a points system for ships and upgrades, with 100 points being typical. You can load up on ships with elite pilot skills, missiles and modifications, or go with lots of ships with fewer upgrades, or you can find a nice balance. As I only have two expansions (about 50/60 points a side) I can't say how playing a 'full' 100 points game would effect the rapidity of play, but as the rules are so simple I doubt it would have too much effect.

An example Rebel squadron from the FFG site.

One bad note I have with this is that instead of giving you all the upgrade and pilot options from the start (such as a Codex), the upgrade and pilot cards come packaged with different expansions. This means that the only way to get all the options is to buy everything (as most upgrades can be used by both Rebels and Imperials). This annoyed me a little with one of my favourite SW characters Wedge, as instead of being able to buy two starter sets (and thus grabbing 2 X-wings and 4 TIEs) I'm forced to buy the X-wing expansion if I want to use him. But I suppose that's business.

Of course the main reason for buying expansions is the miniatures, and FFG are bringing new ones out all the time. The larger ship expansions also come with new rules and missions. I can't wait to get an Interceptor, piloted by the famous Soontir Fel of course! May have to paint the rest of my Imperial squadron with red stripes then.


Cost

I bought the core set for £25 from OG Games and expansions are around a tenner (of which you'll need about 2-3 per side). So a 100 point squadron will cost you around £45-55 if you're only collecting one of either Rebel or Imperial. Which of course no-one will! So it ends up being more like £75. That's a lot of money, but a new army from GW costs over £300 for each player not including things likes books, paint and other paraphernalia  When you take into account that £75 gives you everything you need for 2 players to play a decent sized game, its a bloody bargain!

X-Wing Miniatures Game - Game In Progress

Conclusion

If you love the movies, love the books, there is no way you won't like this game. The miniatures, the art, the characters, awesome. To be honest, even if you're not a Star Wars fan I would recommend it. I wouldn't replace my regular more-in-depth miniatures game with it, bit X-Wing is great for light evening entertainment. The models are of high quality, rules are tight and quick to learn, and if you can resist making 'pew pew pew' and 'froooom' noises while playing then you're a better man than I.

Darth Meer

P.S. You know you want to play it with A New Hope playing in the background.

4 comments:

  1. I just started playing this game as well. I found this collection of user created materials:
    http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/938057/collection-of-user-created-material-for-x-wing-min
    My two favorites in that list are the "Ship stats vs. Points" excel file under the articles heading which is a worksheet to determine the points values of new ships, and the "Hi res photoshop templates" in the cards/tokens section which, it you have access to photoshop (or gimp) you can easily make your own cards. It's a nice way to expand the game however you want. There are plenty of other things on that site to play around with as well.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, i'll take a look at that site!

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  2. Darth, I've been meaning to compliment you on this review for quite awhile now and just kept forgetting to do it. It's a brilliant, brilliant review. Extremely well written and very professional. Definitely a post to be proud of!

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  3. Of course I played A New Hope in the background when I first played. Then The Empire Strikes Back the next night ...... And Return of the Jedi the next. Couldn't pass up the opportunity Great review of a great game. I really enjoy the game play of this system. Looking forward to the Star Trek version this summer

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