X-Wing Miniatures Game - Shoot to Thrill...

I'm going to start with an assumption here, everyone reading this review probably dreamed of "locking S-Foils in attack position" as a kid. You probably played the original X Wing, maybe TIE Fighter, X Wing vs TIE fighter or even X Wing Alliance (blowing up the Second Death Star at the end of this one was a great climax for the end of the campaign).

I will also assume that you collected the old Micro Machines Star Wars models. Spending many hours in your room choreographing great space battles where heroes of the Rebellion and the Empire clashed in epic stories from your imagination.

Unfortunately, as the years pass by there has been no new X Wing game on PC, Micro Machines has ceased to exist and our creativity has been curtailed by the mundane tasks of a 9-5 working day. But I am here to tell you that salvation is at hand! And it comes in the form of Fantasy Flight's ("FF") X-Wing Miniatures game.

The system is easy to pick up and play, and you can add complexities as you go along, and it also combines the best parts of the games mentioned earlier (OK, maybe the combat isn't quite as good as the PC games). You can collect the miniatures from FF much like your old Micro Machine models and the game system allows you to plot out those epic, tactical space battles of your childhood once more.

Everything you need to get started comes in a reasonably priced set (between GBP 20 - 30 depending on where you shop) that doesn't take up as much room as some other starter sets out on the market (looking at you GW and Age of Sigmar). One criticism I have of the X-Wing starter set is that I feel FF could have included more than 3 models, yes the 3 models work perfectly well for the quick start game but you will want to move onto bigger battles very quickly. To accomplish this I found myself picking up a second starter set, this gives you more dice, more markers and more movement templates as well as 3 extra models. Obviously FF want you to buy their expansion sets to develop your game but a little bit more in the starter set would not have gone amiss.

When you open up the starter set you find that everything is neatly set out for you. The cardboard templates and tokens are sturdy although I can see many players moving onto plastic templates as their cardboard ones wear out. Fantasy Flight also provide a catalog of their other products in the set, but this doesn't feel intrusive, I found myself flicking through it after my first game and finding a number of other systems that appeal to me.

There are two sets of rules provided in the box. A simpler quick start guide that gets you straight into the action providing you with the basics and decently sized rulebook for the more advanced game that you will move onto. Unlike most tabletop games the rules for this system are succinctly laid out and you won't spend hours flicking through pages just so that you can get a simple game going with friends or family.

You receive 3 attack and 3 defence dice which are the bare minimum for the game, this is another good reason to pick up a second starter set. You can also pick up more dice from FF or one of their chosen retailers. The dice themselves are D8s that are unique to this system (or at least unique to FF systems) so you won't be able to make do with a regular D6. Saying that, using these dice is a lot simpler than rolling D6 in a system such as 40k, for X-Wing you both roll the required number of dice and compare your results straight up (in the quick start game, the regular game does allow you to play modifiers), no tables, no to hit and then to wound rolls, just roll your dice compare the results and deal out the damage. Simples.

I briefly mentioned about that you can play modifiers which affect the number of dice you roll. Mainly these come in the form of cards, to be more specific pilot and upgrade cards, and they do exactly what they say "on the tin". For each model you can pick a particular pilot, these pilots have a points value, which allows you to keep the game balance, and also list the upgrades that they allow you to take. Pilots can add a different bonus to their craft in terms of actions and upgrades that they can take.

Upgrades come in the form of crew, secondary weapons and pilot upgrades. Each of these will have a particular points value and count towards your final force total. You will, eventually, end up building a very small but specialised force or a larger but more basic force and each has it's own merits and play styles. Unlike other games there is a balanced game in here and you very rarely end up facing some sort of "deathstar" (the irony) list.

The models themselves do feel a bit delicate, but if you take good care of them then they should last you for a long time. I must also praise FF for the level of detail they have put into the models. Each one is lovingly detailed and I must reserve particular praise for the TIE Fighters which I felt were just slightly more impressive than the X-Wing model. If they put this level of detail into the models in the starter sets I can't wait to see the level of detail in the expansion sets. Each model comes pre-painted but you can add your own paint scheme if you wish. Honestly, I could not see myself doing a better job so I doubt I will repaint my models.

So, with the starter set itself out of the way, let's move onto the game itself. As I mentioned there are two sets of rules in the starter set, the main rules and a simpler quick start set of rules, and I will try to run through these concurrently. In truth the quick start rules will only be used one or twice as an introduction to the game and you will move on to the full ruleset very quickly.

In the full rules you will find that there are four phases. Planning, Activation, Combat and End. In the quick start rules the planning, activation and combat phases are simplified. The planning phase involves each player secretly picking a particular movement for their ships to make. Each choice comes with a differing level of difficult, from green (easy) to white (normal) to red (difficult), although this is ignored in the quick start game. The level of difficulty that your movement requires directly impacts the activation stage, white movements have no affect, while red movements add a stress token and green movements remove a stress token. If any ship has a stress token then it is not allowed to take a further action in the activation stage.

You activate your ships in ascending order of your pilots' skill. Therefore your academy pilots get to move first working all the way to your unique characters who move last. While the quick start game does not have any additional actions, in the regular game each pilot/ship can take an action as long as they aren't stressed, as mentioned previously. These actions are detailed on the pilot's information card and will be a choice of barrel roll, evade, focus or target lock. The barrel roll is the only one that does not have a direct effect on the combat phase, simply moving your position on the board slightly. Evade actions help improve your defence while focus and target lock improve your damage output but as you can only choose one action for each ship you have to carefully pick what you would like each to do.

Once you move on to the combat phase you then activate your ships in descending order of pilot skills, so your characters will go first and the academy pilots will go last, if the skill levels are tied then the Imperials will usually go first as they have initiative, although particular missions may give the Rebels the initiative. The quick start game does this slightly differently to make the game a bit easier, keeping the activation in the same order as the movement phase. Additionally, the quick start game treats all damage the same, whereas the full ruleset has different outcomes for damage and critical damage. Regular damage just knocks either a hull point or shield point off your model, but a critical damage roll can have more dire consequences such as additional damage or wiping out some of those extra upgrades you paid for. Ships with shields stand a better chance of avoiding critical damage early on as their shields cancel out the critical effects, although you still lose a shield point as though it was a hull point. Once your shields are knocked out then your ship is just as delicate as those without shields so be wary and make sure to take care in combat, carelessness costs lives ;).

The final phase of the game turn is the End phase. In this phase you simply total up what happened in the previous phases and see if anyone has met their required victory conditions. For the quick start game this is a case of seeing if one side has lost all of it's models, but the full ruleset has different mission objectives for whichever scenario you are playing out.

Because the rules are not overly complex you can get a decent sized game completed in a relatively short period of time. Also, because you are working through each phase together there isn't time for one player to get bored while the other takes all their actions. The game itself is well balanced and because it has such a captivating subject matter it is likely to hold it's appeal with gamers. Also, while the game states it is only for two players it could easily be expanded to more players working on two teams. With the release of the "Scum and Villainy" force you could even expand the game to three teams although I would need to test it out to see if this works.

In conclusion, this game system has the potential to have a long lifespan, appealing to gamers of all age groups, you don't even have to be a fan of Star Wars to enjoy it although that certainly helps. If there is one criticism from me that is the fact that the starter set could probably use some more models and dice, but for the relatively low price of the starter set this isn't a major qualm and you can pick up two starter sets for less than you would pay for one starter set in other gaming systems. The quality of the models is second to none and, while they are a bit more flimsy than perhaps I would like, the quality of the painting really brings the models to life. I cannot wait to expand my collection of models and start working on new dangerous squadrons to take to the skies of the Star Wars universe. Thank you Fantasy Flight!

The Force is strong with this one.


Post a Comment