I love board games with heavy themes. We’re not talking monopoly. Sadly, my other half is not that keen on many of the games I like. And he is my playmate. So, finding a game we can play together is tough. As he likes models and spaceships I thought I might be onto a winner with X-Wing–the tabletop game of miniature battles. He liked Star Trek Fleet Captains after all. I bought a core set and we played around with it, but our ships were basically just chasing each other around and it was a bit dull. It didn’t have the depth of the Star Trek game. Disappointed, I flogged it on eBay–for the same price I bought it. No harm done. However, over the last couple of years I’ve seen more ships coming out and caught a few videos of battles online. I realised we hadn’t been playing properly and that you needed a few core sets (you only get 3 ships in a core set) and expansions to get the most out of the gameplay. Then they released this.
Well played Fantasy Flight. Well played. Please, take all my money.
I knew I needed this in my life. And being a grown 3# year old, I didn’t just want to have it sitting on my shelf. No. Where’s the fun in that? I wanted to
play with it interact with it in a mature outwitting of an opponent in an intellectual game of cat and mouse strategy. So, with my birthday coming and being overdue for a mid-life crisis purchase (since my last one was at least three months’ previously) I decided I would treat myself and give it a go again…
So I bought back into it. 3 core sets, 6 expansions later, and making my own game board with black card and silver and white sharpies I was set to play. With my non-gaming wife. I made sure I read the rules to learn them. Didn’t learn them. Then had the usual faff of trying to remember what happens when and how. Rob did his usual of flicking through them and getting it right. We got down to a proper game.This post is for the non-gamer, the X-wing virgin, as I’m about to tell you how this game plays.
Basically you pick a faction. There are Imperials and Rebels which any Star Wars fan, even the most casual, will know and identify with, and then there’s the Scum and Villainy which has very little you’ll actually recognise apart from Boba Fett’s Slave 1. So, being a fan of order and snappy uniforms I went Imperial and Rob went Rebel. You decide a point value and you then pick your ships and upgrades and tot up the points. Then you have your squadron.
You can just out and out dogfight or you can set an objective ship to destroy or thing-to-do-on-the-board. Each ship has different moves it can pull, and you decide your move for that ship in advance on its own little dial. You take turns to move so you show the maneuver you’ve picked in advance on your dial and you select one of the 11 templates that matches that move–basically each one is a ruler that will be straight, have a wide curve, or a tight curve, and will be of different lengths–and you put one end of the ruler to the front of the ship, hold it in place and then move the ship to the end of the ruler. Voila, you’ve flown your ship.
Sounds easy. The thing is it’s about judgement and planning your move as you can’t pre-measure. You can easily end up flying into an obstacle or one of your own ships. I won’t lie, in the first couple of rounds it was pretty much demolition derby for us instead of graceful weaving and dodging. Oh, and if you have wizard sleeves on you will end up trashing most of your ship placements. So, no kimonos.
Then you choose an action that you’ll take in the next round–which is the combat round. Fighting. Cool. Your movement is just as important though, because you’re trying to get your enemy ship into your firing arc whilst staying out of your enemies’ cross-hairs. In choosing an action for the combat round you’re again choosing in advance whether you’re going to focus on targeting a ship or dodging an attack which makes it nice and tactical.
Then the actual combat. Your ship determines how many attack and defence dice you roll, as does the range you are making the attack at (that is determined by a special ruler too). Combat is pretty slick, rolling hits if you’re lucky and then your opponent rolling saves if he’s lucky. There is chance involved (or the force), but obviously the range you get your target in and your choice of attacker and your choice of action and upgrades adds to the tactics so it’s not the dice throwing game of luck I initially thought it was. Different ships can take different levels of damage too, so that influences how you play. Tie fighters are fairly weak, but they can be cheap as chips points wise so you can outnumber your opponent and have to fly and attack in formation to make an impact on the tougher X-wings (which have shields too). You then go back and forth like this until
you’ve beaten the rebel scum one of you has won.
We had fun. More fun than two adult men with little toy space ships should have. It was much better with more ships and with an aim to play for. It made the game more tactical and focused. Set-up time is pretty short compared to a regular heavy theme board game, unless you’re obsessing over how you are putting your squad together. I’ve read that gameplay can be 30 minutes to 60 minutes. The four games we’ve played so far have taken around 2 hours each… Some of that is dipping into the rules to check things, but not much, but the time flies and due to the nature of taking turns with your ships you don’t have much downtime between moves which is good. I will say though, that the rule book is horrible. Yeah, it’s glossy and pretty, it’s mercifully slim, and all the rules are in it. Hoorah. But there’s the quick play rules on one sheet and then in the book there’s the basic rules and the advanced rules. It makes the rule book a bit all over the place. I would’ve preferred it if they’d just done the book for the advanced rules so you don’t have to keep flicking back and forth to figure out how you should be doing things in the advanced game. The advanced rules adds more depth to the game, isn’t tricky at all really and I would suggest it is the way to go in playing it. Just sit down with the rules and take some time over it.
I’m sure our games will get quicker and smoother as we get more seasoned though. Because, yes, the non-gaming wife’s verdict was: ‘Yeah, I like it.’ What I think he’s really saying is ‘Yes, I love it, please buy lots of expansions and fill our home with miniatures…’. Actually, he’s already offering to go halves on future expansion buys, so, he’s definitely on board. X-wing is a winner. Even though I’ve beaten him each time so far, well technically I lost one game because I flew my ships into an asteroid… Well, that’s my story anyway. If it gets him in the mood for a rematch to prove himself it works for me.
So, what do you think? If you’ve not played it, then you need this in your life. Your inner geek will love you for it. If you’ve played it are there any expansions or upgrades that are a must?