Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Star Wars X-Wing Minatures Game by Fantasy Flight Games


TL;DR: Do you like Star Wars?  Have you ever wanted to pilot an X-Wing or TIE Fighter in a dogfight, or on a mission to protect a shuttle with Rebellion leaders (or to blast those Rebel scum into a million pieces)?  What am I saying, of course you have.  Have you ever wanted to collect minis, as in Warhammer, but were intimidated by the cost, or the painting?  Can you plot out angle and flight paths in your mind, thinking two, three steps ahead of your enemies?  Then this is a game for you.

TL;DR for the TL;DR: FREEEEEEEEOWWWWW USE THE FORCE LUKE PEW PEW PEW DO OR DO NOT THERE IS NO TRY CCCRRAAAAUGHHHHHHH I AM YOUR FATHER LUKE PEW PEW PEW STAY ON TARGET BLAAAHAKAAWWWWWWW KAAABOOOOMMMM!!!!!!!!!!

Star Wars X-Wing is a collectable minatures game set in, if you weren't paying attention, the Star Wars Universe.  In it, squads of Rebel Alliance and Imperial ships of all shapes and sizes battle it out on the two-dimensional plane (two and a half dimension, really, but we'll get into that) with the goal being to blast their opponents out of the space, or escort a shuttle with important contents, or simply to survive.  The scenario is up to the imagination of you, the player, giving this game the always appreciated replay-ability factor.

With that said, let's dive into the nitty gritty!


The Ships: SWXW (or XWingTMG) comes from the fine folks at Fantasy Flight Games, and as such, all of the components are top notch, most of all the ships.  They look like miniature versions of their movie counterparts, and mount securely to their pegs and bases, and from what I've seen at Reddit/XWingTMG, they hold up well to customized re-painting.  The base set comes with two TIE Fighters and an X-Wing, but since release FFG has produced three "waves" of expansion ships:
  • Wave 1: X-Wing (expansion), TIE Fighter (expansion), Y-Wing and TIE Advanced
  • Wave 2: Millennium Falcon, Slave 1, A-Wing and TIE Interceptor
  • Wave 3: HWK-290, Lambda-Class Shuttle, B-Wing and TIE Bomber
Plus, there are Capital ships on the way!


Pilots: What's the use of having an X-Wing if you don't have the pilot to fly it?  For each type of ship, the player can choose from a number of potential pilots, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and abilities.   Yes, you can fly as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Biggs Darklighter, Chewie, and others.  Your choice of pilot determines the order in which the ships in play take turns, as well as the number of attack and defense die used, along with abilities that can turn the tide of a battle when used properly.  Along with pilots, players can also outfit their ships with weapons, missiles and bombs, copilots, or extra abilities.


Gameplay: To begin with, the players agree on a "point total" for comprising their teams; i.e. 50, 75, or 100 points.  The more points agreed on, the bigger and more bad-ace (see what I did there) their squads can be.  These points are spent on the choice of pilot (a named, high level pilot like Luke would cost more than a generic, Walmart-brand X-Wing pilot), and whatever extras they can add on (weapons, abilities, co-pilots, droids, etc.)  

Once the teams are formed, a scenario is then decided on.  This scenario can be as simple as a dogfight, or as complex as an ever changing universe storyline run over multiple encounters, lasting days, months or years.  It's up to the players involved.  With the scenario in place, the players then place their ships in space (typically on either end of the play area), and the fun begins!

Each turn is comprised of two stages: movement, and then combat.  Movement starts with the lowest level pilot, and ends with the highest level pilot.  Combat is the opposite, starting with the highest level pilot, and ending with the lowest level pilot.  Low level pilots move first, high level pilots attack first, and since Han Solo has the highest possible pilot level, he always shoots first (a joke I am openly stealing from Wil Wheaton; COME GET SOME WHEATON!).


All players simultaneously and in secret declare their movement using a dial for each ship under their command.  This means that teammates have to communicate properly to make sure they are moving in unison.  The movements are then revealed, starting with the lowest level player.  The chosen movement spacer is then placed in front of the ship, and the ship is then moved to the end of the spacer.  A higher movement number means a farther distance traveled.  Ships can bank, turn, or even u-turn.  Once all the movement is done, combat starts!

Starting with the highest level ship, the pilot can fire upon any enemy ship in line-of-sight within it's firing arc.  If an attack is made, the attacking ship rolls the appropriate amount of attacking dice, and the defender rolls the appropriate amount of defending dice, and any damage done is dealt, first to shields, and then, if no shields are left, to the hull.  If more damage is accrued than the hull can take, PEW PEW PEW BOOM KAPLOW ETC!  This continues till the lowest level ship, and the whole thing starts over again.  This cycle of movement/combat continues until one side has fulfilled their winning condition for the given scenario.

The strengths of SWXMTMG are numerous: high quality components, replayability as far as your imagination is deep, a beloved universe to take place in, and some absolutely riotous moments of dice-rolling (the so-called "stand up" moments, when all the players stand up from their chairs in excitement).  The amount of enjoyment you can get from the game comes down to how much you like or dislike the Star Wars Universe.

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures is a strategic, atmospheric, thematic game that I have personally loved since moment one of opening the box.  The game is more complex and nuanced than I have the space to write about here, and if you have even a passing interest in Star Wars and/or Miniatures-games, I suggest you find your way down to your friendly local game store and try it out.  Or, ask me, and I'll bring it to the next DFW Nerd Night!

P.S. - If you're not super keen to Star Wars, WizKids makes a similar Star TREK version with The Enterprise, and Klingon Birds of Prey, and more!



John H. C. Staton is a software developer and a giant Star Wars nerd.  The very first webpage he ever created was all about Star Wars, back when he was in 8th grade.  It used frames, animated wallpaper, and a MIDI that had no way of being stopped.  It was truly awful.  Now he has a webpage that's NOT about Star Wars.  You can see it at FancypantsMonkey.com.