Did you know X-Wing just got a shiny new rulebook with a LOT of clarifications and updates? Here’s what every starfighter pilot needs to know:
A guest editorial by “Troy”
The past few weeks have been awfully hectic for X-Wing. The Imperial Raider huge ship added a huge boost for the game’s Epic Play format, while simultaneously transforming the TIE Advanced, pretty universally regarded as the game’s weakest ship, into a significant force in the battle space, Wave 7 finally hit store shelves, bringing with it super bombers and super bombs and just this weekend the new “Force Awakens Starter Set” was released to select big box stores (and soon to friendly local game stores).
The new starter set brings with it a lot of new stuff. First Order TIE Fighters and Resistance T-70 X-Wings with improved stats and capabilities, new upgrades and upgrade type, a new damage deck…
With all these new pilots and ships and abilities to talk about, what might be the most significant thing in the new starter set can get looked over.
It includes an updated rulebook.
Two of them, in fact. Conforming to FFG’s current practice, the new starter includes a short “Learn to Play” booklet that covers the basics of turn structure and dice rolling and the like, and a comprehensive “Rules Reference” book that is essentially an alphabetical glossary of every rule in the game and is the new, definitive resource for the rules of the game. And it has changes.
“Wait… Are you telling me that the rulebook I just got 2 weeks ago is now totally out of date and worthless? I thought FFG weren’t GW.”
Well, yes and no. The new rulebook does make a number of changes to the game, but virtually all of those changes are either fixing weird interactions that weren’t supposed to be there in the first place or dealing with odd corner cases that only effect a couple cards here and there. To the casual player the game should play exactly as it has these past 3 years. To super-detail minded rules guys like me or tournament players who require precise, comprehensive rules, the new rulebook fixes dozens of little problems that may have gotten under our skin, like little splinters that we just had to accept and live with and creates a much firmer foundation for the game to grow on.
What this article is going to do is go through the changes and highlight the ones that may have an actual impact on game play.
The Big Rules Changes
The biggest change is probably the change in how ships are activated. Previously, “Executing a Maneuver” was a single, specific step during a ship’s activation and abilities that triggered then would happen before any other steps, such as the “Check Pilot Stress” step, where stress tokens were added or removed based on maneuver difficulty. This created a few odd scenarios such as Night Beast performing a green maneuver but not being able to use his ability because it triggered before his stress was removed. The new rulebook reorganizes the activation phase so that actually moving the ship and dealing with stress is all part of the “Execute Maneuver” step. Off the top of my head I can think of 3 cards this affects. Night Beast can now use his ability to gain focus on the same maneuver he uses to clear a stress, a K-Wing with the Damaged Engine crit (make all turns red) will gain stress if it uses SLAM to execute a turn, and the Dauntless title can no longer allow you to make a green maneuver, overlap a ship, trigger Dauntless for an action and a stress and then clear the stress because you made a green maneuver. Now it is make a green maneuver, clear stress (if any) then trigger Dauntless, which gives you a stress you will keep for the round.
The second big change is in the combat sequence. There used to be a weird timing paradox that actually meant that turret upgrade weapons didn’t function. The actual problem is kinda complex and sounds really silly but basically turret secondary weapons only worked because the designers said “because we say so”. That has now been fixed. In the new rules you first choose the weapon you want to fire and then select a valid target for that weapon. Then you pay any costs associated with making the attack. After all that is done, the chosen target becomes the defender of the attack.
As indicated, this fixes turret weapons so that they actually work. It also allows Dark Curse to be targeted by weapons that require spending a focus token to fire, since he does not become the defender until after those costs are paid. On the surface, this change also seems to create a loophole regarding Biggs Darklighter’s special ability, allowing an attacker to circumvent his ability by careful weapon choice, but the FAQ for Biggs clearly squashes this notion and Biggs still works the same as he ever did.
A minor change is that you may now acquire a Target Lock on a ship you already have a TL on. The old Lock is discarded and you gain the new one. This is a minor change that really just makes life a little less complicated for Dutch and “Redline” because of their special abilities. It has no effect on anyone else.
Dice results and upgrade types are all given official names (Hits, Criticals, Focus, etc…) EPT upgrades are officially “Elite” upgrades, and the new upgrade type is called “Tech”.
The rules for Debris Clouds have been fully integrated into the obstacle rules, which clarifies a minor point of confusion of their exact effects.
If you somehow manage to overlap 2 obstacles with a single move, you now suffer the effects of both of them. Previously you only rolled for one of them.
That is most of the significant changes. There are some additional clarifications and terminology that shouldn’t really have any effect on game play but should make interpreting cards easier.
The new rulebook introduces a lot of minor changes and tweaks that should be totally invisible to most players but that create a much more stable game platform for the designers to use in creating new abilities that will actually function like they are meant to without needing excessive errata going forward. If you read this article and found it boring, you will probably never even notice the changes, if you found it full of interesting information, you probably already knew most of the issues the changes fixed and are delighted that FFG cleaned up and clarified the game.
So, yes. It is a new edition of X-Wing, but a new edition that is virtually indistinguishable from the old one.
Both the new “Learn to Play” book and the new “Rules Reference” book are available to download from FFGs X-wing page
Troy plays X-Wing at JAC Games in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Come on by any Friday night and bring your squadron with you X-Wing pilots!