You just picked up a core X-wing set and got flying – but where do you go from there?
Like any game with sufficient depth, X-Wing can seem daunting to get into from a standing start. Anyone can pick up a core set and get flying—and since that’s great fun all by itself it’s recommended—but where do you go from there?
There are actually a large number of resources available to new players—resources in a variety of formats and tailored for a variety of audiences. Here are some of my favorites for helping new players find their footing. Linkie time!
FFG’s official forums are a good place to float ideas and ask questions. As with any forum, the thinking there tends to ossify, but it’s a good place to familiarize yourself with the concepts and current thinking. For those who are shy, the anonymity of a forum has its virtues, too. FFG’s site has some decent beginner articles, too.
The best squad builders let you see all about your builds—not only what ships you can field with which upgrades, but where those upgrades come from, and how the ships change as you go. Some even let you pick your rocks. My favorite, based on cleanliness of layout, is this one. Playing with squad builders lets you do all sorts of designs and thought experiments, and it helps you maximize your playtime: I never go to a gaming session without at least one squad designed and ready to fly. It saves time and lets me jump right in to the action.
Sometimes you want to compare all the contents of particular expansions, and a squad builder just isn’t doing it for you. The X-Wing wiki is a nice reference to have on hand. If you want background information instead (e.g. “Who the heck is Captain Nym and why is he so awesome?”), try that famous stalwart Wookiepedia.
There are plenty of other people writing about X-Wing besides yours truly. Their work ranges from the informative to the whimsical. “The Metal Bikini”, though no longer updated, has a wealth of information on basic concepts. On the other side of the spectrum, “Such an X-Wing Hipster” is the frequently-updated journal of a player dedicated to winning tournaments with bad lists. A powerful one is “Stay on the Leader”, which is less-frequently updated but chock-full of useful info from a sober-minded competitor.
SotL is also a tremendous resource because of its buying guides for Rebel-, Imperial-, and Scum-focused players. These guides outline the relative merits of different expansions in terms of what ships and upgrades they provide a new player, and they illustrate different purchasing paths for starting or filling out one’s collection. They’re a great read.
This site is a real boon for researchers, tinkerers, and hipsters alike. It draws off of List Juggler’s database of tournament lists (LJ is a worthy resource itself; I draw on it for my Worlds meta-analyses). From there, it attempts to characterize how often and how successfully different ships, upgrades, and pilots are used. It can help you discover all sorts of combinations that have found success. What you do with that information (do you emulate, avoid, or subvert those combos?) is up to you.
Note that the site comes with a number of caveats. I won’t reproduce them all here, but it behooves you to read their front matter so you know what you’re getting in to, and what the site can and can’t do.
All the resources so far have been written products, but there’s far more than that. There are a number of solid podcasts. Mynock Squadron is available on this very site. Gold Squadron puts out a polished product. Carolina Krayts are irreverent and profane but insightful in their own lunatic way. As with the blogs, there are plenty of other options beyond these few if you’re willing to explore a little.
Some people prefer to watch high-level games being played. A number are available on Youtube, but live play can be found on Twitch– Gold Squadron, for example.
Sometimes, you just can’t find a game in your area. Or, you want to practice beyond the normal schedule. Or, you want to run experiments with unreleased content. Or…
What I’m saying is that there are plenty of times when using a computer simulator like Vassal can be handy. In fact, there are some X-Wing players who exclusively play on Vassal.
Vassal is a computer program built to simulate board games like X-Wing. It lets you play those games against other people across the interwebs. Maybe it won’t help you judge by eye if you can get around that rock or not, but there are plenty of other things it can do.
I know what you’re thinking: ick, that thing? I’m with you. I’m there. It’s nevertheless true that if you want to find X-Wing players in your community, or find community discussion that is a bit more intimate and (typically) less judgmental than you find on most forums, Facebook is a tool to get there. There are dozens and dozens of groups, run by players and shops alike, for organizing events and games. Try it. You might be surprised what (or who) you find.
Example: I travel on business a fair amount. When I do, I sometimes like to catch a game of X-Wing if I can. Using Facebook, I find gaming groups in my destination community, join up, and ask for a game. I rarely miss completely. It’s nice.