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X-Wing First Impressions & Battle Report (Video)

6 Minute Read
May 28 2013

Fantasy Flight Games has had about eight months to flesh out their X-Wing Miniatures Game.  Let’s play a game.

X-Wing, an Introduction

The X-Wing Miniatures Game was released at Gencon last year and has since built up a strong stable of available ship options with more on the horizon.  The game is set during the Galactic Civil War and consequently uses recognizable ship designs from the original movie trilogy.  The current list of available ships is:

Rebel Alliance

  • X-Wing –  a solid, versatile fighter with great damage output and constant access to torpedo and astromech upgrades
  • Y-Wing – a tough-as-nails, yet less-evasive support fighter that sports a turret-mounted weapon with 360-degree line of sight, as well as access to torpedos and astromechs
  • A-Wing – a fast, slippery, fragile interceptor that can take one of the many missile options
  • YT-1300 – known to most as the Millenium Falcon, the YT-1300 is a tanky beast with incredible damage potential
Galactic Empire
  • TIE Fighter – dodgy and highly maneuverable, the unshielded TIE Fighter lacks the options of standard Rebel Alliance ships, but comes at a very low price tag
  • TIE Interceptor – effectively an ungraded TIE Fighter, the TIE/IN boasts increased damage potential and the Boost action for increased positional flexibility
  • TIE Advanced – what the the TIE/IN gains in an extra attack die and the Boost action, the TIE Advanced gains Shields for protection from critical attacks, the target lock action, and access to a selection of missile options
  • Firespray-31 – recognizable as Slave-1, the Firespray-31 is a highly-durable gunship with loads of weapon options from the hard-hitting Heavy Laser Cannon, to the Seismic Charge, to the full suite of ballistic missiles and torpedoes.
It’s also worth noting that Fantasy Flight will be releasing four new ships this coming third quarter: the B-Wing, Tie Bomber, Lambda Shuttle, and HWK-290.  You can find preview information on them here.
When building a list, you don’t just pick individual ships, but you pick a pilot for that ship, from generic Academy Pilots for TIE Fighters or Green Squadron Pilots for A-Wings to well-known characters like Darth Vader for the TIE Advanced x1 or Biggs Darklighter for the X-Wing.  While all X-Wings will look the same, the pilot card on the stand will change to reflect the pilot’s skill, upgrades they can take, and unique abilities (if it has one).  Named pilots all come with unique pilot talents, like Wedge Antilles’s ability to reduce a ship’s agility value when attacking it or Boba Fett’s ability to change the direction of banking manuevers after its been locked in.  In addition to individual ship-types having access to equipment like astromechs or missiles, certain pilots can take elite pilot talents that can grant them any number of advantages, from Veteran Instincts, which increases a ship’s pilot skill value, to Expert Handling, which allows a ship to perform a barrel roll action to shake a target lock.
Each ship type has a selection of available actions that it can perform, like Evade, which allows you to cancel a single hit that targeted the ship that turn, Focus, a flexible action that can be used to convert “eye” results to hits or evades when attacking or defending, Target Lock, which can be used to re-roll attack rolls or fire missile/torpedo weapons at a locked ship, Barrel Roll, which grants a small amount of lateral movement, and Boost, which grants a small amount of forward or banked movement.
Pilots and upgrades all have corresponding point values, which are the metric you use to build your squadrons with 100 points being the tournament standard.
Mechanics of Activation
Activating models is a bit of a departure for those accustomed to other games.  Players choose how each of their ships will move using ship-specific movement dials.  A maneuver is chosen, and the dial is placed face down.   After all maneuvers have been plotted, dials are flipped and ships move in order of their pilot skill, with ships with the lowest pilot skill flipping and moving first until all have done so.  Then the combat phase begins, where ships make attacks in reverse order, with the highest pilot skill ships shooting first, descending sequentially.   This would mean that a ship with a low pilot skill like an Academy Pilot TIE/F would move and take their action first but attack last while PS9 Darth Vader in his TIE Advanced x1 will move and take his actions last but attack first.
Top (Attack Dice) – Blank, Focus, Hit, Critical Hit
Bottom (Defense Dice) – Black, Focus, Evade
Attacks are made using attack and defense dice.  Whenever making an attack, a ship rolls a number of attack dice equal to the ship’s weapon stat with four potential results: blank, focus (eye), hits, and critical hits.  Focus actions allow you to convert the focus results into hits, and critical hits against an unshielded ship have an extra effect.  The defending ship rolls defense dice equal to their agility stat with three potential results: blank, focus (eye), and evade.  Like with attacking, the focus action can be used to allow you to convert the focus symbol to evade results.  After the attacker rolls, the defender rolls an amount of defense dice equal to their agility stat, negating hits and critical hits (in that order) for each evade result rolled.  Any attacks that aren’t negated are successful and the defending ship takes damage.
If you’re interested more in learning about the game play, I highly suggest checking out the short videos on Fantasy Flight’s website that demonstrate the game play.  They do a fantastic job of showing the basics, far better than I can describe it.
Should I look into it?
Since no game is for every gamer, I thought I’d quickly hit on the pros and cons of X-Wing.
  • Games are fast, typically taking less than an hour for the standard, tournament-level, 100-point game.  This is great for those of us who can’t afford to spend an entire evening at the local game store.
  • They have some of the best pre-painted miniatures I have seen.  While many scoff at the idea of pre-painted minis, not everyone has the time or inclination to paint miniatures.
  • The game’s balance is pretty solid.  I own at least two of every ship, and would certainly field a pair of any ship in a competitive build.
  • The activation mechanics keep both players invested at all times.  Having to wait ten or more minutes during a game of Warmachine or Warhammer 40,000 can get a bit boring.
  • Fantasy Flight has been having distribution problems.  Aside from Core Sets, the Millenium Falcon, and Slave-1, X-Wing is pretty much sold out at the distributor level.  These problems aren’t unique to X-Wing, as they can be found with several of their other titles.  While I’m not exactly hurting for models to play with, it is a little difficult to promote a game that people can’t really buy into.
  • The selection of existing ships from the chosen era is growing smaller and smaller, and that is concerning for the overall longevity of the game.  After the third quarter releases drop, there isn’t really much left from the Galactic Civil War to grab at.  Sure, there are things like the TIE Defender, Z-95 Headhunter, XG-1 Starwing Assault Gunboat, and YT-2400, but these can only sustain new releases for so long unless they want to start using “uglies”, and nobody wants that.
  • The Star Wars license is a fickle beast.  As someone who really liked Wizard of the Coast’s Star Wars: Saga Edition, I was more than a little annoyed when that game was canned when Wizards of the Coast lost the license for Star Wars, resulting in the game going out-of-print overnight.  Now that Disney owns Lucasfilm, they quickly shuttered LucasArts and struck a speedy agreement with Electronic Arts, so who knows if the license will be renewed when it expires?
A few weeks ago, I managed to capture my first, proper 100-point game on camera, which has been edited into a battle report.  While we did make some rules mistakes, including using incorrect initiative rules, wrongly identifying the phase names, and some other minor things, we still felt that the game was interesting enough to share.  Check it out!

Personally, I’m really enjoying X-Wing so far, and can’t wait to get more games in.  I highly suggest checking it out.  You can find some great articles by Super Kaiju here on some of the already-released models, all of which are good reads.  

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