Monday, August 27, 2012

Game Review: Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game


The new Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game by Fantasy Flight Games was one of the must-have games at Gen Con last week. I bought it along with the expansions and drooled copiously over the not yet available ships that were previewed. Read on to get all the details on this fantastic game.

First, let's look at the cost. The core set retails for $39.95 and includes everything you need for two players to play the game. There are cards, dice, maneuver templates, a variety of cardboard tokens and three painted ships with maneuver dials. The ships include two TIE Fighters and one X-Wing. 

Board gamers may find the price a bit high, but ask anyone who is a miniature gamer and they'll tell you this is a great deal. You're getting three pained models in this box and they actually look good. Unlike other games where the models are barely dry-brushed, you won't feel the need to do a thing to these before you play.



Star Wars fans will be happy to know that the team at Fantasy Flight Games worked directly with Lucasfilm Licensing to make sure the ships were accurate. All ships that have been released, and the ones coming down the pipeline, conform to Star Wars canon and are made to scale.

At its core, this game is about dogfights in space. You won't be commanding an entire fleet of ships, but rather individual ships or small squadrons. The Imperials get more ships than the Rebels, but that's how it always works in the Star Wars universe. It doesn't mean the Rebels can't win.

There is a quick-start scenario that you can play first, but it leaves out a lot of the more interesting mechanics so it doesn't give players a good feel for the depth of gameplay. Skip it altogether and go right for one of the three missions in the rulebook. It's straight-forward enough that you'll have the game down in no time.



Once you pick your mission, you then decide how many points to play so you can build your force. It's suggested to start with 100, but you'll need to buy some expansion packs if you hope to play that many ships. All the missions are designed to play with just the 3 ships provided in the core set, so you don't have to go crazy with expansions. Not that it stopped me from picking some up. 

As I mentioned earlier, the Imperials usually field more ships, but the unbalanced numbers don't make for an unbalanced game. First, the ships have different features, just like in the movies. The Y-Wings,  for example, which are an expansion pack, can be equipped with ion cannons that all but cripple an enemy ship for a turn.

You also get to choose exactly who pilots your craft. Luke costs a lot, as does Vader, but they get extra a abilities for that cost. There are also pilots who are fresh out of flight school and cost less or squadron leaders who fall somewhere in the middle. Your choice of pilots and ships makes each game unique and is a crucial factor in the success of your mission.



The game plays on a 3' x 3' surface with objectives placed according to each mission. One mission will have you adding a shuttle to the board, another adds satellites with crucial data and the third puts out enough asteroids to make even Han a little nervous.

Every ship includes a maneuver dial that let's you choose how your ship moves. You can go straight, left, right or even make a Koiogran Turn. In this galaxy that would be an Immelmann, a fancy move that lets you reverse direction, but it'll cost you.

Most maneuvers are white, but some, like the Koiogran Turn are red. Those place your ship under stress which means you can't take an action or perform another red maneuver until you remove that stress. All it takes is one green maneuver and you're back to normal. 



Actual movement is guided by maneuver templates that you line up with two little plastic bumps on the base of your ship. Once they're lined up, just move your ship to the end of the template and you're done. No need to take out tape measures or argue about angles, so the game doesn't get bogged down.

Ships can move through each other, but if they end up touching at the end of their movement then they're in trouble. Although they don't take damage or get destroyed, the ship that moved will lose their action, as if the pilot is so shaken up he can't think straight.

At the end of your activation phase, you can choose from several actions like acquiring a target lock or focusing, both of which can help you aim better or avoid enemy fire depending on the situation. Now it's time for the combat phase.



The base of each ship has a firing arc marked by red lines for Rebels or green lines for Imperials. You line up the range ruler within the arc to determine if you're close enough to reach your target. The ruler has a red laser bolt on one side and a green bolt on the other which doesn't really matter to gameplay, but is nicely in keeping with the Star Wars theme.

When two ships engage, one player rolls attack dice and the other rolls defense dice. They'll each be able to apply those modifiers from the activation phase and may be able to improve their number of hits or dodge to avoid enemy fire. No matter how good the pilot, sooner or later you are going to take some damage.

There are damage cards to keep track of successful attacks. If any of them are critical hits, then the more   complex consequences on the flip side of each card comes into play. You'll have to deal with things like injured pilots and damaged cockpits that all affect how well your ship will fight. After every ship attacked, the round is over and you start a new round. The first side to achieve its mission objectives wins.



Miniatures game players will find the mechanics familiar and easy to grasp while those new to the genre will quickly be able to figure things out. It's just complex enough to provide for interesting gameplay without becoming tediously complex.

Part of what makes this game so much fun, though, is the theme. Fantasy Flight Games has captured the Star Wars universe. It's got beautifully painted ships that are all created to scale. It's got characters that we know and love, or love to hate. It's got X-Wings and TIEs and lasers and ion cannons and astromechs, and all the stuff that makes a space battle uniquely Star Wars.

The Star Wars X-Wings Miniatures Core Set  at $39.95 will get you started. There are also expansion packs with TIE Fighters, TIE Advanced, X-Wings and Y-Wings  for $14.95 each. They include a ship along with a selection of additional pilots for new options. You can preorder the game now and be pitting the Rebels against the Imperials mid-September when the game is released.


There was also a GenCon preview of the next group of expansions so you can look forward to TIE Interceptors, A-Wings, The Millennium Falcon and Slave I this winter.

23 comments:

  1. Are some of the tokens included in the box set the objective tokens(aka asteroids, shuttle, etc)? Or do you have to provide your own?

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    1. All the tokens you need come with the game! You don't need anything extra to play.

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  2. Nicole, would it be worthwhile picking up two starter sets for the ships/cards, or just getting the expansion packs to make bigger squads. I was thinking about doing a combination of both, as the starter is such a good value.

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    1. The starter is an incredible value, but I think I'd go with the expansion packs. Or, maybe I'd go for the expansions first, and then go for an extra starter if I still wanted to add. The reason you will want the expansions is that you get new pilots in those packs that aren't in the starter. This gives you more variety and adds some characters you are going to want to field.

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    2. Do the X-Wing and Tie Fighter expansions come with different cards than the starter?

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    3. The purchase I was thinking of was two starters, an X-Wing xpac, a Y-Wing xpac, and two TIE advanced xpacs, which would give me 3 X-wings, 1 Y-Wing, 4 TIE fighters, and 2 advanced TIE fighters(I want to have both forces to get my local gamers to play). How does this sound to you? The only thing I'd be missing in this purchase is one of the regular TIE xpacs, which I could throw in...

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    4. Yes! You get one set of pilots with the X-Wing and TIE in the starter and a different set with each of those ships in the expansions.

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    5. @ Paul I'd say that's a pretty good mix. You'll just miss a few extra pilot options with the TIE expansion, but Vader comes with the Advanced so you've got the important one ;) All in all though, that sounds like a good move.

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  3. Missed GenCon, but I was at the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando this past weekend, and FF had the game for sale, much to my delight. Picked up the starter set and all expansions...just need to get it to the table!

    Highlight of the Con was Mark Hammill poking his head through a curtain to surprise my 7 year old son....

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    1. I am SO jealous that you were at Celebration. I just interviewed Amy Ratcliffe who is a fellow geek blogger and was there, too. She had the best stories! It sounds like Mark was really having fun with people. I saw one shot of him with Roxy the Rancor and it was fantastic!

      Now, break open the box, inhale that delicious "new game" smell, and start playing!

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    2. It was a blast! Only regret is that we opted not to attend a "secret screening"...which is what Lucas showed up at! Oh well...

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  4. I pre-ordered this a couple of days ago and I'm looking forward to playing with the kids!

    Thanks for the review.

    Pete

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    1. You're very welcome! My kids watched me playing and couldn't wait for their turn. I think it was the models, seeing them made the kids want to play, too.

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  5. Great review! I think you hit the nail on the head with the 'ask any tabletop miniature gamer' line. I've seen lots of reviews saying it's pricey, but I think it's a great deal, even at full MSRP!

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  6. Thank you so much for this review, it helped me to understand the game, will buy it soon. =)

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  7. Does the Expansions come with more missions

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    1. Nope, the only missions are the one in the core set. You get the extra ships, pilots and assorted tokens in each expansion pack.

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    2. FYI, I believe that the Slave I expansion pack is supposed to have a new mission included.

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  8. Hi Nicole, thanks for the great review! How do the size of the ships compare to the MicroMachines Star Wars ships--the ships that used to come three to a box, with the little clear plastic flight stands? Remember those?

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    1. I certainly do remember MicroMachines and they were much smaller, not even close to the same scale. These are much bigger, and show way more detail.

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