This week I decided to try something a little different with my post. I wanted to highlight a game I’ve been playing for a fair few months now, Star Wars X-Wing.
A while ago I was waffling between starting into some new games and trying to expand my knowledge on some lore as well. I looked at various different tabletop games, but ultimately one thing always held me back, painting the minis. I will be the first to admit that I am a terrible painter. I was okay at finger painting in grade school, but I haven’t honed my craft since then. Looking at what some people are able to do with a brush and some time and dedication is enough to make me steer clear of games like Warhammer 40k and Flames of War. I did try Flames of War with a few of my friends a couple years ago. We all spent like $200 on paints and models only to open the boxes and find that the $60 you spent on tanks was 4 un-assembled plastic minis. Okay. Cool. We had the stuff and sat down to do it. 6 hours later… I had 3 tanks that were pretty well assembled, my buddy Ben had 1 tank assembled and painted and one more half assembled, and my buddy Cam had 3 tanks painted but not assembled. We also didn’t take into account the MASSIVE rulebook that came with the game or the need for a large play space and terrain and measuring devices to calculate range and whatnot. Needless to say, that was $200 we all chucked down the tube.
Since then I resolved to do some more research into the games I spend money on before actually purchasing them. It may be my anxiety or just not wanting to waste money, but normally I will excessively research a product and check reviews before purchasing something. My research led me to 3 different games: Star Wars Legion, Star Wars Armada, and Star Wars X-Wing.
Legion is one that I’m still humming and hah’ing about. You don’t technically have to paint the minis for tournament play. As long as they’re assembled then you’re good. Cool. Assembling minis I can do! The only downside is the starter kit to get into the game is around $100. Which, if this is what you’re going to do, then that’s a solid price. The only thing is that I want the Clone Wars Starter kit, which is $140… I like my clones, not so much the Rebels or Stormtroopers.
Armada is one that I am also heavily looking into, but it, like Legion, is a very pricey starter kit. The base starter kit for Armada is $160. That gives you one Imperial Star destroyer and two Rebel corvettes. The only drawback is that each new ship to add to your fleet is around $60. Which again, if this is the game you’re going to play, then by all means have at it.
Ultimately, what I want to do one day is have a MASSIVE game that starts with Armada and when you engage in dog fights with squadrons of fighters you switch to X-Wing to engage in that dog fight. If the Empire lands their troops carriers on the planet, then you would move over to Legion and deal with the ground assault. Basically it would entail running 3 concurrent games and only switching between them when necessary. I’ve done something similar to this with my friend Shaun and running three different Risk games at once. When the troops died in one game they went to the underworld in God Storm and then fought their way out onto the board in another game. It was fun but VERY long. We only got about 3 turns in and it took us about 2 hours. But I digress… Back to X-Wing!
So, X-Wing ultimately won my vote but let me tell you a bit of how I came to enjoy it first. I had bought the 1.0 X-Wing core set about 2 years ago and kept it in my car after buying it. At the time my friend Cam’s dad, Marcus, was running the Escape from Reality in town here. Marcus and Cam are very competitive and LOVE board games. For about a year I kept bringing up the Star Wars game I had and Cam kept saying “Oh ya! We’ll play it next time I’m down visiting”. Well a year went by and it still sat in my car. One night after playing some Magic the Gathering at Escape from Reality with Marcus, I mentioned the Star Wars game I had. He told me to bring it in and we read the rules before giving it a quick go. The next weekend when I went back to play, Marcus had bought his own ships and starter set. The obsessions spiraled form there. Pretty soon we both had massive catalogs of ships from multiple different factions. Since then, I’ve been playing X-Wing at least once a week and have even entered a few tournaments, with very little success… But let’s move on!
X-Wing is a table top squad based dogfight game. You pick a faction and field ships from that factions against an opponent. The games last 75 minutes but can end when you “table” (destroy all the ships) of your opponent.
The Factions that you can pick in X-Wing are as follows:
- Galactic Empire
- Scum and Villainy (Bounty Hunters)
- First Order
- CIS (Separatists)
- Galactic Republic (Clones and Jedi)
The initial release was limited to Empire, Rebels and Scum, but with the release of the sequel trilogy the First Order and Resistance were added. Recently in the last year they also introduced the CIS and Republic for the people, like myself, who are clone wars fans.
When building your squad there are certain parameters you need to follow.
There is a point cap for your squad. Most standard games have a 200 point limit per squad. Some tournaments use higher ones, but limit the types of pilots you can use. Each pilot for each ship has a certain point value assigned. Better pilots obviously have higher point values. Each ship is also able to take certain upgrades. Let’s take a look at a typical X-Wing…
This is a pilot card for the Rebels. You can tell from the symbol to the right of the pilot name. Each faction will have their own symbol there.
Beside the pilots name is a small circle, this denotes that this is a limited pilot. Because they’re a named pilot, you can only have 1 of them in your squad at a time. Some cards have multiple circles meaning you have that many of the particular named pilot at any time. One of the more common rules for tournaments is the have a “limited pilot list”. This means that you are only allowed to construct your list from named pilots. This stops players from making a swarm of unnamed pilots to overwhelm by numbers.
To the left of the pilots name is their initiative value. The initiative works in two separate ways. When it comes to movement, the lower the value the sooner you move. the lowest value you can have is 1 and the highest I’ve seen is a 6.
After the movement phase is done, then combat phase starts. In this phase, the higher the initiative value the faster you shoot. So the higher the initiative on your pilot the later they move and the sooner they shoot.
All named pilots also have an ability unique to that pilot, which is the text in the middle of the card. At the bottom of the card you will see (from left to right): Attack value (number of dice you roll on attack), Evade value (the number of dice you roll to evade attacks), Hull value (health points of your ship) and the shield value (number of shield your ship has). Below that you will see the type of ship that this pilot is used with, in this case, a T-65 X-Wing. On the right of the card you will see the actions the pilot is allowed to take, from top down this pilot can take the following actions: Focus, Target Lock and Barrel Roll.
Focus – You get a focus token which you place beside your ship. This token will allow you to change all focus results on the dice rolled, either on attack or defense, to either hits or evades depending on when you spend it. The focus result on the various dice looks the same as the symbol on the card. Once you use your focus token it disappears. Players must weigh whether they want to use it to score more hits or wait and hopefully use to evade hits against them.
Target Lock – You can pick any ship in your range of view and place a lock on the ship. The lock will stay permanently until your ship is destroyed and serves a couple of important purposes. The first is that it allows you to use some specific upgrade cards like missiles and torpedoes to try and hit the target. The second is that allows the attacker to re-roll any number of their attack dice when they spend it. Spending the target lock removes the lock and the attacking ship must wait until the next turn to place a new one.
Barrel Roll – It’s pretty self explanatory. The ship performs a barrel roll that can either get it out of danger or put it in striking distance of other ships. A ship cannot barrel roll if it’s base would overlap an obstacle or other ship base.
There’s lots of other different actions that different ships can take but this is a very streamlined explanation.
Each ship must take their action immediately after their movement is finished.
Each ship is able to take certain upgrades to boost their abilities in the game. Some can take additional shields and some can take additional hull points. Most are able to take additional weapons like missiles and torpedoes. In order to find out which upgrades each ship can take and the point value of each ship and upgrade you will need to download the X-Wing app from the App Store or Google Play. There are some third party websites and apps that will do the same thing.
Each upgrade adds points to the ship value which if you’re not careful can turn a pilot who costs 43 points to one that takes 95 of your 200 limit. Finding pilots and upgrades that work with your style of play while also balancing attack and defense is key. One of my personal favourite upgrades is called Deadman’s Switch. Only the Scum and Villainy faction can take this upgrade, and on death your ship explodes, dealing one damage to everything within 1 distance of it. It’s very useful in late or early game to sacrifice a ship with this upgrade to deal massive damage to a bunch of ships after you fly it into the middle of a bunch of enemy ships.
Each ship comes with a movement dial that’s unique to that ship. Some ships have lots of movements available while other may not have as many but hit harder and have more shields. During the activation phase of the game, each player selects their movement for each ship on their dial and places the dial face down near the ship to signify that they’ve chosen their movement. During the movement phase each players uses the provided movement templates to move their ship using the selected movement on the dial as their guide.
When the combat phase starts each pilots shoots in accordance with their initiative value. Each ship has a range of view. It’s denoted by a coloured section of the base plate for the ship. Each ship can only shoot at ships who’s bases fall in that range of view and are within the range specified. The base kit comes with required range finder as shown in the above image with the movement templates. When attacking enemy ships at range 1, you will get to roll an extra attack dice for being at close range. Conversely, when attacking a ship at range 3, the enemy ship will get an additional evade dice due to it being long range.
X-Wing may seem like a lot to take in at once, it’s really not. One thing that puts X-Wing above all other table top games in my opinion is this… THE MINIS ARE ALREADY GLUED TOGETHER AND PAINTED!!!! That’s right, when you buy a ship it’s already assembled and painted for use. You can obviously custom paint ships to your own desire and as long as they have the regulation template and base, it doesn’t matter what your ship looks like.
I will also say that the community is very welcoming. Most people that I’ve met are very welcoming and willing to help new players learn the game and provide positive feedback on games. The first tournament I went to, my very first game, I played against some guys from Grand River X-Wing in Kitchener. They had team jerseys, custom painted ships, custom templates and custom tokens, I was very intimidated with my base templates and ships. They were extremely happy to see new people playing and offered to help us with some rules we weren’t clear on while providing possible builds and strategies we may like to try. I will say that to date I’ve entered 3 tournaments and I’ve learned something new every time.
Ultimately if you’re a fan of Star Wars and the ships that it contains, this game is something I highly recommend! It’s fairly cost effective to start out and once you get the core set (you NEED the core set to play) you can worry about expanding your ship types and numbers. I am very happy playing X-Wing every week and trying new builds against my team mate Andrew’s builds. It’s a lot of fun and great way to meet some more people and make friends! Buy the core set and get some friends playing, you won’t be disappointed!
Until next week, may the Force be with you!