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Wednesday, 10th October, 2012, 01:13 AM #1
Orcus on an Off-Day (Lvl 22)
A look at the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game
Arriving at my FLGS at the same time as Netrunner was the new Star Wars game from FFG, the X-Wing Miniatures Game. It probably won't be much of a surprise to anyone who knows me that I had been eagerly awaiting this game. Early reports had compared it to Wings of War, but with Star Wars ships. I think WoW is a good game, but it was really the Star Wars connection that made the game interesting. I quickly picked it up, and then it had to wait as I played a lot of Netrunner first.
However, I did have time to admire the models:
The basic set comes with three ships: one X-Wing and two TIE Fighters. The base of the models had space for a cardboard insert which shows the pilot's and the ship's abilities. Two unique pilots for the X-Wing come in the basic game (Luke Skywalker and Biggs Darklighter) as well as two generic pilots (Red Sq. Pilot and Rookie Pilot). The TIE Fighters have three unique pilots (Dark Curse, Night Beast and Mauler Mithel) and three generic pilots (Academy Pilot, Obsidian Sq. Pilot and Black Sq. Pilot). Attractive cards also match each of the pilots, with the full detailing of their special abilities.
The game itself is fairly simple. It's not Wings of War, though it has some similarities.
First, each player plans their turn by selecting a manoeuvre for each ship on the special Manoeuvre dial, which is unique for each class of ship. (TIE Fighters manoeuvre differently to X-Wings).
Second, going from least skilled pilot to most skilled pilot, each player reveals the manoeuvre and uses one of the manoeuvre templates (heavy cardboard rulers) to move their ships. Little plastic 'nubs' on the bases allow accurate placing of the templates.
Following the move, the pilot can take an Action - some common ones for the starting ships are Focus, Evade, and Target Lock.
Third, going from highest skill pilot to lowest, each ship may make one attack against a ship within its arc of fire. Special attack and defence dice are rolled, the number dependent on the ship stats and range, with dodges cancelling hits. If there are any uncancelled hits, the ship takes damage. Certain results provide for critical hits, where the draw from a deck of cards shows what happens. Shields cancel hits, but when a ship take damage equal to its hull value it is destroyed and removed from the game.
Those are the basic rules of the game. Simple, huh?
The game is made more complex by the interaction of the special abilities of the pilots and the addition of special upgrade cards. Proton torpedoes and Astromech droids for the X-Wings, while skilled pilots (Luke, Mauler Mithel and the Black Squadron Pilots) can take special skills like Determination or Markmanship.
The basic set also comes with three more advanced scenarios than the basic "destroy them all" scenario:
* Political Escort, where the rebels have to escort a senator's shuttle against TIE Fighter attacks
* Asteroid Run, where the rebels must hide in an asteroid field until their ship is repaired while the Empire looks for them
* Dark Whispers, where the Empire must destroy a Rebel holonet satellite network
Constructing a squadron uses a point-based method; Luke is worth 28 points and an Academy Pilot is worth 12 points. Upgrade cards also have point values. The standard game is 100 points, but you do not have enough points to achieve that with just one starter! Luke + R2D2 + Proton Torpedoes + Markmanship is 39 points. Even two starters is not enough to play a 100 point battle.
To get 100 points worth of ships, you'll have to buy additional ships, which come in individual packages. They're quite expensive at $15 for each ship, and the first wave includes the X-Wing, Y-Wing, TIE Fighter and TIE Advanced. The second wave will include some larger ships for $30 each. That's very expensive, but it's hard to go past the Millennium Falcon.
The game itself plays well. I've played two games with the contents of just one starter, and one game with the contents of two starters (so, 2 X-Wings against 4 TIE Fighters). That last game took us only 30 minutes, so you can see that the game plays quickly. It's somewhat greedy of table space; at 100 points, FFG suggests a 3 foot by 3 foot playing space.
With just one starter, the game isn't really that interesting. You can learn the rules, but there's only so much one X-Wing can manoeuvre. Poor Luke got shot down in both of the games I played with him on his own. Once we added the second starter, the game got a lot more interesting: two X-Wings were able to work together in tandem, and that particular game against a newbie Imperial player saw each of his TIE Fighters shot down in quick succession. I don't expect the next game to be so easy!
I'm extremely pleased with the the game so far, although the cost is higher than I would like. Some of the people on BoardGameGeek.com have been very inventive in their set-ups for the games - consider this Death Star Trench, and this 800 point game. That last took 6 hours to play, which gives you an idea of the time taken by games where lots and lots of ships are on the table. I expect a 100 point game to take about 30-60 minutes.
So, those are my initial impressions of the X-Wing Miniature Game from FFG. I've got three Y-Wings, a TIE Advanced, another X-Wing and two more TIE Fighters on their way, so I should soon be able to actually play a 100 point game. If you've got any questions about the game, feel free to ask them and I'll try to give sensible answers.
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