Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Why you should all be playing X-Wing

For most of last year I barely played, looked at, even thought about 40k or any other mini game.  Occasionally something would ignite a spark of interest and I'd paint a few guys or have a few games, but everything seemed overwhelmingly stale, and boredom would strike once more within days.  Then, after Christmas, I ran into a blog post somewhere about the X-Wing miniatures game.  While I'd heard about it before, I had never seen the minis in detail or heard about the rules.  For the first time in ages, I was immediately interested and since I had some amazon vouchers I bought a starter set (only £22) to see for myself.  Two days later I Ebayed off an old copy of space hulk and bought £120s worth of other ships and a playing mat and haven't looked back.

I will make no secret of the fact that I love this game, and I just want to run over what I think makes it so brilliant, as well as touch on a few minor niggles I have with it so far.  In essence I suppose, this is a review of the game.

A Game I witnessed a few weeks ago.  Darth Vader and two Interceptors close on a tight Rebel formation, only to be gunned down one by one, despite their extra maneuverability.  Sometimes more ships is better than more upgrades. 

So, why should you all be playing X-Wing? 
Firstly, it's Star Wars!!  Flying Luke's X-Wing with R2 in the back, against a horde of Ties is any fans' dream.  The setting automatically makes any battle into an epic struggle in a galaxy far, far away, a long time ago, and this is always going to be a good thing.  It also lends the game a much wider appeal.  My brother, who has never had the slightest bit of interest in gaming, jumped at the chance to play this game.  I was amazed when he loved it, and now we have a game every few weeks.  That isn't an isolated incident either.  Two of the guys I have played at clubs in London had never played 40k before.  I was honestly amazed by this, but it turns out they picked it up in Forbidden Planet because it looked cool.

So what about costs.  If you play a lot of games you know that this hobby can get expensive, and the last thing any of us need is another money sink.  Luckily, start-up costs are minimal, for X-Wing.  If you wanted to, you could have a competitive tournament list, and all the dice and tokens you need to play it, for between £40-£60.  This is huge.  It means guys like my brother, or the two Forbidden Planet dudes, can get into it without even blinking at the cost.  If you want to get a bit more serious and have the option to field different squadrons, you can spend a bit more.  So far I have spent around £300 since Christmas, but I have enough ships to field virtually anything I want for both Rebels and Imperials.  The best part though in my opinion, is that it takes up virtually no storage space.  My entire fleet, and all the gaming tokens and templates are stored in a single standard size KR multicase. 

All X-Wing ships are pre-painted to a pretty high standard.  For me this is fantastic, as I detest painting.  However, many others who enjoy it will be pleased to discover that the ships are very simple to add to, or even completely repaint.  There are fantastic examples out there of people who have faithfully reproduced the exact paint schemes from movies or comics.   Clearly of course, this isn't the point of X-Wing.  It is deigned as a 'pick up and play' experience, so what about the rules?

I wont go over the finer points here, but I will lay out roughly how the game works because I think it is a very elegant system.  The game uses templates of fixed but varying sizes to enable players to move their ships.  Not all ships can perform all maneuvers, and some maneuvers are harder to perform than others.  For example a fast and agile Tie Fighter can move very fast forwards and turn sharply left and right, but it cannot perform very slow moves, which can sometimes be a major disadvantage.  By contrast, the X-Wing can perform several slower maneuvers but cannot move as fast or turn as sharply.   To balance this, the X-Wing is considerably more difficult to destroy as it has shields, but a little easier to actually hit in the first place.

Each ship is moved one by one, in an order determined by the skill of the pilots your choose, with those of the lowest skill moving first.  When everyone has moved, combat begins and again, each ship fires one at a time in pilot skill order, but this time the best pilots shoot first.  This is clearly where luck comes in, and with only 2-5 D8's per ship per attack, the game is occasionally subject to a fluke incredible (or otherwise) roll.  however, generally good piloting and intelligent use of upgrades and abilities work to balance the low number of dice.

A game I played a few weeks back, photographed by my opponent.  The awesome wrecks represent asteroids, an ever present an nasty danger for foolish pilots. 
Overall I would say the rules are polished, simple mechanics, which are easy to learn and challenging to master.  They reward skill and judgement but retain the element of luck required to keep the game amusing.  Additionally, games are usually nice and fast.  I generally get through one per hour, so get two to three games in each club night, and can even fit a quick one it at home with my brother after a long day at work without fear of it dragging out into the small hours.  There is a lot in the online 'press' about how horribly unbalanced 40k is becoming, and this game currently provides a good counterpoint.  X-Wing is currently very well balanced.  One or two ships are marginally more efficient than others but the difference is barely noticeable.  As more releases continue to appear it will be interesting to see if this balance can be maintained. 

As a final point, the list building is a lot of fun.  There are many, many combos and alternative builds to consider, with all ships having at least one type of upgrade slot, and many having up to 7 or 8.  The large ships in particular are very customizable, with multiple support system, crew and weapon slots available. 

In conclusion, I hope a few people read this and decide to give X-Wing a try.  It is only £22 for a starter set and I promise you it is worth every penny.  Alternatively, if anyone is in London and fancies an intro game then comment below or email me and I'll be happy to oblige.  Fly Casual everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Genius. You could scarecely be more right - 'elegant' really is the word!