By Rodney Turner
“Why did this take me so long?” is the question I asked myself after playing my first game of X-Wing Miniatures (Fantasy Flight Games). Although it was originally released in 2012, the core set I picked up was part of the marketing blitz for The Force Awakens. Normally, miniatures games put me off some since it is usually a hefty expenditure of time and money to get going, requires a lot of space, and have cumbersome rules that makes gameplay tedious (I’m looking at you Warhammer 40k). X-Wing conquered all my expectations. Set-up is quick and the game proceeds at a lively pace.
The Starter set comes with almost everything you need to play (I’ll get to the “almost” a bit later.). You get three ship models: a single T70 X-wing and two First Order TIE Fighters, an assortment of pilot cards, a few upgrade cards, tokens, movement templates, a range ruler, and dice. The only problem I have with the offering in the starter box is that you only receive six dice, three for attack and three for agility. X-Wing’s range rules provide for additional dice to be rolled at certain increments which means that a player could have a need to roll four dice. Sure you could re-roll a miss, but since there are effects that modify rolls, it is much more convenient to have all the dice you may require for an attack or defense handy.
The players select their faction and ships, assign pilots and upgrades, and then set up the play area by placing obstacles and ship models. Players then secretly plan their ships’ movements and the fun begins. Movement proceeds from lowest pilot skill to highest with each maneuver being revealed and ships moved across the play area using a template that corresponds to the maneuver the player has chosen. Once a ship moves the player then selects an action for that ship from a list displayed on the pilot card. Certain actions can be used to modify dice rolls in combat and others provide some special movement rules.
Combat occurs in the reverse of movement. The pilot with the highest skill has the opportunity to attack first if there is a ship in range and within the firing arc of the model. Movement and combat rules do a pretty good job of simulating the frenetic space battles we see on the screen. Ships are constantly moving around the play area, angling for shots while attempting to minimize damage. Advantages constantly shift. This provides a delightful tension in trying to outmaneuver your opponent and more than once I found myself breathing an exhilarated sigh as my ship slipped just out of range or a lucky roll negated lethal damage.
But that is X-Wing Miniatures at its most basic. Ship building is a major part of strategy and there are numerous expansions that add more ships and upgrades to enhance a player’s tactical approach. Just about every iconic ship from the Original Trilogy is represented along with a large number of vessels that appeared in the Expanded Universe (now known as the Legends Canon). There are no prequel ships available so you can forget about flying a Jedi starfighter with wingmen in ARC-170’s.
The drawback to the game is that, depending on the cards you require for a build, you may find yourself having to purchase expansions for ships you don’t want to field to get the card you want for the ships you do play.
On the other hand, the models are so good that, if you are like me and love the designs of Star Wars spaceships, you want to buy at least one of each expansion for the models alone. Expansions are not terribly expensive, so there will not be the choice of paying your electric bill or snagging another B-Wing. The core set and some of the larger ships like the Millennium Falcon will set you back about forty bucks and the smaller ships like the TIE Interceptor or A-Wing run about fifteen. Since each ship plays differently than most others, you will find yourself wanting to experiment with what different ships bring to the table.
Overall, X-Wing Miniatures is a fun time that recaptures the excitement of Star Wars space battles. It’s easy to learn and simple to set up. I highly recommend that you pick up this one.