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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Game Review: Star Wars X-Wing: Miniatures

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to be part of a space battle in the Universe of everyone's favorite Space saga, I have a game for you!  Star War's X-Wing: Miniatures.  It is a table top miniatures game where you take the roll of the fleet commander and wage a war against either the Evil Empire or the Rebel Scum.  It is highly addictive and superbly fulfilling.  

On a side note:  The Star Wars franchise has been lacking in the space simulation arena.  SW X-Wing, TIE Fighter and (even) X-Wing vs TIE Fighter were some of the best sci-fi games I had ever played.  I even consider them superior to some of the modern ones.  There was just something special about strapping yourself into T-65 X-Wing with an R2 unit chirping away behind the cockpit or going full deep in a TIE Defender and $^&^&%$ shit up.  I am completely at a loss as to why either of those three games have not been revived and updated.  While XW vs TF wasn't as well received, the expansion pack fixed all of the glaring failures of the original release.  I don't believe there are too many people who have played any of the three that would argue their worth.  With that trip down memory finally at it's end, let's get on with the tabletop game review.

This game is put out by Fantasy Flight Games.  They have been around since 1995 and publish many excellent role playing, card and miniature games including WarHammer 40k..  They manufacture high-quality productions, so there is no need to worry about getting your bang for the buck.  They are a leader in miniatures and have also bough the Star Wars license lending to it's quality and relevance.

The base set (around $30 USD) gets you two TIE Fighters (T/F) and one X-Wing (XW).  This base/core set gives you a rule book, a few missions, a bunch of pilot cards, ship upgrades and all the chips, movement dials, movement templates, etc.  You can play with the core set and still have endless hours of fun.  The ships are a little larger than MicroMachines (if you remember those), and are pre-painted with a high level of detail and superb quality.  They tend to be a bit fragile so proper care and storage are a must.  You also get some flat cardboard asteroids, but you can take and paint some lava rocks and mount them on stands for a really genuine and realistic effect, like we did.  

One of the best parts of this game is that they are always releasing expansions.  They are affordable as well.  Single fighter expansions will run you around $15-20.  Some of the larger expansions can be upwards of $50.    When I say expansion, it is generally a new fighter or other spaceship.  It comes with special pilot cards, sometimes new mechanics and added missions.  They are releasing the expansions at a good clip, so you can add to your set regularly and expand your fun and set up larger and larger battles.  They also have large ships which behave differently, have different upgrades and movement templates.  It's really an epic experience.  

Tactics are a fundamental to this game.  Formations, pilot and ship selections, upgrades and movements are all integral to your success or failure.  Imperials have an advantage of initiative, lower ship costs and speed. Rebels have durability and better weapon systems.  Whichever faction you wish to field, you need a different tactic to have a chance.

There are some included missions but you are free to make up your own missions and even campaigns.  You have the complete flexibility in the mechanics to do basically what you want.  

Each game consists of phases.  In phase 1, each side uses a ship dial (per ship) to secretly select their movements and then places the dials face-down.  Once all the movements have been dialed in, the player with the lowest pilot level (on each pilot card) moves first.  Once a pilot moves, they generally have an option to force an action (whether it is focusing their fire, evading, etc).  Once all movements and actions have been completed, the pilot with the highest pilot level fires (and Han Solo ALWAYS fires first) and you work backwards.  It is possible to destroy a ship before it ever has a chance to fire.  Once the combat phase is complete, the movement phase beings again.  You can bump into ships, losing your action, so proper movement is imperative.  You are not allowed to use the movement templates to see where you will end up.  You have to use your best judgment to get were you need to be.  Flying in formation can be difficult, but it is beneficial to be precise with formations to concentrate fire and maximize your damage potential.  Pilot card special abilities can mean the difference between victory and a rout.

I can't say enough good things about the game.  If you are even remotely a fan of the Star Wars galaxy, like tabletop games or just want to try something different, I HIGHLY recommend getting the game.  I play SWXWM nearly every week with a buddy of mine.  He has a bunch of ships and I have a bunch as well.  We have plenty to do, but I am a sucker for moooarr ships!  Currently, we have been playing with T/F, T/I, T/A, T/B, T/P, Lambda Shuttle, Millenium Falcon, Rebel Transport, XW, YW, BW, and EW.  

Wil Weaton (TableTop on YouTube) did a video with Seth Green and some friends.  You can check it out here: TableTop XWing.  It will give you a feel for the game.  

Again, it's truly an innovative and rewarding gaming experience.  Try it out for yourself.  You won't be disappointed (unless you have no friends).