A long time ago, in a galaxy yet to hear about about Lucasfilm selling out to the Big Mouse, game studio Fantasy Flight Games released the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game in 2012. Now that hardcore table-top gamers have had a chance to really get some quality time with it, we at GeekExchange interviewed some of them to get their impressions of the game (which we affectionately refer to as SWXM in this review), from the gaming components to how it actually played.
A long time ago, in a galaxy yet to hear about about Lucasfilm selling out to the Big Mouse, game studio Fantasy Flight Games released the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game in 2012. Now that hardcore table-top gamers have had a chance to really get some quality time with it (and the newer expansion pieces), we at GeekExchange interviewed some of them to get their impressions of the game (which we affectionately refer to as SWXM in this review), from the gaming components to how it actually played.
One of the first things about SWXM that struck us was the $39.95 price tag for the basic set. That was an issue for Mark H. of La Mirada, Ca., who thought it was a bit high.
“You only get one X-wing fighter and two TIE fighters,” he said, and opined that much of that price comes from the “Star Wars” name. Besides the miniatures, the basic set comes with cards, six special dice, measurement sticks, counters used for ship status and hazards like asteroids. There is no board in the X-Wing miniatures game, which uses the measurement sticks to determine the distance between ships and hazards like the asteroids. The entire game is played on a three foot by three foot square.
The miniatures come un-assembled. Gamers will have to build the ships and the stand they’re perched on. Both Mark and Darren E. of Yorba Linda, Ca., praised the workmanship of the ships, finding them extremely detailed. Mark pointed out you could see the R2 unit on one of the X-wing fighters. But they’re also very delicate: Darren showed us one TIE fighter with a solar array “wing” snapped off. The men said the guns on the X-wing are even more delicate, with Mark commenting that one of the engines fell off. Darren quipped in, also stating it’s a very long process to set up all the little pieces of the X-Wing. “You have to have your own little system for sorting and maintaining your minis and all the other figures,” he said. The other pieces of the game, on the other hand, are of good stock. Consummate gamers, both men sleeved the game cards in plastic. Darren also provided his own mat, which pictured a nebula taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Each ship in SWXM comes with one card representing its pilot, tokens for ship equipment, status, and actions, and maneuver dials. For their session that day at Dice House Games, Darren assembled a fleet of five Imperial ships (boo, hiss) against Mark’s four Rebel Alliance ships (yay). Both assembled their respective fleets from the basic set as well as expansions. Mark had Y-Wings in his fleet while Darren included more advanced TIE fighters. These figures are sold separately from the basic set and include their own miniatures, cards, tokens, and maneuvering dials. It took Darren, an experienced gamer, ten minutes to fully assemble his Imperials alone. Much of that time is spent in actually customizing each ship, which is almost a game in and of itself. Players of the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game each gets a certain number of points to “build” their dream fleet. Interestingly, the cost to customize ones ship is not based on the miniature but the card to be associated with it. Each card represents a pilot, whose skill varies from an Imperial cadet (aka pushover) fresh out of piloting school to Wedge (“Gotcha, Rogue Leader”) to Darth Vader (“the Force is strong with this one.”) Darren confessed he has a soft spot for the Dark Side. The cards also indicate certain equipped associated with that ship as well. Both men enjoy creating their fleets.
Mark has played the basic scenario found in the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game. In it, the lone X-Wing fighter takes on the two Imperial TIE fighters until it destroys them. Yes, you read that correctly. Darren states that while the TIE fighters usually go first in the game and are more maneuverable, they’re out of the game usually after one hit. The slower X-Wing fighter, on the other hand, can take a considerable beating in the basic game. Hey, it’s just like the movies. When you have two or more starter sets, the game feels more complete. Interestingly, the Imperials have an edge in such battles due to that extra ship.
Maneuvering is the heart of the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game. At the beginning of each game turn, both players determine how their ships will move on the battlefield star field. They note their selection on those maneuver dials included in the game, and place it down next to the ship. The players then reveal their maneuvers one by one, usually starting with the lowest piloting skill (e.g., that Imperial cadet) to the highest like Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker. Combat, though, begins with the pilots with the highest skill. The simulates the experience/reflex/the Force possessed by such a pilot. An Imperial cadet may be able to move behind Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing first, but he’ll be stardust by the time he tries to actually fire on our farmboy-turned-hero.
The included measuring sticks help position the miniatures on the table. You have to play the game standing up; it’s too easy for a careless (or was it an accident?) knee to scatter the pieces over the star field. The sticks are also used to determine if a ship is within range to attack an enemy ship. If so, both players roll the special dice to determine how much damage, if any, are taken. (There is no separate hit and damage rolls.) Distance plays a factor; the closer the ship, the more likely it’ll cause damage. Each ship has certain resources, called “focusing”, to increase/reduce damage even in the basic set with more options available from the expansions.
In the basic game, the asteroid pieces are not used. Basically, you have the X-Wing chasing the TIE fighters around the star field. Players in the basic game who misgauge their ship’s maneuver can wind up out of the star field, losing that piece from that game. That’s not necessarily true in hitting an asteroid, which have their own rules. Players can also maneuver their ships to hit enemy ones as well. During the demo, Darren’s Imperials more than once boxed Mark’s Rebel fleet between his TIE fighters and the asteroids.
According to both men, a typical Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game lasts around an hour and a half, though Darren has played in some sessions under an hour. Overall, Darren enjoys the game, saying, “It’s a fun, tactical game, with a lot of depth to it but mechanically simple. Once you get the basics, it’s really easy to go from there. Lot of depth from building ships even if there are currently only a few. It’s one of the more fun games I’ve played in long time.”
Mark concurred, though with a caveat: “I enjoy the building my squad. Only problem is the price point: the Millennium Falcon, for example is going to be at least $30. Expansion for each piece is $15. The minis do look good and are fun to play.”
The Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game basic set, Y-Wing, and TIE fighter expansion packs are available at local gaming stores. The above Millennium Falcon, as well as the Boba Fett’s Slave-1, Rebel Alliance A-Wings, and TIE Interceptors are available in stores now. They were prizes for the SWXM “Kessel Run” tournament held the day of the review.