Cardboard Children: X-Wing Miniatures

By Robert Florence on October 7th, 2012 at 1:29 pm.


Hello youse.

This week’s column will be straight to the point. It will barely be a review. It will be a body of text designed to make you hurry into action. There will be no photos. I want you to google and find the photos yourself, on your way to buying the game. The X-Wing Miniatures Game is going to sell fast, guaranteed. I’m hearing talk that it might not reprint until January, and that would be a disaster for you, because you really should have this to play on Christmas Day.

I dunno. Maybe the whole Star Wars thing doesn’t appeal to you. It’s possible. I mean, Star Wars is, as we say in Scotland, “in the bin”. The whole Star Wars thing has been cheapened to the point that very little of the Star Wars universe has any shine to it any more. Yoda is a little green puppet for rent, hawking all sorts of shit in countless terrible marketing promotions. Darth Vader’s mystique has been shredded by his terrible backstory and his appearances as a comedy character in Christmas advertisements. The film prequels are considered worthless on the whole, and the original trilogy has been tampered with so often that it’s difficult to remember when and why you had any emotional connection with them.

But some things remain. Star Wars had iconic scenes. And some of the most striking scenes featured dogfights between the Rebel Alliance’s battered X-Wings and the Empire’s fast, nippy little TIE Fighters.

When I was a boy, I had lots of the Kenner Star Wars action figures and some of the vehicles to go with them. I loved my AT-AT, sure. And I treasured my two Speeder Bikes. But the X-Wing (with battle damage) and the TIE Fighter were special. They were special because they were the ships that flew into that Death Star trench. They were the ships of “RED 5 STANDING BY” and “GREAT SHOT KID THAT WAS ONE IN A MILLION”. More than Luke Skywalker, more than Vader, more than Yoda, the X-Wings and the TIEs are Star Wars to me. Everything that was great about Star Wars is captured in the design of these beautiful, logical ships.

The X-Wing Miniatures Game lets you play out X-Wing and TIE Fighter battles on your tabletop. The miniatures are beautiful. They are pre-painted, solid little things that float on clear plastic stands. The base of each stand has a slot that allows you to change pilots and ship stats. You just slip in the token that corresponds with your chosen pilot, and you have all the basic stats you’ll need printed right there at the foot of your miniature. On the table, the game looks fantastic and remains completely practical.

HOW IT PLAYS

In X-Wing, you start by building your force. Every pilot card or additional equipment card has a points value printed in the corner. You agree a total with your opponent and assemble your shit. In a 60 point game, you might choose to bring in Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles. You’ll have a few points left over to buy some additional cards. Maybe an R2 unit of some kind, or a tactics card. Then you find the Luke and Wedge tokens, slip them into the bases of the X-Wings, and get ready to fly.

The first thing you’ll do in a turn is choose a manoeuvre for your ship. Every ship has its own little dial that lets you secretly choose your move. Each ship is capable of different things. The TIE Fighter can make tighter, neater turns than the X-Wing can. This makes the dogfights feel right, as the TIEs zip and nip around the X-Wings like elusive little bastards. The turning of that manoeuvre dial becomes a moment of drama later in the game, when hulls are almost completely destroyed and opposing ships are heading straight at each other. You choose your move and place your dial face down with a real sense of “This could be it…” Many a time I’ve chosen to turn left in the hope I’ll escape an attack, only to find my opponent choosing to swing right and ending up directly behind me. There are difficult manoeuvres on the dial too, and performing these causes your pilot to become stressed and unable to perform any actions. You need to perform an easy manoeuvre to de-stress yourself. That’s some major shit.

How do you execute the move? This is nice. For each move you choose on your dial, there is a corresponding movement template. You take the cardboard template and place it down in front of your ship. Then you move your ship to the other end of the template. Job done. Your next decision is which action to take.

Each ship can only perform certain actions, bringing the theme more cleanly to the surface. The TIE Fighters can perform a barrel roll, and this is often a real game-changer. A well-timed barrel roll can move you out of an enemy’s line of fire, or move yourself into an attacking position. The X-Wings can take Target Lock actions, and these allow dice re-rolls on ships that have been targeted. Other more common actions include Evade (which lets your ship evade one successful hit) and Focus (which lets you convert Focus symbols on the dice to either Hits or Evades, depending on when you choose to spend the Focus – more delicious choices).

Beyond that, the additional cards you select enable more actions. And the pilot cards themselves offer bonuses too. Luke Skywalker can use the force to always convert one Focus roll on a die to an evade. That’s thematic, but annoying when it’s your TIE Fighter that is pursuing his midichlorian-guided arse

Combat is simple. Every ship has a firing arc, and if something is within it you can fire a shot. You check range, check how many combat dice you should roll, and let loose. Your opponent rolls as many defence dice as their evade stat and can cancel out hits with successes. Then damage cards are assigned. Once you have as many damage cards as the total strength of your hull, you are dead like Boba. The cool thing is that there are critical hit symbols on the dice too and when you are landed with one of these you have to take a damage card and turn it face up. The critical damage can blind your pilot, fuck with the mechanics of your ship, or even be a Direct Hit, taking two points off your hull. This lends a real sense of excitement to the critical hits. They can change the whole momentum of a battle.

And that’s pretty much the game. It’s a simple, quick, dogfighting game set in space. Oh, and you’re in control of the best spaceships in movie history.

X-Wing just feels great. There’s something so tactile and lovely about laying down your manoeuvre templates and moving your ship around the table. When the fights get up close and personal, your decisions are thrilling. A bank to the left, a barrel roll, and you could be looking good for a win. A failed gamble, like a difficult manoeuvre that leaves you stressed and doesn’t move you out of trouble like you hoped it would, can bring the whole game crashing down on you. The game is streamlined, tight, exciting and fast. It’s everything a dogfighting game should be. It’s everything an X-Wing game should be.

But it ain’t cheap. In the base pack, you get one X-Wing and two TIEs. That’s enough for a nice balanced battle. But you will want more. (You are going to want more, believe me. I’ve got two base sets, an extra TIE, an extra X-Wing, a Y-Wing and a TIE Advanced.) Each additional expansion ship is 10-12 quid, coming with additional pilots and cards. It’s just… expensive, kinda. But it’s just… It’s just so…

It’s just so fucking cool.

All those words you’ve just read up until this point look dull and restrained, because I’ve been holding back. Jesus. Look at this sentence I wrote up there. “Combat is simple. Every ship has a firing arc, and if something is within it you can fire a shot. You check range, check how many combat blah blah blah blah.” How fucking crappy is that? That’s because I’m holding back. Let me just…

It’s just so cool. Little X-Wings and TIE Fighters on your table, fighting it out. Dice flying. RED 5 STANDING BY! R2-D2 performing heroics. TIEs smashing into asteroids. X-Wing pilots fucking up and getting themselves surrounded by three TIEs. Secret decisions. Lucky hits. TOYS. TOYS. TOYS. Toys with a beautiful little game bolted onto them. NO! NO! YESSSSS! The Millenium Falcon incoming. USE THE FORCE, LUKE. Vader takes two actions? WHAT?! ARRRRGHHHH! KABOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! Slave I incoming. GREAT SHOT FANTASY FLIGHT THAT WAS ONE IN A MILLION.

Go. Run. Don’t risk fucking up Christmas. It might be your last, after all.

GO!

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44 Comments »

  1. greg_ritter says:

    Just ordered it from Ebay. Tears ran from my eyes, when I saw add-on’s prices. It’s too expensive, and delivery to Russia is even more wallet-crushing. But, by God, I want that Slave-1.

  2. Ghastly says:

    The core set sounds awesome, but I’m really disappointed with the cost of the additional ships. I’ll wait for one of my mates with more money than sense to get it instead.

  3. Nick says:

    Yeah, I managed to get it from amazon (arrived yesterdy!) but I am a bit sad that the price of the additional ships is so high, especially given the small amount in the starter set.

    But god, I will be buying them piece by piece.

  4. McDan says:

    I need this game now, need it. And I’m sure by the end of it I’ll have bought probably 10 more ships. Because you know that’d be awesome.

  5. BaronVonsnakPak says:

    I actually just ordered my copy plus some expansions the other day, and i should be getting it on thursday. i cant wait.
    if you want it for cheaper go to coolstuffinc.com and get it there for $26, you save $14. the expansions are also $10, which is $5 cheaper than anywhere else ive seen.

    edit: for people having a hard time justifying the prices: for the expansions you get a fully painted ship, a stand, templates, and pilot and ability cards. which in the world of tabletop minis is a steal for $10 when you see the quality.

    • Karazax says:

      Yeah Coolstuffinc.com is one my favorite spots for ordering boardgames, especially if you order $100 or more for the free shipping. Haven’t picked up this yet though, probably will along with Android: Netrunner some time soon though.

  6. Shadowcat says:

    As appealing as the concept is, I sense that I shall fund the purchase of a great many other games (which will in sum total lead to far more enjoyment) by completely ignoring this particular game, and its exorbitant prices.

    • Groove says:

      Yeah, that pricing is bonkers. It may be excellent quality and it may have similar pricing to similar games but that won’t make it any cheaper.

      Robert’s collection of 10 ships is £95 or so? And presumably you’ll want more after that? Fuuuuuck no. The most galling part is buying extra copies of ships. An easy comparison is to Summoner Wars races, since they’re £9 and a ship is £11. However with a new race it’s like an entirely new game, unlike buying your 2nd and 3rd x-wings, which presumably are almost exactly the same game.

  7. wodin says:

    It’s the same pricing for Wings of War….so i see no issues really..I suppose it’s because people think of huge space battles with Star wars and really you don’t need all that for this game to be great fun…the most you will want to control is two or three max..have mates around..get them to buy their own X WIngs etc (which they will do cos they look great) and there we have it..

  8. ulix says:

    Speaking of new SciFi games (If you want to call Star Wars SciFi):
    Yesterday me and two friends went to our local gamestore, and each of us walked ot with a game. One we played immediately after that:

    Eminent Domain (which was a KIckstarter project): http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/68425/eminent-domain.

    I’d describe it as a hybrid of Race to the Galaxy and Dominion, only better than both of those.
    I highly recommend it.

  9. atticus says:

    Got my starter set last week, and 2 X-Wings, 3 Y-Wings, 3 Tie Fighters and 1 Tie Advanced are arriving on tuesday. This game will create so many memorable moments and cool stories, half the fun is looking forward to playing it :) And also, speculating which units will be added to the collection after the Millennium Falcon and Slave 1 comes around. B-Wings? Tie Bombers? Tie Defenders? Imperial Shuttles? Ah, all the wonderful possibilities!!!

    With this game and The Lord of The Rings LCG, I’m finally floating in tabletop heaven. Thanks FFG, you’re fucking awesome!

    • Polackio says:

      If you don’t want FFG to take all of your remaining money, don’t buy Android: Netrunner. Best deck-building game released in at least a decade (about the time since the original was released). My only concern about X-Wing is, what will they release after wave 3? I mean, they still have the B-Wing, the M-Wing, TIE bombers and defenders but what after that? Sure, I suppose shuttles, but except for escort missions, who cares really?

      I think they’re going to have to either start inventing new ships that make sense in the post-prequel timeline or they’re going to have to start releasing prequel ships, and those all suck. Maybe they could release models in the BioWare KOTOR timeline (which is far superior to Lucasarts’ garbage lately), but that seems like a whole other game (not going to make a fleet of ships that were produced thousands of years apart from each other). Another option though, would be to start releasing frigates and cruisers. Scale up the battles with some bigger ships.

      I’m loving it so far, but I’m curious to see where X-Wing goes in the long term. It seems like it’s going to run into a dead end sooner rather than later.

  10. jmtd says:

    This post could do with more pretty pictures.

  11. Claidheamh says:

    How about the third entry in Some Games list? I vote it should be a card game.

  12. Tuckey says:

    Can’t see the interest really, completely lost interest in Star Wars since the prequels, you’d be much better off getting into Battlefleet Gothic

    • Premium User Badge Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      This game’s rules are so beautiful my friend and I are coming up with a variant for use with BFG ships.

  13. TooNu says:

    The game does sound fun, in a toys way, but not as a board game. It’s like playing with toys, but having guidelines in how to play with those toys. My neighbourhood in the 80′s also had kids with Star Wars toys, and many of us would be running around with a Tie fighter or an X-wing having space battles. This game just organises play like that except with much smaller toys. No more, “You missed me!” “Did not!” type bickering.

    It does look fun and I also think it would be a perfect game for Christmas day, however If I wanted a good sized Star Wars space battle where I’d be looking at being outnumbered by the Empire I’d want to buy something like:

    The core box then, 2 more X wings, 2 Y-Wings, 3 Tie Fighters, 3 Tie Advanced. Which is 5 rebels, 8 Empire in total.

    Just checking Amazon for prices..
    Core box – £25 (2 Tie Fighters and 1 X-wing)
    Tie Fighter, Tie Advance, X-Wing, Y-Wing are all about £10 each.

    Approx £125 for all of that (postage should be free with Amazon at that order). That’s quite steep to be honest, and if I wanted an IDEAL space battle it’d be even bigger. the Millenium Falcon and Slave 1 are also available, as is the Tie Interceptor so this game could easily run into the £200 range very quickly. Is ANY board game worth that much? You’d have to have a seriously dedicated family and/or game group to invest that much in a single board game.

    In comparison (again with Amazon) for £125 you can get Descent 2nd edition, Cosmic Encounter and King of Tokyo. 3 great games.

    If you’re just looking at the core set though for a wee game every now and then, £25 is pretty decent.

    • EPICTHEFAIL says:

      I can sense the Warhammer 40k fans trying to burn you with their eyes from way over here. Seriously, that game is the benchmark for exorbitantly expensive boardgaming.

      • TooNu says:

        I guess you make a good point about Games Workshop and their prices being astronomical. I see GW products and board games as 2 different beasts. 1 is an open the box, sit down with anybody and a couple of hours later you’ve had a good time. The other is a commitment to a hobby that requires finding like minded people.

        Spacehulk is the exception.

        • kaffis says:

          FFG’s X-Wing miniatures game is definitely a product that aims for the gap between the board gaming crowd and the wargaming crowd.

          For wargamers, it’s a reasonably priced way to add another lighthearted game to the mix that can be played quickly as a change of pace with the wargaming group, or that’s a more palatable introduction to wargaming concepts and play to entice their board gaming friends to try it out.

          For board gamers, it’s playable out of the box, and might be worth expanding the collection a little bit over time.

          I will agree that from the perspective of the board gamer, it’s priced a little high if you’re acquiring it at MSRP. For a wargamer, it’s downright cheap — you can buy a considerable collection that will give you literally all the squadbuilding options on both factions for less than a single Warhammer army, and not much more expensive than a Warmachine army, from what I understand. And for that price, you get both sides of the conflict, rather than having to find somebody else who’s made a similar expenditure just to play.

          It’s also worth noting that tournament play by FFG’s rules is a 100 point squad. A player can reach this, along with all the templates and dice and whatnot, for an expenditure of $70 (and then they can sell the other ships from the core set to their buddy!) if they build the most frugal squads available. That’s the price of the rulebook for Warhammer 40k! Compare to other tournament-friendly games like CCGs or wargames, and that’s a downright bargain. Even the most expensive single squad, 8 Academy Pilot TIE Fighters, can be had for $130 MSRP.

          • Polackio says:

            If you buy from wholesale dealers and get two starter sets to start off (instead of buying two TIE fighters and 1 X-wing expansion separately) you can get two complete forces—both sides—with plenty of options (3 X-wings, 2 Y-wings, 5 TIE fighters, 2 Advanced TIE fighters) for $110.26 before shipping and handling (US). At a slightly less cut-rate wholesaler the same units total up to about $130. That’s TWO complete tournament-level forces with lots of options, covering all of the wave 1 releases for the game.

            For a miniature wargamer that is nearly the cheapest game imaginable, and it’s all prepaints (good prepaints, which is even weirder). It’s not fair to compare this to GW’s games, but that is easily less than half the price it takes to get started with a single tournament-level army in either Warhammer or 40k. It’s a little less than what you could expect to pay to get started with two factions in MERCs or about the same for one faction in Warmachine/Hordes, or one faction in Infinity (Jesus, GW really is expensive). And that’s not taking into account the money you would have to spend on paints and modeling tools for those other games, or the time you would spend assembling and painting the minis.

            Every wargamer I know is going nuts over X-wing right now. It’s fun, it’s ridiculously cheap for a minis game and it recalls the good parts of Star Wars (no prequel shit in sight).

        • Groove says:

          I agree entirely with that post. Board games and minatures games may share similarities but they’re entirely different beasts. Any large scale minatures game (like GW stuff) is more like a lifestyle than a game. I used to play it and when I look back I just get depressed at how much money I sunk into it.

          X-Wing does seem like a good halfway point between the two, but I can’t justify over £60-80 on a game unless I can guarantee it to be a complete hit. I also can’t justify £25 for what’s almost a demo.

    • wodin says:

      I disagree..it’s the same principle as Wings of War and it isn’t just playing with toys. You sound like a gaming snob there.

      Wings of War is a great game with a big following and I expect the same with XWing.

  14. somnolentsurfer says:

    My eyes passed over the ‘Cardboard Children’ heading on this article, straight to the ‘Star Wars X-Wing’ image. Thought Lawrence Holland was back. My heart skipped a beat. :-(

    • Armante says:

      ^ this.

      My one wish for a game right now is a modern version of X-wing: Space Combat Simulator. The whole fiddly bit with the shields, the mission structure, and then an open-world ‘blast anything that moves’ space battle.

      With graphics so good they will make my fondest memories pale. It looked good at the time, but terrible now (hey – it WAS back in 1993!) Imagine how great it could look, and sound. It could be like flying in the movie. Which my inner 7 year old never stopped dreaming about. Seeing as I just turned 41, that’s a long time to wait..

      I may pick up some miniatures just to put in my display cabinet :)

    • The Tupper says:

      Yup. Larry can use any of the letters not yet appropriated by Fat George (G-Wing? Nah – sounds like a tampon) and I’ll kickstart it ’til its ears bleed.

  15. The Hairy Bear says:

    Epic thefail’s comment made me smile, so very true!

    I played the game today, its very enjoyable but definitely a beer and pizza type game, there’s some strategy (manouvering) but essentially mainly a massive slice of luck involved and just the one x-wing and two tie fighters is very stingy, I can imagine it would be fantastic fun with a group of mates and all the expansions but as people point out, you’re getting into the £200 mark easily and thats still for a relatively small collection of minatures.

    That said if you and a mate go half each on it, £100 would be pretty good value for the duration of enjoyment you’d get out of it, there seemed to be quite a few ways of changing it up but I think just the core game will get boring very fast.

  16. Armante says:

    Can anyone tell me the actual size of the miniatures?

    I rather like the idea of a small-scale fleet on display..

    • kaffis says:

      I want to say they’re about 2″ long for an X-Wing. And they’re all to scale with each other.

      • Armante says:

        Cool, thanks. I’ll keep an eye out at the local games shop, see if they gone on sale at some point.

  17. gmcleod says:

    Just ordered from Amazon. Buying locally from a store in Au I’d be paying nearly double the price. And those expansions are fair expensive..

  18. crumbly says:

    And another one purchased.
    Mr. Florence could convince me into buying a brick of aluminium-wrapped shit and I wouldn’t notice an issue until trying to explain to someone else exactly how it works…

  19. abandonhope says:

    I think I’d prefer to play this with Lego Star Wars sets.

  20. NthDegree256 says:

    I picked this up at a prerelease at PAX this year, and within one game I knew I was going to be hooked. There’s a moment about two thirds of the way through the game when you and your opponent are both down to your last scraps of hull, and the air just goes thick with tension – one-in-a-million evades, near misses where your ship screams barely a centimeter out of your opponent’s firing arc, and the seesawing back and forth from “I know my opponent will turn around, because every other option means they’re dead” to “oh, god, are they going to swing left or barrel straight through? If I read them right, I’ve won, and if I’ve misread them, that’s the end for me.”

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  22. bill says:

    I think you summed up my feelings about Star Wars perfectly. I’ve just about lost all interest in (my once beloved) franchise, but x-wings and tie fighters are about the only thing they haven’t quite ruined/diluted/overexplained so far. I mean, jedi used to be so cool…. sigh.

    But I’m not sure about the game mechanics. I was trying to design some RPG combat and I was thinking about how to get it to involve some form of tactics and choices… and I thought about having each player pick a move simultaneously (without knowing the other’s move) and then seeing how they both turned out… but it seemed like it all became luck… I pick left. He picks right. The result is a crash. I pick right, He picks left, the result is I win.

    It’s not really like a real fight where you’re trying to read opponents actions and respond quickly… it’s like having a fight blindfolded and who wins is down to who picks the luckiest direction to stab.

  23. belgand says:

    I find it odd that this is getting so much attention when, so far as I can tell, it’s just a knock-off of Wings of War. Same thing with the Flash and then phone game Steambirds. Why is is that people keep ripping WoW off lately and then failing to acknowledge it.

    • Polackio says:

      FFG was the publisher of WoW for five years. They recently stopped making it and the license has gone back to Nexus Editrice (now Nexus Games). This game was designed by many of the same people who worked on WoW for years while FFG was still the publisher. It’s less a ripoff and more of a spinoff really.

  24. gabe says:

    I read this article in the wee hours thinking how much more I would have to wait for my game to be delivered. Woke up this morning with the mailman bringing it to me :D Best timing EVER