X-Wing made it’s initial appearance at Gen-con in 2012 with the release of the starter set; which to this day is a fantastic value. After that Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) has released sets of expansions in what they call “Waves”. Wave 1 for example was made up of the X-Wing, Y-Wing, Tie Fighter and Tie Advanced expansions. It’s important to note that each expansion adds an immense amount of depth to the game; each comes with a ship, multiple pilots for that ship and a slew of upgrade cards that can often be used for any model in the game. Buying an expansion will always increase your overall options in list design, speaking of which…
Like many miniature games, X-Wing uses a points system; players agree to play a game at a certain point level (usually 100) and then construct a list of ships and upgrades that cannot exceed that limit. Most ships have slots that can be upgraded with a secondary weapon or enhancement; for example, the Millennium Falcon has a “Crew Slot” meaning he can take an upgrade with the “Crew Member” designation, adding those abilities on to his own. In addition to upgrades, each ship comes with a variety of pilots, each with a different skill level and unique effects in the game. Choose a ship, a pilot and decide how to outfit it. I want to mention here that each ship and upgrade has a very clearly marked point value so list design is not hard to do.
After you have your list, your opponent you and square off to see who the better captain is amongst the stars! Another thing that is unique to X-Wing is that it breaks the typical “I-go-you-go” mold of board games. Each pilot in the game has a different level of “Pilot Skill” represented by a number on the card. I won’t’ bother with a detailed explanation as the rulebook is very clear and easy to understand; the quick and easy of it is that high skilled pilots move last and shoot first, lower skilled pilots move first shoot last. The Pilot Skill (PS) aspect of the games creates an incredibly interesting dynamic, allowing players to manipulate the board in new and tricky ways. Do you move first? Why not put your ship right where you think your opponents will be so you can block them? Do you shoot first? Try taking the wind out of your opponents sails by eliminating one of their ships before it can strike back? All of these things add an immense amount of depth to the game despite the simple rule-set; which is why there are local, regional and even national tournaments supported and run by FFG.
Another aspect about X-Wing I want to point out is the price point. So many miniatures games are massive investments of time and money, what if you play for a while and realize you don’t like the game? X-Wing is an extremely low-investment game, both in terms of time and money; ships come pre-painted and ready for play and most retail at $15 or right around there. The risk (relative to nearly every other miniatures game) is extremely low; and if you know that you do not like the game at all, there are many new players willing to buy your unwanted models off of you. Another thing to point out on price: the rules are online for free here, and it used to be that you had to buy the starter set to get all relevant templates, but not any longer since so many third party retailers have begun making their own. This game can cost as much as you want it to and there is no downside to that!
Lastly I want to talk about the overall feel of the community. I’ve played X-Wing throughout the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest and am continually impressed by the variety and kindness of the community. You’ll find people from all walks of gaming, and some who just like Star Wars and nothing else. The sheer diversity of the community and the low barrier to entry (financially and game complexity-wise) make for a great social experience. Games can be cut-throat for the competitive scene because the rulebook is so tight and well written; but games can also be very relaxed and casual as the models are really the focus and game-play is simple enough that you can have a conversation during a game. For those reasons I find X-Wing to be a fantastic social game that scales up well with the competitive crowd; and with that factored in to the low barrier to entry I cannot stress enough what a great game this is!