Published on December 18th, 2013 | by Luke Turpeinen
A New Hope Appears
Summary: There has never been a better Star Wars game. If you like dog fights, TIE Fighters and X-Wings then there is no reason not to buy this game.
It is a period of civil war.
Since its inception Star Wars has captured the imaginations of thousands of people, spawned countless series of merchandise, and been the inspiration for hundreds of games. The Star Wars brand is probably one of the most stable and reliable crowd pleasers, both in the United States and internationally, and it’s no surprise to see the franchise start to move back into the tabletop gaming world again. Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures is the latest in Star Wars tabletop gaming, and its popularity is already beyond the stars.
I have always loved Star Wars. Even though I was born after all three of the Original Trilogy released, it was a large part of my childhood. Watching the dog fights between the TIE Fighters and the X-Wing pilots was my favorite part of the movies, even more than the laser-sword fights. On the playground I always imagined myself jumping into a TIE Interceptor to fight off the “rebel scum” that were invading the obviously superior battle station with their mangy orange jumpsuits and dirty helmets. The main success of X-Wing Miniatures, in my experience, is in creating a fast-paced dog fighting game that quickly immerses me in the Star Wars setting. Any time I want to re-live that feeling, I know I can play X-Wing Miniatures.
What can I say? Fantasy Flight does it again! The miniatures for this game are amazingly well crafted, with hand painted areas and fine details that are picked up with an ink wash. These ship models are some of the best pre-painted minis I’ve seen in a while, and they really look impressive on the table. More than just the minis, X-Wing also comes with tons of status chits, upgrade tokens, pilot cards and movement dials. All of the components are of the highest quality, just what you would expect for one of the leading American board game publishers. The art is perfect, the graphic design melds perfectly with the Star Wars universe and the rest of the game. Really, an outstanding job.
X-Wing Miniatures has very refined mechanics, which surprised me with their simplicity. The phases of the game are quick and the turn-by-turn choices you make are usually very straight forward. Line of sight, shooting, power usage and pilot abilities are never ambiguous and the game gives you ample tools to resolve any questions that arise during play. Movement and range-of-fire are both measured with pre-printed tools that come with the game, which I find makes the turns quicker, less ambiguous and less fiddly than other minis games. Having custom attack and defense dice also cuts down on questions such as, “What number do I need to roll to hit again?” and “Is it attacking or defending that is roll-under instead of roll-over?”. I like that the game simplified mechanics to the point where the game state is easy to comprehend at a glance, which is a something I feel that most war games fail to do well.
The turn order and flow of the game is one of my favorite parts of X-Wing. It seems odd to say that, but the game does have a cadence to it that is different from other games I play frequently. You start your turn by selecting your unit movements from a pre-made list in secret at the same time as your opponent. Then units reveal and execute their movements and an action in initiative order, less powerful units first. After all the ships have moved they then fire their cannons in reverse initiative order. This lets smaller, lighter units to get where they want to a little easier, while giving more expensive units the advantage of firing their cannons first. Understanding the turn order and building a balanced team that can take advantage of it is a significant part of strategy of the game.
Truth be told, I am not usually a fan of war games or of free form miniature battle games. I tend to find that I don’t have a mind for making strategies and implementing effective tactics, and I can get taken down against an even mildly experienced opponent. When playing Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures I feel that the tactics of the game are more obvious and I have an easier time grasping good tactics, even if I personally don’t do as well in implementing them. X-Wing is an accessible, simplified, non-grided minis game and I fully recommend playing it.
Note: The base set comes with some basic figures like X-Wings, TIE Fighters, a TIE Advanced and a Y-Wing. Additional units like the Millennium Falcon and Boba Fett’s Slave One can be purchased separately.