Monday, February 27, 2017

I Got To Play Star Wars: X-Wing And It Was Awesome

The headline kind of gives it away doesn't it?

I've been playing miniature war games since 2002 when my college roommate introduced me to Warhammer 40k and Warhammer Fantasy. Since then, I've played Mage Knight, HeroClix, Warmachine, Hordes and Historical Wargaming (if you want to know how the U.S.S. Rainbow would fare in a hypothetical U.S. Navy skirmish off the coast of Korea during 1941, just ask me!). Star Wars: X-Wing is the smallest scale in model count of all the games I have played, but the most intense on a turn-by-turn basis.

One of my usual gaming buddies, Geno, my partner when we won the 2014 Bird Dog Invitational, wanted to introduce me and one of our other usual gaming partners, Mike, to Star Wars: X-Wing yesterday. The introductory scenario he used for us was one that is playable right out of the box with no painting, no assembling outside of popping cardboard pieces out and placing the models on the flying stands, and no extra rulebooks. Chances are you're just shaking your head over why I find this amazing, but keep in mind that to run my Warhammer 40k army I need 4 sets of rules from 4 separate rulebooks and a printed out FAQ. Let's just say that "ease of play" is something I no longer really expect out of miniature games.

Mike and I were running the Imperials which meant we had 1 First Order TIE Fighter apiece while Geno had 1 modified X-Wing with the R2-D2 upgrade. After laying down the terrain, which in our case was an asteroid belt, we immediately started an intense dogfight. This is where I wound up enjoying the game far more then I expected, as the tactics involved were logical (more pilot skill means your model moves AFTER pilots with less skill, but gets to shoot BEFORE them), fast-moving (no "you go I go, just phases for everyone) and the movement was all based on aerial maneuvers.

Me being me, I almost immediately messed things up by misjudging how far my TIE Fighter could move and just how sharp it could turn. Everyone secretly sets the movement for their ships on a dial, which has listed maneuvers that match up with the flight paths provided in the starter set. Once you commit to a flight  path, you're committed, no take-backs once you see how, for example, Geno's X-Wing has the Boost special rule which gives it some extra thrust as opposed to the extra evasion on your sad TIE Fighter.

The original Tie Fighter model with flight path and movement dial.

You can see in the above image how the dial and flight path system works. Note the firing arc of the TIE Fighter (marked in green), now imagine trying to fly around asteroids while getting a shot lined up on an X-Wing. It was super intense with only THREE MODELS ON THE TABLE. My Warhammer 40k army runs 30 models in one of my baseline units! 

Mike and I had to try and line up our shots on Geno in the same turn, which required more coordination for a miniatures game then I was used to, and I apologize to Mike for failing miserably and getting blown out of the sky by Geno. I had a brillant plan of how to move to line up my shots, but Geno's boost ability got him out of my firing arc. It was incredibly trope-tastic given I, as the Imperial, had my plans foiled at the last moment by the Rebel doing something unexpected. In short, it was Star Wars. 

Now we only played with the base models in a low-point (36) game. The suggested point value for side is 100 and it can include ships like Slave-1, the Rebel Blockade Runner, Vader's Tie Interceptor, Y-Wings, A-Wings, TIE Strikers, etc. There's character bases and generic pilot bases, with different skills and abilities available to them. You can customize your weapons a little bit too, for example, Geno could have had photon torpedoes instead of R2-D2. 

I hate R2-D2. That tiny robotic bastard has the ability to regenerate shields when you execute a "green" maneuver, which is the safe, gentle type of maneuver. Mike and I knocked off enough shields to take down the Executor, but noooooo R2-D2 kept the X-Wing flying because we never were able to land enough shots in one volley. Our fault for being rookie pilots, but R2-D2 can go join the robots from The Black Hole on the scrap heap for all I care about him right now. 

Anyways, my first impression was a great one and I look forward to playing larger games in the coming weeks and even exploring the other Star Wars miniature game: Star Wars Armada. Armada is a different scale so instead of dog fighting, you get to use capital ships on a much larger playfield. It sounds interesting and since it uses the same basic rules (more or less), it should be just as easy to jump into for my gaming group.

Here's some of the other ships available for Star Wars: X-Wing, just to give a taste of the variety:

Finally, as for cost of entry? Roughly $40 MSRP for the starter set with the rules, flight paths, dice, terrain and basic ships. Extra ships can run from $15 to $40 based off their size and the extras they come with, as even the $15 one posted just above comes with 9 upgrade cards in addition to the unique movement dial. After all, a TIE Fighter can move a little differently then a Y-Wing. If you're even remotely interested, head down to your friendly local gaming store and odds are someone will be able to run a demo game for you!  

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