Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tabletop Tuesday! Star Wars X-Wings Miniatures

Hello again! This is Tabletop Tuesday, a blog series all about tabletop games. Over the last two weeks I wrote about my newest gaming adventure, Dungeons & Dragons Expeditions. My first post described the game and what it was like to be a tabletop RPG n00b, the second post offered suggestions for finding a tabletop RPG group.

In honor of Star Wars Day, this week's topic is Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures by Fantasy Flight Games. This game is my newest tabletop love! Hit the link to learn more about miniatures gaming and May the Fourth be with you!

I LOVE Star Wars, and it was only a matter of time before we started playing X-Wing Miniatures. We saw them for sale at our local comic book store and last year we looked at a demo during SDCC 2014. Eventually The Boyfriend watched Wil Wheaton play on the Geek & Sundry series Tabletop, and we knew we had to give it a go. Boy, are we glad we finally did!

Image via Amazon

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures is a tabletop strategy game played with miniature models of the different starships found in the Star Wars universe. Players use a variety of predefined moves to navigate the playing field and engage in combat using hit and defense dice, special attacks, and critical hit cards.

We began with the X-Wing Miniatures Core Set, a starter pack for the game. This gaming set includes everything players need to play a game between two TIE-Fighters and an X-Wing. It includes all the necessary gaming pieces (dice, ships, movement guides, playing cards, attack/ability tokens) and the standard rule book, as well as a super easy set of rules for a quick game.

Each vehicle can be piloted by a variety of characters with different stats. It is important for the two competing sides to be balanced - this is determined by the stats associated with each pilot, and may result in one side having more ships in play. For example, the quick game rules have two TIE-Fighters piloted by an Academy Pilot and an Obsidian Squadron Pilot against an X-Wing piloted by a Rebel Rookie Pilot. The different stats for these characters can be seen in the image below:

Playing the Quick Game
The Quick Game rules provide an easy introduction to the game and the basics of movement and combat. These games are over very quickly, since the primary goal is just to keep the enemy ships in range.

Movement and combat turns occur in order of initiative - the orange numbers on the pilot cards. The lowest initiative moves first each round, but shoots last. Han Solo is a playable pilot for the Millennium Falcon ship, and his initiative is so high that he always shoots first!

Movement is decided for all players at the beginning of the round, using a variety of approved and predefined moves unique to the type of ship being played. These movements are selected using the movement dial associated with each ship, and once a player has decided one their moves they turn their dial face down on the table until it is time to move that ship. In the Quick Game players can use any movement that is legal for their their ship without regard for the difficulty of the move.

Combat occurs once all ships have completed the movement phase of the round. Combat begins with the ship with the highest initiative, and in reverse order of movement. A ship can fire as many shots as they have weapons - in this basic game, each ship fires once. It may seem unfair that the Imperials get two attacks per round, but their attack is lower than the X-wing's.

Attacks are performed by rolling the red attack dice. In the Quick Game all hits are equal, while blank and focus icons are considered misses. The defending ship then rolls the green defense dice to see if they dodge the attacks - dodge icons negate any hits, while the blank and focus icons are considered misses, again. The number of red attack dice rolled are determined by the offensive ship's attack power, which is the red number on the pilot card. The green defense dice are equal to the green number on the pilot card, which references movement, or the pilot's ability to dodge attacks.

Ships can only attack enemy pilots who are within range of their weapons. This range is found by using the range guide included in the starter pack. In the Quick Game the numbers on this guide are ignored and all ships within range are valid targets. A ship is in range if any part of its base touches the range finder. The photo below is a little inaccurate, because range is actually measured from the edge of the attacking ship's base. The lines on the front of each ship's base also determine if a ship is within range. Anything outside them is outside firing range, kind of like a foul ball in baseball.

The game is over once one side has lost all of their hit points and their ships are destroyed. Hit points in the Quick Game are a combination of the blue (shield) and yellow (hull) numbers on the pilot cards. This is one reason why a single X-wing is considered balanced with two TIE Fighters. If you look at the image above you will see that the X-wing has five hit points, while the TIE Fighters together only have a combination of six.

Playing the Basic Game
The rules for the Basic Game are more complex than the Quick Game. The numbers we previously ignored on the attack range finder, the focus icons on the dice, and the pilot card information all come into play and influence movement, extra abilities, and the success of an attack or defense. The Basic Game rules suggest using two TIE Fighters (the Obsidian Squadron Pilot and the Night Beast) and one X-wing (Luke Skywalker). Their abilities and stats are very similar to those pilots used in the Quick Game, but the initiative values are different.

Rounds still begin with the movement phase and end with the attack phase, but now pilots can perform actions after moving that increase their ability to make a successful attack or defense. These actions are listed on the pilot cards, referenced by the symbols shown at the bottom and usually associated with ship type. Additional abilities unique to the pilot are also written in text on the card and can given a bonus movement or advantage to attack or defense. For example, Luke Skywalker has an ability to increase his chances of dodging attacks, as if he were using the Force.

The movement phase of each round is more complex in this version of the game. Some movements are considered to be difficult for the pilots or type of ship and have consequences, such as being unable to perform an action until the stress of the move is negated. Difficult movements are marked in red on the movement dial associated with each ship, and easier movements are marked in green.

The attack phase of the Basic Game also differs from the Quick Game. Where an enemy ship is located in range of the attacker influences how many attack or defense dice are rolled - closer enemies are easier to hit and allow an extra attack die, while enemies located in the third section of the range finder are more difficult to hit and get to roll an extra defense die. Critical hits (indicated by the hollow hit symbols on the dice) also have consequences, in the form of critical hit cards that can do extra damage to the defensive player. The focus symbols (eye symbols on the dice) can also be changed to hits or dodges if the player has a focus token to spend (gained during the action part of the movement phase). This is more complex than the straightforward hits and dodges of the Quick Game rules, and increases the odds of a successful defense.

Because of the combination of added defense mechanisms, in our experience games played with the Basic Game rules take a lot longer to play. The game we played last night lasted 90 minutes and a lot of it was chasing each other around the board between a series of failed attacks! But Luke Skywalker finally won!

Along with the Basic Game rules, the starter pack includes a variety of scenarios players can use to change up the game. Elements such as asteroids or additional non-combative ships can be added to increase the difficulty of the game and add objectives, such as escorting a senatorial ship safely off the board.

Additional ships from a variety of factions such as the Rebels, Imperials, and Mercenaries (includes bounty hunters and Mandalorians), can be purchased to customize the game. We have purchased a Millennium Falcon and a TIE Advanced (Vader's ship). Some of the ships (like the Falcon) come with new scenarios to play and can be found by looking for Expansion Packs.

The Star Wars X-Wing Core Set and expansion packs are kind of expensive, but the quality of the game pieces and replay value help to justify the cost. The ships are gorgeous and very detailed, and unlike some other miniatures games, come preassembled and painted.

Replay Value
This game has a high replay value that is enhanced by the variety of ships and scenarios available to players. The game can be played by two or more players, offering different experiences each time as players use new combinations of players, pilots, ships, and scenarios.

This was only a quick overview of the game - there are many details and game rules that I left out (can you imagine how long this post could have been?!) but the learning curve on this game does not seem very steep. Learning how to play this game is made even easier by playing a few rounds of the Quick Game before diving into the Basic Game, especially if you are new to miniatures. I definitely recommend this game to anyone who loves Star Wars!

Thank you for reading, as always! 
If you have any questions or requests, please leave them in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. Oh this sounds really cool! I may have to grab us a copy!