Well from this blog you can tell (I hope) that I have a very eclectic interest in games and gaming. This includes board games and more traditional war games. I like painting figures and likely spend too much time doing that vs. other things. My golf game suffers because of that – well that’s my excuse anyway, even though I doubt if it is true. This is especially the case when I compare my painted end results to some peoples figs. Still I enjoy painting and find it relaxing so I’ll continue even with my limited artistic skill level. I don’t play as much as I paint it seems these days, especially as I don’t like playing with unpainted models, for aesthetic reasons as much as anything else.
So it may come as a bit of a shock that I’m getting quite interested and having great fun playing the X-wing game by Fantasy Flight. I looked at this game when it first came out a couple of years ago and bought some ships at the time but then did little with it. The models are prepainted to a very decent level (you can see from the photo’s included and online) and are 1/270 scale I believe. The game hangs together really well for a simple flight mechanic system. The force building and various aspects bits give a lot of potential replay in the game as well. I’m not going to do a mechanics review per-say as this game has been out for a long time and I know there are much better reviews out there on the web for that. Needless to say the simple plotting, movement and combat rules allow for a game where you are not referring to rules, stats or loads of tables all the time, yet still allows a nice level of complexity in the game.However, as a ‘new’ player of the game, with now with a hand full of games played, I thought it worth putting a quick post/review here, even though the game has been out for a long time. It is easy to get the toys/models for and there is a new starter set just out linked to the upcoming new Star Wars movie and has an active and wide player base. In fact it seems to be one of the most popular games in my local area and has an active to tournament scene which gets a fair number of players out to events. Multiple of the local stores do X-wing nights, including one close to me. Although I don’t make it out all the time the crowd there are a friendly group and open to newcomers. Below is a picture of a recent gaming evening at face 2 face games in Toronto with 16 players in attendance, although usually it seems there are around 8 or so players on an X-wing gaming night.The mechanics of the game are such that it rewards player skill and experience but still leaves things open to chance. Space ships have different pilots and they can be upgraded in all various ways. I’m not a Star Wars ‘fan boy’, although like most people I know the movies. So most of the ships are just ships to me (and I know nothing of the backgrounds to them) but they all fit nicely in the Star Wars theme/universe as I understand it. I believe they have taken ships from the background and also created new ones. What’s nice is if you just want the standard movie based ships they play fairly well it seems. It’s also nice that although there are various upgrades none of these seem to be the ultimate game changers although ships with turrets do affect the game quite a lot. This does make a ‘meta game’ of list building and optimum combinations of things effective for those who want to play at a very competitive level. I have not been really good at that though (far from it) and still have had fun games so far though. So that tends to make me feel that although this optimization is very useful and effective it’s not so over powerful as to not put off newbies or allow fun games to be had without perfect lists, such as the ones I have been using.
The standard game (100 pts) is played on a 3 x 3 foot board which is great as it allows play in most locations. Loads of different space background mats are available and people create their own as well, which add to the visual appeal of the game, which is always a factor to me. The games last an hour or two at max for the typical game (an hour and 15 mins is typically the time for a tournament games). The ships and extra’s options they can have all seem easy enough to use.
From my initial view they seem fairly well balanced, although as we all know no points or game balance system is perfect, especially for a game such as this. You don’t have to have a degree in the game law and background to enjoy games, but having more knowledge provides more depth for players and list building. So far I have found all the other players very helpful with this area of the game and there are plenty of sites on the web about this as well. The game does have quite a few tokens/markers, all of which come with the game and ships, but they don’t seem to get in the way of play that much. They do reduce the factor of having to remember all the stats and status of things, which is good in the end.The rules can also be played in various scenario’s as well as the straight up to the death combat game typical of pick up matches. These can be found in the rules plus ship packs or online. At one of the local cons a friend did a great Star wars trench run game for example, which went down very well. There are even RPG style campaigns where pilots improve in skills have been created around the game. Fantasy flight even came up with a 3rd force – so there are now the empire, rebels and scum (the underworld/rogues if you like), which have their own ships etc.
The existence of online force builder tools which helps create lists. These even allows you to use all the upgrades without having to sink loads of money for the actual cards (which come with different ships) is great. I think you need the cards for formal tournament play but that’s fair enough. There is that evil temptation (for me at least) to get more ships and build my collection, especially as they do look nice. But you’d expect that as this is a commercial game after all. Most of us know that concept… So if you have not tried the X-wing game, especially with the new Star Wars movie coming out I recommend you have a look. It’s a fun game which all ages from pre-teens to the senior flyers can enjoy without too much initial investment. You do likely want a few more ship than just the base set for the best game experience though. If you get really into it of course, then like anything it you can spend money on the game. The small ship scale of X-wing really appeals to me personally. This is especially as it’s well known that the Star Wars movies take a lot of the space combat feel from WW2 movie dogfights and that even shows through in the game. The closest figure games I’ve seen with the simple(ish) to learn but hard to master mechanics are Bloodbowl and DBA. Both games have a lasting and long term player group, so that does bode well for the longevity of the X-wing game as well. Both those those are more traditional miniature gamer focused games while I think X-wing actually gets more players because of the prepainted ships and the background IP which is a darw.
So there we are, X-wing is a game which has started and most likely will continue to get play by me. It provides an evenings fun gaming and I really like the group meet at a store to play concept, as it works well for me and provides a variety of opponents as well. We’ll just have to see if I get any better at making lists, as well as playing the game. I may even make it to a true tournament at some point…