Type: Miniatures Combat

Time to play: 45 – 60 minutes per player per game (Teaching: 15 – 20 minutes)

Best played with: 2 Player (Could play with 4)

I thought it was time to do a two player fighting minis game and in that genre there is one stand out candidate: X Wing. I am a massive Star Wars fan but when I started down the path of playing X Wing last year I had no idea about tournaments and the competitive nature of this game. There’s a lot more then below the surface, but for the purposes of this review – I am sticking to the base game and the basic mechanics.

So what is X Wing? Well the base box is a X Wing and two TIE Fighters. You are able to pop these out on the table and conduct a small battle or a couple of basic scenarios. The scenarios are fun ways to make this a mission based game, but for me and many others the core of this game is taking out the other player’s fleet.

You will do three things each turn – movement, action, attack. Movement is simple (well sort of), you simultaneously select a choice on an action dial and place it next to your ship. From worst to best these pilots, you perform you movement and choose your action immediately. That means that the lowest quality pilots make their choices first – choices made before they know where their enemies will be. That’s why a choice between movement, better attack, better defense and a more mixed position (focus) is harder for a lower skilled pilot. How do you know if you need to evade when you don’t think anyone will get in range!

After all that, all that’s left is to work through the pilots from highest skill to lowest to conduct the attacks. This is a simple step, pick a target and roll. If you are in close, the attacker has the advantage. At a distance, the defender has the advantage.

So this is a game about combat, but really it’s a game about movement. Subtle movements to get into the right rage, or to get their ship in sight whilst your ship is out of sight. Sometimes its about that surprise turn or jump that changes the positioning on the battlefield. In this respect the game is heavily player driven and varies a lot each play. Players double bluffing and doing quick turns to shot back. These are the dynamic movements that make the game – the heroic stands and diving runs through the enemy.

That epic nature of the game will draw you back and will make you get more ships and more new rules. Each ship, each rule and each new play offers up a new way to surprise you enemies and a new moment in the fight. Even in the picture that TIE fighter has snuck up behind the Falcon – but with turret guns, he might just be shot out of the sky first!

What’s the downside then? Well it’s a small number of dice rolls in each combat – this is part of why these epic saves and final stands happen. Being on no health, you can still shoot down the toughest of opponents – it’s not likely but it’s not as statistically impossible as it perhaps should be.

It’s a way to mimic skill with luck, but that doesn’t mean that it’s player skill. So sometimes this game can be very frustrating – it can force you to accept that this fight isn’t going your way. It can mean that the best laid plans do nothing, and that you have to keep trying and trying just to land the first shot. This can be great or it can really annoy you – I have seen it go both ways.

The other thing to know is that it takes time to pick your side – leave 10 or 15 minutes just for this. I enjoy this, but then I used to play a lot of minis games.

Last notes;

  • If you like epic moments, and you love Star Wars – this is going to be a shelf favourite
  • If you like to avoid luck and hate that feeling of missing  when you have spent three turns setting up the shot…perhaps don’t start down this path
  • If you win – try switching sides!