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Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Longer Time Exposure (or, 12 points about X-Wing) rss

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David Barlowe
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[Note: I was inspired to write this review after reading the last one posted here by Tico. I originally wrote most of this in response to his review, which I don't believe accurately reflects the play or depth of the game. This is not a point-by-point rebuttal, but I numbered it in case anyone wants to take me to task on anything or expand on these thoughts. Ultimately, games are very much according to taste. I hope that this review touches a chord with anyone on the fence about X-Wing, which is right now one of if not THE best-selling miniatures game in the US if not the world.]

Background

I started playing this "system" (Wings of War, what its based on) (FFG calls it "Flight Path") with Star Trek: Attack Wing, as it appeared to have more variety initially after release. I was also hoping to replicate the wonderful experience I had with Star Fleet Battles and its tournament scene back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

My brother picked up X-Wing after we tried ST:AW, and I came away from X-Wing after a couple of casual games with the first couple of ship waves available feeling kind of "meh". It seemed that there were only a couple of ways to play: joust, or run around with the Falcon and shoot everything with your turret. I stuck with ST:A for a year.

Then my brother kept picking up new, amazing ships for X-Wing. The CR-90 transport, bombers, E-Wings, the Tantive IV epic ship. Then Scum started to appear, and an Imperial turreted ship. The K-Wing and Phantom.

We played the Epic campaign series with the Imperial Raider, I took some B-Wings and Z-Wings and what not. My goodness, you could drop bombs! You could run over ships! There were a bazillion models now, and a ton of crew combos and upgrades and variety to explore! There was a ton of content for the game appearing on the website, and they had fixed a couple of things (the A-Wing, the TIE Advanced, the Phantom). I was hooked.

Sold my Attack Wing stuff, picked up a 35 ship X-Wing collection from a guy on eBay for about $7 a ship. Since then I've been snapping up ships on sale at Coolstuff and eBay for $9-11/ship and selling off my old, unplayed games to pay for it, essentially a win-win if PLAYING games is your measuring stick (instead of storing and collecting them).

As of this writing I've logged close to 50 games of X-Wing now, including 5-6 epic games. Played probably 25 timed, 100-point dogfights with two older teenagers (excellent gamers) and a few mixed groups, and some odd scenarios and whatnot. Set up a family escalation tournament with 6 players one weekend (which was a blast). I think this is plenty of play to qualify this as a "longer time exposure" to the game.

However, I can also add that I've listened to easily over 150 hours of podcasts on X-Wing (shoutout to Mynock, Back to Dials, and Shuttle Tydirium), including commentary by world-class tournament players (Paul Heaver, Nathan Eide, Dallas Parker, many more), and influential hobbyists, including one statistics professional (Bob Randall, aka Major Juggler). I also keep up with the game by reading the FFG forums pretty much daily.

Here's my take on X-Wing, in response to the feeling I got from the last reviewer:

1) It's a science-fiction themed skirmish miniatures game based in the Star Wars, science-fantasy universe. Suspend your reality right there. Game play trumps theme in many aspects. Part of the deal.

2) There are dice. Some factions/lists are high-skill that use defensive dice in emergencies (usually Imperials, especially Aces) and live by out-dodging your firing arcs and not getting shot at. Some factions (Rebel) live by jousting: taking your first punch, and hitting you back even harder, then run (and regenerate/re-engage). Jousting generally needs lower skill, but can be more consistent. The third faction in the game (Scum) lives by dirty tricks (weird combos, self-damaging effects, etc). If you find the game to be a dice-fest, you are A) not playing enough to have your results even out B) playing high-skill lists with low-skill (i.e. jousting with arc-dodgers or trying to arc-dodge with jousters), not understanding your lists and how they need to be played, or possibly have not discovered or read about the three pillars of X-Wing (turn 0 play/ship setup/asteroid placement, list building, maneuvering), C) a victim of confirmation bias.

3) It has pre-painted models that are extremely eye-catching. This is great to draw opponents into the game, especially with epic ships.

4) It's both more, and less expensive to play than other hobby games. Far less than WarHammer or uber-competitive CCGs, but could be far more than say, Agricola with all its expansions. This depends on if you are THE GUY (like I am) that has to have enough of everything so you can play any list you want, from any faction, with anyone who might stop over to your family game night and want to try the game. Or if you are just one of the gamers in your circle who wants to play one list or one faction, and just needs 2 to 30 ships in that faction so they can run whatever they want. If playing in sanctioned tournaments, you can pick up (or trade or borrow) any out-of-faction necessary upgrade cards for $1-10/card on eBay. Otherwise you proxy whatever you need using a simple squad builder app or website and you're all set.

5) It's very well balanced for your casual family board game, unless you play with crazy min-maxers or something who want to win at all costs, and build super-specific lists. Crazy min-maxers can wreck many games, I used to be one of those guys, I know. I don't do that any more, because I find that as a family guy I can't afford to lose even a single opponent from a negative play experience. Crazy min-maxers also haunt the high-end tournament scene, that's part of the deal there, and to be expected. Perhaps 1% of X-Wing players play the high-end tournament scene. Many many more play in friendly local leagues or store tournies. They have a mantra in the X-Wing community that developed organically, explains much of the attitude about this game: Fly Casual. (e.g. Have fun, no jerks.)

6) If you find standard 100-point dogfight to get stale, it's easy to go to 60, 90, 120, 150, or Epic play for essentially unlimited variety. These are all legitimate ways to play X-Wing, and in fact, the vast vast majority of games are played outside of tournaments and use whatever is available and the game plays just fine. Different point limits change the game in interesting ways and are a fine way to play X-Wing. Mix-faction play or even random lists can make for fun times (the developers have said they do this on lunch at FFG headquarters for the lols).

7) Generic ships (non-ace ships without special powers) in the current highly-competitive tournament meta are not super useful outside of some specific builds (i.e. Contracted Scouts), but this is changing all the time. They ARE super useful and arguably necessary to play Epic games (200-points or more, with our without HUGE ships).

8) The game is still in its infancy, and the designers are continually adding new content and slowly introducing new mechanics that have added a staggering amount of variety, especially outside of the tournament meta. Just yesterday Wave 10 was announced, and Wave 9 is not even available to purchase yet (outside of GenCon). Check out the Rebel TIE fighter! (What?!?)

9) Board Game Geek forums are DEAD compared to the Fantasty Flight Games forums. A lot of great people lurk here, but by far the most active and intense discussion of the game is happening over on the FFG forums. Warning: it can take a lot of time to sort through it all, and like all serious hobby gamers, they have their own language. Just go read MajorJugglers pinned post (the first one on the Forum) over there and dive in.

10) X-Wing is said to be the best-selling miniatures game on the market right now. You probably would not know this if you only use BGG as your news source, which is dominated by the Hotness. And this game is only 4-years old, lots and lots of game yet to come.

11) You can have quite a bit of fun playing with a single TFA core set, for under $30. Play both sides several times, play unbalanced sides, try playing with and without asteroids, play 45, 60, or 75 minute timed games and simulate tournament pressure (also caps rebel regeneration abilities). Play the scenarios that come with it (why does everyone ignore these?). Proxy cool upgrade cards off the internet. Use the Dice app from FFG if you find it extremely challenging to pick up a die and roll it again if you need to. Encourage your friend to buy/trade for an original core set for $30, and your options jump again, and you get more dice, templates, and scenarios. Go the FFG website and check out the hundreds of free user-created scenarios there. Try Heroes of the Aturi Cluster (dockingbay416.com) for co-op action.

12) Play some Star Wars themed music in the background while you play. It adds to the atmosphere and don't be surprised to catch yourself saying "pew pew!" after you one-shot Vader at range three with your Poe after he boosts past an asteroid and lands a direct hit.

Final notes before I sign off on this review of X-Wing.

There are hundreds and hundreds of people traveling to Minnesota to play in the World Championship this year. The current world champion, Paul Heaver, has won three times in a row, by out guessing and out flying the meta with three different lists. There are dozens of documented (Listjuggler) tournaments held around the world every weekend, providing a wealth of data about the health and state of the game and the metagame. FFG just recently literally flew 8 people who won national tournaments to England, and had them face off with fan-voted ships at Star Wars celebration. There are hundreds of hours of game recaps and recorded streams posted to YouTube, and hundreds of pages of written recaps of battles and experiences on the FFG website and even here in BGG. There is an amazing, fan-made co-op play campaign made by a real graphic artist/professional called Heroes of the Aturi Cluster that could be sold but is FREE to download and print. There is an extremely active Vassal scene where fans can play all of the new even unreleased content in tournaments and casual play with people around the world, for FREE.

I mean, whhhaaaattt? Seriously?

There is just so much to explore in X-Wing, the system is amazingly done, it's way way deeper and more interesting that it may first appear, FFG has a major major hit and this thing is only going to get bigger and more popular as the movies continue to be released.

Do NOT dismiss X-Wing quickly - this game is only getting started.

(Edit, spelling/grammar)
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Travis Larsen

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Great review! X wing is an amazing game indeed
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Xander Fulton
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...although it's worth pointing out that the 'Wings of War it was based on' comment is inaccurate - as FFG has posted on that several times, themselves. For example.

(Not that 'Wings of War' isn't a great game - IT IS! - it's just very different from X-Wing in almost every way, and I only really seem to see folks making that mistake if they were not already familiar with miniature wargaming in the first place. Specifically, that the elements both games appear to have in common instead predate either game by a VERY long time...)
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Richard Linnell
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XanderF wrote:
...although it's worth pointing out that the 'Wings of War it was based on' comment is inaccurate - as FFG has posted on that several times, themselves. For example.


While there is no doubting that X-wing and WoW are different, and I like FFG as much (or more) than the next guy, there is too much similarity in the mechanics and their application to the theme for me to take the comments made by the company at face value - consider that they are duly interested in not paying any licensing fees for the game system and in garnering recognition for their own in-house developers. Further, they get a piece of the pie for ST:AW and DnD:AW which both license the flightpath system.

I am not a lawyer or IP expert, so I don't make any actual claim as to whether X-wing and WoW are either "too similar" or "significantly different" such that one must somehow credit the other, but from an average Joe standpoint, X-wing looks and feels similar to WoW, is distributed in the same way (pre-assembled, pre-painted miniatures), and comes from a company which had the license for WoW - I find it very hard to believe that the genesis didn't come from someone in FFG going "Huh, we just got the license for Star Wars, bet we could do this with Star Wars ships." Again, not saying that anyone in the spat between designer and publisher is right or wrong, but I don't think you can ignore that the flightpath system was inspired by WoW.
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God rest you merry
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Excellent review. I am glad you emphasized the depth, potential, and customizable aspects of the game.

Re scenarios: I too am shocked these don't get more discussion. Look at "Cutting the Cord" from the imperial aces expansion. That is just a crazy fun scenario. The tokens included in that expansion have a limitless creative potential.
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Xander Fulton
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solidhavok wrote:
I am not a lawyer or IP expert, so I don't make any actual claim as to whether X-wing and WoW are either "too similar" or "significantly different" such that one must somehow credit the other, but from an average Joe standpoint, X-wing looks and feels similar to WoW, is distributed in the same way (pre-assembled, pre-painted miniatures), and comes from a company which had the license for WoW - I find it very hard to believe that the genesis didn't come from someone in FFG going "Huh, we just got the license for Star Wars, bet we could do this with Star Wars ships." Again, not saying that anyone in the spat between designer and publisher is right or wrong, but I don't think you can ignore that the flightpath system was inspired by WoW.


Again, though, that 'average Joe standpoint' only makes sense because average Joe has never played miniature games before. Neither game is the first to do 'pre-assembled, pre-painted miniatures'. Neither game is the first to use pre-planned maneuvers then executed with a template...indeed, FFG's Wreckage from 2003 already did EXACTLY that, while the core mechanic is common to miniature games as far back as the 1970s! I mean, really, look familiar?



The problem is this 'average Joe' is looking at two cousins who look somewhat alike to each other, and deciding "oh, well, obviously one of these two is the parent of the other" when they are both merely descended down different paths from the same grandparent.

(I mean, for real, name one single thing that X-Wing and Wings of War share in common with each other, that wasn't done prior to either of them? The only truly 'original' mechanic to 'Wings of War' that I can think of is using the pre-planned maneuver card AS the template to execute the maneuver. But X-Wing doesn't do that, it uses the more traditional-back-to-the-70s type of maneuver template for executing the chosen maneuver.)
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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If there was even a remote possibility that X-Wing copied Wings of War, considering how popular X-Wing is, there would have been lawsuits by now. The fact that there hasn't been is quite telling...

-shnar
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Richard Linnell
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XanderF wrote:
The problem is this 'average Joe' is looking at two cousins who look somewhat alike to each other, and deciding "oh, well, obviously one of these two is the parent of the other" when they are both merely descended down different paths from the same grandparent.

(I mean, for real, name one single thing that X-Wing and Wings of War share in common with each other, that wasn't done prior to either of them? The only truly 'original' mechanic to 'Wings of War' that I can think of is using the pre-planned maneuver card AS the template to execute the maneuver. But X-Wing doesn't do that, it uses the more traditional-back-to-the-70s type of maneuver template for executing the chosen maneuver.)


Not to get too far off-track, but please realize that there's a difference between "copied" and "inspired by". One certainly doesn't apply, but the other most likely does. One is more or less "bad" while the other just "is". But if it's somehow offensive for people to think that X-wing is "inspired by" WoW, then let's just say "X-wing is a game with many similarities to WoW, a game which FFG licensed before they designed X-wing."

To go back on-track - nicely said, although I would argue that it is not in it's infancy. 4 years of a lifestyle game is pretty far along, especially by FFG standards - Call of Cthulhu lasted from 2008-2015, Warhammer: Invasion lasted from 2009-2014. The game is very mature at this point. However, I am fearful that it is struggling to recapture it's youth, and is going to start bloating with more mechanics that will overly complicate a nice streamlined game. That's only a fear of mine, but when I see the addition of conditions coming in Wave 10 and beyond, I think it portents bad things to come.

One other note with regard to points 5 and 6 - both are true individually, but when you start to play outside of the standard 100 pt game, you will find some balance issues. Again, not really a problem if everyone flies casual, but the imbalance is there.
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C'mon, guys, comparing Wings of War with X-Wing is like comparing a VW Beetle with a Porsche.
 
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Phuntom wrote:

6) If you find standard 100-point dogfight to get stale, it's easy to go to 60, 90, 120, 150, or Epic play for essentially unlimited variety. These are all legitimate ways to play X-Wing, and in fact, the vast vast majority of games are played outside of tournaments and use whatever is available and the game plays just fine. Different point limits change the game in interesting ways and are a fine way to play X-Wing. Mix-faction play or even random lists can make for fun times (the developers have said they do this on lunch at FFG headquarters for the lols).


I quickly left 100 point standard play and dove into Heros of the Aturi Cluster(http://dockingbay416.com/campaign/), a 15 mission co-op campaign that scales from 1 to 6 players rather elegantly. Superrrrr fun.
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David Boeren
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Phuntom wrote:
Same stats as a regular TIE fighter, probably not a meta changer or anything, but man does it look cool.


Same *numbers*, but very different upgrade slots and of course access to a whole different set of faction-specific cards to put in them means it can play very differently than a standard Imperial TIE Fighter. Personally, speaking as an Imperial player, I wish we could get a TIE with a Crew and Illicit slot, not to mention access to the vastly superior Crew selection that the Rebels have.
 
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Phuntom wrote:
Quote:
Just yesterday Wave 10 was announced, and Wave 9 is not even available to purchase yet (outside of GenCon). Check out the Rebel TIE fighter! (What?!?)


Should have posted this in the review, I think this is so cool... Just announced Wave 10 ship:



This ship was stolen by the rebels (in the cartoon series), and painted up by one of their team. Same stats as a regular TIE fighter, probably not a meta changer or anything, but man does it look cool.

Some tournament purists (?) may find this kind of thing (one-off ships) to be a waste of time, but your non-critical casual-play friends sure won't! This is just the beginning of the interesting variety they are going to add to this game.

I love this stuff. If we had had anything even remotely like this when we were kids (I saw the original SW in the theater during its initial run when I was 8 years old), we'd have never left our basements. (Maybe that's a good thing).


Ha! I was ten. Yeah if my older brothers and I had access to this game back in the day, we would have probably become troglodytes.
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David Boeren
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Phuntom wrote:
Rebels, superior crew? How about Scum!! Zuckuss and Dengar and all those cheap fellas are tearing up the place

And you Imps have Vader and Palp anyway. What more do you need? (Kidding)


Oh yes, Scum have much superior crew to Imperials too, we got the short end of that stick both in crew options and how many of our ships have crew slots. But, Scum aren't stealing our TIE Fighters (yet).

Some Imperial players have Palpatine. Some others have $75 instead
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Josh Derksen
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Glad to see the Heroes of the Aturi Cluster plug in this review

Thanks for the shout out!
 
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Bart De Vuyst
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Beautiful review, David. Thanks for convincing myself that I made a good choice picking up a second hand copy of the base set yesterday. :-)

I gave you a little GeekGold for this.
 
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Storgar The Viking
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Great review well done.
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