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Subject: Review after a long time exposure rss

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Juha Helin
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I’ve had X-wing for some time, and have put sufficient games on the table to give a proper review. X-wing is, as name suggests a game that is set to Star Wars universe and attempts to represent something of a ship to ship combat. Game is packed with decently pre-painted miniature ships, very short rules and loads of various cards that are used to represents different pilots, weapons, upgrades and what have you. First thing one notices is that the ships are actually quite nicely done. Second one is that the system is awfully 2 dimensional and very weird for “flight simulator” space combat game but about that later.

First the good things

Game is essentially based on secret maneuver plotting where opponent is not aware of your moves before they are executed (nothing new there, just new implementation from other games). Much depends on the maneuver that is chosen and I have to admit that the way to do this is quite simple and functional.

Firing and damage system is quite straight forward and functional. Each player rolls special dice for hits and then hits are removed by number of rolled defenses. Of course, similar system is used in many other games, but FFG has elected to use special dice for the purpose.

Game flow

Another aspect of the game is the actions that can be done (somehow it seems that move-action etc is some trademark of certain designer(s), regardless how well they work i practice. For example Arkham Horror & Mansions of Madness have interestingly similar system). Each ship and pilot has a bit different actions, and some upgrades allow certain actions to the ships that normally would not have them and they are always done that the end of the move. Not bad design as such, but when variety of actions and cards increases, so decreases the differences of the ships.

As mentioned earlier, the game is awfully two dimensional and flight engine is, oh well… but that is hardly a surprise. I would not expect nothing less from a beer & pretzel game that is set on the Star Wars universe. In fact, the modeling fits brilliantly to the generic ridiculousness of the universe it is set in. Of course it has nothing to do with actual space flight (X-pilot (two dimensional computer game from 1990’s) reimplementation would have been much better model for two dimensional space fight, but while still ridiculously simple, would have been beyond most gamers that X-wing is targeted for).

Firing is dictated by 90 degree firing arc and range ruler (curiously different color of beam in each side) that has three bands on it. Each ship has weapons that can engage at more or less same range. There are few exceptions, like ion cannon turret that have range of two, but most have same range and they follow same basic principle. Various options like focus and target lock allow attack dice re-rolls, or focus symbols to be converted either to hits or avoids etc. Secondary weapons can be fired and ordnance unloaded instead of firing primary weapons which means that some ordnance on some ships is not really good idea at all).

Some ships have better possibility to avoid enemy fire, like tie fighters, but are then so few in hit points that single lucky shot will kill them. Some are hard hitters but cannot avoid so well, and are packed with extra hit points and shields (some upgrades like R2D2 allow also shield repair). Division goes roughly such that imperials are former and rebels the latter kind. Classic numbers versus quality thing.

With limited number of ships, say four to six per side the game is still relatively fluent (except of the collision rules, and following traffic jams in 3 dimensional space aside...), but I can already see what happens when there are, say 10 – 20 ships a side, and various upgrades. Perhaps it would be interesting furball, but much more likely, game will stall quite badly. Simultaneous planning phase means that there is relatively little downtime, but if opponent is prone to overthinking and optimization, game can really drag on and on…

Then the bad things

There are quite a few, and as usual for fantasy flight games, first the cards. It appears to be norm to fix issues by introducing cards that represent something that was a miss on the original design concept (each ship card indicated what upgrades can be installed, but then at some point two additional card types were created that could be given to ship, regardless what the upgrade options were etc.), to act as a bug fixes and to create upgrades that are easy to sell out. Each new ship of course comes with certain cards that are needed especially in tournament games, even if the accompanying ship itself would be useless. This has apparently generated interesting aftermarket for cards not so different from MtG long ago.

Second is the basic set which is woefully insufficient for any decent games (two ties fighters versus one x-wing), and sooner than you think, you realize that several ships more are needed to have any interesting games on the table. This is of course helped by any opponent willing to invest on the game. Another matter are the small details like the custom dice that there are 3 of each in the base set while four is very often required. Because dice are custom made, it means that one would have to buy additional ones with very hefty price tag (or just reroll X dice as needed).

Third issue is that further along the ship upgrade waves you go, less interesting they seem to become. A bit more of this, more of that, etc but nothing that would make game more interesting. The best ships – at least for non-competitive game are the classics seen in the movies with as few upgrades as possible.

Fourth is the fire arc that is ridiculously generous. Nothing wrong with that as long as one accepts that it is very hard to be out of fire arc, especially when there are more ships and when limited area is used. Extra wide firing arch does however cause one issue – when combined with good deal of luck, it is quite possible to loose several imperial ships in the initial pass, just because of good dice rolls and there is very little to avoid it.

Fifth is the 2 dimensional flight model that can cause significant traffic jams and collisions, where one would expect none.

X-wing is, hardly surprisingly, very much luck driven and skill has rather little to do with it (especially if you are repeatedly shot dead on first occurrence of fire – of course someone may claim differently, but that is all right. And, before someone assumes anything, it has been the case in both ways). That is not a negative thing, it makes very interesting and tense moments, but I have to admit that the best part of the game comes with the “classic ships” that were represented in the movies and with limited, sporadic upgrades.

Conclusion

X-wing is decent beer and pretzels game. Visually appealing but the design is somewhat sloppy (what appears to have become FFG trademark over the years) (moves become repetitive, predictable and upgrades try to make everyone equal). Game lacks true insight of what could be done with quality vs. quantity setup and that is a pity. There are good design things, such as fast gameplay, the maneuver dial, but the good parts are pretty much watered down by ridiculously generous firing arcs, that each weapon is capable of same range, game time it takes to setup the squadron etc.

So, it can be a pickup game for fast and furious match assuming that lists are build ready and fight is not large enough. X-wing can be quite fun, assuming that the players are fast decision makers and do not care too much about reality, and go for the ride fir sake of the Star Wars nostalgia. It could have been much more, given enough thought on the design, but then again it would have been entirely different game.

So, end result is that will play if nothing better is available but won't be spending much time or effort optimizing squadrons or such.
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Mike Waleke
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Have you tried the PnP cooperative version? (Heroes of the aturi cluster) I have been having a blast with it.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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tico wrote:
Game lacks true insight of what could be done with quality vs. quantity setup and that is a pity.

A lot of players will argue that point. I frequently win, a lot, with only 2 or 3 ships. It's a matter of knowing your ships. Swarms are good yes, but not the "go to" in X-Wing. But a testament to the solid design that is X-Wing is that TIE Swarms are still viable squads, after 3+ years of expansions.

-shnar
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James Cheng
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tico wrote:
X-wing is, hardly surprisingly, very much luck driven and skill has rather little to do with it (especially if you are repeatedly shot dead on first occurrence of fire – of course someone may claim differently, but that is all right. And, before someone assumes anything, it has been the case in both ways).


Skill has a lot more to do with X-wing than luck. I can pretty much win any matchup against newbie players as long as I don't intentionally play sub-optimal. There's a constant group of top-tier players among the top tables of varies competitive game. The world champion has won three times consecutively.
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Les Marshall
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tico wrote:

Extra wide firing arch does however cause one issue – when combined with good deal of luck, it is quite possible to loose several imperial ships in the initial pass, just because of good dice rolls and there is very little to avoid it.

X-wing is, hardly surprisingly, very much luck driven and skill has rather little to do with it ([i]especially if you are repeatedly shot dead on first occurrence of fire – of course someone may claim differently, but that is all right.


A) X-Wing has dice. This is fairly common in probably the majority of conflict oriented games. Sometimes the dice don't go your way. With a 60 minute play time, it's easy to set up and play again. Nothing exceptional about throwing dice.

B) Luck driven?! Paul Heavers back to back world titles might pose at least a question about the validity of that conclusion. I've played many games both in casual mode and in tournament mode. I consistently find that how you deploy, set terrain and maneuver has a far higher impact on "winning" than simple luck.

Losing Imperials on the first pass? If you are consistently jousting with X-Wings and B-Wings that's entirely predictable. Try using asteroids as screens, evades and maybe barrel roll for the occasional arc dodge and things won't die so easily.
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Ronster Zero
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Thanks for the review.

For me, this is a perfect beer and pretzel game and never took it for much more. At that point, it suits my gaming perfectly.
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Lance
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tico wrote:
(curiously different color of beam in each side)


One colour for each sides lasers. Red for rebels, Green for imperial. Inspired by the colours of tracers used during WWII (of which a lot of the games space combat is based on, hence the more two-dimensional play even though it is in space).
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Ian
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I never saw the "traffic jams" as being collisions or bumper cars in space.

Since you can't shoot the ship you touch (with very few exceptions), I always figured this was how the designers handled 3D with 2D components (the actual bases of the ships ... the models are just very important eye candy). The ship that can't complete its maneuver and, thus, is touching another ship is simply above or below that ship. Since the mechanics rely on maneuver templates and precision with placement, it is critical for the bases (the important part) to remain entirely on the board.

I also do not agree with the assessment that quantity is the best way to go. I have a 2-ship Corran/Miranda list that can be quite annoying to lists that rely on few (if any) upgrades.

Unfortunately, the criticism regarding the amount of "game" in the core set is fairly true for most miniature combat games (as I have found). It is indeed enough to get started and play on its own, but it is really just meant to provide the essentials and core materials to play the game - the "full" experience was always intended to include mountains of expansions and customization. Of course, the retail cost of the core set ($20~25 on Amazon) is at least low for trying out the game before diving head-first in. So, yes, it could include more - but then the gateway price would be much more.

That being said, it's your opinion and your review. Thanks for writing it!
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David Boeren
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You can play it as a beer & pretzels game, and there's nothing wrong with that. But just because you've chosen to play the game that way doesn't mean that's all that exists and I feel that not having experience with it as a competitive game has led you to some mistaken impressions.

However, there is a large difference between the game you've been playing and the game that people are playing at tournaments and talking about online.
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Generous arcs are good in a game where it's very hard to one-shot ships the way you see it done in the movies.

An interesting variant might be to narrow the arcs by half but double the attack dice. Ships with 360 arcs might have to declare which of the four sides they will shoot through during the activation phase, but otherwise double attack dice as well. That would reward maneuvering skill and put a premium on ships that can arc-dodge!

Have to think about missiles and torpedoes. My first thought is that they can fire through normal arcs with double attack dice. You'd see them purchased more often, I think.

I also think a book with all-new scenarios would go over well with fans that play more casually.
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James Cheng
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I see a few mis-conception in the thread, so I am going to be "that" guy.

There's no 360' firing arc in X-wing.

We have a few ships with auxiliary arc, a ship with special arc and a upcoming ship with mobile arc, but none of them has a 360 arc.

Turret (Primary weapon) and Turret (Secondary weapon) allow the ship with them to shoot *outside* their primary arc.

--
As for doubling the attack dice, you will make it more likely to one-shot a ship, so maybe tread lightly...
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Oblivion Doll
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EyeLost wrote:
tico wrote:
(curiously different color of beam in each side)


One colour for each sides lasers. Red for rebels, Green for imperial. Inspired by the colours of tracers used during WWII (of which a lot of the games space combat is based on, hence the more two-dimensional play even though it is in space).


I thought it was for the range ruler lightsaber fights...
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Guido Gloor
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Thanks for your review. You remind me that I have to write one, too, which would be different in almost every respect
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Dave C
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ronster0 wrote:
Thanks for the review.

For me, this is a perfect beer and pretzel game and never took it for much more. At that point, it suits my gaming perfectly.


I'm a beer and pretzels guy, but not when I play X-wing. A 100-point squadron taps my faculties completely. By mid-game I feel like a project manager, gambler, and accountant all rolled into one and landing an Airbus at JFK. Not a beer & pretzels game to me.
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sum zero
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imho, the players who complain that xwing is too luck driven are simply not skilled, or experienced, enough for it to be anything else.

it takes a while to become proficient in all the areas of the game, from list building to rock placement to ship deployment to actual piloting and so on. many people casual players never even consider that rock placement is integral to a good strategy or that blocking/bumping are important tactical maneuvers.
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Ken
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FFG has gone a lot way to provide ways of mitigating dice luck. But at the cost of an easy setup game.

The game has slowly moved more and more toward deck/squad building being the single most important part of the game. Far more important than dice rolling or strategy in many cases.

Knowing which card goes with what the best is key. A 35 Soontir can be devastating against builds you might think would be fun. Then comes the new mechanics with these new upgrades. Then interrupting abilities. X-Wing is not an easy game to setup or even play, depending on upgrades, any longer. My best example is the Oicuum Double Tap. I've seen people take an hour to build a squad for a pick up game.

X-Wing seems to rely on:
A) Squad Building synergies
B) Having the right mechanics to mitigate dice or somehow limit your oponent.
and lastly C) Flying/playing strategy

As in most real live situations the battle can be won or lost based on the units you select. And they things make it ever harder for new players. Of course I didn't mention the aspects of getting/owning the right cards for your ships.
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David Boeren
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Ken at Sunrise wrote:
I've seen people take an hour to build a squad for a pick up game.


That's not a problem with the game, it's a problem with those people. In games like these where you construct your own force, your deck/army/squadron should be built before you show up and at home you can take as long as you like to waffle over your choices without wasting other people's time.
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Juha Helin
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I did not claim that game is only for beer and pretzels (albeit I think it suits well for that. In fact, better than most), people like different things. I also did not say anything about swarms or any lists etc, but pointed out that the whole universe is set as quality vs. quantity, but game does pretty lame jobs and instead, every iteration is attempting to level imperium and rebels so nobody feels bad. Could have been different but oh well.

It is interesting that nobody seem to pay attention to increasing expansions appear to level the differences between each faction but maybe it isn't the case at all.

3d modeling and collisions? Come on... Back to physics class and think a bit more how forces act in close to 0 gravity and vacuum. Game cannot be accurate or even close, but it could try to be a bit more creative than copying poor wings of war engine and modifying it a bit.

What comes to the question of luck. Has anyone ever shot down Luke+r2d2 with one or two tie fighters? Or y-wing with turret (before losing ties to, say Ion turret)? So far our count is zero, and for example in the former case, fight becomes rather dull after few hours (30+ shots, max 2 shields down and regenerated. Mostly close/medium range at same time (rinse and repeat). Of course, that has nothing to do with luck. Has occurred repeatedly, both ways.

What really bugs me is that you don't even have to do anything, just fly green maneuvers and wait until your opponent dies in old age.

Could also be broken engine of course...
 
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David Boeren
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tico wrote:
It is interesting that nobody seem to pay attention to increasing expansions appear to level the differences between each faction but maybe it isn't the case at all.


There are many differences between factions, but "quality vs. quantity" I think is mainly a red herring from just looking at the core set ships. TIE Fighters are cheap quantity ships, but not every Imperial ship is.

A few broad differences between Rebels and Imperials:
Rebel ships tend to have more health, Imperials tend to have little
Rebel ships tend to have lower agility than Imperial ships
Rebels have access to a lot more crew options and have a lot more crew slots on their ships.
Rebels have much more access to slow speed maneuvers than Imperials
Rebels have much more access to turrets than Imperials
Rebels have access to astromechs while Imperials do not
Imperials have more barrel rolls and evades on their action bars

All these things (and more) add up to quite a different feel on the table. Yes, some individual ships can blur the lines, but on the whole these are the tendencies. If you put even two casual level players down and gave them empty bases, nameless dials, and cards with no names or artwork to play with, I have no doubt they'd be able to identify their factions pretty easily.


tico wrote:
What comes to the question of luck. Has anyone ever shot down Luke+r2d2 with one or two tie fighters? Or y-wing with turret (before losing ties to, say Ion turret)? So far our count is zero, and for example in the former case, fight becomes rather dull after few hours (30+ shots, max 2 shields down and regenerated. Mostly close/medium range at same time (rinse and repeat). Of course, that has nothing to do with luck. Has occurred repeatedly, both ways.


This isn't a real game though. A real game is two full sized forces, not a contrived mini-encounter. If it's just one TIE vs. a buffed Luke that's pretty drastic points imbalance too. You can do this with any minis game too, whether it's sci-fi, fantasy, historical or whatever. Try pitting one historical bowman versus one historical swordman. I'll bet you don't get a 50% win record for both sides, and it's going to skew very differently depending on what range you decide to start the encounter at.

A regenerating Luke is a strong late-game ship, which is similar to the scenario above where most of both forces have died already. But, this should have been obvious information to both sides from the beginning of the game and if the Imperial player decided to go after Luke last then that poor strategy is what put him in a position where winning was almost impossible.
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it's a competitive game with a large organized play base. maintaining the balance in the meta is remarkably difficult and the team should be commended for continuously striving to keep most ships and upgrades viable as each wave introduces new mechanics and maneuver/turret options. there are plenty of games out there where old models are now useless. i'm glad xwing isn't one of them.
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Juha Helin
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dboeren wrote:
This isn't a real game though. A real game is two full sized forces, not a contrived mini-encounter. If it's just one TIE vs. a buffed Luke that's pretty drastic points imbalance too.


I am pretty sure there is a combo of two ties and Luke+r2d2
That are not imbalanced. And two ties was the point. One tie and one x-wing is so bad that it is just make either player willing to commit a seppuku with a wooden spoon.

As mentioned, same has happened also several times with Y-wing (+r2d2) opposing Darth Vader and one tie interceptor. Yes, I got it, Does not qualify because it is not_approved_standard_game_as_defined_by_supreme_authority(TM).

It is nice to know that there is finely and well defined situations that come up as a real_game. Perhaps there is some list where all authorized situations that one may end up are defined. Would be helpful. Any rules for the illegal_not_real_game situations?

Or maybe FFG has shipped defective dice? Who knows. All I can say is that for in one game, out of 28 Imperial attack dice, three hits were recorded (including rerolls, and all but one were avoided), while in one other, Darth Vader missed single die out of 19 dice total. Other games have followed the trend.

dboeren wrote:
You can do this with any minis game too, whether it's sci-fi, fantasy, historical or whatever. Try pitting one historical bowman versus one historical swordman. I'll bet you don't get a 50% win record for both sides, and it's going to skew very differently depending on what range you decide to start the encounter at.


Mind telling me which one, tie advanced, tie interceptor, Y-wing or X-Wing has no ranged weapons in this example of yours?

As originally said, game (the fighting part that is a small percentage of the whole bookkeeping exercise) is very much luck driven and there is little that changes it. I also said that it creates interesting and entertaining outcomes so nothing wrong with that and it fits brilliantly to the general ridiculousness.

I know, I know. You enjoy the game. That is brilliant. I only wished it would have been a bit more interesting and better executed but now I start to think that it was actually waste of money. Thanks!
 
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sum zero
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your responses just illustrate how little understanding you actually have of the game you are deriding.

also, that you might have a chip on your shoulder.
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Les Marshall
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tico wrote:

now I start to think that it was actually waste of money. Thanks!


Im sure you'll have little trouble selling off your stuff for this terribly designed game.
 
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Juha Helin
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Let's just say that X-wing is the perfection and there is absolutely no room for improvement. Ever. It is also the most dead serious game of all time. Everyone thinking differently will be strangulated at sunrise.

BTW... Hexed version looks way more promising.
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Guido Gloor
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tico wrote:
It is nice to know that there is finely and well defined situations that come up as a real_game. Perhaps there is some list where all authorized situations that one may end up are defined. Would be helpful.

That would be the tournament rules The game is very finely balanced for 100 points per side dogfights with six obstacles in a 3' by 3' area. Great balance in exactly these circumstances does come at the cost of not as great (but still good) balance in other circumstances.
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