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Subject: An Ameritrasher's review of a miniatures game rss

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Peter O
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A Brief Bit about me
I don't have a lot of room in my house, so games for me need to fill a niche in the pantheon of games. I enjoy a large variety of games but my tastes tend towards Ameritrash. I like a good Euro, but without good flavor it will be hard to get me to the table with it. I love BSG, Diplomacy, Eclipse, and Age of Renaissance. I have Netrunner as my deckbuilder game but I have a hole at miniatures. Make that "had".

I like a good war-game, but mostly on the computer as the super big chit games have too much upkeep and too many things get forgotten. Computers just do it better. Miniatures have always been too big (as in too much space) or expensive for me. Plus I move around enough that finding opponents is not guaranteed. On top of that I am not a painter, but unpainted minis really bug me. The last miniatures game I played was Necromunda back in college. For those unfamiliar, it was a Games Workshop product of squad level gang combat. You had 10-12 minis max, and most folks had more like 6-8. Games moved quickly and I had a group to play with. My Necromunda days are long gone, but I recently stumbled upon:

 


The Quick Overview
Star Wars X-Wing is a tactical miniatures game with a standard fight being about 3-8 ships on a side, set in the REAL Star Wars universe and not that series of bad dreams I once had as I slept in the movie theatre. Its a dice rolling, measuring, tactical game so some readers can stop reading right here. This game will not convince you that these things are a good idea if you're not already open to them. For those of us for whom dice are not deal breakers, lets continue (its worth it!).

What do you get?
I'm not usually a big fan of component reviews but with mini's, both looks and bang for buck play a bigger role. The mini's come painted and are of mediocre quality for minis, but really good quality for a board game.

Check out the Tie Fighter:



When looked at from a more common perspective (that is, not 6 inches from your nose) the imperfections fade away.



The X-wings guns have a tendency to be bent but that too fades away from a more common distance.

Now for the price. Oh what a tough thing to gauge. You get 3 ships for an MSRP of $40. I'll be honest, it's not quite a game at that level. I'm not even sure its a good way to sample the game. The box contains 1 X-Wing and 2 Tie Fighters. Therefore, one player gets one ship, and the other gets 2. Point values for squad building are really constrained with so few options. The recommended tournament point buy is 100 points. The base box suggests you only do 31 points if you only have a single set. Expansion ships come in at $15 per ship. BARE minimum investment in this game should be around $80 for two core sets to have any chance at satisfaction. I went a little further and got 2 core sets, and 1 each of the Wave 1 expansions making for a fleet of:

3 X-Wings
1 Y-Wing

5 Tie fighters
1 Advanced Tie

This does include iconic figures such as Darth Vader, Luke (Episode 4 Luke), Wedge Antilles, and several others. The Millennium Falcon (plus others) will be coming out in Q1 of 2013 and have an MSRP of $30. I'm very happy with my current fleet and plan on getting 1 each of the Wave 2 expansion as they come. My fleet gives me access to every card and has plenty of decision depth for 100 point battles. I can't field the extreme ranges of possibilities like a 5 Y-Wing or 8 Tie Fighter squad but I just don't want to go there. The law of diminishing returns starts kicking in greatly after what you see above. For those with more cash, go wild! I might at some point get a second Advanced Tie (depends on the Tie Interceptors).

The end result is that for me to be happy with options, I spent $140 MSRP. There are plenty of discounts around and its possible to bring that number down to $90 plus shipping. I did a mixed route as I like to support my local store at MSRP rates but ended up buying both from my FLGS as well as a bulk store.

So is it worth it? For the $140 MSRP you get TWO factions worth of tourney capable forces. That's a great deal for minis. For a board gamer, its a little steep. Starfleet Captains runs $100 MSRP, has a few more ships, and more boardgame like qualities. I think X-wing is pricey, but worth it. The two faction bit is quite important as you can easily play with a friend and offer them a balanced set-up of ships. If you are really short on cash there are better bang for your buck board games, but this is the best bang for your buck minis game I've seen. (I'm sure a miniatures aficionado could direct us to some competing bang for buck minis)

The Set-up
With relatively few ships set-up CAN be quick. It will take longer if people haven't preselected their point buys. Its also an FFG product so there is quite a bit of cardboard. A plano-box of some sort is highly recommended as most of the cardboard bits only come out as needed.

The Play
I'm also not normally a big fan of getting into rule summaries for reviews but it seemed appropriate here. The switch from board game mechanics to miniature mechanics is large enough it may be useful for some people. It also serves here to demonstrate the relative simplicity of this particular rule set.

Play is on a recommended 3 ft X 3 ft table surface that you provide. The basic dogfight has rebels starting on one edge, imperials on the opposite. Turns are very straightforward with:

1) Choose Maneuver
2) Move, then action
3) Blow stuff up

In the Choose Maneuver phase you set each ships maneuver using a dial.


Then in the move phase, the ships move their pre-choosen maneuver and then perform an action. This is done in order of worst pilots to best pilots. So the Tie Academy pilot moves and performs an action before the rookie x-wing pilot does. In the picture above the ship choose a 90 degree right hand turn at speed three. So the player grabbed the appropriate measure, puts it in front of the ship, and then moves the ship to the other end.

 

In this picture the Tie pilot has a rank of 1, and the rookie pilot a rank of 2. So the Tie fighter needs to move first and act. Then the rookie pilot goes. The actions are performed immediately after the ship moves before the next ship moves. There are a range of actions from things like barrel roll to target lock and are indicated on the card with icons. Pilot skill can make a big difference with particular actions (such as the barrel roll) as certain things are far more useful when you know where the opponent will be.

The final phase of the turn, or more formally known as the Pew Pew phase, is done with the best pilots firing first, and the worst coming last (if they are still alive). First you determine range using the cardboard range template:

Short range adds 1 die to the attacker, long range adds one die to the defender.

The red number on the cards is the number of attack dice, the green is the number of defense dice. Hits are counted and Evades subtracted with the result being the amount of damage done first to shields (blue number) and then hull (yellow number). The dice look like this:


Hits are the filled in splat on the red dice. The open splat is a critical hit (which means special damage as specified by a card). There are 3 hits, 1 critical hit, 2 focus, and 2 blank sides to an attack dice. The focus sides can be converted to hits through various means, including the focus action.

Evades are the squiggly line on the green dice. The green dice have 3 Evades, 2 focus sides, and 3 blank sides. (Here, the focus can be converted to evades through various means, mostly the focus action) So clearly, given equal number of dice the attacker has a slight advantage.

That's essentially the game! There are some upgrades and special pilots who break the rules in different ways. You get access to these when you point buy your squad. There are also some rules handling special cases but these are done well and kept to a minimum. The base set also comes with 3 different scenarios and more scenarios will be coming later. Don't be too interested in the scenarios as the game doesn't revolve around them. The primary enjoyment comes from the dog fight. The scenarios just stir up the initial set-up and give some different win conditions.

The Actual Review!
Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures does a great job of taking an iconic franchise and mixing it with a streamlined, fun, and not too fiddly tactical dog fight. You spend much of your time figuring out where to send your guys in relation to where you think your opponent will be sending hers. There's lots of opportunity for out-thinking your opponent and pulling off moves that you shouldn't do because its too obvious so the opponent counters your counter which misses because you ended up doing the obvious...

The game is easy to pick up. You give people the basic turn sequence and jump right in. I found it easiest to preselect the simple ships with no upgrades so folks could concentrate on the core mechanics, rather than trying to process and remember all the cool pilot abilities.

The Star Wars theme makes it easier to draw (certain) people in. Combined with having two factions that most folks know the backstory to, people can pick it up quickly enough that you can be assured of (as assured as any game like this) finding partners to play against as the other person doesn't need to own their own set. The other person could even write down your inventory and be able to design their own 100 point squads using your set, not needing for it to be with them. (This would require them looking up the special abilities online)

I don't really have any detractions other than the obvious. (Dice for some, Price for others, game level violence, etc...)

In conclusion, this game is just pure simple fun. It has all the fun of a tactical minis game without a giant investment in time or money. It has a good, well implemented theme that mirrors what you would expect from the movies. Keeping fewer units means it has far less upkeep and turns go quickly. I rate it a good solid 8! It's a perfect fit for this mostly ameritrash, but occasional war gaming player.(me)
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Kevin Riddle

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great review, but starting to get annoyed by the Ameritrash title that I keep seeing
I don't see Eurotrash, so why the hate on our country
just saying

I just got this game, so I'm super excited to be playing it
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Sean May
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scout13 wrote:
great review, but starting to get annoyed by the Ameritrash title that I keep seeing
I don't see Eurotrash, so why the hate on our country
just saying


I wholeheartedly agree...I hate the term Ameritrash, and I don't know why the board game community seems to have embraced it.
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Dave Graffam
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SeanMay wrote:
I wholeheartedly agree...I hate the term Ameritrash, and I don't know why the board game community seems to have embraced it.

Eurojealousy.
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Peter O
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scout13 wrote:
great review, but starting to get annoyed by the Ameritrash title that I keep seeing
I don't see Eurotrash, so why the hate on our country
just saying

I just got this game, so I'm super excited to be playing it


I sort of get a kick out the term. (Clearly as I'm using it) I wear the term proudly as a defiance against the cold clinical euro players who deride anything with theme, diplomacy, or a speck of chaos. Ameritrash games are messy, dirty affairs with story, aplomb, and passion. (well, good ones are.) Euro games are nice intelectual exercises but don't play to the realities of our world. Ameritrash attempts to capture and distill the essence of our world. That it can be gritty, tough and full of contridictions leads some to attempt to use Ameritrash as a derisive term to implicate these messier parts of life as somehow beneath them. If they wish to deny life, that's their problem.

Mostly I just find the term a harmless play on eurotrash (A term I would never use out of the board gaming context). As an American myself, do I care if someone calls me Ameritrash? No. If someone did call me that in earnest, I doubt they understand enough of this country to know what makes it tick.
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Kevin Riddle

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I think I'm going to vote for Americorps then for the gritty, down and dirty play
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Chris in Kansai
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Hold on while I get my popcorn and a comfy chair...
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Miguel
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tranenturm wrote:


I sort of get a kick out the term. (Clearly as I'm using it) I wear the term proudly as a defiance against the cold clinical euro players who deride anything with theme, diplomacy, or a speck of chaos. Ameritrash games are messy, dirty affairs with story, aplomb, and passion. (well, good ones are.) Euro games are nice intelectual exercises but don't play to the realities of our world. Ameritrash attempts to capture and distill the essence of our world. That it can be gritty, tough and full of contridictions leads some to attempt to use Ameritrash as a derisive term to implicate these messier parts of life as somehow beneath them. If they wish to deny life, that's their problem.


Are you serious?

That's about the worst explanation of the genre I've read in a long time. I personally tend to call them American (style) games, myself (in the same way people generally refers to the others as euros, or European (style) games.

American style games tend to focus on violence. Popular themes include zombies, war, pirates, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. Games typically are longer and feature significant direct interaction. One last hallmark, the preference is usually for a design that features memorable highs and lows at the expense of perfect balance (in other words, the confluence of random elements can lead to blow-outs, dramatic comebacks, surprising results, etc).

The comment about "American games distill the essence of our world" is ridiculous, unless you consider combat or backstabbing the main characteristics of life.

Both styles of game are better at tackling different themes. Euros do logistics, negotiations and trading quite well... All real world things.
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Before this thread completely devolves into the same, tired old arguments around semantics, allow me to congratulate you on an excellent review!
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Miguel
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Just to clarify, I responded strictly about that one paragraph that wasn't even part of the review. Regarding the review itself, I really enjoyed it. I agree with just about everything that is said and I really enjoyed the writing style + choice of pictures.
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Kevin Riddle

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I liked the review as well, just get tired of people trashing on our country, national pride like anyone else
but no biggie, to each their own, we can still enjoy some great games

sorry to make the thread distintegrate
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WAN CHIU
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Quote:
The final phase of the turn, or more formally known as the Pew Pew phase


Right on!
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Hunter Shelburne
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scout13 wrote:
I liked the review as well, just get tired of people trashing on our country, national pride like anyone else
but no biggie, to each their own, we can still enjoy some great games

sorry to make the thread distintegrate


There is no trashing of the country, its taken on a different life at this point, if you're taking it at face value you're reading it wrong. Its much more an endearing term than an insult around here.
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Ed Bradley
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Brilliant review! I can't wait for xwingmas day ><

Two small things though:

Star Trek fleet captains is a bad comparison IMO. ST:FC isn't a miniatures game at all; it's a plain old board-game with very fancy pieces. You can tell by the lack of any LOS rules I also think you shouldn't use ST:FC as a price comparison point without mentioning the serious component quality problems with that game.

But anyway you also mentioned something called an "Episode 4 Luke" and, sorry old bean, don't follow your banter! I'm sure you just meant "Star Wars"
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Bernd Caspers
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Two things that bother me about the review:

1. Component Quality

The OP says the are of mediocre quality, but who else provides better minis in the same price segment?
Have your ever seen the WotC Starship minis, I would guess not, because if you would,you surely wouldn´t talk about "bending" of the X-Wing cannons.

2. Price

Also, if a price of 40$ bothers you, don´t pay it!
Pay the price that is readily available on the market, which is 25$ for a starter and 10$ for a booster.
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David Bohnenberger
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scout13 wrote:
great review, but starting to get annoyed by the Ameritrash title that I keep seeing
I don't see Eurotrash, so why the hate on our country
just saying


It's a term of endearment.
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Ross Makarak
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First off, thanks for the review and for addressing something that's been on my mind after about 5 plays with the core set only:

Quote:
BARE minimum investment in this game should be around $80 for two core sets to have any chance at satisfaction. I went a little further and got 2 core sets, and 1 each of the Wave 1 expansions


Anyone else care to comment on this? I've had my eye on the extra miniatures, but haven't decided if I like the game enough to justify the purchase, let alone another core set. Is another core set widely suggested?

Also, while we're on comparisons, I usually tell people it's like the old X-Wing vs Tie Fighter flight simulators on the PC, in boardgame format.
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Neil Bessette
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I'd say that you WANT about 3 X-wings, 1 or 2 Y-wings, 5-6 Tie Fighters and 1-2 Tie Advanced to get the real taste of this game.

So 2 Core set and 1 of each expansion will address most of your wants and should keep you busy for a while.

If you feel that you want more after that, I'd consider another Y-wing, TIE Fighter or TIE Advanced.
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Mark Mitchell
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I love Ameritrash games. The trash term I would imagine is because compared to the traditional abstract and euro greats (go, chess, peurto rico, agricola and so forth), the luck element to players who value pure skill see the games as trashy.

I however embrace some degree of randomness if it is manageable and is influenced by skill based decisions. Euros can be quite dry as an experience at the extreme end and Ameritrash just pointless at the extreme end, I love the new hybrids such as Eclipse and much prefer strong themes as presented in Ameritrash games, Agricola just makes me want to smoke crack.
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Chris Tham
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Best game ever!
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Great review! It was very helpful. Thank you
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Michael Matecha
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Good review, thanks!

I prefer Amerigames to Ameritrash just sayin'
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I'm European and I do like Ameritrash games. A lot more than "euro games".

I hope I don't have a serious identity problem here...
 
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