A Long time ago, in a galaxy far far way…
The first time I saw those words and heard that iconic music I was 8 years old sitting in my Dad’s reconditioned US Army Willey’s Jeep with my brother and sister along with my Dad at the drive-in theatre right outside of Ft. Riley Kansas on a warm summer’s evening in 1977. I don’t think my eyes ever left the screen during the entire movie. I told myself someday I too would fly an X-Wing.
Fast forward to today and sadly technology has not gotten us X-Wings yet. So what is the next best thing for a gamer such as myself? Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game by Fantasy Flight Games can let you live out your childhood fantasies of racing through the stars and engaging the evil Empire TIE fighters in dogfighting combat.
I was really excited when I finally picked up my own copy of the game, I had seen it every time I went to our local big box bookstore retailer and I saw it on Beasts of War. Here, I thought is the answer I was looking for to fulfill my desire to fly my own X-Wing.
Inside the box were one painted plastic X-wing and two painted plastic TIE fighters that were already assembled. I have to say this was kind of nice as it allowed me to jump right in and play. The painting and shading was not too bad. The modeller in all of us would look at them and go “hmm, how do I make them look better?” One way I thought was to customize the colour of the wing markings on the X-Wing to differentiate the different squadrons I had envisioned in my head for an epic battle. You also get in the box, the bases and stands for the ships along with ships tokens that display each ships information for along with the pilots ability (you can choose from different skill levels and even characters from the movie), you get the manoeuvrings templates (no using tape measures here), manoeuvrings dials (this is how you assign your ships movement), miscellaneous tokens for terrain and game play, ships cards (this is your reference for your ships abilities) damage cards, upgrade cards, custom eight sided dice and a range ruler.
Within the box you will find a 28 page full colour rulebook and a quick start guide to get you right into the action. The game play consists of rounds of play. Within each of these rounds are four phases: Planning, Activation, Combat and End.
Planning Phase: During this phase each player gets to secretly choose one manoeuvre for each of their ships by choosing that manoeuvre on the ships dial and placing it face down next to that ship. When all the ships manoeuvres have been chosen you then move onto the next phase.
Activation Phase: You now get to move your ships based up the movement chosen on the movement dial. You go in ascending order based upon the pilot’s skill. Within this phase you flip over all your ships’ dials and the one with the lowest skill rating goes first (rookies are always so eager to jump right into the fight). You then take a manoeuvre template based upon your chosen action on that ships dial and place it between the two little pegs on the base and make the manoeuvre. This takes the guess work out of exactly where you ship moves to. To note there are certain manoeuvres that are marked in red on the ships dial and these are considered stressful manoeuvres and you place a stress token next to the ship and this prevents the ship from performing additional manoeuvres or actions.
Combat Phase: In this phase all the ships that are able to can conduct one attack and this is based on the pilot’s skill. So those with higher skill ratings get to go first (see rookie going first is not always best). That pilot would declare it’s intended target and then use the range ruler to insure it is within range, roll the custom 8 sided attack dice and work out any hits and damage. Regarding the attack dice (red) and defence dice (green) they do not have numbers on them but symbols which represent hits and defensive manoeuvers also you can get the official Star Wars dice app from Google Play and the Apple App Store if you need to add more dice for the mega battles you will be fighting in the future. Once hits and damage have been calculated the targets ship has to apply hits or critical hits to its shields or hull damage points. When a ship reaches zero it is destroyed and turned into space dust therefore being removed from the field of play.
End Phase: During this phase any evade or focus tokens are removed from the field of play while target lock and stress tokens remain. Any abilities that need to be completed are now done so and then the next round begins.
This would continue until either the one player’s ships are destroyed or the mission goals have been achieved or denied based upon the mission scenario.
The Force Is Strong With This One
Now it would not be a Star Wars game if there weren’t some special abilities and actions within the game. During activation you can choose to do an action immediately after moving. You can choose one based upon that ship’s ability that is shown on their card. This could be a evade action to effect any attacks upon it, a focus action which can assist in changing a roll into either a hit or miss depending on what action that ship is making. There is also a barrel roll which can come in handy for certain situations along with target lock to assist in being more accurate in combat. There are tokens that correspond with these actions that you place next to those ships to indicate their intentions. Most of the actions can be used in either the Activation Phase or the Combat Phase. This is where a little strategy comes into play.
From Rookie To Veteran Pilot
Within the rule book you will find additional rules and advanced play which includes squad building (let’s face it you cannot just play with a couple of ships for too long) so you can assign a points limit to ships for bigger games then upgrade cards to customize your ships. You will also find team play rules along with some sample missions to get you started. I can tell you in my future there will be epic battles of many, many ships (I already have my TIE Fighter Advanced and Millennium Falcon) and we are in the process of designing a Death Star playing surface with actual trenches to make the “run”.
I think anyone who picks up this game will find it enjoyable and there is enough variation to keep ones interest especially if you are a Star Wars fan like most of us are. There is a lot of play and tournaments at my FLGS and I will be interested to see the tournament at Adepticon this year.
In the second part of this story, I will review the new expansion packs and Wave 4 ships along with a battle report from our sample game. May the Force be with you!
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"...we are in the process of designing a Death Star playing surface with actual trenches to make the “run”."