Friday, 12 April 2013

Board Games: X-Wing Miniatures

Anyone who knows me or reads my waffle will know I'm a Star Wars baby, I was born in '77 and grew up with the films, toys, breakfast cereal and all manner of paraphernalia, but when I wanted to 'play star wars' I had to make my own games.  I flew my x-wing toys around the front room (making appropriate vrooom and lazor noises) and shot at tie fighters destroying them as I saw fit.  Needless to say my shots almost always hit and they almost always missed...

Then I graduated to X-wing on the pc (ibm?) and then the much missed Tie Fighter.  How I miss those days of blowing x-wings out of the sky and escorting the emperor...

And, just for the record, anyone who looks at that picture and thinks 'that looks a bit naff' - well, you don't know man... you weren't there!  Phenomenal.

I am not a big nostalgia fan, but I still have very fond memories of this game, the star wars roleplaying game I played (West End Games v1) and then there was Star Wars Galaxies, Star Wars Battlefront, the amazing Timothy Zahn trilogy and some of the follow on books.  And of course Tales of the Old Republic...  Yes, I'm a fan.

When X-wing Miniatures from Fantasy Flight was announced I was in two minds, I'm not a big 'wargamer' but as it got closer to the launch I thought I would give it a try and I picked up a copy when they were still in stock in the UK.  I have to say it's a great game.  It manages to flow extremely well and the balancing of the stats - points - abilities - dice is extremely well thought out.  I am a big fantasy flight fan, and often their games are quite complex with quite a lot of rules.  Not so here.  Colour coded dice, templates, all the oddities on the cards - it's very very elegant.

Players decide what they're going to do at the same time, pop down a dial and then move according to pilot skill (least skillful first) and then shoot in descending order (most skillful first).  Pilots skill levels are on the cards and weaker pilots cost less points (meaning more ships potentially).  Each ship will have a couple of abilities which they choose and you get tokens to represent what you're doing (all beautifully made by Fantasy Flight).  The game flow is fast and the rules become second nature very quickly.  It makes for a wonderful play experience.

The box set (shown above) comes with 2 tie fighters and 1 x wing which is enough to play with, but you can buy more ships to enhance your choices - tie advanced and y wings were out at launch and they've since added the falcon, slave I, a wing and interceptor.  All of these can be combined for some pretty large scale battles, come with enough tokens for easy use and there are objectives and missions that you can undertake too.

The models are fantastically made - they look great, are beautifully painted and work really well in the game (robust enough to move, detailed enough to still be 'pretty') and are apparently 'to scale' (of imaginary ships!!).  Size difference can make a big difference in the game though, the falcon model is huge and this impacts on it's flying into asteroids (Han Solo must have had some good dice rolls in that scene in Empire!)

The balancing on the game really is phenomenal, and the way the dice roll against each other, especially combined with the add-on abilities pilots can buy.  I have (because I am a cynic) two criticisms of the game, but they are pretty minor ones.  The game should come with more dice.  FFG sell more dice, but really to easily run a game you want a set of dice each.  It's easily solved and I suppose would have added to the cost of the product but even so, lack of dice frustrates me.  It's also really difficult to store.  With models this nice you want to store them carefully and that's pretty difficult.  Battlefoam offered an elegant solution which was foam that fitted in the original box and held your miniatures (still not really enough space for tokens) and have now released one to hold wave two.  It STILL doesn't hold all the tokens and is quite pricey.  I'm not sure what the good answer is here - lots of people online offer suggestions, but I do wish that FFG thought more about how to store their (beautifully made, extremely well crafted) models.

Game mats are something that the game would benefit from too.  I bought myself a 3' piece of felt from amazon which was cheap and does the job perfectly, but some people have bought / made very extravagent ones.  It adds something to the game feel that is better than a tabletop, but isn't necessary.  I also quite often play some Star Wars music in the background when we're playing.  It again just boosts the feel of the game.

It's hard to do this game enough justice, its very well thought out, extremely smooth and plays like a dream.  It has some of the best mechanics I've experienced in any such game.  

X-Wing Miniatures FFG

1 comment:

  1. I played the X-wing PC game back in the 90's and I drew the same conclusion.