Game Review: X-Wing Miniatures Game

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I’m not a hardcore gamer, even though I enjoy a broad spectrum of board games. That’s why I was completely taken by suprise by X-Wing Miniatures Game when I first laid eyes on it at a local comic / game store (Lost World of Wonders holla! If you’re in Milwaukee, check them out). My love of Star Wars is legendary and my love of space combat is even more so, so this was almost a no-brainer purchase… almost. What really held me up from buying it on sight was the price, 40 bucks. And that in itself isn’t too terrible for a niche game. The problem is that X-Wing Miniatures Game comes with only two TIE fighters and one X-Wing and the expansions were marked 15 bucks a pop. $15 for one miniature?! Is Fantasy Flight Games out of their minds? Well, since you’re reading this review you can probably guess that I caved in, so hopefully you can decide if it’s right for you.

What’s In The Box

Look at all this stuff! (includes 3 expansion ships)

Look at all this stuff! (includes 3 expansion ships)

In this core set you get two TIE fighters, an X-wing, rules, tokens, movement pieces, a range finder, dice… quite a lot of bits and bobs actually. The tokens they give you are durable, high quality prints.

My biggest complaint is one of the extras:

Prequel crap!

Prequel crap!

Yup, that’s a prequel shuttle they have for a scenario. They couldn’t resist throwing in some prequel bullshit in this original saga game. For shame!

Otherwise there’s some neat stuff like asteroids and some satellites for the two other scenarios included in the game.

In addition to all the tokens and what not, you get the rule book! And a mini-rule book with some stripped down rules so you can learn the basics.

This is what makes up a ship in this game.

This is what makes up a ship in this game. Also note that Biggs has his lucky number, 13.

The quality of the miniatures is extremely detailed for their size and the fact that they’re pre-painted. They’re a lot fancier than I could ever achieve with my modest painting skills. The only noticeable weirdness is that the R2 units are painted silver with no other markings, but I can imagine that painting such a small surface must be very difficult. One other gripe I have is that one of the cannons is a bit askew on the X-Wing and this plastic seems a tad hard… I’m afraid if I try to bend it at all it will snap.

Fantasy Flight Games went to great efforts to make the starfighters in scale. Even so, there are still nerds that argue that the TIEs are too big. Whatever, they may seem big but if this is the conclusion they came up with all their research, then I’ll roll with it.

Rules and Gameplay

This Y-Wing pilot is pooping his flightsuit by now.

This Y-Wing pilot is pooping his flightsuit by now.

The rules are fairly simple while being complex enough to simulate a Star Wars style dogfight on your tabletop. It takes a little time to get the swing of things, but not unbearably so.

I liked the ability to try it out with some basic rules without using such things as targeting, which I did for the first game with the lady. For my first game with my pal Wallace, we played full rules except we left out squad building, since squad building with just the core set didn’t make much sense. Even though both games were essentially a “test” and they were just a straight on dogfight, they went well and were fun enough to keep investing time into X-Wing Miniatures Game.

You’ll need a table or some similar flat surface to play this game. Fantasy Flight recommends a play area of about 3 feet by 3 feet and I’d have to agree with that, though bigger would be nice. The game really needs some sort of background. While not necessary, it doesn’t help much with the immersion of the game if your X-Wings are battling over wood grain (or for picture taking on a blog).

The game comes with pieces of cardboard in either straight or curved shapes. Each starship has a movement dial which lets the players pick their movement in secret. The dials work well and the movements on them really capture the feel of the vessels. The X-Wing is fast, but is certainly not as agile as the TIEs. Once turn order is revealed (from lowest skilled pilot to highest), the appropriate cardboard piece is picked and the ship is moved along that path. It looks a tad silly, but it works extremely well for the purposes of this game. A part of the fun is not being able to look at the movement pieces when deciding on your ship’s course of action. “Is that banking maneuver going to be enough to get me going in the right direction?” You won’t know for sure until after you’ve picked and it’s your turn to move your starfighter. With experience it’ll be less of an issue, but at the start it’s an added layer to X-Wing Miniatures Game.

There’s a nice level of anticipation built into the picking your movement as you try to guess which way your opponent will go. There’s also anticipation built into the revealing of the actual movement once you’ve set your combat dials down. There’s nothing better than seeing your opponent’s starfighter slide right into your sights before you’ve moved your ship.

And one thing that does seem odd is that you’re missing the Z-axis that would exist in space combat, but we’re dealing with Star Wars here where combat is more like WWII air combat than anything that would happen in the three dimensions of space. A lot of times you have to imagine that the ships are just representations and not flying in straight lines at each other. It’s one reason why starfighters can pass through each other, because they are on a different elevation.

DICE!!!1

DICE!!!1

Attacks are resolved using some special dice that come with the game. The dice aren’t super attractive, but they do the job. I am a bit sad I can’t use fancy special dice. I have a whole bag of ultra cool dice that are just collecting dust!

Most of the time the attacks will result in no damage or a bit of damage. Occasionally one attack can be devastating. In my first test game my X-Wing obliterated one of Wallaces’s TIEs in one roll in the first attack of the game. What a blow for the Empire! In the “advanced” rules critical hits can either damage the pilot or the ship for interesting results like weakened weapons systems.

The Imperials decide to fly in all sorts of crazy directions.

The Imperials decide to fly in all sorts of crazy directions.

The play time isn’t terribly long, but of course it becomes longer the more ships you add to the game. If just using the basic rules or not squad building, it took about a half hour to play. It was a tad boring on the tail end of my first two “test” games, but with scenarios or more ships it really gave the game a lot more dimension. It does take a bit to get the hang of the added game mechanics, so inexperienced players will probably miss a lot of strategy until they become ace dog-fighting pilots.

The squad building portion has lots of great additions to the game like ship upgrades with proton torpedoes, cluster missiles, and concussion missiles. There’s special bonuses for TIEs, different pilots with different skills, and my favorite are the Astromechs for the rebel ships. When playing a game of three rebels (2 X-wings and 1 Y-Wing) against four Imperials (3 TIEs and 1 TIE Advanced with Darth Vader) the result was 4 destroyed TIEs and no loses for the Rebels. I’m pretty sure this was due to factors such as luck and the lack of experience on the Imperial side, but I’d almost want to say that its probably not going to be a fair match unless the Imps outnumber the Rebels by 2:1.

Expansions

One question I’ve gotten is, “Will the core set be enough?” Personally, I don’t think so. If you like the game, you’ll more than likely want to add more ships after your first couple of games. Two TIE fighters and one X-Wing is not even close to as much fun you can have with the larger space battles.

There are four expansions in the first wave of X-Wing Miniatures Battles consisting of an X-Wing and a TIE with the other two being new ships, the Y-Wing and Darth Vader’s ride, the TIE Advanced.

The Y-Wing and the TIE Advanced are totally worth it. The Y-Wing is a heavily armored beast with tons of weapons, but its slow as molasses and only has one defense die. The TIE advanced is closer to an X-Wing and Darth Vader is a great pilot to use, because of his ability to do two actions every turn.

One of the big sticking points of this game is that the extra ships cost $10 to $15. How can you army build at those prices? You’re not just buying one ship. You’re buying tokens, the movement dial, pilot cards, and additional weapons. In the case of the Tie Advanced you’re getting concussion missiles and cluster missiles and with the Y-Wing you have access to the ion cannon.

For the price, you’d almost be better off purchasing another core set if all you wanted was more regular TIEs and X-wings (Expansion price $15 x 3 = 45 when the core’s MSRP is $40 and even cheaper on some game store sites and on Amazon). However, the reason why I opted to get another X-Wing and TIE in the expansions is that they came with different pilot cards (and damn it, I really wanted Wedge who comes with the X-Wing).

Another factor to consider is that at least these things are not blind boxed where you cross your fingers and hope for the best when buying an expansion. It’s a bit of a ballsy move by Fantasy Flight Games to release these ships like this. After about 3 waves of Expansions, that’s it for ships that appeared on screen in the original trilogy. They’re done with the core ships from the original trilogy in that case, aside for army building, unless they introduce Expanded Universe or Prequel ships.

Do I wish the extra starships cost less? Yes, but there are ways around this too if you’re willing to be creative. For instance, finding ships in a similar scale and using your extra pilot cards (you’d have to work a way around the movement dials) or hell, even papercraft ships might help you out.

Upcoming expansions promise to feature the iconic Millennium Falcon, Boba Fett’s Slave 1, and my favorite Rebel and Imperial starfighters the A-Wing and the TIE Interceptor. It’s almost a no-brainer to imagine that Wave 3 will have a TIE Bomber and the B-Wing. And I look forward to getting my greasy nerd hands on all of them.

Verdict

Biggs is in range!

Biggs is in range!

This game is great. The only thing that should be considered is the price, but other than that from the rules on down to the quality of the miniatures, this is one top notch game. If you’re a fan of Star Wars and space battles you really must give X-Wing Miniatures Battles a shot. If you don’t like those things and are anti-fun then stay away, hombre.

  • Wallace

    Great review! I am eager to try out the freighters when they are released, and of course the Interceptor and A-Wing should make a big difference. I was also impressed with the quality of the pieces and game, but FFG always puts out a nice product.

  • Well done! They could keep this going almost indefinitely. After the original movies, on to prequels and then expanded universe. And of course they can add more generic fighters with different pilots. Aside from the price, I imagine that storing everything will be interesting after a few expansions.

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  • grimsnap

    I have lots of Micromachine X-Wings and Tie Fighters. Any chance I can use these in lieu of buying more expansion packs? Do the expansion packs have unique rules?

    PS. Please don’t stone me if this goes against your gaming morals. 12 dollars is a lot for a small craft.

  • Hmmm…

    The only problem is that you’d either have to make your own movement dials or write down your movements so you don’t get accused of cheating.

    Also, with scale you’re going to have to only uses those micromachiens unless you don’t have a problem with that.

    Oh yeah, and the bases for measuring firing arcs and stuff… that might cause a problem.

    I’m all for creative solutions and I”m sure you could get something to work, but with all the stuff you get per ship (tokens and cards) and the way the pilot info plugs into the bases, and the numbers that go into them as well to help you keep track of which ship is which, 12 to 15 per ship no longer bothers me.

  • Also, there’s a certain upper limit of how many ships you want to use per game. I’m playing 100 point games now which is basically 3 rebels verses about 6 imperials and that’s already long enough and complicated enough for me.

    If your thinking you’ll have huge fleet battles, you’re going to be investing a lot of time per game on that and it would just be easier to use their ships at that point.

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