One of the big instant hits to come out of last year’s huge GenCon gaming convention was the new Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game from Fantasy Flight Games. I finally got a chance to play it a few times in the past couple weeks with members of the Metropolitan Wargamers club in Brooklyn. Then, my brother brought me a starter set of the game over this past Easter holiday weekend. As both a lover of all things Star Wars and well-designed games, I’m hooked.
SWXW is the one of the latest fan favorites to appeal to both experienced and new gamers wanting some gaming right out of a box full of easy rules, well-designed components and beautiful pre-painted miniatures. The starter set offers two Tie Fighters and a X-Wing model, rules, movement templates and dials, cards, specialized dice and scenario markers for about $30-40. A few beginner scenarios are also included with the starter set, allowing two players a pretty solid and varied intro to the basics of the game.
In a nutshell, SWXW is a dogfight game where ships chase and fire at their opponents while maneuvering to avoid their own destruction on a typically 3′ x 3′ playing area. Play starts with each player pre-assigning movement to each of their models with a special movement dial. The dials are particular to each class of ship and allow for combinations of straight and turning moves. Since movement is planned in secret from your opponent, guessing which way the enemy will move and how you should react is key to the strategy of the game.
After ships move, firing lasers and other specialized secondary weapons occurs using special dice. Modifying “focus” or “target lock” actions increase the ability to hit enemy ships while “evade” actions increases a ship’s ability to avoid damage. Ships take damage to their hulls or shields, and destroyed ships are removed from the table. The game moves fast, and a basic game can be accomplished in well under an hour.
While the starter set allows for some fun intro games, players will soon want to grow their fleets and options. Like the Star Wars Universe itself, SWXW soon proves to be as expansive as players (and their bank accounts) allow. Single ship expansion sets of Tie Fighters, Tie Advanced Fighters (pictured below, right), Tie Interceptors, X-Wings, Y-Wings (pictured at right) and A-Wings retail for about $15 each (cheaper online). With these, players gain greater choice in fielding larger Rebel and Imperial fleets.
Each ship expansion comes with specific cards indicating pilots, astromech droids, secondary weapons and other special abilities which may be used in combination with that model or, in some cases, other ship types. So, an X-Wing can be fielded with Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles or Biggs Darklighter at the helm and R2-D2 or some other astromech droid along for the ride. You can assign Darth Vader to the controls of a Tie Advanced ship and then assign addition weapons and abilities to the ship. The latest expansion wave offers two large-sized ships — the Millenium Falcon and the Slave I — which are certain to be a huge hit with fans anxious to pit Han Solo against Boba Fett in an intergalactic duel.
Players wishing to get into SWXW will do well by themselves to get a couple of the basic sets plus some expansion ship packs. Once you’re quickly beyond the beginner stage, games are typically fielded with 100 points of ships on a side. Points are assigned according to ship class, pilot expertise and other add ons, allowing for lots of replay value and experimentation with combinations of forces. While the game is still new to me, I can see this one coming out of the box and onto the galaxy of my gaming table pretty frequently in the months ahead.