Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game Review

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game review
Lock S-Foils in attack position. It’s hard not to get giddy about Star War X-Wing Miniatures game; a tabletop miniatures system based on a cross between the World War I dogfighting game Wings of War and one of the most iconic space operas in the history of cinema. It’s a game that promises a lot and I’m happy to say it does not fail to deliver on those promises.

This game should need no introduction but in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 30 years X-Wing is based on the sci-fi dogfighting sequences from the original Star Wars films, none of that prequel nonsense here. Each player assembles a fleet of either noble rebels or dastardly Empire and sets about blasting the opposition into space dust.

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game Combat
An X-Wing and two TIE fighters square off.

X-Wing works via the flight-path system. For each ship you’ll have a dial with all of your ship’s possible manoeuvres. Simply select the manoeuvre and place it face down next to your ship. In order of pilot skill, players reveal their manoeuvres and ships moved using the movement templates. This movement system is the heart of X-Wing and where you really get the feeling of being in a dog fight. Since manoeuvres are selected simultaneously you can’t simply wait and see what your opponent is going to do. Instead you have to anticipate their actions and hopefully line up your weapons while staying out of their sites. Each ship’s manoeuvre dial is different, so Y-Wing’s are lumbering and slow to turn while TIE Fighters can spin on a dime and attempt to out-manoeuvre the rebels. Some of the manoeuvres are colour coded represent stressful and easy manoeuvres. Stressful manoeuvres are usually the most advantageous, offering to quickly flip the direction of your ship and using one of these means you won’t be able to use one of your pilot’s special actions until you’ve chosen a green manoeuvre.

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game Movement
A simple demonstration of the Flight Path system in operation.

After movement you get to take an action. This could be getting a target lock on your opponent, reserving a focus to help you change dice rolls or, in the case of TIE fighters, initiating a barrel roll. Here’s where pilot skill comes into play and where you can use turn order to your advantage. Pilots with lower skill go first but higher skilled pilots move last and so have the advantage that they already know where their opponents will be and therefore can use their action more wisely.

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game Combat
Silly X-Wing pilot you're in range of both TIE fighters!

Last of all pilots get to open fire on any ship in their sites. X-Wing uses a set of custom dice; red for the attacker and green for the defender which oppose each other with each defender’s evade cancelling the attackers hit. If a pilot has saved a focus point they6 can change a focus to a symbol of their choice and a target lock allows for re-rolls. Again the shooting stage is done in reverse pilot order, so the most skilful pilot gets to fire first. The problem with the shooting phase is that it feels a little too random; scoring a hit is rather difficult, scoring a critical hit (where the target ship takes a special damage card) is even more difficult. It does mean that just because you’re firing at someone doesn’t mean you’re going to blow them up. It also means that the focus of the game becomes not about who has the biggest guns but somehow getting to a position where you can fire but your opponent can’t shoot back; just like a real dogfight.

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game Dice
Brightly coloured custom dice, yay!

Straight away you can see how X-Wing has solved the oldest miniature wargame problem in one simple stroke. Many miniatures games rely on the old fashioned ‘I go you go’ approach where a player moves and attacks with their entire force before the opposing player even gets to lift a dice. It leads to many games giving an advantage to the first player and in larger games means that you might as well go make yourself a cup of tea during your opponent’s turn. However, X-Wing neatly solves this entire problem by having ships activate according to pilot skill, it means you’re both taking manoeuvres and actions all as part of the same turn, swapping back and forth as the events unfold. It makes the game feel frantic and most of all makes the player involved in the game at all times and also means you don’t even have enough time to put the kettle on.

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game cards
Building your fleet is really easy just select a pilot and any upgrades.

At first glance X-Wing’s contents looks a little sparse, two TIE Fighters, one X-Wing some dice and some cardboard doesn’t look like much for £30/$40 and to be honest it isn’t. It’s a sampler, a taste to make you want more. If you compare the price to other games of its kind of brings it into focus, you may not get as much miniature for your money as the Warhammer 40,000: Dark Vengeance boxed set but if you compare it to King of Tokyo, a game that retails for the same price, has the same amount of dice and cardboard but doesn’t have any miniatures. And boy, are those miniature ships nice! The concept of pre-painted miniatures usually makes most gamers shudder in horror but each X-Wing and TIE Fighter looks absolutely beautiful; a highly detailed sculpt with a paint job that might not win any Golden Demon trophies but looks neat and proper.

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game  Ships
They're oh so pretty.

X-Wing can be accused of being ‘baby’s first miniatures game’ but it is so much more than that. Yes, the miniatures are pre-painted, no you don’t need any expensive terrain or mess around with 6 foot sheets of hardboard covered in green flock. These are all features of the larger hobby of miniatures games that X-Wing skilfully dodges. What it is, is a set of streamlined rules and simple squadron building mechanics that mean you can be up and blasting at each other in minutes. If you really want you can strip down the paint on the ships and repaint them in your own colours, it has been done. If you want you can craft asteroids and space junk, you can even purchase yourself a fancy looking mat to represent the majesty of deep space. But you don’t need to do that and that should be applauded rather than criticised.

There are the occasional instances that the game feels just a little too light, that strategy is gone out of the window and you’re just doing Immelmann turns until someone botches a dice roll and at its worst that is what X-Wing turns into. But when that happens its really your own fault for not thinking like an X-Wing pilot, you need to do something unexpected so you can get the enemy in your sights and you out of theirs and when you do, don’t waste an action on a focus or a dodge, make sure that enemy ship is target locked and ready to go down.And that sums up why X-Wing is so much fun, it puts you in the cockpit. You're not playing some general, directing the battle from afar, you're up close and in the action at all times and its a feeling that very few games can achieve.

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