BENGALURU: After years of (relative) inactivity, the Star Wars brand has seen four new movies release in the last four years (including this month’s Solo). It’s a juggernaut franchise with a worldwide fanbase, each member of which fell in love with the series for different reasons. Me, I was blown away by the trench run sequence at the end of Episode IV — dogfights in space? Count me in! I’d wager I’m not alone in this, which is why the X-Wing Miniatures Game we’re talking about today is such an exciting prospect.
If you’re looking to get started with X-Wing (as I will be calling it from here on out), you should begin with a core set. The original set came with a single X-Wing and two TIE Fighters, but you can also get a Force Awakens version (which contains the Resistance and First Order updated versions of the same fighters, as well as new pilots and so on). If you’re thinking that three ships isn’t much, you’re not wrong and that’s actually one of the problems with X-Wing.
As hobbies go, X-Wing represents a particularly insidious kind of rabbit hole to dive into. More ships are better, so you want to buy some of the reasonably-priced ship packs to add some B-Wings or TIE Interceptors, say. But then you can’t exactly leave out the iconic ships, can you, so you go for the less-reasonably-priced Millennium Falcon or Boba Fett’s Slave I. And it goes on and on from there, including the addition of a third faction (Scum & Villainy) for the more rambunctious sort. Here’s the thing, though — you don’t need every single ship to have fun with this game. Just buy a few that catch your fancy, try to have relatively balanced Rebel and Imperial fleets, and you’re good to go.
With that caveat aside, let’s talk about how wonderful this game is. Ostensibly for two players, although you could easily add more, each side chooses their ships and pilots from an equal pool of points to spend and sets them up on a 3x3 foot surface. And, from then on, it’s sheer chaos. Orders are issued to each ship by means of a maneuver dial, which is programmed and placed face-down. Once every ship has received a command, you start resolving them in order, based on pilot skill. Highly-skilled pilots not only get to move last (meaning that they can execute advanced maneuvers after most of the other ships have finished moving) but they also get to...shoot first. In so many ways, X-Wing finds a way to both make thematic sense while also tipping its hat in the direction of the source material it so clearly reveres.
Since movement is planned in advance, you’ll wind up with ships ramming each other or glancing off an asteroid or even — as will almost certainly happen to some first-time player — flying off the board and instantly blowing up. That’s chaotic to begin with, and then the shooting starts. Combat is resolved through dice, which can be swingy but only adds to the sheer cinematic drama of it all. When Darth Vader manages to land enough hits to get through the Falcon’s shield, blowing it up...you probably won’t care that dice were involved at that moment, will you?
If you like Star Wars, you should give this game a look. If you know the difference between an A-Wing and a Y-Wing, you should definitely check this out. If, like me, these little space fighters lie at the heart of everything you love about Star Wars, just go out and buy this game — because this is the perfect distillation of what Star Wars means to me.
If you’d like dogfighting in space a game that offers as much depth as the effort you’re willing to spend
to rewrite the space battles of a galaxy far, far away...you should fire up X-Wing!