Chewie.....We're Home! - X-Wing Miniatures Starter Set Review

A faithful nod to the upcoming Episode 7! Oooooh I can't wait, I love Star Wars, though not to the point of complete cult devotee. I'll happily play a Star Wars themed game (I'm sure followers will have seen enough Imperial Assault photos from me lately), I'll enjoy talking about the movies and the sounds of John Williams, but come December 18th 2015 I will be sitting in that cinema enjoying The Force Awakens in my normal trendy going-out clothes as opposed to donning Jedi robes or Stormtrooper armour.

Now the biggest highlights of the trailers I've seen have been the spaceship battles. Finally I can see X-Wings and Tie Fighters fighting at low altitude showing off far more in the background than just the blackness of space (though saying that kudos to the opening sequence of Return of the Sith). The dogfights look great and that of course reminded me of Fantasy Flight Games X-Wing Miniatures.

This franchise has been one of, if not their best selling line of games on their books. Incredibly popular with gamers this collectible miniatures saga brings the essence of spaceship miniature gaming to the table while removing the requirement to spend the combined length of all the Star Wars movies and special Blu-Ray features combined to assemble and paint everything beforehand.

It all began with a starter set and expanded into loads of new ships to collect. With Episode 7 incoming, we've now got a new starter set, supposedly identical to the previous one except for some slightly different ships to coincide with the new movie. Is this enough to wet my appetite, can it sustain itself or has this whole saga been overhyped?



Designer: Corey Konieczka and Co. (2012)
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
# of Players: 2
Age: 14+
Time: 30-60 Minutes
Rank/Rating: 27 / 7.92
RRP: £26.99


A Long Time Ago...


Star Wars: X-wing Miniatures is a game of dog fighting and tactical space combat. Before the game, players assemble a squadron of either Rebel or Imperial ships that can be customized with different pilots, weapons and upgrades. Movement throughout the game is done by using pre-set templates of which ships can perform a variety of them; however the selection of these templates is done simultaneously in secret.

When within range, players can open fire on enemy ships, which is handled by straightforward dice combat and comparing symbols. Certain ships and pilots will have special abilities that can influence movement and combat in various ways. Destroy all the opposing ships and you win, simple as! Further plays and expansion will allow players to set up specific scenarios with victory and setup conditions of their own.


You May Fire When Ready


First off, I should commend this game not just for being very simple to learn, but also having a decent rulebook by which to explain it. You can literally learn this game as you play it and once you've played a few turns, you've learnt 90% of what you need to know. Additional rules relate to further expansion of the game and minor rules relating to moving and firing around asteroids and similar obstructing terrain. I say obstructing because thankfully X Wing Miniatures recognises that space takes advantage of 3 dimensions! However that's not to say it's devoid of any depth as tactics play a heavy part in winning the game. The hidden aspect of selecting movement forces each player to get in their opponents head and figure out what their plans are as a wrong turn can open them up for a kill shot if they're not careful. This is my favourite part of the game, which should come as no surprise as I've always loved when mind games are a factor).

The dice combat is simple to grasp and is essentially a matter of rolling and comparing symbols with added effects for critical damage. It allows shooting to be handled quickly and easily so that the game can flow. However naturally this means that there's a strong element of luck in the game, but that's no different from any other miniatures game I've played. You should know that going into this, but the other aspects of tactical movement and ship customization will mitigate that to some extent. And there's a good amount of variety in the latter, do you go for a rookie pilot and get lots of cool droids and upgrades, or do you stick Luke Skywalker in an X-Wing and rely on the Force to get you through?

Now maybe die-hard wargamers will find this whole affair too simple for their liking as I know a lot of the big meaty miniature games have colossal rulebooks and charts a plenty (and yes I've come from a Warhammer/40K background). If so, that's fair enough, but it's clear that the intention here is to create a good entry point into tabletop miniature gaming. I'd actually be willing to debate whether this could qualify as a gateway game; it's really not complicated at all particularly as with this set you only have to worry about a maximum of 2 ships at any one time.


She May Not Look Like Much, But She's Got It Where It Counts


If there's one thing I can't stand (and I know I'm going to get hate for this) with miniature gaming, it's the painting aspect. Sorry everyone, I just get bored and frustrated spending hours upon hours assembling, gluing and painting models. I'm not an artist in any sense of the word, nor do I have the physical time. I have to get one of the lovely ladies at The Game Shelf to paint my Imperial Assault miniatures as we play through the campaign bless her!



So you can imagine how much of a relief it is to be given a game where the miniatures are prepainted already. And I don't just mean a slapdash bit of colour; I'm talking very detailed and striking work here. FFG produce some great miniatures generally, but this is their star line up. Now some will argue against that, probably the die-hard painters among you who have a keen eye for any microscopic blemish you can get, but for the average Joe, these will look great and I'll take a nicely painted miniature over hours of pain and anguish any day. You hand me a spaceship, I'm going to go and fly it all over the place, not spend time on cosmetics!


IT'S A TRAP!!


Oh come on, you knew it was coming! And maybe "trap" is a bit harsh, just a word of warning. This starter set does a great job of setting the foundations for X-Wing Miniatures. However, if you find it to be enjoyable, it's extremely unlikely that you're going to be satisfied with this set alone. You only get three ships to pilot and in the Rebel's case you're only controlling one ship period. Therefore you're going to turn to the waves of ships that FFG have released over the last several years and want more of them. And of course as with all collectible games that will cost money and even though the starter set is a bargain, the cost mounts up quickly.


However you don't have to go crazy and buy every ship that exists, even if you want to get in on the tournament scene. You can simply stick to the ships that you want to use and keep the game as casual or as involved as you desire. And in case you were wondering, the ships in this set, even though they are from the new movie, are fully compatible with previously released waves and let's face it you know that FFG is going to release more!





Verdict


Obviously this set is just a light taste of what X Wing Miniatures has to offer and will by no means keep you engaged for long. But there is a solid game here, there's no denying that. Without going into the realms of infinite complexity like some space miniature games, this one keeps game play streamlined and fun throughout capturing the essence of dogfighting in a relatively short space of time. Those like me who don't have the time and/or skill to assemble and paint models will breathe a sigh of relief that they can simply open the box and receive painted miniatures that are ready to go. And decently painted miniatures at that. It fits the criteria of "pick up and play" about as close as you can get, but might be too simplistic for die-hard wargamers.

Of course the elephant in the room is the collectability aspect. You will get some fun out of the box, but it's not going to be enough. To keep up the replayability you will HAVE to go and acquire some more ships and of course that's going to cost money. You don't have to buy everything of course and can keep it as casual as you like, more so in fact that even LCG's, but don't go expecting to buy this starter set and be satisfied for life. This is an introductory package with all the components you need that may lead you into greater battles in the future. Just don't go promising your spouse that you'll keep it light, mistakes will be made!


If you are interested in this game you can find a copy at your friendly local gaming store - http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/



YOU WILL LIKE THIS GAME IF:


You want the experience of a tabletop miniatures game, but don't want to put in the time to build and paint everything.

You want a streamlined experience - no fiddly charts to look up, no 50 page rulebook.

You like Star Wars - yeah simple as. It is all those space battles you love from the movies in a tabletop game.



YOU WILL NOT LIKE THIS GAME IF:


You have no intention of taking this to the next level and acquiring more ships. You've only got 3 here to play with, it won't last.

You actually love the painting aspect for miniatures. You can touch these up with some improvements, but that's only for the hardcore painters.

You're looking for something meaty and complex akin to the really heavy wargames - this is designed to be tactical, but simple.




0 comments: