Fantasy Flight Games’ (or FFG) Star Wars X-wing Miniatures game took the tabletop community by force. Launching in 2012 it took only a few short years to become the most popular miniatures game in the world. This is even more of a feat given that the title had been held, mostly uncontested, by Warhammer 40,000 for decades running. So what is X-wing? What are the reasons to get into it and what are the reasons to not touch it with a ten foot lightsaber?
The basic format of the game is relatively simple. A small group of fighters or freighters line up on opposite sides of a 3 foot by 3 foot board or mat and fly at each other trying to destroy as much of the opposing force as possible. Force are composed of, in a standard game, two to eight ships composed of various vehicles across the Star Wars movies, comics, books and TV shows.
X-wing has a lot going for it and that is how it exploded in popularity in previous years. The models provided first off are fantastic, especially for the price. The standard ship is only $15 and is filled with fun, accurate details and comes fully painted. This makes it excellent for those just getting into the hobby, or those who just don’t want to spent several dozen hours painstakingly assembling and painting an army like so many other miniatures games require. It also makes for a beautiful appearance on the table itself, with the right ships present the feeling of the space battles in the Original Trilogy can really be captured right there on the table. The movement system implemented is also brilliant and deceptively simple. There are a set of templates and dial. The dail says which of the templates you can use and everyone picks before movement, so it is set in leading to wonderful guessing games on what the opponent did or did not do. The entire core system is incredibly solid and has already produced several knock offs, including a Star Trek and Dungeons and Dragons inspired game. Every core rule can also be learned in one or two hours but with a depth and complexity to keep you hooked for years to come. The game’s massive popularity also means that finding people to play with, a problem for a lot of miniatures games, is much less of an issue and whole communities can be found from Tennessee to Thailand.
X-wing though is not without its flaws and they seem to be growing as the game matures. First, while there are new products being released several times a year for the game, the ships released continue to get more and more obscure, going from X-wings, TIE Fighters, and the Millennium Falcon to things like the Scurrg H-6 and the Jumpmaster 5000. This especially becomes a problem in the large tournament scene that has arisen around the game where there is a significant amount of power creep (aka the newer the ship is, the more likely it is to be powerful) and as such the classic ships might rarely be seen. The X-wing, the games own namesake, by this point is one of the worst ships in the game and TIE fighters don’t fare much better. There are also upgrade cards that come in various ship packs and FFG has figured out that they can get people to purchase ships they otherwise would have no interest in just for the cards and have now started to stray away from their more reasonable pricing. Ships that would have been 15 or 20 dollars are now retailing for 30. This, coupled with the constant additions to mechanics leading to rules bloat, means the game is neither and simple or as cheap to get into as it once was.