In 1997 an amazing thing happened to me, as I was introduced into a galaxy far, far away. That was the year that the special editions of the original Star Wars trilogy came back out into theaters, and I turned from a bookish young boy into a full on nerd. I was in love with those movies, and ever since then I’ve eaten up nearly everything Star Wars. But, I’m not going to lie, over the last few years the pickings have been pretty slim. Between that god-awful Clone Wars movie, the lackluster TOR MMO, and really, just about anything else Star Wars related, it’s all been pretty disappointing. All I really want is an adventure or a game set in the original Star Wars galaxy, the one where it was a straight up fight against good and evil, where characters like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo were just trying to keep one step ahead of Darth Vader and the Empire. Is that so hard to ask?
Luckily, it seems that for the time being my prayers have been answered. Fantasy Flight Games, who have made other board games for big-time franchises like Battlestar Galactica has released the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game. And, I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty fun game.
So, like the name implies, this game is set during the Original Star Wars trilogy. In fact, if you want to really get picky, you could say that it’s set during the original Star Wars movie, A New Hope. That’s because included in the base set is just an X-Wing and 2 TIE Fighters. There are four expansions for the game, as well. You can buy another TIE Fighter and another X-Wing, but the other two expansions contain the Y-Wing, a heavy bomber type unit that exchanges maneuverability for extra firepower and armor, and the TIE Advanced x1, which is designed to be more on par with the X-Wing in terms of survivability but without sacrificing the maneuverability of the regular TIE Fighters. So, as you can tell, you’re not going to have a giant, epic ship battle between entire fleets of ships. That’s not a bad thing, however, as the game is designed to allow you to choose different pilots and special abilities to attach to your ships. Before you start the game, you build up your fleet to a certain point total. Each pilot, special ability, special weapon, astromech droid, and everything else costs a certain number of points. The higher cost pilots are obviously going to be better, especially when you get named pilots as they will usually have special abilities all to there own.
Once you’ve built up your little sortie and customized it as you see fit, now it’s time to play! The first step is to move your ships, and this is accomplished by use of a maneuver dial. Everybody chooses a maneuver on their maneuver dials, and places it upside down right next to their ship. At this point, the ship with the lowest Pilot Skill score moves first, and then it goes in order after that. At the end of a ships movement, the player can perform an action immediately, like doing a barrel roll, adding a focus token, or target locking onto somebody who’s in range. Luckily, Fantasy Flight makes movement easy since they include cardboard movement template that corespond to what the maneuver dial says to do. You just place the template in front of the ship, pick the ship up, and place it on the other side of the template. No need for rulers or measuring tape what-so-ever.
After the different movements and actions have been performed, now it’s time for combat! This time, the Pilot Skill score really comes in handy, as the highest score will go first, and it works its way down from there. Using the range template, you decide on which ship you want to fire on, and you roll a number of dice based on what your card says. Your opponent has a set of maneuverability dice that they roll in order to prevent getting hit, and if the number of successful dodges exceed the number of successful hits, then obviously all damage is mitigated. The basic premise is to destroy your enemies ships before they destroy you, although included in the rulebook are rules for several different scenarios you can play, such as an escort mission.
As you can see, it’s a pretty simple game. It can look a little intimidating at first, since there are a lot of stats and tokens, but luckily Fantasy Flight includes a quick-play guide for first time players, where they can get a feel for the game before delving deeper into it.
Of course, what good is a game if it doesn’t look good? Here I can say that Fantasy Flight did a good job of capturing the look and feel of the original Star Wars. The ships aren’t perfect, and in fact they look a little beat up, but that’s exactly the point. Star Wars was never about shiny, perfect-looking technology: the original trilogy always looks a bit dingy and dirty, where you can see ships that contain the scars of battles past. The game looks exactly like what a Star Wars game should look like, in my opinion, and it makes me excited to open the box and see the awesome figures inside. The level of detail on the models is good too, where you can see different pipes and other miscellaneous ridges and whatnot protruding from the ships.
If you look at the cards, you can see the level of care and love that went into creating them. Obviously, the people who made some of these drawings love Star Wars well, as they’ve been able to capture the excitement of a dogfight in space despite only having the top 3rd of the card to work with. Interestingly, you don’t really see Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader on any of these cards, except for on the Determination skill card, and even then it’s just a reflection of Luke’s X-Wing in Vader’s “eyes”.
If there is a weak point, however, it’s in the bases. The stands and supports are pretty flimsy looking, and it wouldn’t surprise me if at some point I snapped off a plastic peg into the bottom of one of my fighters. But, if you take good care of your stuff, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem.
So, like I said I like this game. It’s easy to get into, and the starter box has everything you ever need to make up tons of different match-ups with your friends. But, it’s not perfect. If there’s one real flaw to this game, its the price. The base game, with 2 TIE Fighters and the X-Wing is 40 dollars, and each expansion is 15 dollars! In the end, once I purchased everything at Gen Con last week, I had sunk 100 dollars into this game. But, with that being said, if you have a lot of friends it’s worth it to get a copy for everybody to use. Fantasy Flight definitely did their homework when making this game, and I have a feeling that I’ll be taking this game into my local game store quite a bit in order to save the galaxy from the evil Empire!