Is there anything nerdier than Star Wars X-Wing? It manages to combine two of the classically nerdy pursuits: miniature combat games and Star Wars. As far as geek street cred goes, you surely can’t get any higher than this god-like combo. It’s a game that oozes the nerdy stereotypes from every pore, and unless you’re some sort of butthole, that isn’t exactly a bad thing.
Star Wars X-Wing: Second Edition is a miniatures space combat game from the famous Fantasy Flight Games, apparently tired of creating Lovecraftian games and deciding to go full nerd for once (note: just so we don’t get outraged e-mails or comments, we know they make a bunch of other stuff, like that Game of Thrones thing and like a billion other games, it was a joke). X- Wing is the first time FFG have released a miniatures-based combat game, so it’ll be interesting to see how it fairs, assuming we ignore the fact that the this version of the game is the second edition.
The main crux of Star Wars X-Wing: Second Edition is to take control of either the Imperial or Rebel space fleets and try your damnedest to try and pew-pew the other player out of the star-filled skies. The Imperial player typically has more units but with lower stats, while the Rebel player has fewer units, though they’re much stronger. Generally, you take turns in secretly picking manoeuvres then performing said manoeuvres in order of agility before getting a chance at firing at any enemy in range.
The first thing to take note of with Star Wars X-Wing: Second Edition is the pure amount of space it takes. If you have a smaller table, you might struggle to access the required 3×3 feet needed to play the game properly. That being said, there isn’t any technical reason that you can’t play it in any sized space, although it might feel a little tight considering that all of the manoeuvres have a set range.
The rules in Star Wars X-Wing: Second Edition are super streamlined. In fact, they’re so streamlined that you can be playing a game within 10 minutes of opening the box, assuming that you ignore the time it takes to click out all of the pieces and slot the miniatures together. As well as a full rule book, the core set includes a quick-start that sets out both standard and advanced starting rules, and they’re set out in such a way that, even on your first time, you can pick them up and get going without too much fuss. Once you’ve finished your first game, the full rule book manages to fill in some extra details and expand on some of the stuff that you’ve already learned, which is a pretty slick way of learning the rule set quickly.
There are a fair amount of cool features to wrap your head around. When you first start out, you basically stick to selecting manoeuvres and trying your best to guess what your opponent is going to do so you can blow them sky high. Eventually, you get ship or pilot specific abilities, like taking extra actions or reducing your enemy’s defence potential, and the coolest part is probably the fact that some of these special abilities are tied to famous characters, like Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader.
Star Wars X-Wing: Second Edition also expands the rules beyond game one by giving you access to special manoeuvres, such as barrel rolling, locking onto enemy ships and boosting. These new moves represent an incredible increase in both manoeuvreability and options during battle. These new moves increase the complexity of the space flight stages, and nothing feels better than barrel rolling out of range of an enemy ship when they weren’t expecting it and slapping a few rounds into a different another one of their units.
You also have access to a slew of advanced features at this point in learning the game’s inner working. You have to keep track of unit stress, which prevents certain manoeuvres; the Force, which can be used during combat to swing the results; and upgrades, which can be used to improve your ship. The game is so deep that it would be impossible to discuss everything that it has going on in a single review, but needles to say, you can play the game for hours and hours, and you’ll still be finding new strategies and ways to play the game.
As if all that weren’t enough to be getting on with, Star Wars X-Wing: Second Edition has an extra game mode that can help to spice things up a little. The extra game mode, Escalation, basically pits the players against each other with a variety of ships with increasing threat levels. This effectively means that as you destroy enemy ships, stronger ones enter the game until one player manages to destroy enough of the enemy’s ships. Escalation presents an interesting way of playing the game with a ramping of difficulty that can be a bit more exciting than the standard gameplay for advanced players.
The models are another standout. In the core set, you get a single X-Wing and a couple of TIE Fighters, but we were also sent some expansions in the form of a couple extra of the standard ships, as well as a Y-Wing and an advanced TIE Fighter too. All of the X-Wings have opposable parts, meaning you can really get into the game by banking your ships as they turn. All of the models come stunningly well painted as well. The Rebel ships all have vague rusting to them, just like the ships in the films, while the various TIE Fighters are all sleek and shiny.
Star Wars X-Wing: Second Edition represents the pinnacle of tabletop space combat war gaming. While it doesn’t have the huge armies of games like Warhammer 40,000 or The Lord of the Rings, it has a depth of gameplay that is rarely matched in a game with such easily grasped rules. The lack of customizability with the models might be off-putting to some, but it’s hard to argue that the quality of the paintwork isn’t absolutely stunning.
Designer: Jason Little
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games