If my wife asks me what a pile of clothes is doing left on the floor I gleefully tell her I just slayed a Jedi. If she tells me she loves me, I reply “I know”. If she comments on how bright or full the moon is, I obviously reply “That’s no moon”, and don’t ask me how many times I have told her “these aren’t the droids you-re looking for” while waving my hand in an arched motion in front of her face. The moral of these anecdotes are firstly, I love Star Wars, and secondly, I have a very patient and understanding wife!
As she puts up with me, I have never kicked off about the fact she refuses to even attempt to play Star Wars X-Wing with me. Instead, I have to rely on my neighbour and eldest son to take to the skies and do battle in the two-player tabletop miniature game that is, Star Wars X-Wing Second Edition. To play this game you will need the core set, once this is mastered, you can choose to increase your collection through a variety of expansions.
The second edition differs from the first edition, but having never played it, I cannot give you any sort of comparison. By all accounts this is a good rebalancing of the first edition by Fantasy Flight Games.
Learning from some of the mistakes of The Phantom Menace, I will not get bogged down in federation trade deals (i.e. all the rules). So I will save a more detailed play through for a ‘How to Play’ feature in the future. If ever I get it written, the link will magically appear here: [I have been lazy and there is no How to Play written yet]. Instead I will jump into lightspeed and give an impression of gameplay. It is still a bit wordy because this is a complicated game!
One player will get two Imperial tie-fighters, the other will get a rebel X-Wing. They each have options of how to equip their ships, either using a prebuild system or a points system through an app. Firstly you will choose a pilot and then add-ons like shield upgrades, hull upgrades, proton torpedoes and the like, these will be represented by a deck of cards and various tokens. The board is then marked out in a 3 foot square and you are ready to play.
Turn order is decided by initiative – the value of the pilot. Weaker ships will move first but shoot last. Play is then split into 5 phases…
The Turn Phases
Phase 1 is the planning phase, where players decide how to navigate their ships. This is secretly decided with a movement dial.
Phase 2 is the system phase, you won’t use this with the core set, but you will resolve some ships’ special abilities at this point later on.
Phase 3 is the activation phase, where you move your ships based on the dials you set in Phase 1 using the provided distance rulers. You will also take an action at this point which will either be a movement such as a barrel roll, or a token that influences your dice roll in the next phase.
Phase 4 is the engagement phase, where, assuming you are in range and an enemy ship is in your firing arc, you will battle it out with 8-sided dice. The dice are resolved dealing damage where appropriate.
Phase 5 is the end phase where you clear down unused tokens and allow some other tokens to replenish.
Play continues through these phases. With both players playing in unison. That is until someone has lost their fleet. At this point the game of Star Wars X-Wing concludes and the winner is decided.
What it’s like
Star Wars X-Wing is a heavy game to digest, because of all the subtle rules, but once you have jedi-mastered the above phases you will get to grips with the game quite quickly. For newbies only used to flying skyhoppers your movements will see you careering into other ships, asteroids, debris clouds, and you will probably nearly go off the board and/or turn the wrong way at least once! This is how you learn and you will get used to it. Unless you are my neighbour, in which case this is a constant burden every game!
Once you learn to fly, the dice rolling attacks are simple. The subtle rules of tokens and missiles you will start to comprehend over time. It is highly likely that you will realise you have been playing a rule completely wrong for the last three games. My simple advise here is “don’t get cocky kid” and don’t enter any tournaments until you are comfortable with it.
The first time consuming bit is building your squads. The Fantasy Flight app is notoriously finicky and can delete squads faster than the Falcon can make the Kessel Run. Other apps (like Launchbay) do exist but have their quirks too. Some people will get great enjoyment from this squad building element and if I had more spare time, I would get super involved in tinkering with different set ups. The big issue is the pre-builds options seem broken. They just don’t feel right and proper, so you end up being forced to build your own setup. It’s a shame because the quick-build option should’ve been great for those starting out in X-Wing or just wanting a quick battle.
Another time consuming bit is the actual playing of the game. I laugh in the face of the box that says it only takes 30-40 minutes. Even with only the three base ships it takes longer than that, by the time you add in some ship expansions you are settling in for a whole evening of epic battling. I have seen Sarlacc pits digest food quicker than some of the games I have played! You will be enjoying every minute of it though, especially if you are a Star Wars fan! I mean come on, you are flying miniature tie fighters and x-wings around a table trying to tactically outwit your opponent, one on one, with no hiding places. This is exciting stuff! You can also play with a time limit of 75 minutes like they do in tournaments.
The final time consuming bit is laying it out on the table and then packing it all away again at the end of the night. Okay, so this is a time consuming game. But that doesn’t matter, because it is brilliant overall and you will be conversing over turning points in the game or near misses as you put back into the box all the tokens, dice, ships, rulers and cards.
On the box it says for 14 plus but my eldest son was playing this age 11 and you simplify the add-ons accordingly. I will also state having played it lots. I still don’t know how certain things work, so I just avoid equipping them to my ships! I would only forget to use them on my turn anyway – which quite often happens. So what? I have fun with it!
This is where the game earns so much of its kudos. The miniatures are pre-painted to a really high standard so you won’t need to get your brushes and magnifying glasses out to paint them. I cannot stress enough how high quality these miniatures are. The X-Wing has working S-foils, so the wings actually open and close!
The movement dials are very satisfying to use and are nicely styled with faction logos. They also have the names of the ship on them for easy reference on the table. The tokens are great and plentiful and the rulers are functional. The cards have brilliant artwork on them and sum up any special powers nicely. The custom dice are also great.
The only negative for me is the instruction manual for Star Wars X-Wing Second Editon. It is just about okay when you first read through and learn the quick play game they recommend. All the information is also within the booklet so what is my problem? Well, after this point, if ever you have a query on a rule or ability it is really difficult to find the clarification. Add to this all the ship specific rules from expansions and you have a bit of a headache and more likely an internet search for it. Why they haven’t produced a glossary of terms appendix, ideally arranged alphabetically, is beyond me.
I have to acknowledge that this core set is akin to a pusher – it gets you hooked with a little taster and you know there is bigger and more expensive things to come!
For a start you will soon choose your faction from across the Star Wars timeline: First Order, Galactic Empire, Galactic Republic, Rebellion, Resistance, Scum and Villainy or Separatist Alliance. Each offers drool-worthy ships and pilots to upgrade your squadron. Some ships even come with changes to the game mechanics.
All these ships come at a price, some cost the same as the core set. If like me, you fall in love with the game and the miniatures, you will struggle to resist. And then you will want a play mat, and a folder for your cards, and maybe some extra tokens, and bespoke rulers, and ship cases to keep your little fleet safe, and faction specific damage decks and a laser line rule, and a bank loan and an apology letter to your family for not leaving an inheritance when you die! Okay it’s not quite that bad, but further investments are likely to be made. On the flip side, this core set is jolly good value for what you get.
There are a lot of things to love about Star Wars X-Wing Second Edition that far outweigh the minor gripes I have with the instruction manual and apps.
If you do not like the Star Wars franchise, then you are probably less likely to fall in love with this game in the way I have. If you do, and you probably only need to a bit, this is a great fun game. Both players are constantly interacting or thinking at the same time, as phases are played in unison and resolutions involve both players. There will be some chit chat too.
It is complicated to learn, but the structure of the phases and the mechanics do become familiar. After a handful of plays, you will all of a sudden just get it and everything will click. This allows you to think more about how a squad could be built and the balance you need within it. Or the tactics of flying. I grant you, this is less of a problem when you are working out your single X-wing in the core set, but if you do stop there I will be amazed!
The components are incredible, out the box and ready to fly. They really do bring back the excitement of getting a Kenner toy in its blister pack when you were a kid. Unless you are a kid, and then you probably have no idea who Kenner even are! Suffice to say if you are in the latter category, you missed out… big time, so don’t miss out this time!
Number of players: 2
Board Game Review Recommended Age: 11
Publisher’s Recommended Age: 14
Playing Time: 1-2 hours if to the death or 75 minute with time limit
Setting Up and Take Down Time: 25 minutes
Designer: Jay Little
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
This is a heck of a lot of two player fun, but only if you think you can find someone to venture into space with. It is a time consuming game, but the enjoyment you’ll get from that time investment is pure profit. Oh and did I mention you get to fly Star Wars ships into battle! If that sentence excites you, don’t dilly dally, buy the game via one of the links below!
Artwork and Components
Value for Money
- It’s Star Wars!
- Component quality
- Tactical game
- Lots of constant interaction
- Plenty of expansions
- The rule book is pretty pants and needs an index
- Apps for squad building could do with improving
- Long play time
- Quite a weighty game with a long play time
- Slippery slope to buying more and more ships!
Need more games?
If you already own Star Wars X-Wing 2nd Edition Core Set and enjoy it, or are looking for other inspiration, you might also like these similar games:
- Star Wars Imperial Assualt
- Star Wars Outer Rim
- Star Wars Armada
- Star Wars Legion
Buy Star Wars X-Wing 2.0 Core Set
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