Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game Review

Star Wars X-Wing Miniature Game

What game has been calling my name for a solid year, desperately wanting me to buy it?  Well - none other than Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game.

In X-Wing, each player takes on a faction - either Imperial or Rebel.  Then, that player takes their respective ships and selects a pilot for each of them, setting the ships on their side of the play area.  Each turn, both players will simultaneously select a maneuver for each of their ships to perform.  Then, in order of pilot skill (from worst to best), players will execute these moves and optionally take an action to prepare for the upcoming firefight.  (This represents that better pilots can react to what the other pilots are doing.)  Once all of the ships have moved, then they begin to shoot at each other - this time starting with the highest rated pilot.  In order to attack, the pilot checks to make sure that the targeted ship is within range, and then takes dice equal to his weapon value (plus one if the enemy is at close range).  All of the attack dice are rolled, and modifiers are applied.  Then, the defending player takes dice equal to his maneuverability (plus one if he is at long range).  Dice are rolled and modifiers are applied.  If there are more hits than evades, the targeted ship takes damage - first from shields, then from hull.  If his damage equals or exceeds his hull value, then he blows up in a spectacular fashion.  (I've seen the movies - I know what they're supposed to look like when they blow up; though I'm unwilling to take a firecracker to my game to actually see it firsthand.)  Once only one person has any ships remaining, he is declared the winner!

Star Wars X-Wing and TIE Fighters
Chasing down TIE Fighters
The first pro for X-Wing should be inherently obvious to anyone that has actually seen the game.  It is absolutely, phenomenally, gorgeous!  Let's all admit something together.  As we have grown older, we have lost much of our imagination.  Remember as a child, when you would set up your army men, GI Joes, Ninja Turtles (my favorite), or Star Wars ships all over the living room?  Then, you would grab them and run around the room yelling "pew! pew! pew!" to simulate the laser fire from the X-Wings?  You didn't need rules.  You just ran around shooting them at each other.  It was inherently obvious to you which ships got hit, and which ones were missed.  Basically, that's what this game is.  But for adults.  Since we've given up on being imaginative, we now have a set of rules that allow us to play with beautiful toys as adults, without feeling embarrassed.  (After all, if you saw a 30 year old man running around his living room with toys shouting "pew! pew! pew!" you probably wouldn't think nice things about him - admit it.)  So, instead of being creative, now we are able to experience this same joy, but with the "clickety-clack" of dice rolling instead of our own sound effects.

The next pro that I have for X-Wing is that the ships are actually fairly easy to maneuver, even for a new player.  The game that X-Wing most resembles is  Wings of War.  That actually concerned me quite a bit.  Why?  Because I was completely awful at Wings of War.  I just circled around my opponent forever, never getting a clear shot - and the only times I did get a clear shot were because we were shooting at each other in a head-on collision.  X-Wing's movement system is a bit more forgiving, and I had far more situations where I had been able to guess my opponent's moves and shoot at him from the side (or vice versa).  Overall, the movement system for X-Wing seemed to be one of the strengths of the game instead of a source of frustration.

My final pro is that, if you decide to delve deeply into this game, there are a lot of different elements that you can tinker with.  You can build your own fleet using different astromech droids, upgrades, and pilots.  You have three playable missions that are provided with the basic game.  There are also very nice, small touches that Fantasy Flight has put into the game system itself.  Things like - different ships have different maneuverability.  Some of these moves cause stress on your pilot, which makes him less effective.  There are obstacles that you can play with - like fighting through an asteroid field.  Some ships can perform barrel rolls to move laterally.  Others can use their ship's computer to acquire a target lock.  Essentially, there are lots of small elements of the game that work together to allow you to dive in headlong.

Star Wars game TIE Fighter Minis
These are all the ships you get in the base game.
Unfortunately, that leads directly into my first con.  To play a "full" game of X-Wing is incredibly expensive.  I realize that Fantasy Flight's business model is to come out with games that are good enough to sell lots of expansions.  And, honestly, I have no problem with that.  I've complained a bit before about some of their great games that I felt a bit gypped by (like Lord of the Rings: LCG and Game of Thrones: LCG).  But at least with each of those, I felt like I got a complete game - though I wish the component breakdown had been different.  In X-Wing, I feel like I paid full price a sample game.  The recommended size of your fleets in the game is 100 points.  The game comes with one X-Wing and two Tie Fighters.  The best pilot that the rebels have (Luke Skywalker) is 28 points.  He is also unique, so you couldn't even use him three times if you had three copies.  Assuming that you upgrade your ships (thus spending a few more points) you're still looking at needing three copies of the base set in order to play a "full" game.  Or, you could buy a lot of the single ship expansion packs.  None of these additional purchases are inexpensive (because of the amazing quality of the miniatures).  So, in order to play a "full" game of X-Wing, you are looking at around $90-120.

My other con for X-Wing is that by the end of some of my games, it felt like we were just rolling dice back and forth.  Generally, the X-Wing would sustain some minor damage while shooting down the first TIE Fighter, but then it would be down to one X-Wing against one TIE Fighter, as the players circled each other trying to get the better position and hoping that the die rolls went their way.  None of the ships in the base game roll more than three dice on attack, so it was really just rolling a couple of dice back and forth to see who eventually won.  Most of the strategy of the game seems to be gone once the game gets down to one on one.  I would imagine that this con is a product of my only playing with the components of the base game, instead of mixing in any additional expansions.  However, I'm reviewing the game, and not the expansions, so I think that this con is warranted.

Overall, I give Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game an 8.0/10.  It is a good game, and I can definitely see why people would delve into it.  Giant 100 point (or higher) battles would be fun to watch or to play.  And, in fact, I'm very curious to see what other ships they come out with - I'd love to see some Star Destroyers, Corellian Corvettes, and eventually a mission with the Death Star.  And, to go absolutely crazy, it'd be amazing if Fantasy Flight got the Star Trek license, and made a Star Trek game that was compatible!  With all of that, the ultimate question that you need to ask yourself when deciding if you want this game is, "how much am I willing to spend?" 

If Star Wars: X-Wing sounds interesting to you, you should also check out Wings of War, Battlestar Galactica, and Heroscape.


  1. Yes, I will probably never play this game unless I somehow miraculously find some one who owns it. I can't afford to get into the collecting business, and even at the $90-120 basic 3-set range, I think you'd still have a simple roll-fest, just more of it.

    Now if they come out with the Death Star and you can re-create the Battle of!

    I think bottom line is, this is for miniatures gamers. While it's been hot in the board gaming circles, the mind-set and, dare I say even, "culture" of miniature gaming is a completely different cup of tea from board gaming. I just don't see mainstream board gamers crossing over and buying full-out into this on the scale that it will justify the cost vs. scratch-the-strategy-itch ratio. I'm not sure if that last sentence even made sense!

  2. The strategy is definitely there. It's just very different from what you'd find in a board game. It's more about positioning and movement, and minis gamers get that I think better than board gamers. Even Heroscape, which sort of straddles the line between mini and boardgame, devolves into a slugging match once you're down to a couple of figures on each side. But there's a lot of tactical maneuvering leading up to that point.

    I think this might make the leap for some boardgamers who are into games like Heroscape or Monsterpocalypse. But you have to be interested in the strategy and tactics that underlie a minis game and not have the same expectations that you would of a boardgame, where spatial reasoning and planning doesn't usually matter.

  3. This is a very interesting game to me and highly tempting. $90-$120 sounds like a lot but hey, Fleet Captains is $100, Twilight Imperium is $90 plus $40-$50 for each expansion retail so it's really not out there as far as price. And those are some darn beautiful miniatures. And those prices assume you pay the full retail price. You can pull in the base set plus the 4 available expansions from CoolStuffInc for a total of $66 plus tax, and that's not horrible.

    The killer for me is 2-player only. A majority of my game-time is 3+ players, and this isn't exactly the kind of game my wife was into. Are there rules for 4-player (IE teams of 2v2) and if not are there plans to expand to that?

    Also apparently you shouldn't come over to my house. I play with spaceships and make the noises and everything, all the time. The rules are just to make it "fair" when playing with other people - they just don't seem to be convinced that my ships are always better

  4. Jason, that's what I've been wondering. I've been designing a minis tactical game, but I want to pitch it to the nonhobbyists. It's tricky, though, since the deeper gameplay of tactical minis games tends to put off "mainstream" gamers... more than the price, I tend to think.

    Still, I'm trying to make my game appeal on price and design, but it's tricky to find the sweet spots.

  5. @Jonathan - I agree, the price isn't terribly out of line with others like Fleet Captains. And, on the one hand, it's nice that you can try the game without making the full investment into it. On the other hand, it makes the base game feel a bit lacking.

    I don't know if there are "official" rules for more than 2 players, but it'd be easy enough to divvy up the ships between multiple people and play it as a team game.

    @Scott - yeah, I agree that there's definite strategy in movement and positioning. However, I've never realized how inaccurate those blasted laser cannons are until playing this game. (And now I recall lots of stray fire in the movies.) It can get frustrating to get the right positioning so that you can take a shot at your opponent that he can't respond to just to see a blank face show up on all of the dice!

  6. I was speaking generally of minis gaming vs. board gaming - I'm picking up my sets tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to trying it out this week.

  7. Got my copy coming and am pretty pumped to play it!

    Think it will be a great game to show my friends the wonderful world of wargaming. :D