In this new series of articles we will be looking to explore the barrier to entry to various games, what options you have for getting started and what addition purchases are worth the money and what could be considered indulgences.
In this Where to Start, Kris will be talking about Star Wars X-Wing: The Miniatures Game and what options you have to start playing this fun, faced paced Space Combat game set in the Star Wars Universe.
Launched back in 2012 the first edition of the X-Wing Miniatures Game was really popular game, balancing it’s innovative flight path system with the deck building feel of squad building as you agonized over your choice of upgrades, the game proved to be extremely popular.
The outstanding Organized Play from Fantasy Flight Games’ living card games transferred over to X-Wing with ease and X-Wing went from strength to strength, and with the release of the updates Force Awakens Core Set in 2015 it held ICv2’s number one spot for the best selling Non-Collectible Miniatures Game, knocking industry giants Games Workshop off the top spot.
Roll on May 2018 and Fantasy Flight Games announce that they were going to publish a second edition of the game and X-Wing 2.0 hit the shelves in September 2018, accompanied by a rerelease of some old ships for the Rebel Alliance, Galactic Empire, & Scum and Villainy faction, they now came with cool moving parts, a new paint job, and new sculpts. What is more, the launch was also accompanied by the somewhat controversial Conversion Kits.
These conversion kits contained a bunch of Cards and Accessories to convert your collection to Second Edition, but they also made for an awkward entry to the game, as new players often could not actually buy the ships from the older edition or if a store was stocking the old ships would have to pay for a Conversion Kit without being able to get the “full value” as they may only have one or two of the ships from that kit to use.
Luckily, in Q1 of 2019 FFG added the first new factions to the game, after splitting Resistance and First Order into their own distinct factions, they added Clone Wars Era ships with the Republic and Separatist factions. What was really impressive was that with this release they introduced the idea of Squadron Packs, which contained the same number of ships as the core set, but all for one faction and by July 2019 FFG had Deluxe Maneuver Templates and Dice available, the Obstacle Pack “Never Tell Me The Odds” was released in January 2020, adding in variety for which Obstacles you could bring, but still we were missing easy access to the Damage Deck without resorting to the secondary market.
Finally, in June 2020, Fantasy Flight’s Faction Specific Damage decks arrived in stores and finally, after 21 months, you could officially buy in to X-Wing without having to buy the Core Set. The recent arrival of more squadron boxes for Rebels, Imperials, Scum and Resistance leaves only First Order without a value buy in option (at the time of writing, although there have been leaks seeming to confirm the First Order will receive a Squadron Pack named Fury of the First Order, containing the TIE Whisper and two First Order Bombers.)
This really opens up the scope of how you can start playing X-Wing, each faction offers its own roster of ships and comes with its own flavor.
The first place to start is what I used to recommend to people as a Balanced Approach. This assumes that you don’t know anyone to play with right now (although this should be fairly easy to fix, as there are a whole host of communities online and typing in your local area followed by X-Wing should lead you to a Facebook group not to far from your location!)
If you don’t know anyone who currently plays, it’s probably worth getting a little bit of two factions so that you can introduce your friends to the game without spending too much on any specific faction and trying to get a fairly balanced, representative experience of the game.
So, two Core Sets gives you a solid core to both Empire and Rebels whilst giving you a full dice pool, two sets of templates, obstacles and two damage decks.
To try to keep costs down as this is the only time I am advising people shopping for two players in the same type of budget I am going to be talking about putting Single Squads together I wanted to add one ship to each side to try to get usable ships for if you decide to expand later.
For the Rebel Alliance I resisted the temptation to add in anything too fancy and went with a third X-Wing, whilst this may seem a little dull, I honestly think its a solid workhorse for Rebel squads and gives you access to more Unique Pilot options than just the two from the core sets.
The rebel squad attempts to leverage the Rebel Alliances access to Torpedo Upgrades, giving you 3 higher Initiative Pilots that should attack before most other pilots in the game with what will hopefully be a devastating volley of Proton Torpedoes, which will hopefully help to level the playing field before the enemy gets to fire back.
Over all, its three ships that can all function independently, offer their own abilities and should hit like a truck if they can coordinate fire, it’s fragile and will punish you for making mistakes but its a solid foundation to expand upon if you decide to continue with the Rebel Faction after you have introduced a few players.
For the Imperials we already have a really solid Mini Swarm of TIE/ln Fighters and so adding in a TIE Advanced x1
Adding in the Darth Vader seems like a No Brainer to be honest, he brings a nice big orange number at Initiative 6 and has a fantastic Pilot Ability which really lets him get the most out of the Ship Ability of the TIE Advance where you can ensure you have the Target Lock on your target and Fire Control System lets you maintain it whilst still getting some Dice Modification.
Using Inferno Squad to be his wingmates gives you a really solid block of ships and as they all share an Initiative of 4, they give you excellent maneuverability options as you get to select their activation order and so can fly them together to maximize the supportive abilities of a couple of the pilots, and hopefully giving Vader an anvil to maneuver around and trap the enemy on.
Both of these Squads give a taste of the standard 200 point games of X-Wing for the minimum of investment for two players, if you were ordering it off the FFG Website right now, its everything you need for two players for $119.80 USD so this if by far the most cost effective route in to the game.
Let’s assume though that you already know some people who play, or are willing to just head down to your local group and jump right in that way.
For each of these lists I am going to assume an initial investment of either an X-Wing Core Set and an extra set of Dice for $47.90 or Deluxe Templates, Two Packs of Dice, Never Tell Me The Odds and a Faction Specific Damage Deck for $55.75, so when you look at it, even if you are not interested at all in flying Rebels or Empire, the Core Set is not a bad deal, as long as you accept the Card Board Templates and smaller variety of obstacles, if you are considering Rebels or Empire, its a bit of a no brainer as you are also getting some ships too.
Anyway, on to faction specific advice.
For the Rebel Alliance, I think I would recommend the core set still as even though we will not be using him in this list Luke Skywalker is a solid choice and it is the only way to get him. In addition to the Core Set, I would pick up another T-65 X-Wing Expansion and the Phoenix Cell Squadron Box, this gives you a good mix of ships and whilst you will be missing some A-Wing and B-Wing pilot options we have everything we need for this Squadron.
This squad gives us a nice balance of maneuverable ships with interesting abilities and solid workhorse ships that will get good use out of the Hopeful upgrade. All of the pilots are Initiative 3 which gives you a lot of versatility in Activation and Sabine Wren’s ability in the A-Wing is really good, adding reliable offense and defense if you are willing to put her in harm’s way, which leans in to what we want to be doing with Starbird Slash and Hopeful anyway. Derek on the other hand is more there because he is a Unique pilot which is required to activate Hopeful if he dies, so whilst his ability synergises nicely with XX-23 S-Thread Tracers, it’s not something I think will return great value.
The main plan is to use one A-Wing to Starbird Slash while the other lines up Tracers, the Slash Helps the Tracers Land, the Tracers makes everyone else’s shots more reliable and if anyone dies you get Focus Tokens or an Extra Boost.
Coming in at $117.80 USD if we pick up the Core Set and Extra Dice we have a decent start to our Rebel Fleet and this squad combines well with my earlier suggestion as its literally just adding the Phoenix Cell box on top of that, so if you are splitting that purchase with a friend who wants to play Empire you are already in to deep value territory.
For the Galactic Empire, I don’t think we are going to even use the TIE fighters at all in this list so it’s your call if you pick it up to save cash or go with the fancy accessories instead, but either way this is by far the Cheapest way of getting in to the game from todays lists.
Now, this list is not for the faint hearted, you have two a low ship count and are relying on your two aces to really get the job done. Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith in the TIE/D Defender comes with a hefty price tag of 115 points, but you are getting one of the best starfighters in the galaxy, piloted at Initiative 6, with an ability that gives you an (almost) 85% chance of getting 3 hits every time you attack (with 3 force available) Ciena Ree comes in as your second Initiative 6 Ace and whilst she is very much the budget wingman for Vader here, she can still more than pull her weight.
That leaves the Saber Squadron Ace, as your third ship who is also toting Disciplined to try to benefit if one of the other ships goes down by getting the Target Lock for free, or repositioning for a better attack.
The fact that even if you go the expensive route and but all of the equipment you need separately you are only coming in at $105.70 USD makes this an extremely cheap avenue in to the game, even if you may need a few rounds to get the feel for it with such a baller squadron.
OK, as a final Bonus Squad let us assume that you did get the Starter Box as the imperial player just to bring your cost down to $97.85 USD you may want a break from bashing your head against the wall with Vader if the dice just are not rolling for you.
This list leverages two of the named TIE Interceptor Pilots from the Skystrike Academy Box and allows you to add in two TIE/ln Fighters from the Core Set to bring you up to a 5 ship list.
Nash Windrider allows you to not have to care about a ship getting Alpha Struck off the table once per round as it gets to take an attack before being removed, and Commandant Goran lets you be a little more aggressive with you moves as your other ships can bump and still take a Red Focus action, so this list is much more forgiving, whilst still giving you the awesome TIE/D Defender Chassis to fly.
As we get toward the end of part one, now should be a good time to summarize some basic ideas for where to start if you are interested in playing either Rebels or Empire in X-Wing, the Core Set is really good value and contains some cards that you can not find anywhere else for both factions, and as such even if you only want to play one of the two factions, it’s still a really good deal.
After that, picking up a second core set still offers a decent return, or even better splitting one with a friend!
Then, both the X-Wing and the TIE Advanced x1 are solid choices that offer list building options to get you to 200 points and playing quickly.
From that point, picking up the relevant Squadron Box for your chosen faction continues to offer a good amount of value compared to buying more individual ships and will transition well in to any future purchases, the only thing really missing from the lists for these factions is any large based ships, but luckily, we will be getting our fill of those with Scum & Villainy in Part 2!
Let us know in the comments if you have any other buying advice for wither Rebels or Empire, or what you think is a good start for Scum, and would you get a core set if you can’t use any of the ships?
Thanks for reading,