Thursday, 15 October 2015

Game Review: X-wing the miniature game: The Force Awakens Edition

It seems a long time ago that X-wing launched now, it's popularity catching all (including FFG) by surprise and leaving it unavailable for some time after its release, although it is readily available now. Though I feel it doesn't really work at the 'epic' scale I feel as a small scale skirmish/dog fighting game it is peerless. Besides for the larger stuff I have Star Wars Armada, and that I am REALLY enjoying.

And it was Armada that lead me to Wayland Games Hockley recently. Ostensibly there to snag a deal or two on the Armada blisters for their grand opening, my eyes were suddenly drawn to the Force Awakens X-wing core set. Of course I  was already aware of it as it had been leaked a good few months ago and FFG have been actively previewing it since, but now it was available to buy. Reasoning that this was no impulse buy but in the cause of genuine Conclave research (at least that's what i told my girlfriend) and that it was only £24.00 i nabbed a copy.

The same, yet different.... note the new turns on the templates....

At first glance it doesn't really look all that different. Sporting a blue scheme rather than red, even the front cover art looks similar at first glance. The ships are presented in exactly the same way too. Of course those ships are brand spanking new shiny Star Wars goodness. Nestled in the plastic inlay are two F/O TIES and a  Incom T-70 X-wing. I would expect you to already be aware of these ships but just in case, the T-70 has a look much like the old one till you get to the back. With a new split wing profile and engines that are split too it looks like an update of the old model and is familiar and exciting all at once.

Just looking at this is getting me excited for December!

The TIE is so similar to the old one i thought it was actually the same mould! It's not, I checked, but it really does just look like it has been recoloured. The differences are minimal to say the least. Black with white panels it looks like a negative exposure version of the original. One thing i will say is that although these are new moulds they are different to the actual TIEs that we have seen so far from the Film, even the other TIE toys seem to be more accurate than the X-wing ships.  Something of a surprise given how much FFG lauds its collaborative relationship with Lucasfilm and the absolute authenticity of their product.

A fine looking ship...

They are different but you will have to look really closely to tell..

As an aside there was a rumour going round that the recently released Micro Machines would serve as substitutes for the X-wing models. At three for a fiver it would be a cheap way to bolster your fleet.  Well I grabbed a pack (research reasons again obviously) and as you can see they are poor in comparison when put next to the real thing. Yes they would fit on the flight stands no problem and you could probably get away with it but they are softy and bendy and quite frankly would stick out like a sore thumb. Stick with the real deal folks.

For one thing, the holes are too big for the stands. 

The TIEs are smaller and made of a very bendy plastic. But they look more authentic than the X-wing ships.

No comparison in my eyes... stick with the real thing.

Despite it's similarities to its predecessor the Force Awakens edition is far from the same game repackaged. X-wing has been around for some time now and many minor revisions have been wrought into the game mechanics and this edition has those incorporated. More tightening and a bit of clarifying than reinventing the wheel, it is more a case of correcting a few incongruities than anything else. A few of the steps have been re organised to correct glitches that have arisen as the game has got more complex and the wording in places has been revised for clarity's sake.

In addition, in line with other Fantasy Flight Games X-wing now comes with a separate rules reference guide. Acting as a glossary/index it should make any rules disputes super quick to resolve.
Another change is the addition of two new maneuvers. There are two new turns that will really shake up the way the game works. Now these turns may have actually made an appearance in later X-wing expansions i'm not sure. I'll freely admit I have lost a little interest in X-wing, As time has gone on the game has become more grand and more complicated and i don't think that it works as well at that scale. Still i look forward to trying these new maneuvers, it looks like the new T-70 can literally dance round the board as i said.

The separate rules reference will help a lot...

The damage deck has also been re balanced. The new version completely replaces the old deck. There were a few imbalances and a few cards that affected certain classes of ship a lot more than others. It's nice that FFG have taken this step and i look forward to seeing how the new decks affect critical hits that are doled out. Part of this change might be that due to the new ship stats criticals may well be dealt out more often.

The game works the same way but check out those new T-70 stats!

Ah yes, new ships. The new fighters in the box have been considerably beefed up. For a start the F/O TIE has SHIELDS, well one. Yes you read that right. it's shielded. Still not a tough ship by any means and the X wing has gained another shield too, but at least the games you play with your core set will last a little longer. In addition the TIE can now lock on and the X wings get a boost action added to their action bar. This in addition with the new turns that are introduced make them a LOT more survivable. These new turns have been introduced I think, to combat the problem of ships just endlessly doing J turns, a problem i encountered in many of my games of  X-wing. One of the new turns is a hard turn where you then rotate the fighter another 90 degrees, another is a slight turn but you flip the fighter much like a J turn (Korigan loop)

Dancing i tell you, DANCING!

These additions, in combination with the new upgrade cards should prove to be a welcome shot in the arm for X-wing. The new T-70 can practically dance around the battlefield and the more durable TIEs and retooled damage deck should make for exciting and balanced play. Obviously as time goes on more and more Force Awakens ships are bound to be released and it will be interesting to see how they incorporate these into the game. I still think X wing works best with just a few ships on either side and becomes somewhat clumsy at the 'Epic' scale but this is a very promising revision of a game that was already rather strong with the Force......

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