Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 11 August 2015

May the dice be with you, always:- X-Wing Miniatures

Game Title: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures game

Designer:Jay Little

Manufacturer: Fantasy Flight Games

Year: 2012

Without warning Green light filled her cockpit as two lasers flew by on collision course with a nearby hill. The comms cracked alive 'Attention rebel scum, that was your one and only warning, land your craft and surrender or we will shoot you down'. Luna drained the throttle before reaching for the comms switch 'You honestly think everyone who flies a T-65 supports the rebellion?'. She yanked back the stick, pushed forward on her left pedal and then slammed the throttle to max as she pulled the trigger, the effect was an aerial U-turn with all 4 guns blazing. One of the two Tie fighters took the brunt of the barrage before exploding. The two ships danced through the sky, red and green lasers managing to miss anything of importance until finally Luna's shields were torn apart by a direct blast to the wing. Desperate to end the fight Luna did another U-turn, guns blazing, her ship shuddered under the G-forces, then suddenly loosened up, looking over her shoulder she saw the remnants of her top-left wing gliding towards the ground, her lasers may have missed the tie, but the wing didn't. 

X-wing miniatures is a 2 player miniature-based, Star-Wars themed, dogfighting board game. It features most of the smaller ships from the original Star Wars movies (Although some of the larger ships have been made) and some from the expanded universe of games and books. The main games comes with 1 x-wing and 2 tie fighters, but for full disclosure this review is based on my collection which is 2 x-wings, 2 a-wings, 1 y-wing, 1 b-wing, 4 tie fighters, 2 tie interceptors, 1 tie advanced and a tie bomber.

The game play in itself is fairly simple, each ship has a manoeuvre dial which has all of the movements that it can perform, you select a manoeuvre for each of your ships and then place the dials upside down on the table. Then in order of pilot skill (from low to high) you reveal a ship’s manoeuvre, place the guide in the slots on the ship’s base, move the ship along to the other side of the guide, and then choose one of your ship’s actions to perform before moving onto the next ship. Once everything has moved and acted you have a combat phase. During the combat phase the ships are activated in order of pilot skill, from high to low (Yes Han Solo is a 9, the max it can be, he does, in fact, shoot first), you roll attack dice equal to your attack stat, your target rolls defence dice equal to their agility, and for every hit not avoided you deal one damage.

The attack dice (red) fearure hits, crits (with the hole in the centre) and focus eyes (which you can convert to hits witht he focus action). The green defense dice feature only dodges and focus eyes.

I’m skipping out things like modifiers for terrain, distance, special abilities of pilots, critical hits, shields and actions, all of which can make you more or less likely to deal damage, but that is where the depth of the game comes from. You can invest as much as you like into this game, learning deep strategies, powerful combos and then playing in tournament level play. But I don’t really feel up to reviewing that level of the game. We play the game casually and that’s how I like it. I’ve seen some people playing seriously and they didn’t look like they had the kind of fun I had, for a start they neglected to make *bzzzt* noises every time they lost a shield! 

The most important phase by far is moving and this they have done really well, by limiting your choice of actions based on ships you produce a really good dogfighting simulator where you can stay on someone’s six if you are good enough a predicting their actions. But you also get distinct ship characteristics, Y-wings are slow and plodding while Tie interceptors can run rings around them. B-wings are slow but their unique rotating design allows them to perform U-turns in a surprisingly small distance, Tie bombers might not be very manoeuvrable, but they can move faster than rebel bombers in a straight line. There are also the ships of the third faction, but I don’t own the scum and villainy expansions so I’m in the place to comment how they feel.

An example squadron including 1 Y-wing, 2 A-wings and 1 B-wing. The models and art on the cards are just gorgeous.
Part of the game is choosing the ships you want to play with and to that end there is a point system in place. You decide how much to play to (100 is standard, but the base game is balanced for about 35), pick ships that vary in price based on pilots, and then pick secondary weapons/modifications/droids etcetera that you want to equip on your ship. Most of these things add a rule-breaking ability (Darth Vader can perform 2 actions a turn for example). No matter what you like from the original movie trilogy and the extended universe you are likely to find it in ship form, so if you want to make Gold squadron then go ahead. If you liked the ships in the prequel trilogy then, well, I just feel sorry for you!

As I mentioned the main game comes with 1 x-wing and 2 tie fighters. It also comes with everything you need to play the game, rules and tokens etc. A personal gripe is that it doesn't come with as many dice as you need in the average game (an x-wing shooting at close range rolls 4 attack dice, but the game only comes with 3). This base box does include a fun game, it has a basic varient to help you learn, and it will provide a balanced fight between the 2 forces, however it will get old fairly fast. The game is fun, but part of the fun is controlling a squadron of ships, having a tie swarm of 2 is bad enough, but the rebels having only 1 ship misses the point of the game. Some people suggest picking up a second copy of the main game if you enjoy it to give you a chance to properly toy with fleet creation before investing in the individual ship expansions. I did do this, but I would equally recommend getting the 2 'aces' expansions to give you a few more advanced ships rather than more of the same.

One of the big problems with the game is the price point, the main game will set you back around £20-25 which includes 3 ships, which is the cheapest you'll get them, most ships will set you back just over £10 each. This includes both the scale model, and all the rules/tokens needed to play it. Most expansion ships come with an extra rule or two (The y-wing has a ion cannon, the tie interceptors can boost to move really fast) so adding only one or two at a time gives a nice learning curve to enter the game. A collection like mine will cost you around £125. Certainly a lot of money for one game.

So given that price point can I recommend it? Only if you have someone to regularly play with. If you have a couple of regular opponents then you only need to collect one force, which obviously halves the cost of building a collection. The game is fun, but I've not found it too easy to convince people who play board games to play it, it seems to stride between a classic miniature game and a board game which can be off-putting I suppose. I would highly recommend giving this game a go as it's one of my favourites in theme, model quality, customisability, and game play.



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