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.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Star Wars: X-Wing 2nd Edition

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Fi bought Amy her first board game gift for Christmas 2015. If you look back at early photos of our game shelf, you’ll see the X-Wing core game on our shelf and over time our quantity of ships has grown. We only play casually at home with the Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance factions, so when the 2nd edition was announced, we were unsure whether to upgrade.

In order to play 2nd Edition, we have a new core set, the Galactic Empire upgrade pack and a Rebel Alliance upgrade pack. For us, this is a significant amount of extra stuff, since we have only about 50% of the ships in each faction, so there’s a lot of spare cardboard in each of the upgrade packs. We also now have two extra Tie Fighters and one extra X-Wing, which are undoubtedly cooler models. So we wanted to write about whether it was worth the upgrade for casual players, and whether the new core set provides a better entry point for new players.

What’s New

At its core X-wing 2nd Edition is the same game as it's predecessor, so for the sake of brevity I'm not going to go into the full rules for the game. Instead I'm going to focus on changes, and the changes that were most notable for us.

The first thing you may notice is a complete absence of points on ships. If you want to make a fleet now you use the companion app which can be updated over time to ensure that overpowered items get the appropriate point increase. The app is simple to use though a minor complaint is that telling it I have the rebel conversion kit has made it think I have access to every rebel ship ever made, combine that with the Y-wing being alphabetically placed as a BTL-A4 Y-wing and it can be a little awkward to find the ship I want. For the casual player you will be happy to see quick play cards which give you a suggested set up for a ship and a rating out of 5, put a 3/5 against a 1/5 and a 2/5 and you'll have an approximately balanced game with the bonus of not having to squad plan at all. I was disappointed to find that these weren't in the upgrade kits, but you should find them in 2nd edition ship packs.

All the ships have had their rules tweaked and re-balanced, shields generally seem to be less prominent making critical hits more potent and movement (particularly for older ships such as the x-wing) has been tweaked. The addition of Segnor's loops and Tallon rolls (manoeuvres that let you perform 180 rotations after turns) to the older and more basic ships makes movement less predictable, while barrel rolls seem to appear more often, though often causing stress. In addition the ship tiles have a few more lines on them to help with movement and providing a new, "dead ahead" targeting option. Some ships are now on medium bases rather than just small and large and ships with turrets now have to choose which area to aim at rather than simply having 360 degree firing arcs.

Many item cards now have charges, simply put charges are a count of the number of times you can use an item. Some items have charges that recharge over time, while others are spent and then gone. For my money this means that missiles are now a valid choice, and that R2D2 can't just infinitely repair Luke's shields until the wompas come home! Using almost the exact same mechanic there are now force users in the game. Force users can be given force specific upgrade cards, my favourite being the ability to fire proton torpedoes without needing a targeting lock! But perhaps more importantly you can use force tokens as a limited form of the focus action, spending a force token to turn one focus die into a hit/dodge. Luke and Darth Vader are suddenly forces to be reckoned with, rather than being outgunned and outclassed by the newer pilots.

Oh and the new X-wing mini can close it's S-foils!

Amy’s Thoughts

Someone at Fantasy Flight really loves Star wars because X-wing second edition shows an even deeper care and understanding of the series than the first! Many of the mechanics are based on in lore choices and several of the oversights of the first edition have been fixed. Imperial shuttles now have their rear blasters, The Falcon has 2 turrets, S-foils can open/close to alter manoeuvrability, Luke can use the force and Y-wings can finally be outfitted with bombs, to name but a few. The second edition of X-wing just oozes with charm for Star Wars fans.

Rules-wise there has been a definite improvement, with 6 years of tweaks and changes being incorporated into the new base set. Nothing has been entirely rewritten and it still feels like the original, but with a slightly better flow to the combat. While the app is useful for creating fleets it doesn't entirely solve the issue of having to go through a full deck of cards to find the one you need, setup is just as painful as it has ever been with you having to find the right one of the double sided pilot tiles for your ships. For the committed tournament players who use the same fleet every time this is a lesser issue, but for the causal player who want to mess about with different ship combinations just because it looks cool, you may get frustrated by the constant search for pieces unless you invest in a form of smart storage.

The upgrade kits notably do not contain any shield or target lock tokens, an understandable omission as anyone who upgraded already has more deflector shields than they can count, but as the new tokens work and look a little different it is a touch disappointing. Most frustratingly, neither of the upgrade kits included bomb tokens (with the manuals actively saying that they are "other tokens included in this kit"). Not a major problem for imperials who have had bombs from the start, but if you are a rebel player who wants to add bombs to their Y-wings then you'll have to buy a 2nd edition Y-Wing kit to get the tokens you need! What they do contain however is rules and manoeuvring dials to field at least 2 of every ship released so you can get your entire fleet to the table from day 1. This is actually an intimidating amount of content, but it does mean that the frugal X-wing player could seek out cheaper 1st edition ships and use their upgrade kits to convert them.

Ultimately, the question is is it worth the upgrade? Well it depends, the game is improved, of that there is no doubt, but the biggest improvement for casual players (the quick start cards) are only available if you buy new ships. The amount of content is daunting and potentially wasteful if, like me, you only have about half the released ships. I would certainly recommend any newcomer to X-Wing to pick up the second edition, and tournament veterans shouldn't even consider not doing so. As for casual players with a medium-sized set of ships, you have to ask yourself if you'd rather spend the money on more ships for the first edition?

Fi’s Thoughts

As mentioned, X-Wing is Amy's game. I am not a Star Wars fan, I have never seen a Star Wars movie, but I do like the ships and appreciate our vast collection of Lego Star Wars! I've enjoyed our casual games of X-Wing, although I've never felt invested enough to get heavily involved in exactly how I customise my ships and play really tactically. When playing full 100 point games, I could find it a little tedious. The appeal to me of the second edition was the promise of a streamlined set-up and a quick start for casual players.

Our first couple of plays certainly didn't feel more streamlined. Due to the shear quantity of stuff in the two upgrade packs, there is a lot to deal with on the table. In addition, you don't quite have everything you need in terms of shield tokens, number of dice etc. so we found ourselves opening up our first edition boxes too - out dining table was a mess of cardboard and plastic! In addition, as someone who only really has the patience to sit down at the table and play I wanted to look at my cards and understand the game, but there are a few too many new symbols and new concepts in the game that meant I then needed a 15 minute rules lesson too.

With all that said, I did enjoy some of the new elements that X-Wing 2nd Edition implements. I really enjoyed using the force and employing the charges on my missiles and I feel like these encouraged me into more tactical gameplay. I also liked the way that the new styles of turn and the focused zone of your firing arc made positioning a little more important. The penalties for crashing were also a little less severe, making the game a little more free flowing for casual players, like me, who are less likely to care about precisely using their movement template.

I am probably a pretty niche and lazy, disengaged player of X-Wing, but for me, getting into 2nd Edition was partly like learning a new game, with the complication of mixing and matching the old and the new. I like what the 2nd Edition does for the game and if Amy dedicates half a day to sorting our collection, I will certainly enjoy it more. I'd totally recommend the 2nd Edition for new players, but it's a big upheaval for more casual players like us.

The Verdict

7/10 The new game features in X-Wing 2nd Edition are really refreshing and make the game more thematic for Star Wars fans, so we definitely recommend the 2nd edition for newcomers to X-Wing. If you already have a small collection, then upgrading isn’t going to change your world, so I think the decision will be driven by whether you’ll play it enough in the future to justify £100 plus of additional investment, or if you might rather buy a whole new game!

X-Wing 2nd Edition was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. 

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