Wednesday, October 29, 2014

All pilots to your fighters!

One of the problems with using miniatures on a tabletop to simulate combat is the lack of continuous movement, especially if your game includes flying characters or vehicles. While some game systems may use clear stands to indicate movement through the air, most of the time fliers in tabletop games tend to "hop" from one position to another, without any real sense of fluid movement.

Star Wars: X-Wing solves that problem in a variety of ways. Ships move using templates that make movement a bit more fluid than using a tape measure or bouncing from square to square. More importantly, every player has to decide on the direction and distance of their move each turn at the same time, deciding in secret and revealing simultaneously. Once moves are revealed, ships move in order of the skill of their pilot, starting with the rookies and working their way up to the seasoned fliers like Han Solo and Darth Vader. After all the ships have moved, they get the opportunity to fire if they have any targets within range, this time starting with the best pilots and working their way down.

It's an excellent system that conveys a sense of constant movement while at the same time using the limitations of a tabletop miniatures game (the fact that the miniatures still need to be moved one at a time) to simulate an advantage that better pilots would have over lesser ones. Additionally, it can sometimes be difficult to envision exactly where your ship will end up after moving along your chosen template, which adds a great element of unpredictability to the game. It also means I tend to crash into asteroids a lot when I play...

Players choose their ships based on a pre-determined point system, with a choice of several different pilots for each ship as well as a host of optional upgrades such as extra missiles, co-pilots and astromech droids. Will you go with Darth Vader piloting his TIE Advanced, maybe with one or two wingmen, or will you opt for a swarm of TIE Fighters in an attempt to overwhelm the pesky Rebels? Would you rather have Han Solo or Lando Calrissian piloting the Falcon? This gives players a lot of strategic decisions to make before the game even starts, and ensures that the game is different every time.

The pre-painted figures are exceptional, with a lot of great detailing, and they are perfectly to scale with one another, giving larger ships like the Millennium Falcon their own advantages and disadvantages when compared to the smaller X-Wings and TIE Fighters.

Most importantly, the game really feels like Star Wars, so much so that you can almost hear the screaming engines and laser blasts.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) Great looking miniatures and a game system that suits the source material perfectly.
Date played: October 5, 2014

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