The Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game and You

She May Not Look Like Much, But She’s Got It Where It Counts

Y-Wings: they ain’t pretty but man are they beautiful

Whether watching the Imperials perform a grinding ground assault against Rebel targets or taking to the unforgiving void of space to see the Rebels destroy an Imperial fleet, one of the most iconic things surrounding Star Wars is its vehicles. Now personally I’m a ground pounder at heart. So folks can take their fancy flying contraptions any day while I sit in the corner playing with infantry and tanks. However, I will say the single best vehicle in either arsenal is the Y-Wing bomber. Not unlike the rising of the sun and moon, or the eventual Fast and Furious film when they drag race in supped up wheelchairs, this is an immutable law of reality and simply is.

Now where was I?  Oh, yes, now I remember.  How many times as kids (or adults, even) did we argue over who would win in a dogfight, who the better pilot was, or what would happen if one side only had ‘X’ person or weapon to tip the battle?  Quick aside: while I’ve always felt that the Imperials have the coolest ground assets, when it comes to controlling the skies, the Rebels have the upper hand.  If these are burning questions for you or you’d like another excuse reason to play with Star Wars toys collect Star Wars memorabilia, then the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game is right up your alley.

The Star Wars X-Wing game was released in 2012 by Fantasy Flight Games and is still in production today.  Built for 2 or more players, X-Wing allows players to jump into the cockpit of their favorite space faring vehicles through pilot selection and upgrades, all with the convenience of pre-painted miniatures.  Games consist of players taking to the skies or void of space on a 3’ x 3’ gaming area at around 100 points of miniatures and upgrades.  The 100-point mark gives players the opportunity to control three to five individual craft with pilots and several upgrades for each ship.  Aside from simple dogfights, the starter box gives players three additional mission types:

  • Escort: Rebel forces must escort a sympathetic Senator’s shuttle to safety while fending off Imperial forces
  • Escape: a lone Rebel pilot finds themselves adrift in an asteroid field while trying to make repairs and escape Imperial pursuers after five turns
  • Dark Whispers: Imperial forces have identified Rebel communication satellites that must be destroyed after they were spotted gathering intelligence

But before we can get into these advanced games, it is important that we first learn the rules and cover some administrative topics.  To start, each vehicle has a stat line printed on a card placed on the model’s base:

  • Orange signifies the pilot’s initiative value when determining order of operations.
  • Red signifies the number of attack dice used when engaging in combat.
  • Green signifies the number of defense dice used to avoid hits.
  • Blue signifies the number of deflector shield points that each vehicle has.
  • Yellow signifies the number of hull points each vehicle has.

Also printed on the card is the firing arc for the ship, name of the pilot flying the ship, and any skills either they or their ship may have, such as executing a barrel roll or the ability to perform a Focus or Target Lock action.

Example ship pilot cards that occupy the middle of each flight stand.

Similarly, these stats are also listed on the pilot cards for easy reference.  Pilot cards are placed in front of the player controlling that ship.

Pilot cards contain the same information as the ship cards on each miniature’s base.

The game is played in turns with each game turn consisting of four phases: Planning, Activation, Combat, and End Phase, and pieces are moved and actions taken in descending initiative order.  For simplicity I will cover the quick start rules as they pertain to the game.  Later in the article I will cover several advanced mechanics that can make gameplay more interesting.

The first step is to deploy forces.  In a basic game, models are placed on opposite edges along the play space edge.  Next comes the Planning Phase.  During the Planning Phase players secretly decide how their ships will move during that turn.  Each ship is given a small dial that contains the eligible ways for how their craft can move.  Moves consist of a given distance and may or may not be used in combination with a turning maneuver such as slow or high speed banking or performing a Koiogran Turn (imagine an Immelmann Turn in a two-dimensional space).  Some craft, such as the Imperial TIE Fighter, are very agile and can execute high speed maneuvers at breakneck speeds with little difficulty.  Other craft, such as the Rebel X-Wing, are more heavily armed or armored and could never execute maneuvers that more nimble craft can.  Once a player decides on their given move, they place the dial next to their craft face down.  One thing to note are play space edges.  When planning movement, it’s important to keep one basic rule in mind at all times: don’t exit the play area.  If a model leaves the play area it disengages from combat and counts as destroyed.  Unless a mission specifically says to leave from a play edge then stay on the mat.

Next is the Activation Phase.  Once all moves have been decided, dials are turned face up to reveal how each craft is moving.  Activation is executed in descending initiative order, so more skilled pilots will be able to execute maneuvers and react faster than a pilot that is greener.  A movement stick is placed between the two nubs on the front of model’s base.  While holding the movement stick in place, the model is moved to the opposite end of the stick between the two nubs on the rear of the base.  Once the move is complete the movement stick is removed from the play space.

Example movement sticks and ship dials.

Once all movement is completed, players move into the Combat Phase.  During the Combat Phase players perform various actions that affect their ship or enemy ships.  Actions can range from nothing, to firing primary or secondary weapons, to performing passive actions like achieving target locks or staying focused on increasing maneuvers.  When performing a combat action, the active ship checks to see if any enemies are in their firing arc and then measures the distance to the target with the provided measuring stick.  If an enemy ship meets both criteria, the active ship may shoot at the enemy.  The active player rolls the number of red dice listed on their ship card and the opponent rolls the number of green dice listed on their card.  Attacking ships ignore all blank, focus, and dodge symbols, and gather up the dice with explosions on them.  These count as hits.  The defending ship ignores all blank, focus, and explosion symbols, and gathers up the dice with dodges on them.  Dodges are the ones with the squiggly line avoiding an object.  Results are compared and for each explosion die that is not saved the defending ship takes one point of damage.

In the example below, the X-Wing player verifies whether each TIE Fighter is an eligible target.  The TIE Fighter in the upper left corner is not an eligible target because it does not fall into the X-Wing’s firing arc.  When checking the second TIE Fighter the player finds it is an eligible target because it falls within the X-Wing’s firing arc and it is within range.  The X-Wing engages the TIE Fighter in combat and rolls three red dice to attack while the TIE Fighter rolls three green dice in defense.  The X-Wing scores three hits while the TIE Fighter scores two blanks and a dodge.  The dodge negates one of the hits, leaving the TIE Fighter to take two points of damage nearly destroying it.

Example of combat in X-Wing.

Once the number of total number of shield and hull points on a ship reaches zero, it is destroyed and removed from play.  One thing to keep in mind is that everything happens in initiative order in the game.  For instance, if an initiative three ship destroys another initiative three ship before it has a chance to fight back (based on target eligibility), the destroyed ship still has a chance to fight back as all initiative three actions take place simultaneously.

The final phase in a game turn is the End Phase.  During this phase players first check for victory conditions.  If neither player has achieved victory, then players perform clean up actions, such as resolving lingering abilities and recharging shields.  Once complete players move into the next game turn starting again with the Planning Phase.

Moving into a few of the advanced rules makes gameplay a bit more interesting.  For movement, on each dial there are colored symbols along with a white number printed underneath.  The colors on each symbol are white, green, or red, where the number is how far the ship moves.  Remember when I mentioned how movement could be used in conjunction with maneuvers such as banking?  Now we introduce something called Stress.  When a pilot executes a red maneuver on their dial, such as a tight bank or a Koiogran Turn, they incur Stress tokens.  A ship with a Stress token cannot execute any further red maneuvers and forgoes all actions until the token is removed.  To remove a token a player must execute a green maneuver on their dial.  There are abilities out there where pilots can receive multiple Stress tokens through various means such as other pilots giving them Stress passively or playing one use ability cards to execute evasive maneuvers at the last second.

Focus and Target Lock are two different abilities that go somewhat hand in hand.  Focus is an ability that allows pilots to forgo their shooting attack and instead gain a Focus token.  Focus tokens can be spent by pilots when either attacking or defending to change an ‘eye’ symbol that is rolled to either the dodge or explosion symbol based on what is required in the moment.  The antithesis to Focus is Target Lock.  Pilots may forgo their shooting attack to instead gain a target lock on an enemy ship that is within range.  If a ship is under Target Lock it cannot spend any of its acquired Focus tokens until the lock is lifted.  Abilities such as Focus or Target Lock are listed as green icons on the right-hand side of the cardboard ship card on the miniature’s base as well as the bottom center on each ship card.

And that pretty much sums up the game’s basic rules along with a few advanced rules.  Overall, the game plays quick and rules can both be scaled well and are pretty concise.  The miniatures come fully painted and detailed for what you get, and in fact if you wanted to just collect the miniatures and not even play the game that is very doable.  The tokens and cards are high quality, and the game is compact and easy to lay out.  Requiring only a 3’ x 3’ area can be a definite draw for games with limited space and the low cost of entry can make it appealing to any gamer on a budget.  My only real complaint with the game is that it can get a little long winded at times.  There have been instances where after several rounds of combat there are still three fully functioning ships on the board and players start itching for more action.

The starter box comes complete with an X-Wing and a pair of TIE Fighters ready for launch

But if you’re a fan of aerial combat, a Star Wars fan that’s always wondered who would win in a dogfight, someone looking to get their friends or family into miniature gaming, or any combination, I would highly recommend this game.  May your proton torpedoes always find their mark and may your twin ion engines never falter.

Cover image: Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game copyright Fantasy Flight Games

[This post was originally published at Otherverse Games & Hobbies]


A New England transplant that originated from parts westward, Ryan is a bit of a nerd that knows a little bit about a lot of things, all while claiming to know nothing about anything.  Seemingly part Khajit a logistician by trade, he’s the kind of guy that can get you virtually anything if there’s coin to be had a problem to solve.  Ryan began to learn the scrounging arts while serving time in parts east as a Loggie and has been perfecting them steadily over several decades.  He has a problem with continually purchasing models, paints, and terrain that he doesn’t really need but his wife doesn’t seem to mind.

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