05 June 2013

Star Wars X-wing core set review

I finally caved in and got into Star Wars X-wing the miniature game from Fantasy Flight Games. Having played it a couple of times I really saw the appeal, though it was - and is - quite expensive to get into.

My wargaming budget was boosted some published articles in the WSS magazine which in turn allowed me to buy into the game and I figured it would be interesting to take a look on everything and comment on the "value for money" in particular.

I will start out with the core set, but more reviews are already lined up.

Starting out bluntly, I have to say that this starter set is quite poor,  not quality wise but from a gaming perspective. You get but 3 ships, 1 rebel X-Wing and two Imperial Tie Fighters. And though the rulebook contains 3 scenarios to get you started and makes as good use of this tiny kit as it possibly can, it is in fact quite lacking - especially since you are intended to play 100 vs 100 point battles if you want to play "proper" games. The contents of the box amount to roughly 1/3rd of that required point value.

Now the price for this starter set isn't cheap, but it is neither expensive. A closer look at  the content is required to learn what you get for the money spent, the ships are all pre-painted and to a pretty decent quality to be honest. I don't think I would care to paint these ships myself and can't honestly complain about the paintjobs which could of course be better but is as the same time the best pre-painted quality I have seen to date.

The details of the ships are all very nice and crisp, they are in fact not cast in one piece but glued together (I know since I accidently dismantled the X-wing) - so the ships are great.

Other components are of equal quality, a bunch of punch-out cardboard components such as target-lock symbols, asteroids, pilot cards, damage cards, ship upgrades, dial tokens used to plan your movement, the dice and measuring sticks - it's all top notch.

However it would not have hurt Fantasy Flight Games to add a few more dice since you will need one or two more than you get in the box. You could also argue that the amount of "terrain" (asteroids) is pretty sparse (6 pieces).

What I learned from fellow X-wing gamers at the club is that you HAVE to buy two starter sets to actually get a proper starter set. Two sets gives you more ships at reduced priced (compared to what they cost each on their own) and you get twice the amount of components which actually covers your needs when gaming big and small battles.

For instance the amount of dice finally amounts to all special attacks/defense modifiers, you get two sets of measuring sticks so that each player can have his own set during the game, more damage cards etc.

The whole thing is quite weird to me. The value for money is really good if you look at the stuff you get in a starter set, however from a gamers perspective the resources have been spread really thing and just give you a bare taste of the potential.

And even with two sets you aren't really set for a fun game as you will still only have 2 X-wings and 4 T-fighters, you will instantly want to buy a couple of additional fighters to add variety and options, Tie-Interceptors, Y-wings, A-wings etc. Before you know it you will need to spend roughly 150USD on the game.

Of course there is the alternative to split costs with a friend, if one of you is interested in the Empire alone, and the other in the Rebels you can split the starter box contents and keep to collecting only one side of the conflict. This is the cheap and recommended option if you have a real close friend. The risk is  that one of you grow tired or moves or for whatever reason stops playing and you get left hanging with one unplayable half of the game.

I'm really torn about the starters, it's really a mix of good and bad things, but it can't be denied that the content is spread thin - but you also have to buy the starter set since sadly none of the components beside ships and dice are sold outside of the boxed set. There will be several arguments of for/against this tiny starter set, all of those arguments will be valid - which once again makes this a very weird gatekeeper product. Especially since the game is so good and fun to play with proper amount of ships.

I will review the expansion packs (add-on ships) shortly and of course the game itself.

Value for money in terms of "playability" 6.5/10
Value for money in terms of component quality 9/10
Fun to be had with the contents of the starter set on its own 6/10

Recommended bare minimum to actually get started: 2x starter sets +1 additional rebel ship.

8 comments:

  1. Hi Anatoli,

    thanks for this good review. I completely agree with you. The quality of the coreset is top-notch but the playability is mediocre.

    However I lapsed into this game last week and I'm on the verge to of buying a second coreset to expand my squadrons...

    Cheers
    Stefan

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    1. I immediately bought 2 core sets (this was recommended by my friend Patrik and it's how all other local X-wing players have done from what I learned) and a few extra fighters to REALLY get started. The core set is more of a teaser really, something I would use to show the game mechanics but not really enjoy playing on its own. That is a shame since I would have gladly paid perhaps 25% more if the set included 2 more fighters (3 Tie and 2 X-wing would have been great).

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  2. Good review. I cannot believe the Core set die not come with at least 4 dice. It seems like a bit of a cash grab, especially considering they sell more dice individually.
    Other than that, I didn't mind the core set contents. I knew I was going to buy two, and many people probably would have bought a $100 version of the game that came with many more ships, but the lower cost let me try it before jumping in with both feet, which is good as my game group can be fickle.

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  3. Feel the power of the Dark Side, Alex!

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  4. I agree on most points, however I feel that the core set does what most starter sets do, and gives you the basics you need to learn the game. for the price your still getting bargain in relation to the pricing of the individual ships (which I think is a little high). I can think of worse starter sets that are a little light on features and rarely provide the best gameplay.

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  5. Thanks for the review. This is why I've avoided the game despite the positive reviews - I can't see VFM here

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  6. In my experience FFG's LCG starter sets share this design. I.e. you have enough to get a taste of the game but not enough to do any deck building or to experience the game to its full potential. For example, in the LCGs you may have up to three copies of a single card in your deck, yet many of the important cards included in the box only come with one or two copies. To get a full set of these cards you need to buy two or even three copies of the starter set. It is either poor planning, the fact that they haven't reviewed the contents as the game evolved, or a simple money grab. It isn't just frustrating from the point of view of cost as there also ends up being a lot of duplication and consequently wastage - you're having to pay for stuff you don't need. In fairness to FFG they have taken a more sensible approach to scenario deck releases in that they include three copies of every new card. By the way, I'm referring specifically to the LOTR LCG, though I also have the game of thrones starter. The fact they've taken the same approach with X-Wing makes it tough for me to afford to get into it. Thanks Anatoli!

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  7. Agree with the two sets. I bought my son the box for Christmas and went out and bought another a few days later. Agree with the blisters being pricey too, but like the game.

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