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Wargame Spotlight: Star Wars X-Wing

Do you remember watching "A New Hope" for the first time and getting pumped when the Rebels fought the Imperials over the Death Star? If you do, Fantasy Flight Games has a game you'll definitely want to check out. While it may lack the spectacle of a video game, "Star Wars X-Wing" brings tactical dog-fighting from a time long ago in a galaxy far, far away to your table. It's inexpensive, quick to play, and hits the rare mark of being easy to learn but difficult to master.

The game:

"Star Wars X-Wing" is unlike most tabletop games. The miniatures come assembled and painted for you, and the rules are very simple to follow. Each ship can be given a range of upgrades and pilots which determine its stats and special abilities. These options come with point values which you add up to reach an agreed upon point limit. Games are typically played at 100 points which translates to about three to four Rebel ships and 5 to 7 Imperial. The basics of dog-fighting are difficult enough to master, but being able to create deep, unique combinations of pilots and abilities provide enough options to keep the game interesting for a very long time.

The range of movements available to each ship is limited, but the game does a good job of representing their silver-screen counterparts; Y-Wings are slow and difficult to turn while TIE Fighters are fast and nimble. Before each turn, players select which movements they'd like to make on dials which are then placed next to each ship. Players then overturn each dial from the least capable pilot to the most advanced, and use cut-out templates to move the ship based on what the dial shows. Movements are limited to straight moves, banks, turns, koiogran flips, and barrel rolls -- each one comes in different speeds represented by different length templates.

Fighting is a game of dice throws: attacking ships will either score blanks, regular hits, or critical hits. Defending ships throw dodge dice which are either blank, focus, or dodge results. There are a variety of tokens, moves, and abilities that add complexity to the game, but the basics of play are solid and fun.

The story:

"Star Wars" provides a vast and rich universe filled with many vehicles, characters, and organizations. However, "Star Wars X-Wing" is limited to pitting the Rebels against the Imperials. Rebel players currently have access to X-Wings, Y-wings, A-wings, and the Millennium Falcon. Imperials can play TIE Fighters, TIE Advanced, TIE Interceptors, and Slave 1. There are no rules to determining what pilots you choose (who include Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Chewbacca) or what story you're trying to tell; the game can be played completely devoid of a back-story, but adding a bit of narrative always spices things up.

Where to find it:

The core rules for "Star Wars X-Wing" can be found in major retailers that sale board games. However, extra ships are usually only found in specialty tabletop stores or online. Some players recommend buying two core sets because they provide the greatest value for extra dice and ships, but each single ship is well worth its value.

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