It’s a fairly well publicised fact that Jervis Johnson does not like points values and army building, and indeed, back in the late 1990s and early 2000s when this debate was first raging, I was firmly in his corner – I’ve always chosen my armies based on a narrative, rather than simply ‘bang per point’. It’s one reason why I built a Deathwing army for W40K. Dark Angels are my favourite Space Marine chapter, so why not build an army based on their elite soldiers? (As an aside, how come, if the 1st Company are ‘the best of the best’, a Deathwing army is pretty dreadful in W40K? According to all the blurb and fluff, these are the best warriors in the galaxy, except that an army of them appears to suck…big time. Go figure…)
Anyway, I digress.
What I am saying is that I have never been one for playing the great ‘meta game’ of army building: spending hour upon hour pouring over an army list looking for that perfect combination or synergy to add to my army. I’m just not that sort of gamer.
Fast forward 15 years or so and over the last few months I’ve been getting back into a couple of games I haven’t played for a while X-Wing Miniatures Games and Lord of The Rings: The Card Game.
In this blog post, I’ll look at the X-Wing Miniatures Game. Having played a few friendly games with Josh, I entered a local tournament at Galactic Models in Derby, where I was soundly thrashed. This wasn’t unexpected, but it was interesting to see how the other competitors played the game, talked about their forces and reacted to how I played. For example, I did find it mildly amusing that in my final game of the day, my opponent couldn’t kill my final TIE Interceptor, thanks partly to the way I was flying – I was never quite where he expected me to be. “Who K-turns with a TIE-I!!?” Only me, apparently, because that’s “not how you play TIE Interceptors” if you’re are a ‘proper’ X-Wing player. Who knew? (Certainly not me!)
I’m a member of a couple of X-Wing tournament groups on Facebook, and there appears to be a steady stream of questions relating to “what’s the best upgrade for x points” or “how do I fly formation Y”, formation Y being whatever the latest ‘unbeatable’ combination of ships and upgrades, which appears to be dependent upon what squadron the player who has won the most recent high-profile tournament was flying.
I freely admit that I am NOT a tournament player, so, to be perfectly honest, even if I entered a tournament, my number one priority is not winning, but rather playing games against different opponents who provide different challenges – hopefully learning something in the process, but primarily having a good time playing a game with a like-minded individual. After all, we are playing forces with the same point values, so the games should be balanced, correct?
Well, yes and no.
As you probably know X-Wing is, at its heart, a collectible miniatures game. Whilst there is no blind purchases involved, it is true that as more and more ships are released, the other resource that are released are upgrade cards. Different upgrade cards change the synergies of how ships and pilots fly with each other, but the only way you get the new cards is by buying the new ships (unless of course you want to enter into the ‘separate card purchase’ market on auction sites). As someone who hasn’t bought a new ship after wave 3 (since I was only interested in collecting ships from the original film trilogy – the only 3 ‘proper’ Star Wars films after all J ), I can see that this automatically puts me at a potential disadvantage if I am building a squadron for tournament play.
Going back to the tournament I played, I was asked why I didn’t play X pilot with Y upgrade? It’s because I didn’t own the Y upgrade card. Why? Because that upgrade card comes with the TIE Defender, and I don’t own a TIE Defender.
Wait…You fly an Imperial squadron and you don’t own a TIE Defender?! What sort of X-Wing player are you? An unusual one, by the sound of things.
I’m not really knocking the whole meta-game behind X-Wing, it’s just something that I have chosen not to take part in, and probably to my detriment should I subsequently choose to continue playing tournaments.
The original reason I got into X-Wing (other than be bullied into it by Mike Hobbs and Rich Jones) was to look at recreating the battles I had played on the PC version of Microprose X-Wing computer game back in the mid-1990s. I was looking at putting together my own rules using my collection of Die-cast Star Wars fighters, but then X-Wing came out and kind of made that little project redundant. To recreate the missions from the X-Wing computer game you only need the ships that were released in waves 1-3 of the X-Wing miniatures game (although a Rebel Transport and Tantive IV are still on my shopping list, and I should probably look at getting the Rebel and Imperial aces expansions. You could also argue that if you are to include the TIE Fighter computer game, you also need at least one TIE Defender). Given that aim, I am perfectly happy with my collection of ships.
Can this challenge in a current X-Wing tournament? Well, if FFG have managed to keep the game balance correct, then there is no reason why they shouldn’t. However, my suspicion is that in reality they would struggle. Perhaps foolishly, I’ve entered the X-Wing regional tournament at Battlefield Hobbies early next year. This may well prove my point, although my hope is at least I’ll have a good time, whilst again possibly frustrating the odd opponent with somewhat unorthodox tactics. However I suspect that it will only prove that I’m not particularly good at this game!