The announcement by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) of their intention to release a second edition of the popular X-Wing Miniatures Game has generated numerous hours of YouTube video and miles of blog posts and comments as players across the world have reacted to the news in both positive and negative fashions.
Second (or even third, fourth or fifth…) editions of miniatures games are nothing new – anyone who has been a miniatures gamer for any length of time will tell you that. FFG themselves are no strangers to new editions of boardgames either: Mansions of Madness, Descent, Battlelore to name a few are all in their second edition, whilst Twilight Imperium has just received its fourth…
From the point of things of FFG, I think they were right in thinking that the game, or at least a particular aspect of it, may need some tweaks, and at least they have provided a way – however costly – for players to upgrade their current collections. I would refer anyone who is complaining about this to some of the previous practises of Games Workshop, who have been known to make not only whole armies obsolete (oh my poor W40K Squat army!), but in one notable instance even an entire gaming world…
However, the question I was left with was a very simple one – how does this effect me, and my current collection of ships for first edition X-Wing? I’m not quite sure how it has happened, but my collection of ships now numbers in the mid forties.
As far as I can ascertain, the whole 2nd Edition of X-Wing is geared around rebalancing the ‘meta’ of the game, which in turn is clearly aimed at one part of X-Wing: namely organised play, or tournaments. Whilst this format is a very popular part of X-Wing, it isn’t the only way to play the game.
Cinematic and Epic play are other ways to play the game which, if discussions are to be believed, largely ignored by the majority of the community. I realise that is a sweeping statement and a I may well be wrong, but all the discussions I have seen pretty much focus on dogfights and Organised Play Meta. This, at least to me, seems a strange state of affairs, especially since cinematic play has been part of the game right from the beginning (the rulebook contains three scenarios), and every large ship and box collection contains at least one new scenario, along with the required cardboard pieces, for playing the game in this way.
In addition, there is the marvellous fan-written campaign supplement Heroes of the Aturi Cluster, which gives rules for playing cooperatively, as well as a system for pilot advancement.
When I first started collecting X-Wing, I did it with the original X-Wing Space Combat Simulator computer game from Lucasarts firmly in the back of my mind. Though published back in 1993, this remains one of my all-time favourite games, partly due to its huge immersive campaign.
Strategy guides for this game, along with its successor TIE-Fighter (which looks at the Galactic Civil War from the Imperial point-of-view) give insights into all the scenarios in the game – so much so that it is not beyond the wit of man to create scenarios for the boardgame from these, thus bringing the computer game back to life in a new format.
As an aside, both of these books choose to use a story narrative as a way to explain the game, and the respective heroes of these books have subsequently appeared in X-Wing as pilots: Keyan Farlander for the Rebel Alliance and Maarek Stele on the Imperial side.
The missions can be broken down into two or three types, usually revolving around the destruction of an enemy ship, or group of ships, the capture of an enemy ship or the defence of a friendly ship – the circumstances of each scenario differed, but they were the mission formats in a nutshell. Some of the scenarios are a bit model heavy (who would want to own 5 Lambda-class shuttles, for example?) and others contain ships that have not been released for the board game, such as the DX-9 Stormtrooper Transport or the BFF-1 Bulk Freighter (although, thanks to the advent of 3D printing, models of these have been created by dedicated fans).
And then, of course, there are the epic-scale models. Each of these contain multi-scenario campaigns, as well as adding Epic play to the game where you can use these larger ships to fight one another – each accompanied by its own swarm of supporting fighters. These are very recent additions to my X-Wing collection – I started by getting the Rebel Transport, as one of these is needed for the HotAC campaign and several scenarios in the X-Wing computer game revolve around protecting or attacking a CR-90 Corvette. I ended up adding them all to my collection, as they are soon to disappear completely in their current, first edition, format.
I have dabbled in the Tournament format of the game in the past, and enjoyed my experience. However, I think that the release of Second Edition has put an end to this. That side of X-Wing simply doesn’t hold enough of an appeal to warrant the required financial investment to upgrade my models.
In my mind, the First Edition of X-Wing is a perfectly good game, and certainly isn’t broken, probably because I haven’t encountered the ships or style of play which push the rules to their breaking point – casual play isn’t likely to do that. OK, the FAQ/Errata for the game is large – it currently runs to 25 pages – but at least any potential issues that I am likely to encounter are well documented and have been tried and tested.
As it stands, my existing X-Wing collection contains more than enough models, scenarios and potential gameplay to provide several years of battles in a galaxy far, far away, and I see no reason to change.