X-Wing Beginner’s Guide: Ships, Pilots, and Upgrades


X-Wing Beginner’s Guide: Ships, Pilots, and Upgrades

The X-Wing Miniatures Game is a tactical dog fighting game, set in the Star Wars universe and played with gorgeous miniatures across a 2 dimensional space field.  Each unit in the game is represented by a series of statistics, some of which are based on the pilot and some on the craft the pilot is in.

Pilot Cards


Both of these types, among others, are found in the X-Wing Core Set.

If we look at these two basic pilots here.  The Academy Pilot is flying a TIE fighter, while the Rookie Pilot is in an X-Wing.

The Pilot Skill is shown first, in orange.  The Academy Pilot has a lower skill, so he will move before the Rookie, but shoot after.

Next, in red, is the attack value.  As you can see, the quad lasers of the X-Wing are 50% more powerful than the twin lasers of the TIE.  Following this, in green, is the Agility value.  The TIE is more maneuverable and harder to hit than the X-Wing.

If the craft is hit, damage will fall to shields and hull.  Hull is listed in yellow, and both craft have the same number of hull points, while in blue is the shields value.  The X-Wing is protected by a couple shields, while the TIE has none.

Also listed are the actions the ships can take.  The TIE fighter can choose to Focus, Barrel Roll, and Evade, while the X-Wing is incapable of such thrilling heroics and can only Focus and Target Lock.

At the very bottom is the upgrades, noted by symbols, and the base point value of each.  As you can see, the X-Wing can add a torpedo and an astromech as upgrade options, while the TIE fighter has no such options.  And the X-Wing is nearly twice as expensive, at 21 points instead of 12.


“I used to bullseye womp-rats in my T-16 back home…”

The Attack, Agility, Hull, Shields, and Actions will be consistent for every pilot in that type of craft.  If Luke Skywalker jumps into an X-Wing, it will have 3 attack, 2 agility, 3 hull, and 2 shields, just like the rookie here.  So, what does Luke, or any other named pilot, bring to the table?

First off, we see the name has a dot in front of it.  This indicates this is unique.  If you bring Luke Skywalker in his X-Wing, you cannot also bring a crew card named Luke Skywalker as an upgrade, nor may you bring Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight (if there were such a card).

Secondly, he has a higher pilot skill, he will move and take actions after most other pilots in the game, and will shoot before most of them as well.

Notice there is an additional icon in the upgrade bar.  This is for an Elite Pilot Talent – a special upgrade card that represents enhanced training.  There is also a special ability listed in the center of the card.  Luke, in this form, is very dodgy.


“Don’t get cocky, kid!”

Finally, his point value is increased significantly, costing 7 points more than the Rookie Pilot in the same craft.  Named pilots can bring more special abilities to your force.  It is with these special abilities that a skilled commander can build synergy within his list.

Maneuver Dials

Each type of ship will also have a unique maneuver dial.  X-Wings do not have the ability to make as sharp corners as a TIE fighter, but is better than a Y-Wing, for example.


The upgrades possible on the ships are of several types.  Without getting into too much detail, here are a few types.  New sets and expansions can add new ones to this list.

Most of the upgrades are of these types, but others exist

Most of the upgrades are of these types, but others exist

  • Astromech: droids that can fit in specialized slots in X-Wing and Y-Wing fighters, like R2-D2.
  • Elite: special abilities that the best pilots have, such as the ability to take additional actions or prey on pilots with less experience
  • Missile: small missiles, such as Concussion Missiles, that can hit hard, but typically do not deal the kind of damage that Torpedoes deal.  Some ships, like the TIE Bomber, can mount both types, but usually any ordnance craft mount one or the other.
  • Turret: a secondary weapon system that can usually fire outside the fire arc of the craft.
  • Bomb: a dropped ordnance, left in space to deal damage quickly or stick around for more impact.
  • Cannon: a generally fixed heavy weapon that must fire into the main fire arc of the craft.  Heavy Laser Cannons deal a lot of damage at range, but cannot fire at range 1, for example.
  • Crew: these are additional crew characters (like the Luke Skywalker crew card above) or general specialists (gunner, for example) that enhance your ship’s abilities.
  • Modification: this upgrade doesn;t actually have a symbol on the cards, because every ship can have exactly one modification.  These are things like enhanced shields or improved engines and can improve stats on the ship or grant it special abilities.
  • Title: the Millennium Falcon, for example, is a YT-1300 stock light freighter.  Once that Millennium Falcon title is added, it takes on additional abilities, due to the special modifications that Han Solo has made to it.  Many times, titles are unique (for obvious reasons) but occasionally they are not.

Building your ship

When you start piling upgrade cards on your ships, they can get very expensive.  It is important to note that all upgrades are optional.  You do not have to load the torpedo tubes in every one of your X-Wings, for instance, and they can fly just fine without an astromech that gives special abilities.

"He's the best hope we have."

“He’s the best hope we have.”

Luke Skywalker, listed here, has bloated to a total of 39 points, due to his Marksmanship elite pilot talent, R2D2 astromech, and Proton Torpedo.

The big question is, of course, are upgrades worth it?

That’s the million dollar question, and we won’t cover it here.  Next article we will look at building synergy in your list and how upgrades can be more or less valuable given their usage.

About Bill Balvanz

40 year old gamer nerd dad and guru

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