X-Wing Beginner’s Guide: Where to Begin?


X-Wing Beginner’s Guide: Where to Begin?

swx01_sampleThe X-Wing miniatures game from Fantasy Flight Games has been in the work for a few years now, and has, at the time of this writing, six waves of miniatures and rules and three factions.   This article is intended for new players, or players who are looking to invest in this game and play it with friends.


There are three factions in play, and they behave differently.  The Rebels and Imperials have been present since Wave 1, and have miniatures in the Core Game.

Rebels: The “heroes” of the movies, and are dominated by ships with lots of firepower, heroic pilots with notable skills, and generally more durable craft.

Imperials: are the forces just trying to keep the empire together. They feature some notable anti-heroes (like Darth Vader).  They have ships that range from low-cost swarm ships and high end heavy patrol craft.  In general, Imperial ships have lower attack scores but higher defense scores.  Many of their named plots are from the Extended Universe, because not many Imperials were named in the movies.

Scum: these are the bounty hunters, the smugglers, and the Hutt enforcers not already under the employ of another faction (Boba Fett, for instance, can be found in a Scum version and an Imperial version).  The “borrow” some ships from other factions, and have a few of their own.  They can be built either way a little easier than the other forces, but specialize in nothing the way Rebels or Imperials might.  I view Scum as an “advanced” faction, and I will not be talking much about building a Scum force as a new player.

The Core Set

The core set retails for about $40, and in my mind it is the first thing a new player should purchase.  In it, you get three ships, two TIE fighters (Imperial) and one X-Wing (Rebel).  You also get about $8 worth of dice, $35-40 worth of range rulers and maneuver templates, and all the counters, chits, and stuff needed to play.  If you are dead set about playing one one faction, find someone who wants the other and trade the ships amongst yourselves.  For $40, you can in this way get four TIE fighters or two X-Wings, and you are very close to having a competition level force.

Organized Play Levels

When looking at any new game, it is helpful to know what point level to build toward to play.  Also, like any game, you can play at lower point levels to move into these tiers.

50 points – Pickup Games

At 50 points, you can play a “half-game”.  There are tourney formats, such as the one at Heroicon this May, that play at 50 points.  With your $40 investment, you can easily reach 50 points with Rebels or Imperials.

100 points – Organized Play

This is the point level that most store championships, regional matches, and world series are played.  Many competitive lists are attainable (miniatures-wise) at $70-$100.  The core set you purchased and traded for above can add a large ship (retail $30) or two blisters of smaller ships (retail $15 each) and reach this point level pretty easily.  This is, far and away, the most common point level to play at and  much of the point values in the game are based on this level.

200 points – Epic Play (tier 1)
300 points – Epic Play (tier 2)

This is an organized play level that incorporates a larger play area (3×6 feet) and opens the door to larger ships.  This is not endorsed often, but could be really fun to play.  Tier 1 has two players per side (a total of 400 points per side) while tier 2 is one on one (300 points per side).

60/90/120/150 – Organized Play Escalation Events

Escalation tournaments have squadrons that increase in point amounts by 30 points for each match.  These are not very common, but there are rules for them.

Building Your First Squadron

I would recommend new players purchase a core set, if for no other reason than the dice, movement templates, etc.  From here, you have about 33 points of models, depending on upgrades, extra weapons, etc..  As you see, you are a third the way to a full squadron.  If you have traded for another core set of models you are two thirds the way there.  One more blister of a different craft will add new options and probably get you to the point level to play in a regular match (100 pts).  Even if you have not traded for another core set, two blisters or a large ship can make a usable squadron.

Example 1 – Rebels (2 core boxes + Millennium Falcon)
> Han Solo in the YT-1300
+ Millennium Falcon title
+ Chewbacca crew
+ Marksmanship elite pilot talent
> Red Squadron Pilot in X-Wing
> Red Squadron Pilot in X-Wing

Example 2 – Imperials (2 core boxes + Slave-1)
> Krassis Trelix in Firespray-31
+ Heavy Laser Cannon secondary weapon
+ Gunner crew
> Dark Curse in TIE fighter
> Academy Pilot in TIE fighter
> Academy Pilot in TIE fighter
> Academy Pilot in TIE fighter

Both of these example squadrons can be built for between $70 and $110 (depending if you buy both core sets yourself or if you trade for one).  I cannot think of any other miniatures game that is so accessible.


Next topic will be how to look at the pilots and ships you have and make sense of them.  But for now, this will get you started.


About Bill Balvanz

40 year old gamer nerd dad and guru

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