18 February 2013

Updated! I Wanna Play X-Wing Miniatures! What Should I Buy?



UPDATED: 5 February 14 to reflect Wave 3 release and beyond

I've been meaning to update this since Wave 3 dropped and just kept finding excuses not to, but as this article gets a ton of traffic from folks Googling how to get into X-Wing, I gotta do it, so here we go. 

For the longest time, when a person would ask me what they should buy to get into X-Wing Miniatures, I'd say the same thing that folks on the FFG X-Wing Forums would suggest when a new player would indicate interest. I re-examined this advice in light of Wave 2, and now I'm adding to it now that Wave 3 has dropped and we're looking down the barrel of the Huge ships being released as well as Imperial Aces. 

Surprisingly, the answer to this question has changed quite a bit, at least in my mind. Maybe not on the forums and stuff, but folks getting into X-Wing have a few things they ought to consider when they take the plunge. As such, this article is going to change somewhat drastically from its previous incarnation. 

First things first- the ships in this game are viable in some form or another, but some ships are easier for a new player to utilize effectively than others. This being the case, I always, always, always suggest to people they buy the stuff they think they'd have fun pushing around on the table. 

That said, you do need to buy at least one Core Set because it gives you the Damage Deck you absolutely must have to play the game. Most everything else in there you can get elsewhere- the X-Wing Miniatures Rulebook is downloadable for free from FFG and they sell extra dice and even have a dice app (for iPhone or Androidif you're phone-centric, there are 3rd party entities selling the movement templates, range rulers, and tokens, and assuming you can find them, you can always buy the Expansion versions of the X-Wing and TIE Fighters that come with the Core Set. 

The thing you should be aware of here is that the Core Set doesn't include all of the available X-Wing and TIE Fighter named pilots. The other thing you, you, you oughta know is that the Expansion X-Wing and Expansion TIE Fighters don't either. Long story short, if you want to have all of the available X-Wing Pilots and TIE Fighter Pilots, you'll need to buy both the Core Set and an Expansion of each. 

Lots of people will suggest you buy two Core Sets. This isn't bad advice. Even if you're paying MSRP for the Core Set, it's a better deal model-wise than buying a total of three Expansions as the Core Set retails for $40 and three Expansions (without the Damage deck, dice, etc., etc.) retails for $45. Again, the only caveat here is that you won't have all the available pilots for the ships. 

All that said, people that give you that advice are assuming you want to field 2 or 3 X-Wings in your list and 4 or 5 TIE Fighters, or at least would enjoy having the option. If you're dreaming of an all TIE Interceptor force or something and nothing else will suffice, it's probably kinda pointless for you to buy two Core Sets just because everybody on the internet says so. Although, full disclosure- if you're at all in doubt, just go ahead and buy two Core Sets. The extra set of dice is practically necessary and it's handy to have extra copies of the cardboard movement templates if you're not crazy about dropping cash on some 3rd party acrylic ones. 

Obviously there's a certain attraction to having at least one copy of every ship and multiples of your favorites. Most of the X-Wing people I come across have way more ships than they'd ever use in a single match. In fact, it's one of the few miniatures games I've come across where it's fairly common for players to own many ships for both factions. Sure, you probably favor one faction over the other, but very few people go exclusively Rebel or Imperial. 

How much stuff should you buy? Well... 

Even if you don't plan on becoming a tourney player, 100 points is still the level at which most folks play the game, and the level at which most of the scenarios are designed to be played. It can be played at lower or higher point totals of course, but 100 points is the number where the majority of pick-up games occur, so it's the number most folks shoot for. This post assumes you're doing the same. If you'd rather play less or more, adjust accordingly and bear in mind, just because you play at 100 points, you don't have to limit yourself to only having 100 points worth of models. It's nice to have a few extra ships so you can change up your lists to keep things interesting for your opponent. 

Taking the stuff that's available currently into account, here's some ballpark figures on ships and how many points they're worth to give you an idea of how many of what ships you have to buy. I won't say how much it costs in money; it'll just depend on where you buy your stuff from. 

Rebel Ships
YT-1300 (Falcon)- 27-70 points
X-Wing- 21-40 points
Y-Wing- 18-35 points
A-Wing- 18-35 points
B-Wing- 22-40 points
HWK-290- 16-30 points

Imperial Ships
Firespray-31 (Slave I)- 33- 75 points
TIE Fighter- 12-20 points
TIE Advanced- 21- 35 points
TIE Interceptor 18- 35 points
TIE Bomber- 16-40+ points
Lambda Shuttle- 21-40 points
Imperial Aces TIE Interceptors- 22-35 points

Please keep in mind these are ballparks- I may be off a point or two in either direction and obviously the spread depends on named pilots, upgrades, modifications, etc. which may or may not be available to all ships/ multiple ships in the same list.

If you're curious as to what a particular named pilot brings to the table in the way of card text or the point cost of a particular Droid, Modification, or whatever you can either check out some of my Listbuilding articles or a couple of the Squadron Builders I've come across. My two favorites are Fab's Squadron Generator and (Yet Another) X-Wing Squadron Builder

If you've read about the Huge ships coming out- the GR-75 Rebel Transport and the Tantive IV Corellian Corvette, not a lot is know about them at this article's time of writing. I can tell you the Transport starts at 30 points, but no idea what the upper limit would be and nothing has been released on the 'vette yet. Bear in mind though, those ships are designed for the upcoming "Epic Rules Format" games and won't be allowed in "regular" games of X-Wing (although I gotta think the X-Wing model and named pilots that are included with the Transport will be legal for "regular" games). 

Like I said before, if you're just starting out with X-Wing Miniatures, some ships are much easier to get the hang of using than others. This is probably going to generate a lot of static in the comments and stuff, but here's how I'd rank the ships when it comes to how easy or difficult they are to fly for a beginning player, 1 being the easiest- 

Rebel Ships
1. YT-1300 (Falcon)
2. X-Wing
3. B-Wing
4. A-Wing
5. Y-Wing
6. HWK-290

Imperial Ships
1. Firespray-31 (Slave I)
2. TIE Fighter
3. TIE Bomber
4. TIE Interceptor
5. TIE Advanced
6. Lambda Shuttle

If you're wondering where in the world I came up with the criteria I'm claiming to be "easy for a beginner", it's kind of a mish-mash of stuff based on my own experience and observations. I'm trying to take into account how forgiving the ship is, how likely a novice player is to have success with the ship, it's offensive and defensive capabilities, the options afforded by named pilots, available mods, and Elite Pilot Skills, points cost, etc. Again, just my opinion so take it for what it's worth. 

Also, the Imperials are really hard for me to categorize, so if you're looking into playing Imperials exclusively, I think the list is more like 1. Firespray, 2-4 in no particular order, 5. Advanced, 6. Lambda. 

If you're looking for a jump off point for actual squadron lists, here's a couple of ideas that I think would be well suited to a beginner, again, for somewhat nebulous reasons including ease of use, how forgiving it is, damage output, survivability, etc., but not taking into account how many Expansions you'd need to buy to get the cards necessary really. 

Sample Rebel List- 100 Points
Chewbacca (YT-1300) w/ Falcon Title, Draw Their Fire, Gunner, Recon Specialist, and Anti-Pursuit Lasers
Rookie Pilot (X-Wing) w/ R2 Astromech
Rookie Pilot (X-Wing) w/ R2-F2

Sample Imperial List- 100 Points
Krassis Trelix (Firespray-31) w/ Heavy Laser Cannon, Mercenary Copilot
Mauler Mithel (TIE Fighter) w/ Elusiveness
Academy Pilot (TIE Fighter)
Academy Pilot (TIE Fighter)
Academy Pilot (TIE Fighter)

Now shut down your browser and go buy stuff!

... or barring that, maybe check out some of the other New Player Info articles here on TheMetalBikini.com. Bikini Battle Basics articles cover stuff like Pilot Ranking Explained and The Combat Phase Explained, but any of them are great starting places to increase your knowledge of the game.