Right, rather than review each and every single X-Wing expansion pack as stand alone products I've decided to review them as a collective. I'm more reviewing the idea of these expansion packs as well as what you actually get inside of each expansion pack, so you could view this article as an extension of the Star War X-Wing Miniatures Game review I did yesterday. In fact that's exactly what you should do. Any who, lets get onto what you get in each of the initial four expansion packs:
You get one in the starter box and quite frankly looking at the numbers, you might actually want to consider buying a second starter box set because you'll save yourself money on buying the three ships individually. You do get more some higher numbered ID tokens, Wedge Antilles and Graven Dreis and few upgrade cards you don't get in the base set... but that's it. Realistically if you want extra X-Wings and TIE's then owning two base sets is far better value for money. It'll give you 6 extra game dice, shed loads more tokens, those movement templates and an extra range ruler. All for less money than buying the three ships separately would cost. You can't see it but I'm making the confused face right now... Fantasy Flight Games, why you price list no make sense? There is no denying though, that unless the A-Wings turn out to be cheap TIE like cannon fodder that the X-Wing will remain the workhorse for the Rebel fleet for the foreseeable future. I'll talk to you about Y that is when I talk about the Why-Wing... no... wait... that's not right... or is it? Nope, staggered X-Wings watching each others six is the way to go if you are rebel scum.
I currently see absolutely no reason as to why you'd even consider taking anything else if you are an Imperial player, and you are playing pitched battles. Sure you'll want a tooled up Darth Vader in that TIE Advanced of his, but that's it really. Pump out Chaff Fighters to the max. Stuff going for the more killed pilots take the crappy cheap ones to the max and swarm the frack out of your opponent. They won't be able to deal with all of them and they won't be able to avoid all those fire arcs. Sure an awful lot of them will be going to the cloning vat in the sky... but who cares? Plenty more nipple necks where they came from. Sorry that's mixing my sci-fi metaphors again! But it is a point well made. You see whereas with the X-Wing expansion pack I can see why you might want wedge and some of the upgrade cards, I'm just not so sure what is contained within the TIE Upgrade pack is worth it. The three pilots you get, Backstaber, Winged Gundark and Howlrunner are all higher piloting skill, but I'm not sure it's worth the extra points to get them for the imperials. Yeah the extra upgrade card Swarm Tactics, might mean that higher pilot skill looks more tempting... but actual real swarm tactics with lots of cheap chaff works better. I'm going to say early doors I think the extra TIE expansion packs seem utterly worthless right now. If you want more TIEs buy an extra starter set.
Currently this has the tag of the only expansion pack that I think is 'worth it'. It also has the only reason to buy the TIE expansion pack in it, the Swarm Tactics upgrade card. So there goes the need for that TIE expansion pack you were considering getting! The TIE Advanced is undoubtedly the star of the initial four ships available. In essence we're talking about a TIE fighter with the shields of the X-Wing. It also has the Target Lock ability, Focus, Evade and Barrel Roll... and for 29 points you can have a piloting skill of 9 Darth Vader. Result! In a 100 point game Darth with a fair few TIE's pretty much is more than a match for whatever the Rebels can throw at you. Maarek Steele at 27 points isn't a bad option either, and you can get a Tempest Squadron piloted TIE Advanced for only 21 points. Bargain! Truth is I can see the point in the TIE Advanced, not only because it gives me the opportunity to actually play as Darth Vader, but because it offers the Rebel faction something different as an option. Plus the four upgrade cards you get with it are all worthwhile, even if some of them you get in other sets, and in the base starter set.
Or as they're becoming known around these parts... the "Why? Wing". Maybe that's a little bit on the harsh side, but right now I'm bloody unlikely to buy any more of the sodding things!Sure the 5 Hull Value and Shield Value of 3 makes the thing tougher than old boots, but it only has a primary weapon value of 2 and Agility Value of 1. Yes you read that right, an Agility Value of 1. All the Hull Value and Shield Value in the world isn't going to change the fact that it is a slow lumbering beast that is currently nothing more than a sitting duck... with a potentially useful Ion Cannon upgrade, IF you spend the 3 points extra required to get it. Without the Ion Cannon Turret I find the Y-Wing is just too slow without any real hitting power, and despite it's heavy hide it's just too easy to pick apart with a couple of TIE's, flip them in behind it and watch it squirm. Right now there really isn't a compelling reason to take a Y-Wing over an X-Wing. Even with the Ion Cannon Turret upgrade that effectively 'stuns' an opposing ship for a turn... but then you'll need an X-Wing to finish the stunned craft off, because the Y-Wing is too weedy with it's Primary Weapon Value of 2 to hurt any of the Imperial craft really with their Agility Value of 3. I'm just not convinced of its purpose.
Are they value for money?
Right this is a difficult question, and that's kind of why I've tackled it first. I've looked at what you get in the packets, it's not just a pre-painted miniatures, there's also a lot of cards components and other bits and bobs, and I have to say that I think looking at it rationally they're probably quite fairly priced. Nope, scratch that they are fairly priced. They're not cheap that's true, but for what you get it does seem fair. But, I can't help but view the rubber pre-painted miniatures on their flight stands and then glance across to some of my stunning Infinity, Freebooter's Fate or Studio McVey miniatures and think "that much, really?". There is no doubting that when you pick up one of the current four expansion packs you do feel like maybe, just maybe you're paying over the odds for something. At first you might think it's the Star Wars license itself, truth is though that the Wings of War miniatures, cost roughly the same sort of money for a similar level of product. So I'm saying they're a fair price... but value for money? Well that's a personal opinion and mine is that I feel they're just OK, not bank destroyingly bad, but not wallet friendly either. You'll be able to make your own mind up when you see them as a product.
|Slave I will be released in December.|
Is this how it should be done?
In a word... no. Yesterday I said I felt the whole product line felt like it was an awkward one to pigeon hole, perhaps I shouldn't try, because clearly Fantasy Flight Games haven't tried. But, buying individual expansion ships, to add to a very bare core game, without any extra missions feels like a redundant purchase. That may sound cruel, but as a straight up pitched battle Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game just simply does not work. So adding pretty more more of the same isn't going to fundamaentally change that, or improve the experience. While the sides might look balanced at first glance, ultimately in a pitched battle I think it favours the Empire somewhat. Plus people who have played the game more than once or twice will have hit upon a certain snag... I think we all know that games quickly boil down to an indestructible Luke Skywalker, and an impossible to get into your sights on him Darth Vader. You need objectives to fight over otherwise it becomes dull, and it just doesn't work. The main game has only three missions, and as I discussed yesterday I didn't think they scaled very well when more ships were taken either side. So what would I have given to buy an expansion pack that included multiple ships and new missions to use them in? Well probably a hell of a lot more money than I actually dropped on expansion packs.
|Hopefully the A-Wing will be a good counterbalance for the TIEs|
Nice though they are, they don't actually feel like they add much to the core game, which itself feels like a bare bones product. The Y-Wings currently feel like they have no role in a Rebel fleet, perhaps that will change with time as more Imperial options are released, but to make best use of a Y-Wing you need to tool it up tot he max, and that costs points. Points you'd probably be better off spending on X-Wings. Meanwhile the Imperial TIE Advanced is a must take, especially with Darth Vader at the helm, but even here, because he's so potent, without missions he sort of feels like he actually takes away from the game because he's so good. Sure Darth Vader should kick ass, and I wouldn't want it any other way, but, in a straight fight the guys too tough as he's so easy to use. Maybe come December the new wave of expansion packs will liven things up a bit and the game will be more balanced and exciting as a straight up fight. Then there is the added fact that with the Millennium Falcon and Slave I expansions we'll be getting two new missions, one for each pack. No doubt they'll simply be missions that involve those ships in some way, but it is a start and it shows that maybe Fantasy Flight Games are aware that their product only works when it has missions.
A new Hope?
The thing is this is still a very young product, what Fantasy Flight Games have got out of the stable doors thus far actually represents a very solid start for them. True it could've been better and more varied in terms of ship types available from day one, and missions out of the book, but as it stands it's a solid launch. There's already the promise of new ship types to come this December, including everybody's favourite the Millennium Falcon. There will be two new missions to play as well. So I don't want people thinking I'm all doom and gloom, because I'm not. There is hope that the game could grow into something fun to play, and something that rises above the merely mildly diverting stage it's at now. It could, and quite frankly should grow to be a very exciting experience if they remember to expand all aspects of the game, no just the ship options. It's all there for the taking, someone just needs to see it through now.
It's Star Wars. So it'll sell. Sure it's a dog fights in space, which if you talk to speccy nerdy science types they'll tell you is nonsense... I too in my more grumpy moments will tell you it's nonsense... then I remember the sound of laser shots and the screeching of TIE Fighters (again scientifically not possible) and all is forgiven. I'm just about young enough (no sniggering at the back) to remember the hype from the films first time around. I had my Darth Vader toys and I might even have had the Millennium Falcon, so I get the whole nostalgia thing, and yeah for many the Star Wars license remains a thing of wondrous joy, despite George Lucas and his attempts to spoil things. But I'm a gamer first and foremost when it comes to toy soldiers, yes my geekish ways might allow me to look past the odd blemish or fault if it is a franchise I love a little bit too much, but fundamentally it's all about the game. Don't get me wrong I actually quite enjoy Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game, and I've had a lot of fun with it. It's just that currently it's not really the game I'd personally choose to play as a main game. Maybe after a game of Heavy Gear Blitz or Infinity has ended early, or as a quick game before more friends turn up for a board gaming session it'll get more tabletop time. However, if Fantasy Flight Games want it to be more than just a flash in the pan, or a once in a while game for most serious gamers, they'll need more missions and options on the table... but perhaps they're not really after us. Perhaps they're after geeks who don't wargame, or boardgame, perhaps they're after the geeks that buy McFarlane collectibles who otherwise wouldn't consider rolling dice in anger. Either way there's no question it'll be a money spinner. It probably already is. Peace out!
Just a gentle none Star Wars reminder, I'm actually running a Dark Age story competition that you can read about here. The prizes are awesome so do check it out.