It’s finally happened — Fantasy Flight Games has officially moved on to a new edition of the popular tabletop miniatures game X- Wing. The game originally debuted at Gen Con in 2012, and has been one of the best selling tabletop games since that time.
What does it all mean? What happens to the old ships? What happens to the cards? What will change? What about price? All these questions will continue to swirl until the official release of the game in September of this year. Lets take a look at some of what we already know.
Why It Had to Happen
X-Wing 2.0 was sorely needed. I haven’t been playing since Wave I, but it was clear upon my entry into the game that FFG had created the skeleton of something great, and then kept trying to band-aid problems that required a larger overhaul of a solution. A new edition will allow a much better point from which the game can grow.
The original game did not have things like turrets, modifications, or massive action economy. It was a simultaneous positioning game using Wings of Glory as a base concept, and then upgrading the mechanics and throwing the Star Wars universe on top for context. The result was awesome, but not without its flaws.
The game quickly wanted to introduce new and interesting interactions, upgrades, and pilots, but it was tough to implement some of the more intricate designs without rules ambiguity or making the old ships dated and irrelevant. For instance, once the T70 X-Wing was released, it included a better chassis, boost, and T-rolls on the dial. The T65 was simply a product of the a different age, and no longer had any real viability.
In order to “fix” the old ships released early in the games life, FFG put out fix packs which included cards specifically targeted to bring new life to weak ships. This increasingly came at more strenuous efforts. Upgrades would allow for reduced point costs, or additional upgrade slots, trying to boost the raw power of the dated ships. It was clunky and often a mess.
By resetting the game, FFG can look back and re-approach the entire design from a top-down standpoint. They’ve learned a lot in 6 years, and clearing up the rules, points, and power level of the game will be for the better.
What It Means
2.0 means that FFG hasn’t given up on the game like the naysayers proclaimed upon the release of Legion. In the past year, there has been a growing discontent within the X-Wing community at FFG’s seeming lack of care of balance or attention to its flagship game. Clearly, they had been working on the big fix behind the scenes.
2.0 will allow new players to enter the game without buying expansions of product that come with cards that do not do what they say they do on the cards. Further, we will go back to one core set to further reduce confusion.
However, this will need to be tempered with highly confusing overlap between 1.0 product and 2.0 product on the same shelves. 1.0 packs will only contain the old cards, which will not be used at all in the new game. Hopefully this transition is mostly painless, as no matter how they attempted the transfer, there was going to be some pain.
How to Convert
With a new edition, the existing community’s biggest question was – what happens to all my old stuff? At least, that was my first thought upon reading the announcement.
Luckily, I think, despite the hate flowing on Reddit, that FFG’s proposed conversion mechanism will work for the majority of players, and allow for a quick and easy entry point into the new game.
FFG has announced “Conversion Kits” for the Rebels, Imperials, and Scum. Each conversion kit will be $50, and will contain dials, cards, and cardboard for a slew of ships for the relevant faction. Essentially, for $50, you are getting the 2.0 components for a big load of faction specific ships. The kits do not come with the ship models.
What is the effect of this choice? Players with massive collections will need to potentially buy multiple copies of the same kit for each faction. Now, we do not know the points in the new game, but in general most lists contain 3 to 4 ships. The conversion pack comes with 2 to 3 to 4 ship’s worth of supplies of certain ships. So if you want to run triple Defenders, you will need two kits. However, I think the vast majority of people do not run large ship counts in regular games, and FFG have attempted to include multiples for the popular multiple ships.
I can’t really think of a better way to instantly allow existing collections to enter 2.0. Yes, $50 is not chump change, but compared to other industry competitors, its very good. There was never going to be a world where the conversion would be $25, and certainly not free. Its still a business, and given the new components, requires upgrading at a minimum.
While the official release will be in September 2018, we are slowly getting leaks and rumors of the design and balance changes. Lets take a look at some of the new stuff we will be getting this Fall:
FFG Official Squad Builder App
FFG has announced that they will release their own app that will allow players to do squad building on their smartphones and computers. Instead of preprinting points on each of the pilots and upgrades, the points will be dynamically controlled through the app, so the app will be required in order to build legal squads.
Given the mess that is the FFG FAQ for trying to balance X-Wing, the ability to quickly and seamlessly rebalance cards on the fly is a great change. This should allow for the cards to remain as printed, without confusing errata to have to parse every time a FAQ is released.
In addition, the app will be used as a data collection tool in seeing what players are playing. Similar to how Starcraft pulls tons of data on what the metagame trends look like, FFG will be able to see how many of what upgrade, what pilot, and what combinations are becoming the go-to choices in competitive play. Getting this data will lead to better balance decisions.
The whole idea immediately makes me think of Hearthstone and Magic. In Magic, if an archetype becomes too powerful, Wizards response is to simply ban the problematic cards. They do not try to re-interpret the wording of the card for a different effect, they remove the card entirely. Players may get mad that they cannot use the card at all.
In Hearthstone, since it is entirely digital, Blizzard can release a patch that changes the cost, effect, or text of any of the cards. This balance device instantly upgrades across the entire spectrum of play, and does so without any hassle. The cards are changed permanently in any way they see fit and players can immediately use and understand the new changes.
With the app, FFG can now take a more Blizzard approach to balance by simply increasing or decreasing the cost of cards. They can even change the points cost for a specific upgrade for a specific ship. This nuance will be better for balance overall.
New Turret Mechanics
One of the biggest sore points of 1.0 has been the introduction of turrets, which allow players to disregard their arcs and still be able to fire. While its fun to always be rolling red dice, it drastically reduces the emphasis of the dials, which is the core mechanic of the game.
The biggest boogeyman, Twin Laser Turret, was rumored to officially be killed. The popular upgrade has been the center of lists since its release, and has had specific upgrade cards meant to reduce its impact.
Now, turrets will have mobile firing arcs, giving them more fields of fire, but still dependent on good positioning. Striking this balance will be important in returning the game back to a dials-first philosophy. If it fails, they can always raise the points cost in the app…
Link Actions With Stress
One of the biggest breaking points in 1.0 is the ability to stack actions and tokens with single ships. When a ship can boost, barrel roll, and still focus, it becomes very difficult to find more efficiency elsewhere, leading to a stagnant metagame. FFG’s solution? Kill Push the Limit and introduce linked actions.
Linked actions appear to allow a ship to complete one action, say a Focus, and then choose to perform a second action, say a target lock, at the cost of one stress. Stress is a tough penalty to deal with, but good players can plan ahead. By tying multiple actions to mostly unavoidable stress, there is more tradeoff between actions and positioning, hopefully leading to more ship diversity.
Two New Factions
You may have noticed I listed three conversion kits. Well, there are two more on the way – the Resistance and the First Order. While 1.0 made no differentiation between the old and new factions, 2.0 will split out the factions and make them distinct.
The details on exactly what overlap, if any, allowed between similar factions is still unknown. Will Kylo be allowed to fly next to Vader? If they are entirely separate factions, then this won’t be allowed, but FFG will certainly need to beef up each factions initial ships, since they aren’t balanced.
I am very excited to see 2.0 become the main mode of X-Wing. I really enjoyed my time with 1.0, but I am ready for something different. It had become quite clear that competitively, the game had stagnated, and older ships were simply outclassed, regardless of the new upgrades. We needed something new.
FFG has done a good job in planning for the transition, at least so far, and I think it will be as painless as it can really be. While there still some lingering questions, and certain key things will need be done right (the app MUST be well designed), I think X-Wing is ready for the next phase.