The Cantina: Goodness Gracious Me!

The Cantina: Goodness Gracious Me!

X-Wing is cool. X-Wing is fun. Some of us just like getting together with our friends and a few beverages to play a round with house rules, others know no greater thrill than making the cut at a major tournament. It’s worth celebrating how many different ways we enjoy collecting and playing with our fully licensed plastic and cardboard. Welcome to the Dice and Cardboard Cantina, where we chat about what makes X-Wing fun.

This week our developers, Atomic Mass Games, released a new rules document along with points changes and card errata that, together, constitute a significant change to X-Wing as we know it. Here is a link to the documents as well as a few helpful interviews with the developers from the Fly Better Podcast:

X-Wing Documents — Atomic Mass Games
Fly Better Podcast
Welcome to the Fly Better Podcast, the best source to become an Ace Pilot! Every week Dee, Ryan, and Dallas bring you the latest news, tips, and deep dives into the world of X-Wing Miniatures. Awarded the Best US X-Wing podcast at the 2018 Goldies. Now with 2 out of 3 hosts having won a Regional.…

We, the Dice and Cardboard writers, are genuinely excited to try this new approach to the game and we like most of what is being implemented, especially the parts that we have been able to try for ourselves. There are some things that we aren't so sure about, but are withholding judgment until we've been able to get some games under our belt. Whether you're 100% on board or your first reaction was one of anger, PLEASE start by getting out there and playing X-Wing (safely) with your friends and be kind to one another. Everyone handles change in different ways.

For this article I'll give a basic rundown of the major changes as I understand them with some brief analysis of things we're excited about as well as anything that we think will need a few games before we're fully comfortable.

The Changes

Squad Building

Gives me goosebumps every time...

Phew, where to start with this one? This was the biggest surprise for me since it was probably the least teased or telegraphed of the changes before release. If you have the means, please consider sending a contribution to the programmers of your favorite squadbuilder app. They deserve it.

We no longer build squads to 200 points of ships/pilots and upgrades. We will now build to 20 Squad Points and each ship/pilot combo has its own assigned value on the points documents for Loadout Value to fill its upgrade slots, which can vary from ship to ship and pilot to pilot. Loadout points are independent of your Squad Points and can be filled to the maximum printed for your pilot on the points document. When your ship is destroyed your opponent scores points based on the Squad Point value and the Loadout Value are not considered.

With squads being built to 20 points there is no longer a points "bid" to determine first player. Any points not spent on your list are automatically awarded to your opponent at the start of the game.

What we already like:

Well, for starters this is certainly a way to encourage the use of upgrades on ships. It also sounds like we may get to see more variety of ships on the table, with ships that were locked behind the barrier to entry of some necessary upgrades now being easier to fit into a squad. I'm sure we'll see some "correct" combos start to emerge in the metagame but there are also now so many possiblities for players to bring their personal favorite version of a pilot to the table without compromising the rest of the squad. This system of variable Loadout Value plus a seeming willingness to more aggressively tailor available upgrade slots gives the developers more "levers" to use when balancing the game.

What we're still getting used to:

  • The 20-point squad is going to take some adjustment. Without being able to vary the equipped upgrades to change a ship's overall cost there may be some desired combinations that simply don't add up to 20 and result in the list either being too costly or coming in at 18 or 19 points and ceding the deficit points to an opponent. It's possible that this is another way that the devs can work to balance the game by making certain squads not add up properly, requiring players to find a different solution.
  • The option to take a squad of non-limited pilots with identical upgrades is still there but certainly seems to be disincentivized. One of my more successful recent lists involved 3 Red Squadron Veteran X-Wings with Crack Shot and R4 Astro. I don't think the pivot to encouraging named pilots is necessarily bad, but will take some adjustment.
  • Upgrade slots being tailored for each pilot for thematic/balance reasons will, I feel, ultimately prove to be a good idea, but as a Star Wars fan I'm struggling a bit with torpedoes on some TIE fighters, missiles on some Aethersprites, etc.

Game Formats, Errata, and Banned List

There will be two "formats" for play: Standard and Extended, replacing Extended and Hyperspace. Check out the two farthest-right columns on the Points documents for the definitive list of what is Standard, Extended, and Banned.

Standard: Includes all ships released in the 2.0 format, colloquially known as "Black Box." If a particular model has been released in 2.0 that ship model can be used in any faction where it is present using 2.0 Conversion Kit components where necessary. Some pilots and upgrades are banned. This will be the official format for Organized Play.

Extended: All ships are legal! It was nice to see that points were still balanced for Extended for those who want to use their older models.

Some cards have had errata introduced and some pilots, upgrades, or ships have been added to a "banned" list for the time being, all based on interactions with rules changes, game balance issues, or other problems that needed to be addressed.

What we already like:

Restricting the Standard format to 2.0 releases really helps newer players who are trying to build a competitive collection without having to spend $100+ on discontinued models on eBay or something similar. AMG have stated their intent to begin reprinting models that are not legal in Standard ASAP. While a banned list sounds scary it may not actually be permanent and could be a flexible tool for temporarily removing mechanics that are proving difficult to balance or simply not fun to play against. This could keep, for instance, pilots from having to pay for the sins of an unbalanced upgrade with unjustifiably high points costs. Also, it's very fun that they added an in-game opportunity cost (spend a Force and gain a deplete) to Luke Skywalker Gunner to get him back in the game and not on the banned list.

What we're still getting used to:

All of the errata were certainly necessary and seem pretty well-executed, but it's going to be tricky for a little while navigating the landscape of errata'd cards and ensuring everyone brought the correct ones. Printing your errata'd cards is legal but they aren't as nice as official ones.

Scenario Play

The 4 new scenarios are broken down here:

Scenario Guide

Essentially, we have 4 scenarios that will be played with different objectives that can score you Mission Points along with the destruction of your enemy's ships. Games are played to 20 points.

What we already like:

Variety should be fun! As the developers have stated, the goal of introducing scenarios was to encourage engagement and, at its face, this feels like it will work. If your opponent is refusing to engage, waiting for the perfect opportunity, you have an opportunity to score points and make that decision more difficult for them. On the flip-side, you have the option to hang back and allow your opponent those first few points in exchange for setting a trap near an objective. The extra bit of strategy feels fresh and I'm excited to try!

What we're still getting used to:

Honestly, the scenarios feel a bit bland and maybe a more Star Wars-thematic set of objectives would have been fun. Of course that kind of thing is subject to Disney licensing approval and the scenarios need to offer the same "experience" to both players, as opposed to something like "protect the shuttle" where one is forced to be defensive. AMG has also mentioned that the primary way to score points will still be to destroy your enemy's ships, so I'll need to play a few more games to see just how much impact objective points will have. My local group is diving right into the rules but, generally, we're sticking to Chance Engagement for now until we feel like we have gotten our bearings.

Player Order

Think it through.

Previously, player order in X-Wing was determined by allowing the player who spent the fewest points on their list to choose player order for the entire game. Player order will now be determined every turn with a roll of three attack dice by each player after all maneuver dials are set.

What we already like:

I have played dozens of test games with these Random Order After Dials, or ROAD, rules and have generally enjoyed the change. The "puzzle" of ROAD only becomes truly important when there is an initiative overlap. Having both players set dials with imperfect board information can get pretty sporty! It evokes the feeling of two ace pilots squaring off with no clear way of knowing exactly what the other will do, needing to make a snap decision based on their judgment of their opponent and then adjusting strategy accordingly after the fact.

What we're still getting used to:

It will take a lot of games to see how well the points balancing and other rules changes will interact with this, especially with scenarios and multiple ships wanting to occupy a similar space.

Range 0 and Overlaps

Ha! That got him!

It would be best to read this directly from the Rules Reference, but here's a brief guide:

  • Partially executed maneuver that overlaps a FRIENDLY or ALLIED ship: roll a die, on a Hit or Critical Hit result suffer 1 damage; skip your perform action step
  • Partially executed maneuver that overlaps an ENEMY ship: you may perform a Focus or Calculate action as printed on your action bar, treating the action as red, the ship may not perform any other actions during its activation.

Attacks can now be made at range 0, however there is no range bonus and the attacker cannot modify their own dice except by spending Force for its default effect and cannot modify, add to, or remove any of the defender's dice. Pilots who had abilities that allow range 0 attacks generally may now treat range 0 as range 1 via errata.

What we already like:

Thematically this seems pretty cool. Moving and shooting in "phases" and partially executing maneuvers is just how the game translates flying through space to a turn-based 2D format, but realistically in that entire span you and your foe are zooming towards one another only to flash past each other's canopies with only a few feet to spare. It stands to reason you'd have at least a chance to take an adrenaline-fueled snap shot.

What we're still getting used to:

This is one that feels a bit like the Wild West. I haven't really had a chance to test this out as the rules weren't teased in a printed form and felt a little complex without attendant errata and points balancing. Time will tell on this one but if nothing else it seems like a decent way to avoid that annoying end-of-game bump train trying to deny shots.


Obstacle interactions have changed significantly and this is one area where I'd recommend that you get your info directly from the rulebook. Basically, every obstacle now has a default effect followed by a die roll to determine any additional effects. These effects are, in general, more significant than they used to be. You cannot attack while at range 0 of any obstacle but, in some cases, you are still able to perform an action if your maneuver clears the obstacle completely. If you end your maneuver overlapping the obstacle you are not able to perform an attack (for most obstacles).

What we already like:

These changes didn't feel like they changed the game too much in test games aside from the occasional interaction that felt, well, like running into an asteroid. Running into stuff in space should hurt.

What we're still getting used to:

While most of the time you'll know to avoid obstacles and do a decent job, there will be those very memorable couple of cases where an unlucky move clipping the edge of a rock decides the game. I recently played a game where I made the mistake of jamming a juicy target that I wanted to kill rather than the opponent's ion missile carrier and paid for it by getting my ace ioned onto an asteroid for two turns. Lesson learned.

That's all for this week! Get on out there, play some X-Wing, and be cool to one another!