18 May 2016 | X-Wing

Fly Casual

Because There Is Much, Much More to X-Wing™ Than Just Winning Tournaments

"Keep your distance though, Chewie, but don’t look like you’re trying to keep your distance… I don’t know. Fly casual."
     –Han Solo

Since its debut in late 2012, X-Wing has become one of the world's biggest, most recognizable, and best-loved miniatures games.

The game has grown through eight waves of starship expansions, four huge ships, and two aces packs. Its starfighters have flown to battle across countless tabletops around the globe. Its factions have recruited new aces like Poe Dameron and "Omega Ace" to fly alongside such classic pilots as Han Solo and Darth Vader . And we have seen the game's tournament scene thrive and flourish in dozens of nations—to the point where monthly tournaments and league play are common occurrences in gaming stores everywhere.

Still, as much as we look forward to our annual World Championships, and as much as we are thrilled by your involvement in our Organized Play tournaments, we are constantly reminded that the majority of you play for other reasons than winning large, competitive events. In fact, one of the greatest things about the game's community is that even its more competitive tournament players have largely adopted the "Fly Casual" mantra advocated by 2012 World Champion Doug Kinney.

So, with the vast majority of the world more focused on having "fun" with X-Wing than with winning tournaments, we wanted to explore a few of the many ways you might shake up your play experiences in the name of fun.

Know What You Like

The majority of X-Wing games are played as head-to-head matches between standard, 100-point squadrons. This is the tournament standard and the type of game for which you are most easily able to find an opponent. Walk into just about any game store, and you can track down someone who would be willing to field a 100-point squadron against your 100-point squadron.

However, this is not to say that the standard tournament format is necessarily the best or the most fun. Those concepts—"best" and "most fun"—are subjective, and if you want to have as much fun as you can with your games of X-Wing, it behooves you to give a little bit of thought to the parts of the game you find most exciting in the first place:

  • Are you thrilled by maneuvering your ships with the blind dials, hoping to avoid your opponent's firing arcs, even while positioning your ships for point-blank shots?

The Resistance player selects a speed “3” right bank maneuver, anticipating that it will allow his X-wing to clear the asteroid and keep his opponent’s First Order TIE fighter within its firing arc.

  • Do you enjoy the way the game immerses you in the Star Wars universe with its pre-painted miniatures and iconic pilots like Luke Skywalker , Han Solo, Wedge Antilles , Soontir Fel , and Darth Vader?
  • Do you like to tinker with your squad builds, trying to find new and interesting ways to upgrade your ships with elite pilot talents, Astromech Droids, ordnance, and special modifications?
  • Perhaps you like to tinker with your miniatures more than with your squadrons, painting your TIE Phantoms so that they appear to be mid-cloak or theming a group of starfighters as a matching squadron.

As soon as you identify which parts of X-Wing you find the most exciting, you can find new ways to emphasize them.

Play to Taste

There is nothing wrong with sticking with the standard, 100-point format if that is what you enjoy the most. However, if you find yourself itching for something different, you can easily find a play experience more suited to your taste by adjusting the parameters of your games.

For example, if your favorite part of X-Wing is the thrill of executing the perfect maneuver, you can reinforce the importance of maneuvering in a wide variety of ways:

  • If your opponent agrees, you can self-ban turret weapons and/or ships with auxilliary firing arcs. This forces you to line up shots within your primary firing arc and keeps you safe from enemy fire, so long as you can stay outside of your opponent's firing arcs.
  • Go back to the Core Set. There are no turret weapons or auxilliary firing arcs in either the classic Core Set or The Force Awakens™ Core Set. Furthermore, scaling your squadron down to just one or two ships increases the tension of every shot you and your opponent fire.

  • Add more asteroids and other obstacles to your battlefield. What happens when you start with twelve obstacles instead of six? You spend more time maneuvering around them. At this point, there are twelve different asteroids, six debris fields, and several different mines that you can add to your table at the beginning of a game. Some may explode. The others will remain. But you and your opponent are guaranteed to notice the impact upon your maneuvers.

Similarly, there are plenty of ways to emphasize the game's ability to immerse you in the Star Wars universe and the astonishing variety of different squads it allows you to explore:

  • Explore the options presented by the game's many missions, as well as those on X-Wing Mission Control. Instead of focusing on eliminating enemy fighters, you can attempt missions that define alternate paths to victory. Perhaps you will recreate the Death Star Trench Run from A New Hope, or you might design mission-specific rules for flying the Millennium Falcon through a deadly asteroid field as TIE fighters chase after it in hot pursuit. With the game's latest starship expansions, you can even recreate some of the greatest moments from Star Wars Rebels by designing missions to pit the Ghost against the Inquisitor and his TIE fighter escorts or to test Darth Vader against a whole squadron of A-wing pilots.

You do not need a customized Death Star surface to play your own Death Star Trench Run scenario, but it can help!

  • You can further immerse yourself in the Star Wars universe by narrowing your focus down to a single pilot. When you only control a single ship, instead of a whole squadron, you can "become" that ship's pilot, and the game takes on some of the qualities of roleplaying. This approach works particularly well if you can convince a number of friends to join you for a "furball" event in which everyone controls just one ship worth a set maxmimum number of squad points.
  • Just as you might self-ban turret weapons and auxilliary firing arcs if you want to focus on maneuvering, you and your opponent might choose to ban certain ships, pilots, or upgrades from your squad design in order to promote new squad designs. You can do this easily at any squad-point value, including Epic Play.
  • Speaking of Epic Play, it allows you to enjoy an entirely different sort of experience within the same core rules. Adding huge ships like the Tantive IV or Raider-class Corvette to the table alters both the game's visual presentation and its pacing. Plus, when you can field entire TIE fighter wings alongside TIE bombers, a Lambda-class shuttle, and the Slave I, you gain even more room for creative squadron building, and you can transform your quick, squad-based dogfights into massive battles, the likes of which are likely to change the momentum of the Galactic Civil War.

  • Additionally, each of the four huge ships designed for Epic Play introduces a full campaign, complete with rules for handling your unique pilots between missions and different missions to play, based upon which side wins in the earlier missions. These campaigns, as well as those you might devise for yourself, allow for a sense of progression between your games, so that each match is only part of a larger experience, rather than contained within itself. This is only heightened further when you use campaign rules for gaining rewards from your successes, which you can then use to upgrade your ships, pilots, and squadrons.

No Wrong Answer

The truth is that there is no wrong way to enjoy X-Wing because X-Wing is meant to be enjoyed. Period. Accordingly, players are always exploring different ways of putting their ships to new uses. Fans have created fully cooperative campaigns, random squad generators, and objectives—like those from Star Wars™: Armada—that change the way you score your matches. They have created missions to test your piloting skills against a Millennium Falcon run by a scripted AI, and they have shared photos of their repaints and sculpted terrain.

We love all the different ways we see X-Wing fans engaging with the game!

Will you pursue new ways to enjoy your game from the many options that already exist? Or will you, like so many have discussed, find some way to integrate the dogfights of X-Wing with the larger capital ship battles of Armada, and the ground combats of Imperial Assault? It might take the better part of a weekend, but you could easily imagine Lando Calrissian telling Admiral Ackbar to engage those Star Destroyers at point-blank range while they wait for Han Solo to take down the shield generators on Endor. Then? You could easily create some mission-specific rules to race Lando, Nien Nunb , and Wedge Antilles through the mazy entrance to the second Death Star while your opponent chases them with Imperial fighters.

There is a place for competitive, tournament-style X-Wing. A very important place, actually. But in the end, the Star Wars galaxy is a very large place, and X-Wing offers you a window to more than one type of space battle. What styles of play will you try in your next games? Share your thoughts with the other members of the X-Wing community, and always remember to fly casual!

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