17 August 2016 | X-Wing

X-Wing™ for Beginners

Guest Writer Erik Blythe on Becoming a Rookie Pilot

"You've taken your first step into a larger world."
     –Obi-Wan Kenobi

Are you new to X-Wing? Are you looking to build your local X-Wing community? Or are you wondering what's the best way to teach the game to your friends and family?

Well, today, we have an article just for you! Guest writer and long-time Star Wars podcaster Erik Blythe looks at getting started, learning how to play, and building your local X-Wing community.

Becoming a Rookie Pilot

Jumping into a well-established game can be intimidating to new players. However, as Obi-Wan Kenobi once told us, "Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." What intimidates new players is often a sense of being overwhelmed by the quantity of ships and rules. At its core, though, X-Wing is a very simple game that's easy to learn. You just need to approach it from the right point of view.

New players often get so intimidated by the ship options and the more experienced players that they skip the game completely. That's a shame, because X-Wing has a very small learning curve and shouldn’t be intimidating at all. Just keep it simple, trust in the Force, and jump in!

What to Buy

The X-Wing Core Set comes with one X-wing and two TIE fighters. The Core Set is required for all players, and either the original Core Set or the newer The Force Awakens™ Core Set will do.


The Force Awakens Core Set comes with one T-70 X-wing, two TIE/fo fighters, and everything you need to have your ships wage thrilling Star Wars dogfights.

An Alternative Approach

The ships that Erik recommends make for great, iconic early purchases that immediately steep you in the fundamentals of the game and your faction.

An alternative approach is to pick up one or two of the game's "aces" packs—Imperial Aces, Rebel Aces, Imperial Veterans, or the upcoming Heroes of the Resistance. These packs each come with two starships, along with custom missions that help you learn how your ships play.

The Core Set has everything you need for your first practice game, but you'll immediately want a few more ships. Players generally build 100-point squadrons, so you're going to end up with three to five ships in most builds. New players often wonder whether to focus on getting the most recent ships or on starting with the earliest ships first.

Fortunately, the game is so well-balanced that it really doesn't matter. A "swarm" of six original TIE fighters with generic pilots is still considered a deadly build. Don't worry about selecting the perfect combination of ships—nearly any grouping will be fine starting out. You can't really go wrong at this point!

One of the great things about X-Wing is that you don't have to get everything (even though you'll eventually want to). For now, decide whether you want to focus more on Rebels or Imperials, and save your questions about the third Scum and Villainy faction for later. If you like the Rebels, consider picking up another X-wing, a Y-wing, and maybe a third ship that sounds interesting to you. Good Imperial choices include another TIE fighter or two, a TIE interceptor, and one more of your choosing.

For now, you can avoid the "huge" ships, as they involve a more complicated (yet fun) form of gameplay. If you're ambitious and want to pick up a "large" ship right away, stick with the Millennium Falcon or Slave I. These large ships are powerful and durable, but they can be more difficult to maneuver. You'll need to be patient as you're mastering them.

Focus on the Basics

Getting started is surprisingly easy. As you begin, focus on the following:

  • Learn about the ship attributes. Understand your Attack, Agility, Hull, and Shield values.
  • Understand the "firing arc.”
  • Practice basic maneuvering. This is the most important skill you can practice. Good maneuvering wins games.

Learning how to judge your maneuvers is the key to success. Here, an unfortunate A-wing pilot finds out that his speed "3" bank will not clear the asteroid in front of him.

After a few games of practicing his maneuvers, the same A-wing pilot encounters a similar situation and successfully dodges the asteroid with a speed "1" turn, then ducks out of hte TIE punisher's firing arc with a boost to the left.

When building your first few squadrons, focus on skills you understand. If the potential benefit of a skill doesn't make sense to you right now, skip it. It'll make sense to you later as you gain more experience.

If possible, you will want to play your first few games against a veteran who's willing to help guide you through the basics of rules and tactics while playing.

Free Demo Guide

Has Erik inspired you to share your love of X-Wing with your friends and family? If so, you can pair his advice with our downloadable demo guide (pdf, 4.7 MB).

Some Things Can Wait

There are a lot of aspects of the game you can set aside for while you're first learning. Here is a brief list:

  • Don't try to memorize everything. Unlike with many card games, you don't need to rely on a vast knowledge of what your opponent may have in their deck. Quite the contrary, because ship's cards remain face-up, you can always see what your opponent's ships can do.
  • Don't bother with munitions for now. Missiles and torpedoes can be put to powerful and effective use, but when you're a newer player, maneuvering is the most important thing you can master.
  • Don't play with asteroids during your first few games. Learn them soon, as they're a standard part of gameplay, but don't worry about them immediately.

Don't Be Afraid of Tournaments

Tournaments aren't just for experts. Many novice players participate in local tournaments, and though they may never win, they have a great time. An X-Wing tournament isn't merely a contest—it's a social event where players can meet one another, socialize, and share their passion for the game.

Tournaments also make some of the best learning experiences. Once veteran players know you're a new player—and yes, you should tell your opponent that you're new—they're usually happy to take things at a slower pace and even provide assistance. You may be their opponent, but you're not their adversary. Instead, you're a potential addition to their community, and they'll usually welcome you with open arms.

Just Have Fun!

X-Wing is one of the most well-designed, engaging table top games available. Just jump in, and have fun!

Practice your maneuvering at every opportunity. Don't be afraid of tournaments. And, most importantly, engage with the community, and ask for help when you need it. You'll fast become part of a larger gaming family that's supportive and dedicated, and soon you'll be the veteran bringing in new players yourself!

Erik Blythe is an award-winning podcaster and the former Network Director of the ForceCast network. A fan of science fiction and a Star Wars trivia expert, Erik has been around since the very early days of podcasting and has run such shows as RandomChatter, Echo Base, The Outer Rim, and The ForceCast. He enjoys X-Wing and reminds us that, above all, the game is meant to be fun!

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