Is the Force with X-Wing 2.0?

X-Wing 2.0 is a polarizing issue among players. The complaints against it are not with the rules of the re-design but with the price to keep playing. In my opinion the price is too damn high! That being said, the rules look amazing and a re-boot was very much needed. Let’s start with what’s good in 2.0, and then move on to the Bad and the Ugly concerning the info we have so far.

The Good

Unlike the new “Disney-fied” Star Wars films, FFG is delivering a quality Star Wars product. For those few that have been playing X-wing since 2012, you know how much this game has changed and how much bloat it accumulated over the years.

I’ve watched some videos and play-throughs of 2.0 and everything I see I like. Here are some improvements,

• ship stats and abilities like the x-wing and y-wing have been tweaked
• maneuver dials show all the ship maneuvers
• the force plays a direct role in the game through rechargeable tokens
• game phases changed to help interactions and streamline game play
• power cards brought back in line or eliminated, like PTL
• turrets need to aim using arcs, rewarding maneuvering and/or bluffing
• bullseye mechanic for certain triggers like crack shot, which rewards maneuvering
• barrel roll given to more ships and made less powerful which means more ships are fun to fly
• charge tokens on cards unify upgrade card special abilities like missiles and R2-D2
• points costs are doubled to help accurately cost cards
• chained actions let pilots do specific action chains for stress
• new ship base smaller than medium class but larger than a snub fighter

Those are just a few of the changes. There are many more, like the fact the T-65 looks fun to fly and handles more like the ship on screen vs the less maneuverable brick from X-Wing 1.0. Finally, the X-Wing can barrel roll like it always should have!

Yipeeee!

Turrets requiring a facing is one of my favorite pieces of news. Now that more ships can maneuver, and PTL and barrel roll have been reigned in, a hard counter turret that can hit anything anywhere will not be needed. This is a really exciting change putting the emphasis on flying. It looks fun and will hopefully be balanced too!

Factions are promised to be more flavourful as the re-design will help accentuate each faction’s play-style. The Rebels are going to be about helping each other by token passing. The Imperials will reward tight formation flying and sacrificing soldiers for their leaders.

Lots of spoiled Rebel ship cards hand out focus tokens like mad. For example, Garvin will now hand out a focus at range 1-3 vs 1-2, which will makes his ability more relevant. If Rebels corner the market on focus sharing, that would make for a flavourful faction. If each faction does a specific thing others can’t, that will make for an interesting game where players can pick a style suited to them.

FFG has also promised that cross faction purchases will not be needed to get certain cards. This is a great announcement, however, I’ll wait to see if that stands the test of time.

Ordnance has been given a re-design as well. Seismic Charges now detonate on debris, like asteroids, and blow them up damaging ships within range 1. That sounds like fun!

One of the designers said they approached 2.0 with the idea of fun in mind and how each ship should fly, how powers should work and worried about points after. I get that sense from what I see so far. X-Wing 2.0 looks really fun to play with. Partly that’s because all the news has featured iconic ships we love like TIEs and X-Wings, and partly that’s because the emphasis seems to be on maneuvering, which is great!

I particularly like the idea that certain card effects only trigger when an enemy ship is in your “bullseye.” Receiving an in game bonus for lining up a shot and not just for range, is a most welcome addition to this game. We can all agree flying well should be rewarded and the emphasis of X-Wing.

A new online application will contain all the points values for the cards. I’m sure there will be a downloadable pdf as well. Some people have complained that this is actually a bad thing because when the game dies, it will be unplayable without an application. A simple printout of the points values via pdf solves this problem.

Other conspiratorial types warn that certain cards will go down in points to boost sales for certain ships. To this I say, maybe! FFG has shown some shady business practices in the past, like selling the TIE Advanced “fix” cards bundled with a capital ship lol. Remember that scam?

Who knows one way or the other if this will happen. For those that play casually, it won’t be a big deal since points can be tweaked as seen fit at home. For tourney players, this will get X-Wing more in line with competitive games as certain cards can be nerfed or buffed.

I see the app as a good thing because designers can’t predict how cards will be used. Even when playtested thoroughly, certain cards, or combinations, inevitably get used in ways the designers didn’t see coming. Allowing the designers adjustments post-release, will only help balance the game and that’s why I’m all for this change.

However, X-Wing has had some rushed and garbage cards released in the past! Video game companies like EA have been slammed for releasing unfinished games and then using patches to finish them afterwards. I hope FFG doesn’t go the video game route and release poorly tested cards knowing they can tweak the points after release.

Overall X-Wing 2.0 looks quite strong as a game, that’s because 1.0 has been played for 6 years. All that knowledge over 6 years has been brought to bear in the re-design. The lesson here is that thorough playtesting is needed for a healthy game. I hope FFG slows down it’s release cycle and tests everything to the extreme in order to keep 2.0 tight.

Since I’m a miniature painter, models are important to me and boy oh boy do I love the new models! The new Y-Wing and X-wing look fantastic. I especially love the Y-Wing model as the old one was pretty crappy. It didn’t have turrets and it didn’t have proper engine foils. I will be buying at least 1 Y-Wing to repaint it. As a gamer that enjoys the hobby aspect of this game, I’m happy to see the model improvements.

The folding S-Foil X-Wing is a dream! I’m hesitant to buy an X-Wing just for the S-Foils but who am I kidding?! I’m pretty sure when I see one in person I’ll cave and buy one. Unfortunately, I already have 8 painted X-Wings! Like many of you out there, my collection of ships from waves 1-4 is on the crazy side.

These are all great improvements to X-Wing. I tip my hat to the design staff, the model makers and artists, well done guys.

The Bad

I wonder why they didn’t introduce more dice types or increase the amount rolled? More dice = better variance! It gives you options when designing future ships. Armada and Legion are good examples of systems using more dice to good effect.

I was also hoping for a hybrid token/dice system on defense. Armada attacks and damage are sped up with token flipping. It would have been good to import some of that into X-Wing. Maybe mook TIEs would only get tokens, while aces have dice? It would have cut down on variance and sped up gameplay.

I see no mention of objectives, new deployment zones, unbalanced list games etc. Where are these types of gameplay options? Have they missed the boat or are they keeping this a secret? Armada has an excellent Objective system and Legion has a great Deployment system.

I was hoping they’d import some of the newer mechanics from other games into 2.0. Every X-Wing game being a death-match gets pretty stale, especially when playing all day at a tourney.

Still, 2.0 is four months away. There’s lots of info we don’t know about yet.

The Ugly

Perhaps this company should change it’s name to Fantasy Flight’s Greed?

I realize it’s subjective to say something is overpriced but oh man, I don’t see anyone being happy about the price 1.0 players need to pay to get into 2.0. Perhaps FFG thinks the game has reached a saturation point and is more concerned with raping existing customers vs growing the game further?

We’ll never know how much the Star Wars IP costs FFG and how much overhead the company needs to pay. A friend of mine explained to me how Wizards of the Coast reconfigured their brand from a company with lots of bloat, pushing out many garbage product skus, to a streamlined company with less lines on offer, but of higher quality stuff – notably concentrating on D&D and MTG. Not being a D&D or Magic guy, I found this pretty interesting. Is FFG in the same boat? Do they have too much overhead? What’s with these outrageous prices?

FFG needs to get paid, I get that. Hours and hours of testing went into 2.0 and the game looks pretty sweet. That means wages for the developers etc. So without knowing the bottom line, it’s hard to say if we are getting “disrespected” as a player base. That being said, it certainly feels like it. $50 for “conversion kit” which is an assortment of cardboard that is either too much or not enough to fit everyone’s collection smacks of being railroaded into a purchase. How many core sets does the average X-Wing player own? Not enough apparently, because you’ll need to buy another one for $40!

FFG has lost my faith in “putting the customer first” because of it’s shady business practices in the past. Not selling enough dice and player aids in a core set, cross faction buying, purchasing the Raider to fix the Tie Advanced, having to buy a useless ship for the Autothrusters card, pushing out too much product too fast and ruining 1.0 with power creep are just some things an average player like me can’t forget.

Then we can look at the Legion vs Imperial Assault scale change in their 30mm figure line. All these moves have convinced me FFG want blood from a stone.

Let me be clear, I’m all for a company making money, but I’m also for having my needs as a customer met, and having options with my purchases. Often with FFG they don’t want me to have options and they don’t meet my needs as a customer.

If I own 8 x 1.0 TIE Fighters, I don’t want to spend $100 to get 6 of them updated ($40 Core + $50 Conversion) and then have to hunt on eBay for the rest. FFG is becoming a company that doesn’t give me value for my money. The games are good but the price point and purchasing options are not. Why do we need another core set? Come on man! You can’t sell templates and damage decks separately?

For 2.0, why wouldn’t FFG sell individual ship upgrade and card packs? You could put them in cheap little boxes or baggies with little to no art on them (in order to cut down on costs) and sell them that way. As a player and customer that’s what I want and I know that’s what many of you want too. Some people have TIE swarms, why can’t we buy individual TIE upgrade card packs for our models? I don’t own any K-Wings, so why does FFG insist I pay for them in the Rebel Conversion Kit?

It seems the concept of rewarding loyal customers is lost on FFG.

Imagine going to a bike shop to buy a new bicycle you like.

You, “Hey I’d like to buy that red bike you have out front with the number 5 on it.”

Crusty old bike shop owner, “Ahhh, good ol’ Red 5. Veeery popular. I’m the only bike shoppe selling them. Good news for you, it’s on sale.”

“Really? That’s great! How much for it?”

“It costs $99.”

“That’s not bad, I’ll take it, it’s really nice,” you pull out your wallet.

“Ok,” types the creep into his gold cash register, “that’ll be $399.”

“Wait, what?! You just said it’s on sale for $99?!”

“Yes, that’s true.” Sneers the old man. “However, you have to buy that bike in our special ‘bike bundle.’ You get 5 bikes in our bike bundle, a blue one, purple one, and two gold ones plus Red 5!”

“Yaaaa, I don’t really want the other ones. I just want the Red 5 for $100. What you’re asking is kind of crazy.”

“What? You think I’m crazy?!” Yells the old man. “What about the kids in China that had to assemble those bikes! What about my electricity costs! I’ve got rent to pay and a daughter about to go to college!”

“Hey man, calm down. I just want one red bike, for a fair price. I’m not interested in a bike bundle.”

“What are you talking about?! There’s great value there! You get 5 bikes for $399! You can always give some to your friends or sell them on eBay!”

“Look, it’s really simple, I just want one, the ONE bike. Why can’t you sell me just that ONE bike?”

“Now you look here you young punk. It’s even simpler than you imagine. I’m the only guy selling that bike. You want it? Well then buy the bloody bike bundle and stop your whining or GTFO of my store and take that little smart mouth with you!”

You, “…… Ok….. Sorry….. I’ll buy your bike bundle.”

“That’s better. While you’re at it, go across the street and buy me a coffee too.”

Ebay will be a shit-show after these upgrade packs are released. Certain high demand ships will be astoundingly priced, like the TIE Fighter while others will be worthless, like the Decimator. Players will not be able to upgrade all their ships for a reasonable price because that’s what FFG wants. Players will also be stuck with worthless cardboard for ships they don’t own.

It seems to me, that there are two sides to FFG. There is the geek gamer side, and because CEO Christian Petersen is a very talented game designer himself, FFG’s games work well rules wise. The gamer side of the company looks to be strong.

Yet there is the corporate side to FFG. Someone is making decisions to railroad players into certain high priced purchases. Every company has a culture. The corporate culture at FFG is that of a drug dealer and not of a business that takes care of it’s customers. We are treated like junkies, not clients. That’s pretty shitty.

Final Verdict

FFG burned X-Wing 1.0 into the ground over the years yet 2.0 has burst from the ashes as an impressive and beautiful Phoenix!

However, the dark side of corporate FFG culture is strong with the pricing of this re-boot. X-Wing 2.0 is great for the new player, the rich player and the Star Wars junkie. It’s bad for the veteran player with a large collection, who also happens to be a loyal and long standing FFG customer. FFG is betting that those loyal customers will be people with more money than sense and why wouldn’t they? When it comes to Star Wars there’s a lot of senseless fans out there. I’ve been a senseless fool like that in the past, so I speak from experience!

I remember when X-Wing dropped in 2012. It was such an exciting time. Star Wars was different back then too – it was before the dark times, before Kathleen Kennedy. I don’t think I’ll ever feel that way about a Star Wars release again, be it a game or film.

I’m not sure how many of you out there are having Star Wars gaming overload, or disappointment in the franchise, or both. FFG certainly can’t be blamed for the direction the franchise is taking. However, I’m not the wide eyed farm boy I used to be and I’m not De-facto spending ungodly sums of money on this or any other Star Wars game anymore. Those days are over. Unless I see the value, I’m not spending. FFG has already cashed in on my nostalgia and so has Disney. I’m much more jaded about the whole thing now.

When it comes to 2.0, I might dip my toe in the water, but I’m definitely not jumping in. FFG lost me as that kind of a customer through no fault but their own.

In order to convert my collection to 2.0 it will cost me hundreds of dollars, yes that’s right hundreds of dollars. Many of you out there are in the same boat. How does that feel? Do you feel like you’re being taken advantage of? I do. If FFG sold 2.0 in a more customer friendly way, even if the prices were high, I’d feel less like a mark.

That being said, the game design does look fun and FFG deserves credit on that front. As always with them it’s a mixed bag of good, bad and ugly.

 

Share

Leave a Reply