The Future of the Galaxy Far, Far Away: X-Wing 2.0

As you may have gathered if you’ve read my previous articles, I’m a big Star Wars fan. I’ve dabbled in literally every single tournament Star Wars game Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) has put out. I’ve earned by stripes in X-Wing, won the Corellian Conflict in Armada, been national champion of Imperial Assault and Star Wars LCG, and was in from day one of Destiny. I haven’t tried my hand at Legion yet, but I’ll happily give it a gander when I get the chance. Although I play them all far less than I once did, I was still keen to tune in to the first Hyperspace Report from FFG.

It also just so happened that it would be live from 3AM Eastern Standards Time. I set my alarm, went to bed, and awaited the “big announcement” that FFG had promised.

I managed to sleep through my alarm and completely miss the live announcement, but I’ve since gathered my scattered brain and all the information I could find in order to write this article. Really, the only announcement from the Hyperspace Report was THIS:

That’s X-Wing 2nd Edition, in case you were wondering.

Now, to start off on a low note, I’m a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more info on the other games. Yes, Star Wars LCG has been cancelled (I wrote a piece about that announcement here), so I didn’t expect them to talk about that. Considering the considerable angst in the Destiny community at the moment after the request to cease online tournaments, I’m surprised that FFG didn’t do something to revitalise the hype. The flood of Legion news has also drowned out any interesting articles for Imperial Assault or Armada, and I’m certain fans of those games would love some more info on upcoming products. Realy, “Hyperspace Report” felt like a bit of a cloak for “Major X-Wing Announcement”.

That said, it’s quite easy to pontificate from the comfort of my home as I sit typing this in Marvel pyjamas. Despite the issues I have with the lack of info regarding the other games, I think the announcement about the changes to X-Wing are, pun intended, a game changer.

The biggest change in my eyes is the use of computerised army builders. On their own, this is nothing new; it doesn’t take long to find one of many dedicated fan-sites that have their own coded army builder. Many of these are fantastic. However, what FFG has done is futureproof their game, and make balancing their game MUCH easier for the future.

Given the number of combinations available in X-Wing, it’s unreasonable to expect that every single variable will be accounted for. Ultimately, things slip through the cracks, and errata or “fixer cards” are released. Whilst these are fine on their own and an accepted part of the game, they can be clunky for newer players, especially when errata becomes quite significant. The burden on the player becomes much larger, and many players are vocal in their dislike of errata.

Online card games such as Hearthstone are able to effectively “errata” their games without passing any of the burden onto the player, by issuing a patch and changing everyone’s cards without them having to remember everything. No need to consult an FAQ or anything of the sort to constantly reacquaint yourself with the changes; just look at the card itself, and all the changes are there. The new X-Wing squad builder app will allow for similar changes, though admittedly on a smaller scale (they can only alter the points cost of cards, as all other information is printed on the cards). Regardless, this is HUGE, and I applaud FFG for taking an innovative step forward. Taking advantage of technology to create better outcomes for your game is exactly the kind of forward thinking that benefits everyone.

Also an excellent move by FFG is the introduction of conversion kits, allowing players to continue to use all their ships from the 1st Edition of the game. When 2nd Edition was introduced to A Game of Thrones, players were understandably unhappy that their entire collection became invalid. You had to start again from scratch. Understandably, many players weren’t happy about this, as they’d invested a lot of money into their collection, only to have it retired. Granted, it would be near impossible to convert an LCG into a new edition and maintain all the old cards, but try telling that to someone who just lost their collection.

Although not free, the conversion kits that will be available from day one offer players the opportunity to continue to use all their favourite ships from 1st edition, as well as all the cards they’ll possibly need. I can imagine some players feeling a bit slighted that they have to “repurchase” some of the ships in order to gain some of the new upgrades, but this is a small price to pay, and they’re still releasing new content in the ships (my understanding is they’re not just flat reprints).

The conversion kits also offer a HUGE amount of content available for 2nd Edition from the get-go. This is a huge boon for existing players, but I ponder just how many “new” players will be jumping in to play. Admittedly, provided the conversion kits contain a wealth of upgrade cards, they could serve as a good starting point. However, given the conversion kits allow 1st edition ships to be played in second edition, it seems that new players will still be required to purchase 1st edition ships to compete. What’s odd about this is new players will acquire a stockpile of superfluous 1st edition cards. In addition, it also means that it will take a while for 2nd Edition to begin to introduce new ships, UNLESS they release new ships alongside old ones. Effectively, while I think the decision to allow complete conversion of 1st edition ships to 2nd edition, I ponder what kind of difficulties this will cause in the long term, and for new players.

The final note that I’d mention is I’m curious how FFG believe they’re design space will be expanded greatly by their proposed changes. The core game appears to still face the same constraints it always has. The new edition will be releasing with a HUGE amount of cards, meaning a lot of territory will have already been charted. There are some new game mechanisms which will allow for some more space (such as the Force), but ironically these seem to defeat the proposal to move away from bloat and towards the core gaming experience.

Overall, however, this is an exciting time for the gaming world and X-Wing pilots everywhere. Although there will, as always, be those who shout that the sky is falling, I believe that this new edition is “A New Hope” for the most popular dogfighting game in the world, and may be the breath of fresh air it’s long needed.

The announcement page for X-Wing Second Edition can be found here – https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2018/5/1/x-wing-second-edition/

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