Miniatures Monday – Balancing the Force(s) in Star Wars X-Wing

Courtesy BGG

A Problem? Take a look at this thread over at BoardGameGeek. It will take you a while to get through the several pages (7 at the time of this post) of comments but give it a shot.

My Take: I don’t’ see the game as broken. Never forget that Star Wars X-Wing is a squad building game. The game by its very nature is not balanced 1-on-1. I think this is why you get two TIE fighters and one X-Wing in the Core Set. This is also in keeping with the source material where the outnumbered Rebels make up for their quantitative disadvantage through quality. Building a proper squad is the real key to victory. As designed, the Rebel player gains many complementary advantages if the squad is assembled the right way.

In my games, the younger RMN has always wanted to be the “good guys” and taken the rebels. I can now see that playing the rebels is harder than the Imperials because of the qualitative advantage. Unfortunately, the younger, inexperienced RMN pilot is often not able to take advantage of the inherent Rebel abilities and therefore loses to the numerically superior Imperials. I think this happens because the younger player wants to “turn and burn”  in a dogfight rather than “slash and run.”  Does this make the game unbalanced? I think not, but it definitely makes it more difficult to play for younger players.

Even the Star Wars Universe recognizes the threat of TIE swarms. In Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels (Ballantine/Del Rey, 2003) the entry for the Alliance RZ-1 A-Wing Starfighter includes the following:

“…the compact A-wing was a Rebel Alliance response to the Empire’s growing number of TIE fighters and TIE variants. Realizing the Rebels needed a craft capable of outrunning these enemy fighters….Because of its speed, the A-wing excels in hit-and-run missions, long-range patrols and reconnaissance, and surgical strikes against large starships.” (p. 17)

Looking over other Star Wars genre games, like Star Wars: Star Warriors or Star Wars: Silent Death Starfighter Game one can see the same “balance” issues. In every case the X-Wing is qualitatively superior to the TIE fighter when compared head-to-head. But the balance is restored though point valuation where a single X-Wing will often face several TIE fighters in a “balanced” battle.

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