X-Wing Version 2
Released on the 13th of September 2018 to mixed opinions (well, mine were mixed anyway!), Second Edition has now been out for a year. To celebrate/commiserate this (depending on your point of view!) I’ve decided to try and take a look back over the last year and see how far we’ve come.
Why Second Edition at all? What exactly was so wrong with First Edition (or just X-Wing it was known, obviously!) that it needed a whole new version and a total revamp? Well, I think it depends on who you ask. On the release of 2.0 I had only been playing the game (or even been aware of it) for around a year. When announced (on the 1st of May 2018) I was just 8 months into playing and had spent a not inconsiderable amount of money on it. I was enjoying the game, had learned the mechanics I needed to know and was (finally) starting to get better at playing. Now it’s all change? I have to spend MORE money??!?! Once the outrage passed (and we are talking days here, not minutes) I looked into what was changing and why.
It seems that in the more competitive scene (which I wasn’t part of but had some vague awareness about), things were not ok. Certain list archetypes or particular ships were just stomping over everything. The main example I’m aware of was the rise of Nym-randa (Rebel Captain Nym in Scurrg-H6 Bomber and Miranda Doni in the K-Wing) which appeared early in 2018. Such was the performance of this list that in the Cardiff Regional in January that 8 of the top 16 of swiss and 6 of the top 8 in the cut was this list. The game was getting stale.
This then triggered a response from FFG, release an FAQ document and nerf (JARGON ALERT!) the list for the greater good of the game. The new reference document? It’s here a 25 page PDF document where the rules clarifications for specific ships/pilots/upgrades starts on page 8. 17 pages of updates to the rules. 17 pages.
Another issue was power creep. As newer ships were being released the older ones were getting left behind. The humble X-Wing, the ship the game was named for had been left behind, eclipsed by more obscure ships from Star Wars lore. To try and correct this FFG released new upgrades for the X-Wing – Renegade Refit with negative points and adding another modification slot which allowed you to take the Servomotor S-Foils which added a Barrel Roll and Talon Rolls when open or a Boost and reduced the difficulty of 2-bank turns when closed.
It was all getting a bit convoluted (like this blog!)
So what exactly was 2.0 going to give us? Well the release announcement gave quite a lot of info but it boiled down to 4 main changes in the way the game was played:
Adjustable points (via the brand new app)
Now if you’re reading this article I assume you regularly (or semi-regularly) play the game and I also assume that *most* (or at least a lot) are first edition players who took up version 2 when it came out. I will also assume that quite a few current players have only ever played version 2 (like several people at my FLGS (JARGON ALERT!)). As such, you’ll already know the details of these points so I won’t go any further with this.
The biggest thing here (in my opinion anyway) was the adjustable points. The ability to reduce the effectiveness of an overly strong list by increasing the points of various components meant that the game could be brought back into balance without errata or FAQ documents, new cards or things like that. A ship is too strong? Increase the points or take away an upgrade slot. Ships not seeing any table time? Drop the points and see what happens.
Some other changes happened such as revamping how turrets worked, changing the pilot initiative system and generally reducing the ability to change lots of dice (meaning variance was a bigger part of the game).
So, it’s all there in theory. How has that panned out?
So, What’s Happened?
On reflection, quite a lot actually!
We’ve had new ships (and old ones re-released, some with moving bits!!!!), new factions (Galactic Republic and CIS), split factions (remember when Rebel & Resistance were the same?), new effects (Force, strain and depleted) new formats (Hyperspace and Extended). Lots of stuff.
SIDE NOTE! Since I started writing this blog entry I’m aware of a couple of blogs and podcasts who have reviewed the last year far better than I could do so I’ll just summarise how it’s felt for me personally.
What’s been most interesting for me is watching how FFG have been handling the points. Moving to a 200 point list system (which effectively gave you 0.5 increments for points using the old 100 points list model) was such a head twist. So, everything is just double what it was before right? WRONG! So with the release of 2.0 it was like the wild west. What’s good? Who knows?! What are you flying? A bit of everything!
On release trying out all the new things there was to play with was a temptation far too strong for me to resist. I flew such nonsense lists and had a completely unmanageable list of squads in the app. Force users? Yep, I’ll try that. Recreating my old favourite lists? Wow, that’s different. A ship I never really played? Cool, time to give it a go.
I can only assume that the initial chaos of re-learning how parts of the game worked coupled with the immediate availability of ALL the ships at once (unlike when I started out in the game and was adding ships to our collection one at a time) was as overwhelming for others as it was for me.
So, what do we think?
To try and gauge the general feeling in the online community I posted a poll in a few groups on Facebook asking which version they preferred, First or second Edition.
Firstly I’d like to thank everyone who voted and commented on the polls. While not particularly scientific they gave me some very interesting perspectives on how people feel about the game in general at the moment. Also, special thanks to those who added extra poll options for comedic effect. The world needs rebels like you!
And now a small disclaimer. Thank you Simon Green for pointing out: any result from this poll will be skewed. When second edition was released a lot of the first edition lovers moved on. The people who are active and present in the groups today are obviously more likely to favour second edition.
An excellent point which I hadn’t thought of.
Now this is just a totalling of numbers, I’ve not looked if any people voted in more than 1 group and I’m not claiming this to be anything other than a rough show of hands.
Second Edition – 326 votes
Soontir Fell – 36 votes
First Edition – 22 votes
Star Trek Attack Wing – 1 vote
Battlestar Galactica – 1 vote
So 2nd edition takes it with 84% of the vote. Now given what I’ve already talked about that probably isn’t that surprising. What I really was interested in was the why.
Again, thanks so much to those who commented. I’m just going to copy/paste some of the most interesting/insightful/amusing comments here:
Dave Cook – I prefer 2nd edition by a mile. Less degenerate, more focus on player skill than silly card combos, if something proves too powerful or weak the points can be tweaked. We have the Force, 2 new factions and the Resistance and FO splitting into their own unique factions is better too.
Elliott Weights – I have fond memories of 1.0 because it was the game we loved at the time and reason we are here now. 2.0 still wins
Victor Canales – It’s fun to show up to an event that’s a large event (gencon, hst, etc.) And know that I have a chance to actually compete. Not because of a netlist, but because I’ve practiced and used strategy. I finished my last 1.0 tournament after playing 12 1st edition tournaments and never finishing in the top half. (Still hate you dengaroo) but, in 2.0, I’ve had success against people because I practiced, thought about ship placement, and had since luck. Every game is competitive. It feels like real dogfighting. No one usually totally destroys someone and you have opportunities. It’s much more rewarding. (See example, my first hst dice)
Love this game and the great people I’ve met playing!
Martin Dalby – I had just really got in to X=wing when second edition came out and now all my collection is worth jack without buying more stuff. As a casual none competition player it pushed me to other games.
Michael King – 1.0 just had so many broken mechanics that arent a problem in 2.0. Defense combos are limited so you can actually hit the super aces if you get them in arc, moving turrets takes skill and uses an action, charge effects keep us from dealing with unlimited regen and other unlimited things, being able to adjust points has already saved us from unbalanced cards several times and FFG has done a good job at adjusting the meta to keep things in a good place. IMO, 2.0 (so far) is superior in every way. Player skill matters so much more and so many lists are viable if you can fly them well!
Bob Dee – I think I preferred 1st. It may be nostalgia from seeing it through to sunset, but there has been a definite change in the variance curve – it’s much wider and flatter than 1st. That means the mroe games are won and lost because of the dice.
At the very top end of competetive play (a place I find myself very rarely) both players are playing optimal X-Wing and the change int eh curve is more likely to be the decider.
The volume of card text now (Buzz droids…) can be a bit grim. Similarly the volume of relevant tokens – focus, evade, TL, tractor, strain, calculate, force is a bit OTT.
And the move towards a warhammer style faction structure means that there is a lot more rote learning. There’s definitely hard work and skill involved in knowing all the cards, but it isn’t a massive amount of fun.
On the other hand – no autothrusters, no unkillable aces, no turrets.
Ok. I’ll vote for second.
Lukas Baeulac – First edition had some inherent design flaws that were impossible to fix without introducing a whole new edition. Having said that, I was one of the people who enjoyed it right until the end and didn’t feel an immediate need for change.
Second edition, while overall a better system, has some flaws too in my opinion, though they mostly relate to how ffg handles things and not how the game is designed:
– If you only play one of the old factions, there are no releases for you. I haven’t bought a single expansion since the conversion kits were released. Why doesn’t FFG want my money?
– Force being unconditional breaks one of the core design philosophies of 2.0. I like that they added it to the game but I also thinks it creates problems in it’s current form.
– While I like that the point changes allow for nerfs and general balancing, I think FFG is overdoing it. I know it’s a hard system to balance, but sometimes it feels like it’s forbidden for anything to be good, unless it’s new content. Why nerf a list that’s good but not op?
– Related to this: I’m one of those people who like to play one list A LOT as opposed to trying out new stuff all the time. With 2.0 I can be sure my list will not be possible anymore after the next points update. Off course this comes down to personal taste and a lot of people love this system.
– Generally I feel like games in 2.0 almost always go to time and are more dependant on dice luck than 1.0 games. Especially since very often it will come down to a ship dropping down to half points or not. I just doesn’t feel as great to win or lose by 20 points with most ships still on the field than winning or losing because one side was completely wiped out.
That being said I’m very happy with how 2.0 turned out, I think it was a good decision to make the change and it was mostly well executed by ffg.
Matthew Collins – 1.0 for my vote.
My challenge is list building in 2.0 by the time I work out what I like playing with, without getting smashed every game we have a point’s change and I have to start again.
Having kids means I don’t get to play all that much to make changes so it takes me age’s to make a list work good enough to take to a tournament. At least in 1.0 I had my go to list and all I had to worry about was an FAQ. Week night game would then be for fun or testing new stuff.
I would play competitive events once a month in 1.0 but in 2.0 I have only played 2 in the past year. In fact I may only now play system open and that’s more only for a fun weekend away with a good group of friends.
Trevor Betts – Second is obviously the better game, however, I would love to go back to the height of First Edition. We had a much larger community here locally and I had a lot more time to play then lol
Simon Green – I think there are a couple of important points to consider here.
1: any result from this poll will be skewed. When second edition was released a lot of the first edition lovers moved on. The people who are active and present in the groups today are obviously more likely to favour second edition.
2: it’s important to distinguish the difference between the mechanics of the game without bringing the “bogey man lists”.
Yes first edition had problem lists on the competitive level, but second edition hasn’t been shy about that either. Punishers, triple upsilon, rebel beef, hatchetman, handbrake Han have all been derided. Now first edition reached an event horizon where there were so many cards that S-rank lists were unavoidable. Second edition has the advantage of being able to pull the rip cord every few months to eject problem lists into oblivion but that hasn’t stopped new ones from appearing so far.
3. With the former point in mind we should asses both editions on the merits of their mechanics. First edition was a much more accessible and mainstream game experience. The limitations of this structure became clear when we started getting condition cards. Second edition on the other hand is more tailored to the power user. The type that is prepared to go all in on purchases and dedicate more time to the game. As such this type of player is not likely to be off put by the slightly more complex mechanics.
As already mentioned in second edition you’ve got strain and stress tokens, calculate and focus tokens, devices and reference cards, it is more complicated.
It’s important to remember back to wave IV of first edition when X-Wing experienced exponential growth with one of the most commonly stated reasons for that growth being “you can learn it in 30 minutes”
There are some very interesting points in there but it’s clear that in general the changes are viewed as positive and that many believe FFG are doing a good job in continuing to develop the game and move it forward. Taking the decision to release Second Edition will have alienated a lot of players (almost including me!) but for those who decided to stick it out it seems as though it’s been worth it.
It’s been a rough ride with steep learning curves and no small amount of outrage but I believe we have a better game than before and better prospects of keeping it that way. I like the way things are headed and with Epic play and wave VI on the horizon there’s more scope than ever to change things up and play a way that suits you.
So Happy Birthday X-Wing 2.0 (or should we now just say…..X-Wing?)
Here’s to many more.