Steve Horvath talks to StarWars.com about revisiting the popular game, making it "better than ever," and ringing in the Clone Wars.
X-wings. Versus TIE fighters. Over the surface of the Death Star.
There's a reason those words conjure distinct images and feelings in Star Wars fans. The speed, the feel, and the drama of the climax of A New Hope is something that changed movies and wowed a generation. It became a blueprint for Star Wars space battles moving forward and, for many fans, is the dream of Star Wars: piloting your own ship in a dogfight. It sounds simple, but it means so much. That's the magic of Fantasy Flight Games' tabletop X-Wing game, which debuted in 2012 and gets a significant revamp on September 13 with the release of X-Wing Second Edition.
"X-Wing has been our most successful game line ever," Steve Horvath, chief marketing officer of Fantasy Flight Games, tells StarWars.com. "Played by literally millions of people around the world. It's been out now for six years. Time for a refresh." But to borrow and Star Wars-ify an old phrase, "If the starfighter ain't broke, don't fix it." So why the update?
In X-Wing, players employ (beautiful, display-them-in-your-office worthy) miniature models of Star Wars fighters and craft to battle it out on a game board, using cards to dictate movements and abilities. Well, despite the popularity of X-Wing, Fantasy Flight Games felt there was room for improvement, or at least, refinement. The designers examined fan feedback, learnings from tournaments, and their own wants out of the title, pouring all of it into a new iteration. The physical act of flying ships has a new emphasis, first and foremost. Flow and interactions have been tweaked. The Force plays a bigger part in the game. There are now actions that induce stress, upgrades with a limited number of “charges,” and the ability to repair damage to your ships. There's even a new squad builder app that allows for easier organization of squads and collections. So, X-Wing Second Edition has some special modifications, indeed.
"I just think it makes it better than ever," Horvath says. "If you've been playing the game for a long time, it streamlines it but adds depth to it in new ways. And it really refocuses the game on what the heart and soul of it always was, which is maneuvering starfighters and trying to outmaneuver your opponent, and blowing them into, like I say, space dust. The game drifted away from that for awhile, and Second Edition really gets back to what made X-Wing great to begin with. You can really feel it when you play it."
And if you've never played it but want to, there's more good news.
It's easier than ever to jump onboard with X-Wing, Horvath says. The game has always had a broad appeal, attracting everyone from kids -- Horvath mentions a letter from a mom saying that X-Wing is "the first game that my seven- and nine-year-old can play together and not fight" -- to older hardcore Star Wars and tabletop gaming fans. But as X-Wing evolved, it got more complicated, making it less easy to jump into the proverbial cockpit. With its rebirth through Second Edition, including the support of the app, newcomers are essentially guided into the game, while those looking for a deeper experience will still find it. Squad cards, a new addition, are an example of this; if you're brand new to X-Wing and find that building a squad is intimidating, you can use the included squad card to just play. As you get better and develop skill, you can move onto developing your own squads and strategizing.
"What Second Edition has done is, it's made it easier to enjoy the game that you want to play," Horvath says. "If you want to play a more straightforward, more straight-up version of the game, that's very easy to do now. If you really want to dive into it and really go deep, there's a clear path for that now, as well."
But when it comes down to it, Star Wars space battles are essentially about the starfighters and ships. And X-Wing Second Edition's craft -- its game pieces -- have also improved on their predecessors. One new feature that made this writer exclaim, Whoa, cool!: the S-foils on X-wings can now be moved into attack position. "I can't tell you how much excitement there was in the office when the first prototype came back from the factory," Horvath says. Plus, there are rules in the game that go with it. If the S-foils are closed, your X-wing can do certain things that it can't with them open, and vice versa. So brush up on your piloting skills and strategy -- and yes, get ready to say Lock S-foils in attack position, which is sure to be a delight for your opponents.
Finally, X-Wing Second Edition is incorporating yet another major addition, and it involves clones and clankers. To put it simply: Begun, the Clone War has, in X-Wing Second Edition. For the first time, the prequel and Clone Wars era is coming to the game, including Separatist and Old Republic ships. "We're super-excited about that," Horvath says with a big smile. (And not a moment too soon, considering the recent announcement that the beloved Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series is returning. You can see official art for Darth Maul's Sith Infiltrator and a Jedi Starfighter below, along with first looks at the miniatures themselves.) The addition of Clone Wars content coincides with a gameplay shift into factions; unlike the previous version of X-Wing, the Republic, Rebel Alliance, and Resistance will all play uniquely, as will the Separatists, Galactic Empire, and First Order.