Wednesday 13 November 2019

2023 X-Wing Buying Guide - Introduction

HI!  Welcome to my Buying Guide!  I'm in the middle of updating this fully for 2023.  This introduction page is updated but the faction pages that it links to will be getting reworked shortly so if you see anything missing or looking wrong on those pages it probably just means I haven't got to it yet!  - Dave

So you're thinking about buying into the X-Wing Miniatures Game and don't have a clue where to start? 

Or you've started or don't know what to buy next?  

Well you've come to the right place.  The guide will hopefully give you what you need to know to navigate through from your first Core Set purchase right up to fielding more firepower than half the star fleet.


X-Wing is the tabletop miniatures game of whizzing through space in a Star Wars spaceship and engaging in exciting dogfights with other players.  Want to be Luke?  Or Darth Vader?  Or Anakin?  Or Obi Wan/Han/Poe/Boba/Kylo/Padme.  Or even Unkar Plutt?  They're all in here.  It's a pretty great game.

In my mind X-Wing falls into the the fabled category of games that are 'easy to learn but difficult to master'.  You can be up and running in your first games not long after you start, and the turn sequence is so quick and intuitive that you'll be trading laser blasts with your new X-Wing frenemies in no time.  

To get a sense of how the game plays a typical X-Wing turn really consists of three key phases:
  1. Planning Phase.  You'll decide what maneuvers you want your ships to perform and then secretly set maneuver dials to lock that information in - each ship has a unique manuever dial that gives them their own personality.  Most ships in X-Wing fire their weapons forwards so you're trying to guess what your opponent is planning and keep them in your sights, while also keeping them confused about your own plans!

  2. Activation Phase.  This is where your cunning plans are revealed and ships are moved around the table.  The more skilled pilots move last - so Han Solo would move after a TIE Fighter pilot fresh out of the Imperial Academy, for instance - and that can give the aces an upper hand in being able to respond to what they've seen happen in front of them.

  3. Combat Phase.  If you can see your opponent you can shoot at them!  Combat is a pretty quick affair to work out, with unique X-Wing attack and defence dice rolled to determine the outcome of attacks and damage cards dealt to keep track of ships as the attrition of laser fire builds up.
Aaaaannnd... that's it!  Your turn is over and it's back to the Planning Phase to go again.  The game can flow quickly with a real emphasis on positioning and planning to reward you with the best shots and angles of attack.


X-Wing has been around for a decade now and in that time it’s gone through a couple of major edition changes. Probably the most important pitfall to avoid making is to understand which of those three editions you’re about to buy into, and if it’s the right one for you.

First Edition – if you’re only ever looking to play X-Wing on the kitchen table with a couple of friends then the First Edition is still fine, and if you can find one of the old Core Sets for First Edition lying around in a store or on eBay then I’d expect you can grab a bargain compared to buying later editions. First Edition is still a fun game with all the key gameplay hooks that make X-Wing fun and if you don’t think you’re every going to be venturing out into the wider X-Wing community it may be all you ever need. Just be aware that support for this edition of the game ended a long time ago and most of the components are not compatible with moving into later editions should you that you want to do so, so there will be an extra expense to update your game. Most of the rest of this guide will also not be very much help for you, I’m afraid.

First Edition Core Sets and Expansions are in grey boxes like this:

Second Edition – I think it’s fair to say that when X-Wing launched in 2012 nobody knew just how successful it was going to prove, or how much it was going to grow. By 2017 the game had grown beyond all recognition and the cracks were really starting to show, so a complete overhaul was announced for Second Edition. Without question Second Edition is a better game than First Edition and as well as smoother rules it adds a lot of things you don’t find in First Edition, such as Jedi and Droid forces from Episodes I-III of Star Wars, full faction support for Resistance and First Order from Episodes VII-IX, and new rules for Force users to make them feel a bit more special than other pilots.

While it’s no longer the ‘official’ version of the rules you’d just need to download a copy of the new rulebook and you’d be set to play 2.5 as well. The biggest watch-out for players intending to play Second Edition is that any future expansions will have been designed with the 2.5 ruleset in mind, though there is a ‘Legacy’ community online dedicated to ensuring backwards-compatibility into Second Edition for most new releases.

Second Edition (and 2.5) Core Sets and Expansions are in black boxes like this:

‘2.5’ – in 2021 Fantasy Flight Games’ parent company, Asmodee, announced that it was moving all their Star Wars miniature games out of FFG’s portfolio and over to Atomic Mass Games.  AMG are another company under the Asmodee umbrella and the makers of the Marvel Crisis Protocol game. The designers at AMG immediately set to work on making their mark on X-Wing, shaking up a lot of the things that hadn’t already changed when First Edition moved over to Second Edition.   There were a lot of changes but the three key ones were:
1) Squadbuilding overhauled into a two-tier system with 20pts of ships that each have a loadout value for upgrades, replacing 200pts to spend however you want.

2) Simple 'Capture The Flag' style scenarios added as a the default mode of play instead of straight deathmatches 

3) Player order determined randomly each round instead of being decided by unspent squadbuilding points.
The 2.5 rules are the ‘official’ rules, they’re what all the organised play events will use and they’re what any future expansions will be designed for. They’ve also really added some fresh perspectives and different ways of thinking about the game, both from a whole new set of designers at AMG and from players adapting to all the changes to the game. and they're the most widely played ruleset.

Personally, I think 2.5 has been an improvement over Second Edition but it's fair to say not everyone agrees and if you're joining the game it's something you may need to be aware of.  What seemed to play out is that some local X-Wing groups switched whole-heartedly to 2.5 while other playgroups dug their heels in and turtled down to carry on playing 2.0 the way they always had.  If you're looking to join into what players near you are doing it might be worth checking what version of the game they're playing.

2.5 was a rulebook rewrite that didn't change the products on sale at all, so 2.5 still uses the black packaging of Second Edition (officially, '2.5' IS Second Edition now).

Final Word - X-Wing is a great game and the key gameplay hooks (setting maneuver templates at the start of the turn, the geometric nature of moving with the maneuver templates, playing with Star Wars spaceships and shouting “PEW PEW!” at people) are unchanged through all three editions of the game. To a certain extent all the other stuff that’s changed between the editions is superficial – under the hood, X-Wing is still X-Wing whichever edition you play. Personally I think 2.5 is the best edition and as it’s the official edition that’s being supported by all the future releases I think it makes the most sense for a new player to join the game with 2.5. But there are still good reasons to buy into First Edition (money if you’re only playing casually) and Second Edition (if it’s what your local playgroup plays) so pick the edition that you think is right for you!

This buying guide is going to talk almost exclusively about 2.5, though.


Whether you're playing Second Edition or 2.5, almost certainly the first thing you're going to want is the Second Edition Core Set box.  This is designed as the starter pack and includes everything you need to learn and play the X-Wing miniatures game: dice, range rulers, movement templates, dials, damage deck etc,  It also comes with two Imperial TIE fighters and a Rebel X-Wing.  

Once you've got the Core Set, the only extra thing you need to know as a 2.5 player is to head on over to the Atomic Mass website and hook yourself up with the updated rules reference, errata, scenarios, and squadbuilding rules.

And in the absence of an official updated 'Learn To Play' style rulebook for 2.5 some fantastic X-Wing community members have mocked up an unofficial one that I would also wholeheartedly recommend.


For a decade buying a Core Set like this has been the only way to really start playing X-Wing, but in 2023 that is going to change with the release of the first faction-specific starter boxes.

We've got Rebel and Imperial starters releasing in Q2 2023 and although they're not announced yet it's expected that other factions may follow either at the back end of 2023 or into 2024.  These faction starters are more expensive than the Core Set but they give you a bigger head start in terms of having a small fleet of four ships at your disposal instead of just 1 X-Wing or 2 TIE Fighters.  You probably still need to pick something else up to get to a full 20pts squad but the faction starters are leaving you much closer to the start line than the Core Set does.

There's pros and cons to whether you buy the Core set of one of these faction starters.   They offer great value for money in getting to you first full squad and they'll have the fully updated '2.5' rulebook in them.  They also come with some 'Standard Loadout' versions of the pilots in the pack which reduces the issue of having to hunt down loads of upgrades to use them properly, and that's a big deal (see the section on conversion kits below).  The most obvious 'con, though, is that unless you know for sure you want to play Rebel or Imperial you may as well buy the cheaper Core Set and save some money for buying Jedi or Vulture Droids with instead!   

But even if you want to play Imperials or Rebels the Faction Starters represent good value in terms of getting plastic ships at a discount but you do miss out on getting some really good pilot cards if it means you sidestep buying some of the expansion packs.  For instance in the Rebel Starter you get Luke Skywalker and Jek Porkins as pilots for your T-65 X-Wing but you miss out on Wedge Antilles so there's still a reason to buy the T-65 expansion pack.

And think carefully about those Faction Starters and if they're giving you the ships you're interested in playing in your chosen faction.  If you know you want to play Empire because of TIE Defenders and TIE Interceptors then however much value the Faction Starter represents it's not giving you the ships you want and the Core Set should still be where you start.


The X-Wing Miniatures Game allows you to jump into the Star Wars timeline wherever you like.  There's seven factions in the game meaning you can play your favourite ships and characters right the way from The Phantom Menace all the way up to Rise of Skywalker!

Each faction has their own ships, pilots and playstyle and although individual power levels can wax and wane over time all of the factions are roughly equal in strength.  This all means you're free to choose the faction (or factions) that appeal most to you.

We'll talk about the individual factions in more depth on their respective pages of the guide, but here's a quick overview so you get a flavour or what's out there:

Age of Republic

  • Galactic Republic - hyper-mobile elite Jedi mixed with slow and unglamorous (but undeniably efficient) Clone troopers.  They probably embody 'easy to learn but difficult to master' more than any other faction so you can drop in as a beginner but it may take time to unlock the full power of the Force.
  • Separatists - swarms of Vulture Droids that die in droves accompanied by the odd powerful general like Grievous, Maul or Jango Fett.  Separatist forces are expanding rapidly with agile Nantex fighters alongside other technological droid terrors.  Perhaps the one thing they have in common is that it's tricky faction to learn with lots of unusual game mechanics.

Age of Rebellion

  • Rebel Alliance - probably the most beginner-friendly faction with some forgivingly tough ships that can absorb some punishment.  Rebel squads often emphasise flying in formation as a team to share strengths, while the Millenium Falcon provides a whole different way of playing
  • Galactic Empire - the ships may be grey and boring but with tons of speed and few shields the Empire is an exciting faction that rewards brave and skillful pilots.  The downside is that TIE Fighters have a tendency to explode just as easily as they do in the films so the learning curve can be unforgiving.
  • Scum & Villainy - Scum are a sprawling faction of 'everything that's not in the other six' with bootleg copies of most styles of play available to them.  Their hallmark is dirty tricks and unorthodox tactics that can confuse opponents so the best Scum players are always innovating new traps.

Age of Resistance

  • First Order - In many ways the First Order is a more beginner-friendly version of the Empire and many of their ships are upgraded TIE Fighters with shields.  The First Order excels at throwing out waves of cheap and disposable thugs with usually only a couple of aces around like Kylo Ren or Major Vonreg.
  • The Resistance - sitting somewhere between the Rebels and the Empire in playstyle The Resistance usually fields tough ships that can really move!  They're a pretty safe place for new players to learn the game although turning their individually powerful ships into a coherent strategy on the table can be challenging.


When you're first starting out on playing X-Wing the priority is probably going to be on building your fleet of little plastic spaceships so you want to buy the expansion packs that have those in.  But they're not the only products for X-Wing and you'll also see around lots of littlle boxes that are just full of cardboard.

Conversion Kits like these...

The official line: All the ships from First Edition are playable in Second Edition but not all of them have yet been rereleased in a dedicated Second Edition expansion pack.  The Conversion Kits exist to bridge that gap and give players all the Second Edition materials they need like pilot cards, bases, maneuver dials etc. to use their First Edition ships.  If you're coming in as a new player and buying ship expansions you'll probably not need these pilots & bases at all aside from just a couple of exceptions (eg. the Millenium Falcon expansion has Rebel cardboard in but doesn't have Rey or the upgrades needed to use the Falcon in Resistance faction).

The unofficial line: forget about all the pilots and bases and whatnot, what these packs actually are is a treasure trove of upgrade cards.  There are SO SO many completely normal upgrades that veteran players don't think twice about adding to their squads that a new player can't get hold of easily because they didn't buy conversion kits.  Those upgrades have all been reprinted since... but usually in wierd ship expansions you probably don't want to buy.  Want to put a Heavy Laser Cannon onto Poe Dameron's T-70 in your Resistance squad?  Well you'll need to buy a TIE Heavy, Sith Infiltrator, B-Wing, or Slave I, none of which you can use in Resistance.  Or buy a conversion kit.  Dorsal Turret on your Y-Wing?  You'll need to spend $50 on either a Ghost or Fugitives & Collaborators.  Or buy a conversion kit.

If you know some local veteran players then maybe you can beg, steal or borrow some of their upgrades from them - they'll probably have more than they want and may not realise they're actually sitting on a mountain of rare items.  If you can't do that then buying a conversion kit may seem completely superfluous but you'll be making everything you do go that bit more easily.

Upgrade Boxes...

These are designed to help new players fill in gaps in their inventory but they're both pretty low priority.  Never Tell Me The Odds has more asteroid/obstacle choices for you, while Fully Loaded is for players who want to use loads of missiles and bombs.

New Pilots foe existing ships...

There's some really good pilots in these packs but by their naure you need to have bought the ships first in order to use the pilots!  They're probably not among your first purchases but you should bookmark them for later because there's good stuff in these.  The faction flags are the bottom show which factions get things in the box.

'Battle' expansions 

Thematic packs based around particular battles from the movies these offer a unique casual scenario ,like recreating the trench run, which is good fun.  They also give new 'Standardised Loadout' pilots which was a new concept for the game - that's a pilot card which comes with all the upgrades printed on it so you can't choose what to give them, but you also don't have to hunt down upgrades from a bunch of different boxes to assemble your ship.  They're faction and ship-locked, so the Battle of Yavin box has TIE Fighters and X-Wings and Y-Wings pilots in but nothing for other Rebel or IMperial ships, or even other factions... but even so I would rate them as probably the most attractive cardboard boxes for new players just because they cut some frustrating corners by having everything you need already printed onto the card.


  1. Thank you for this excellent information it is very helpful for someone thinking about taking up the hobby. What are you thoughts/guidance on buying two core starter sets?

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  4. This is now officially my new Bible!!!

  5. Such a great read! I think we need an update though, we've had several releases since the last revision.

    1. You're not wrong - I've updated some of the faction pages but I need to press on and finish the update. I'll crack on!

  6. I think we could use another update?

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