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emeraldbeacon

X-Wing 101: How to teach newcomers?

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With the upcoming "I Am Your Father's Day" events in a couple weeks, some of us will be heading to local game stores to show off the game we love, and hopefully convince them to take their "first step into a larger world."  The sheer volume of ships to choose from, though, can be imposing for some, and one definitely doesn't want to overburden new players with too many rules minutia and interacting abilities.  That said, I have one main question to pose to you...

 

When teaching someone the game of X-Wing, what kind of squad/s do you recommend using, and how would you fly them?

 

Obviously, everyone learns differently.  Some want to see the full variety of cool things available, others only want to start with the basics.  Some want to observe a full game first, others want to jump right in.  Some want to see the game at its most exciting, others want something low-key and easy to comprehend, if simplistic.

 

That said a couple questions:

 

1. What starter-squads would you folks build using only one of the two core sets?

2. If someone wanted to fly an expanded squad, how many points would you go for... 50, 60, 75, straight to 100?

3. Would you stick to only small-based ships, or introduce large based ones as requested?

4. Would you recommend teaching players in a furball format, building a set of ships at about 25-30 points for players, then running a single squad against all of them?

5. Would you stick with something thematic over competitive?

 

Myself, I've had the most success with a standard Core Set standoff... usually 1 Rookie X-Wing with R2-D2 for them, versus 1 Academy TIE + 1 Obsidian TIE for me.  This makes the two teams exactly 25 points each, lets me show how Pilot Skills work, and allows me to use my TIE fighters to show both effective and poor formation flying (by forcing a self-bump).  I also fly dials-up for the first couple of rounds, just so my opponent can see why I'm choosing things and how it would make the ships move.

 

 

Other, thematic squad ideas:

 

Death Star Escape (~60 pts):  The Millennium Falcon is frantically racing away from the Death Star, with a quartet of TIE Fighters in pursuit!  Can they escape the Imperial barrage before going up in smoke?

Attack Run (100 pts):  Luke, Biggs, and Wedge fight in the skies over the Death Star as Vader and his TIE Fighters buy the Empire time to clear Yavin IV!

Asteroid Chase (~60 points):  Escaping from Hoth, Han leads a wing of TIE Fighters and Bombers into a dense asteroid field, hoping to shake them while he completes repairs.

Battle of Starkiller Base (100 pts):  Poe Dameron leads a desperate effort to disable the First Order's superweapon, against waves of TIE Fighters!

 

Any other ideas or suggestions?

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At my local store, new players get directed to me to teach them. What I find works best is a 32pt single ship format where I give them Luke + R2-D2 for a forgiving durable ship that only has 2 actions to worry about and I use Guri + Lone Wolf to show the different maneuvering actions and proximity abilities. I explain the rules to them and they do their thing (with assistance) while I do deliberate mistakes like flying on/over rocks and reds while stressed to show why not to do certain things. Inevitably I lose the demonstration game which I believe is good for a new player to feel the joy of beating someone more experienced which encourages them to play more. After that I follow their lead in what they want to do, most often it's play again with the same ships (sometimes they want to use a particular ship from the movies or one that looks cool) now that they've got an idea of what to do.

 

After a few games when I feel they have the hang of one ship or are particularly keen, I help them make a 100pt with what they have or from my own collection with the ships they want to use (not doing meta lists unless asked because early play should be more about fun than being competitive).

 

After our Store Championships, the 9th ruler in the pack that's meant for the judge wasn't wanted by the judge so the person running it gave the ruler to me as a thank you for helping just about all our new players find their feet and becoming regulars.

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I explain the rules to them and they do their thing (with assistance) while I do deliberate mistakes like flying on/over rocks and reds while stressed to show why not to do certain things. Inevitably I lose the demonstration game which I believe is good for a new player to feel the joy of beating someone more experienced which encourages them to play more.

 

I'm a big proponent of this method of teaching, too.  Not only does it help demonstrate and explain certain game mechanics, but it does so in a way that shows the new player the consequences of a bad move, without them having to suffer the consequences themselves.  I also think that it's good to give those new players a fair fight, so they don't feel like you're taking a major handicap (you get a fully loaded Luke, I get one academy TIE), but to show them that "hey, it's your first game, so I'm going to make some "rookie mistakes" to show you what happens if you're not careful."  That way, you can throw the game without seeming like you're intentionally throwing the game.

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I have a couple of 60 point "practice lists" that I keep with me. One is Biggs + Luke, the other is Vader + Colzet. 2 ships vs 2 ships keeps it simple without being "starter set" simple. That way, I can offer to play the contents of the starter box, or if they've done that and want to step it up a little, this is available.

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I explain the rules to them and they do their thing (with assistance) while I do deliberate mistakes like flying on/over rocks and reds while stressed to show why not to do certain things. Inevitably I lose the demonstration game which I believe is good for a new player to feel the joy of beating someone more experienced which encourages them to play more.

 

I'm a big proponent of this method of teaching, too.  Not only does it help demonstrate and explain certain game mechanics, but it does so in a way that shows the new player the consequences of a bad move, without them having to suffer the consequences themselves.

 

Indeed, the red while stressed in particular has scared a few new players with how much power they have over the opponent and they've made certain to never do it themselves.

 

 

 I also think that it's good to give those new players a fair fight, so they don't feel like you're taking a major handicap (you get a fully loaded Luke, I get one academy TIE), but to show them that "hey, it's your first game, so I'm going to make some "rookie mistakes" to show you what happens if you're not careful."  That way, you can throw the game without seeming like you're intentionally throwing the game.

 

I agree completely, which is why I use Luke + R2-D2 vs Guri + Lone Wolf as it's not super one sided, but my disadvantage is off-set by experience. Complete one sided fights aren't satisfying for anyone.

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I also think it's important to take into account age and "gaming experience".

 

When I taught my son, we started with 100 pt lists, I explained the rules and helped him work out the interactions and skills he was putting together. He's a teenage gamer who understands basic grouping and rpg mechanics.

 

I started my father in-law off using the just the core set. He's a 68 year old engineer.

 

With my six year old daughter, I let her pick the the ships she liked best, showed her how the dials worked, and let her read the pilot skills. We used stacks of Crit tokens for Hit points instead of using shields and the damage deck.They all love it.

 

*as a side note: if you want to have a really fun laid back game, try leaving the damage deck, upgrades, and shield tokens in your bag. Fly the ships as generics, but still taking into account point cost and pilot skill. Stack up up some crit tokens and discard them as you take damage.

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My experience from the 'other side' of the fence as a very recent newcomer might be useful here. (might not but hey!)

 

Background of long time war-game player but nothing like X-wing, mostly historical, big army Warhammer, Warmahordes, and pretty much every other system since the early 80's!!!

 

I saw a game being played and it looked like fun.

Local player agreed to give me a demo.  We did 2 TIE v T-65 no rocks so I could get the hang of movement and turn sequence.  I took the TIE's because of my love of Imperials.

Second game (straight after) was a 50pt game where the guy doing the demo gave me a fully kitted out Vader plus a TIE in support after understanding I was a serious Vader fan.

 

After that I was hooked.

 

So yeah, using a persons nostalgia and existing interest in Star Wars really helps.  I mean I may have been almost as interested flying Luke in an X-Wing (because of my age and nostalgia over the original film) but had they put a Scum list together or a list with no named pilots I may of just written it off as an interesting dogfight style game.

 

A quick chat with your victim (I mean potential new player) and tailor the demo to their interest will go a long way.

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The first game should definitely be something straight out of the core set, definitely.

FFG have done a great job of creating a nice tutorial scenario that eases players into the core mechanics of the game without overwhelming them.

 

For games that are going to expand on that I would recommend staying as thematic as possible. I think that any ship you want to bring to the table for demonstrating the game should be a ship that is easily recognisable, even to someone who may not have experienced much star wars outside of the movies.

 

That probably limits you to just the first couple of waves mostly. And pretty much locks you into rebels vs imperials, but that's not a problem.

 

If it were me building demo lists; I'd still do 100pts. I'd probably run Boba + Vader + some number of TIEs against the falcon, some x-wing pilot, and maybe a y-wing.

I think that gives a fairly decent spread of ships and abilities whilst still keeping it accessible. I'd try and strike a sort of middle ground with the upgrade cards... We want them to have nice shiny toys to play with, but at the same time we don't want to throw too much at them in the first couple of games.

 

(although, that said there is nothing stopping you from keeping a few different versus lists at varying levels of complexity... Because some new players will be comfortable jumping in much closer to the deep end than others)

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A good friend taught me how to play this past April and he started off with three asteroids, gave me Luke with no upgrades and he took two Academy Ties. Second game was two Xs for me and he upgraded to an ace and some ties and then third game I stole a list I liked from the forum and was wrecked by his Tie Swarm. Loved every moment of it and have been hooked ever since. So far have bought at least one of everything except the Raider. Still cant convince my wife to play though...

Edited by gwetmore2011

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Start with 2 f/os vs a t70 to get the core concepts of movement, removing stress, firing arcs, and predicting your opponents' movement.  Then add asteroids and actions, repeat, then move to 100 points without upgrades, then let them loose on the full game with list building and go crazy.

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after the learn to play session as suggested in the booklet next step could be blues vs epsilons, you just need another t-70 and tie/fo...
"Blue Ace" + Blue Squadron Novice vs "Epsilon Leader" + "Epsilon Ace" + Epsilon Squadron Pilot 
51pts each, nice for learning all the advanced rules and mechanics with pilot abilities... seems a pretty balanced match-up :)

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I've been brainstorming lists to teach my brother this summer. He and I are huge fans of the original trilogy, so that's where I've focused. Our first game will definitely be X-wing vs 2 TIEs from the original core set. After that, I've got 60/75/100 point lists planned out. I'm trying to keep ships built simply and the same between runs. He loves Imperials and Boba Fett, so that's the plan. In the 60 point game, Vader's PS9 shines, Biggs will surely die, and we will find out just how much they needed the Falcon to swoop in and save the day. At 75 the ship advantage flips and Luke has the initiative bid to move before Fett. At 100, the Imps make the bid so that Vader > Han and Boba > Luke

 

60 Point Rebels (58): Luke + R2D2 ; Biggs + R5 Astromech

60 Point Imperials (58): Vader + TIE/x1 + Adv Targeting Comp ; 2x Black Squadron Pilot

75 Point Rebels (74): Luke + R2D2; Blue Squadron Pilot + Accuracy Corrector;  Green Squadron Pilot + Chardaan Refit

75 Point Imperials (75): Vader + TIE/x1 + Adv Targeting Comp ; Boba Fett + Lone Wolf + Slave 1 + Proton Torps

100 Point Rebels (100): Luke + R2D2; Han Solo + Chewbacca (crew) + Falcon(Evade) ; Green Squadron + Chardaan Refit

100 Point Imperials (99):  Vader + TIE/x1 + Adv Targeting Comp ; Boba Fett + Lone Wolf + Slave 1 + Proton Torps; 2x Academy Pilot

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I've used what I call a 'skirmish game' to introduce new players: up to 5 players, each pick a small ship (with a bit of guidance, if necessary), no upgrades, and we have a free-for-all dogfight.

No rocks, I'll help pick an appropriate pilot so each ship is moderately balanced, and we simply play. For my 8 year old son & 6 year old daughter, we used dials face up for the first few rounds, and they were allowed to change their dial if the movement wasn't what they wanted.

 

It works well, each rule was explained as it came up (so they weren't bored by long periods of talking) and by the time the first game ended, they were keen to choose a different ship and play again.

 

When newer players want to join, having 2 or 3 who already know the rules helps and they can fly at each other while the new players bumble around for the first 2 or 3 rounds, so they have an advantage when they finally get into the shooting part since they are undamaged and the experienced ones have lost a few hits/shields.

 

For adults, you might be able to jump straight into full squads. Not so much with 6 year olds!

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I keep these three lists with me for the purpose of variety and to encourage simple concepts building up. Easy to show importance of pilot skill, initiative and dials/maneuvers/tactics without having them forget about pilot abilities.

 

Rebel: 47 pts

Red Squadron Veteran (PS 4)

Rookie Pilot (PS 2)

 

Imperial: 47 pts

Zeta Squadron Pilot (PS 4)

Epsilon Squadron Pilot x2 (PS 1)

 

Scum: 47 pts

Hired Gun (PS 4)

Black Sun Soldier (PS 3)

Binayre Pirate (PS 1)

 

And I keep a Falcon, Decimator, and Firespray on hand to expand the squad to 100 pts. Keeps things simple, but I have some 'iconic ships' (Decimator can easily be mistaken for a Star Destroyer) to draw interest and introduce new concepts.

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