Jump to content
HeyTeach

Introducing X-Wing to Middle Schoolers

Recommended Posts

Hi, all.  I teach U.S. History to 8th graders (13 - 14 years old).  I have the opportunity to hand-pick some of my students for three once-monthly Saturday Academy sessions coming up this Spring.  I want to introduce X-Wing to them.  

The philosophy under which I'm operating, namely that playing X-Wing:

  1. Cultivates creativity
  2. Helps develop social skills
  3. Encourages teamwork and cooperation
  4. Teaches problem-solving and critical thinking skills
  5. Promotes positive communication and oral language skills
  6. Develops math skills like mapping, graphing, orienteering, measurement, and computation

If you were me, how would you go about introducing the game to a group of teenaged students?

Some things that maybe you need to know, and/or questions I'm considering:

  • I will have a minimum 8 kids in my group, for about two hours. Then we'll rotate for the next two-hour slot. 
  • What if I have 10 - 12 or more students?  What structure would you suggest to give maximum time/fun to everyone who comes?
  • I have three sets of movement templates.  I know it's ideal for each player/team to have their own dedicated set, but could it work that two games share a set of templates?  That would allow, for example, two 4-player tables to share one template set, allowing up to 24 players at a time.  Pros/Cons?
  • I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to buy more dice.
  • I have 43 ships in my fleet, spread across all three factions.  (One huge ship, the CR90.)
  • I think I should explain only the rules/procedures that are necessary to get them flying/shooting as quickly as possible.  To me, this means that some rules are going to have to fall by the wayside. Which ones can we disregard in the name of beginners having fun and learning the basics?
  • I don't think I should let kids choose their own squadron builds as it would take too much time.
  • How would you go about pre-selecting ship matchups, pilots, upgrades, etc., to keep gameplay simple, yet fun and competitive?
  • For small, 2-ship lists, can I reduce the size of the play field? Would that have an adverse effect on fun/competition?
  • I have enough desks to push them together in ten 4-seat configurations to make tabletops of 3ft between players by 4 ft side-to-side.  However, I have only one game mat.  Suggestions?
  • What else am I not considering?

Thanks in advance.  I love this community.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My first suggestion is to go to Hobby Lobby or Michael's and buy a few of those tri-fold foam-core presentation boards. They make great table tops as the usually stand 3 ft tall and have extra space on the wings for components. I think they run about $10 each. Secondly I don't think I would use any upgrades to begin with. Maybe you can give each player 40-50 points of two ships, 1 generic and 1 named pilot. I would teach them turn order stuff and how actions work. Would skip rocks the first game, add them later. I would let 4 people play on each table, let them decide if they want to play free for all or teams. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds amazing!!! At the same age I had a History teacher teach us Axis and Allies and that one week of history class is what hooked me on Table Top gaming in general!! I think one set of maneuvers per game is fine, and before I had my first mat I threw some felt on a 3x3 cardboard sheet and worked great. I think to start you should keep it at about 60pt per squad with fewer upgrades and I agree that the kids likely won't be ready for building their own squads. A good idea might also be to use the missions that come with expansions and coresets (if you still have them).

 

If you haven't heard of it, I would reccomend you take a look at Heroes of the Aturi Cluster  http://dockingbay416.com/campaign/  Depending on the number of players you get the only real difficult issue would be printing materials and borrowing enough Ties from your local gaming group (which I think shouldn't be to huge an issue). Point being, it is a cooperative campaign system where they could also learn about probability (What the enemy AI system will do) and keep them working together to accomplish goals.

 

Good Luck!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, wfain, and JSwindy.

I think limiting asteroids and upgrades, having smaller squad sizes, and the game mat life hacks are all great ideas.

Edit: I have the Aturi Cluster campaign, but have never played it.  It's among the great many resources, missions, documents, project plans, and links I have amassed yet never used.

Edited by HeyTeach

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, HeyTeach said:

Thank you, wfain, and JSwindy.

I think limiting asteroids and upgrades, having smaller squad sizes, and the game mat life hacks are all great ideas.

Edit: I have the Aturi Cluster campaign, but have never played it.  It's among the great many resources, missions, documents, project plans, and links I have amassed yet never used.

Specifically if you have 6 or fewer (hopefully this won't be the case for you) I think HotAC would be a great way to play with this group. You can slowly introduce upgrades and how they work with each other, and give them some ownership and buy in to a PILOT and how it develops (like an RPG). Plus, you could manage the AI, integrating yourself into the game and able to shell out advice without making anyone feel like you are helping their opponent since they are all o the same team. It also automatically restricts the ships available to them so you don't have to stress about balancing. Taking your role even further in this scenario, you could go full DM style and roll manuevers for the AI in secret (allowing for you to fudge to the students advantage if the are getting walloped without them knowing) For initial training, I might reccomend the getting started mission twice. Once with out asteroids and lighter on enemy ties and then round two with the standard set-up. Might even give them asteroid and bump adjustments to their moves similar to what the AI gets. 

All just random thoughts.

I have taught (the standard game, not HotAC) others to play by letting them pick their favorite model and/or Pilot and pitting them against each other or against me in a free-for-all or Team deathmatch style. I balance the competition with upgrades to flavor so everyone is close in points and then let them respawn at random locations (D8). That was fun, but you always risk gang-up in a free-for-all and potentially someone not having fun getting smoked all the time. So...I would interject yourself and always fly to balance the scales or be the one getting picked on :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I taught the game to a few 10-11year olds here in sweden.

Genric pilots

No upgrade cards

Red manouvers prevent action.

I usually create 60-65point lists

And we play 5 rounds as introductiongame.

I also try to stick to ships with few actions targetlock/focus can be confusing enough :)

Im starting a project where I want kids to come an fly vs their parents. Considering something in style with: Tired of your kids Playing to much computergames? Come and whoup their butts in a tiefighter! But Its still on the ideastage.

Fantastic thread btw !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I run a games club after school every 2nd week at my school in Australia. I have students ranging from Yr5 (10/11) up to Yr 10 (15/16) coming along, usually between 15 and 20. Not all play X-Wing, we still have a few diehard 40K players and we run Wings of War as well as a few board games like risk and StarWars monopoly.

I start them off with 2v2 games, and usually a total of around 60-80 points a side. Normal 3x3 board. If you lack boards, a sheet of MDF should be easy to come by for little coin.

Preset the ships/cards to create a reasonably balanced game. I try to keep the more convoluted game mechanics out of it, but some ships are upgraded in the name of balance. Don;t be afraid to give one kid a Falcon and another 3 Tie Fighters; it's all fun and very cinematic.

You really want a set of templates per table, and 3 of each dice, 4 is better. If you are the only person who knows how to play, I suggest 16 kids (4 tables) would be as crowded as you want to get, especially when getting them going. I just had my group start back for the new school year, and I had 13 new students, and the regulars mostly forgot! I ran a demo game with some kids watching, others fielding a ship; they were all pretty keen.

 

Good luck!

RoV

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Rat of Vengence said:

If you lack boards, a sheet of MDF should be easy to come by for little coin.

Thanks for the reply.  It's nice to see something like this has worked in other places.  For your MDF sheets, are they covered/coated with anything?  I'm still exploring options for additional play surfaces, because most of the time, desks/tables pushed together create seams in a flexible playmat -- wrinkles in space, if you will.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Mattman7306 said:

If you haven't seen it yet, id suggest trying out Mario Kart X-wing. Fairly simple, and a fun way to introduce people. I've found that people who wouldn't play normal x-wing are willing to try out x wing Mario kart.

I've seen the MarioKart version.  I even tried to set it up on my own mat and gave it a run with my son.  While we still believe it to be a fun and interesting variation on the game, we're going to have to call "user error," because we gave up in the 5th round with only one of us having successfully made the first turn without exploding.  I think there was something wrong in how I duplicated the track map.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/24/2017 at 8:54 AM, HeyTeach said:

Thanks for the reply.  It's nice to see something like this has worked in other places.  For your MDF sheets, are they covered/coated with anything?  I'm still exploring options for additional play surfaces, because most of the time, desks/tables pushed together create seams in a flexible playmat -- wrinkles in space, if you will.

I usually just use 2 tables, it's pretty close to 3'x3', but a club I attend has a number of boards that have been simply sprayed black and had some thin (don't want lumps) white paint spattered from a toothbrush for stars. You can get way fancier with spraycans or an airbrush, but it serves the purpose and looks good enough :)

 

RoV

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're all set.  I think I'll have about 16 students, so that means 4 games of 4 ships each, two students per team, with a variety of matchups -- two Rebel vs. Imperial tables, then 1 each Rebel vs. Scum, and Imperial vs. Scum -- and eleven different ships represented. (Han Solo vs. Scum Boba Fett are the only large-base ships we're using.) Ship/Pilot cards I enlarged and printed on 8.5x11 sheets of paper, with all the information clearly labeled.  We are not using Upgrade cards.  Some of the Pilots are of a high enough PS level to have special abilities, so I tried to balance the teams as closely as possible.

I made 4 "play mats" out of 1/8" plywood covered with Plasti-Dip spray rubber and edged with duct tape, which will lay over 4 student desks pushed together.  They'll see a Google Slides presentation that walks them through the basics of the four phases of play, and what the important icons mean.  We'll practice movement with the templates.

Fingers crossed! 

Fly Casual!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I run a club with 16 middle school students, mostly 6th graders (11/12 year olds) and a few 8th graders. We meet weekly for about 50 minutes. When we first started it was 2 vs 2 with generics and no actions, it took a few meetings for everyone to get a good grasp of moving, then I added just the focus or evade action (I did this for all ships). Reds are just no actions, and they can't do back to back red maneuvers.  For the last few months it's been 1v1 with students selecting pre-made 60-70 point lists. Still no pilot abilities, but all ship actions are there. My desks are 2x4,so we just push them together and they play on a 4x4 area.  Every other month, we also do an epic game, with the goal to destroy the oppositions large ship (Raider or Tantive), they love it. 

For my pre-made lists, I set to 60-70 points and use the mid level generics as price guides (unless there are none, then it's the mid PS pilot) I also try to keep them sorta thematic, a shuttle with 2 interceptors, ghost with A-wings.  Players choose a list by drawing cards, and then select a new list each week, with the last player choosing getting to pick any list they wish from the rest of my ships. 

I got lucky, I was able to pick up 5 extra core sets when they were on sale for $12 at Target last summer, combined with my other sets, I have enough templates and dice for 8 games. I do not use the damage decks, they use counters to represent ship health. When a crit goes through, they roll a die, another crit is an extra damage, anything else is no extra effect. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/24/2017 at 7:16 PM, Mrk1984 said:

I run a club with 16 middle school students, mostly 6th graders (11/12 year olds) and a few 8th graders. We meet weekly for about 50 minutes. When we first started it was 2 vs 2 with generics and no actions, it took a few meetings for everyone to get a good grasp of moving, then I added just the focus or evade action (I did this for all ships). Reds are just no actions, and they can't do back to back red maneuvers.  For the last few months it's been 1v1 with students selecting pre-made 60-70 point lists. Still no pilot abilities, but all ship actions are there. My desks are 2x4,so we just push them together and they play on a 4x4 area.  Every other month, we also do an epic game, with the goal to destroy the oppositions large ship (Raider or Tantive), they love it. 

For my pre-made lists, I set to 60-70 points and use the mid level generics as price guides (unless there are none, then it's the mid PS pilot) I also try to keep them sorta thematic, a shuttle with 2 interceptors, ghost with A-wings.  Players choose a list by drawing cards, and then select a new list each week, with the last player choosing getting to pick any list they wish from the rest of my ships. 

I got lucky, I was able to pick up 5 extra core sets when they were on sale for $12 at Target last summer, combined with my other sets, I have enough templates and dice for 8 games. I do not use the damage decks, they use counters to represent ship health. When a crit goes through, they roll a die, another crit is an extra damage, anything else is no extra effect. 

I like all these ideas.  Thanks for sharing them.  I'm definitely going to refer back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/24/2017 at 1:15 PM, HeyTeach said:

We're all set.  I think I'll have about 16 students, so that means 4 games of 4 ships each, two students per team, with a variety of matchups -- two Rebel vs. Imperial tables, then 1 each Rebel vs. Scum, and Imperial vs. Scum -- and eleven different ships represented. (Han Solo vs. Scum Boba Fett are the only large-base ships we're using.) Ship/Pilot cards I enlarged and printed on 8.5x11 sheets of paper, with all the information clearly labeled.  We are not using Upgrade cards.  Some of the Pilots are of a high enough PS level to have special abilities, so I tried to balance the teams as closely as possible.

I made 4 "play mats" out of 1/8" plywood covered with Plasti-Dip spray rubber and edged with duct tape, which will lay over 4 student desks pushed together.  They'll see a Google Slides presentation that walks them through the basics of the four phases of play, and what the important icons mean.  We'll practice movement with the templates.

Fingers crossed! 

Fly Casual!

I'm quoting myself, here.

The slide presentation was no good.  This I learned when some kids showed up late and I felt I had to truncate the instructions to catch them up.  Turned out, they were faster up to speed than the ones that were subjected to the slides.  Just getting them playing was the most helpful, and the most fun -- grab an empty seat, pick up a dial, choose a maneuver, use the template, roll the dice.  There was very little instruction necessary beyond that.  Most importantly, the students who showed had fun, even the ones who didn't really like the flying and sat and competed just with the dice.  The feedback I got says they can't wait for next month's session.  

Thanks for all your suggestions and support!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Keeping it simple is the best way to get them started, especially with the short time window you have.

I'm taking notes since at some point my older son (7) will likely try to get his friends to play and while his grasp of all the mechanics is amazing, I'm not sure how good he'd be at simplifying the explanations at this point!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...