Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The 12 Days of X-Wing

Regular readers of my blog, this one is not for you (but that doesn't mean you won't benefit from it).  This is for your long-suffering significant others - those loved ones who tolerate the hours and hours that they lose you to pushing plastic ships around a table and who would love to get you something X-Wing related for Christmas but don't really know where to start.

Your job is to get this blog under the eyes of the ones you love, be they wives or husbands, boyfriends or girlfriends, parents or children.  You can do it blatantly with a demanding "here, get me this!", or do it subtly by leaving the tab open on your laptop or tablet while you nip to the toilet... however you do it, it doesn't matter.  The ends will justify the means, trust me.
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Dear Normal Person,

If you are reading this then you are probably in a romantic/parental/friendly relationship with an X-Wing Lover.  Firstly: you have my condolences, or the condolences of my wife at least.  Secondly: by bringing this blog to your attention your X-Wing Lover would like you to know that they wouldn't be terribly offended if they were to receive some X-Wing related gifts during this Christmas period.

Unless you know what your X-Wing Lover already has and wants then this is a minefield but never fear - help is here!  From basics to luxuries there are X-Wing gifts to suit almost everybody and you can rest assured that you don't even really need to know everything about what you're buying to get yourself a happy X-Wing Lover.  

Here then, as we are deep into the gifting time of year, is my guide to...


12.  Dial Upgrades Dialling  (Cost: $$$$$)

How much X-Wing Lovers love to pimp out their cardboard movement dials with FFG's fantastic plastic-molded ones can be discerned by just how rapidly they tend to go out of stock whenever my friendly local game store gets a delivery!  You may have more luck at your own local stockist or may have to turn to searching online to find the templates you want.

As well as the official FFG maneuver dial upgrades there's several third party companies doing their own versions, usually laser-cut from plastic and either a full dial or a more colorful cover.  These tend to be a bit more specific to a particular ship than the FFG dials, which are only Imperial/Rebel/Scum-specific, so you may need to ask a few more questions about exactly which ships your X-Wing Lover plays most often, but the end result will be the same!

Checking out Pinterest or Etsy can be a good place to start, if you haven't thought of that already.


11.  Storage Foam Storing (Cost: $$$$$)

Almost certainly the biggest issue that any X-Wing Lover faces is actually keeping their X-Wing Miniatures stored away neatly and safely - both in the house, but also so they're easy to transport when you're heading out to play.  Whatever genius that first took a laser and applied it to foam packaging cases deserves a nobel prize for services to gaming, and have presumably been swimming in pools of cash like Scrooge McDuck ever since.
The foam storage solutions tend to fall into one of two schools of thought,- you can either get them with just generic squares and rectangles cut into the foam which will accommodate a wide range of ships so long as you're happy for them to rattle around a little, or you get foam that is custom cut to the specific shape of your X-Wing Miniatures for maximum safety and OCD compliance.

There's pros and cons to getting the custom-cut foam - it looks fantastic and takes care of your ships like nothing else, but obviously having your storage so prescribed means that any extra ships you buy are unlikely to find a home in it until you go out and buy more foam.  It's fine having space for two B-Wings but what happens when you buy a third B-Wing?  It's also not a perfect solution for portability as you tend to have carry around whole trays of ships instead of just the few ships you want to play with.  

Personally I've gone with the custom-cut trays, and while I had fun playing X-Wing 'Tetris' to fit as many ships as possible onto my tray I think there's a lot to be said for taking the generic squares/rectangles route, especially if you're buying it as a gift and don't know exactly what ships they have!  Feldherr and Battlefoam are two brandnames I know well, thought I'm sure others must be available and be equally good.


10.  Playmats Playing (Cost: $$$$$)

A nice big X-Wing starfield playmat is one of the best purchases an X-Wing Lover can make, because it makes it so much easier to just set up and play somewhere on a surface that otherwise may not be ideal.  Even so, because it isn't strictly necessary to play the game, your X-Wing Lover may have labelled it as a luxury purchase they can't quite justify over buying ships they want to play with.  That means it could be the perfect place for a loved one to step in and buy it as a present without having to worry about what ships or pilots their X-Wing Lover already has.

There's a range of options for the material you can have a playmat made out of but, although they're a little bit more expensive than others. I would recommend the official FFG playmats as the best place to start.  

They look great but more importantly they're made with a thick rubber back - think of something like a giant floppy mousemat - that makes them easy to roll/fold for transport but will still lay out flat and cover any little gaps or dips in the surface your X-Wing Lover is playing on.

They also have a fabric playing surface that doesn't send ships skidding out of position any time they're nudged accidentally, which some of the cheaper playmats are prone to do.


9.  Card Binders Binding (Cost: $$$$$)

If your X-Wing Lover is already all over keeping their X-Wing ships stored away then they may still benefit from learning a trick from all the gamers who play card games instead, by purchasing a nifty binder to keep all their pilot & upgrade cards in.  Ultra Pro are the market leaders but plenty of other brands are available, and any card binder that would suit Magic: The Gathering cards is going to work perfectly, it doesn't need to be specific to X-Wing.  X-Wing pilot cards are the same size as the cards from most trading card games, and the smaller upgrade cards are half the size so you can fit two of them into one card pocket by turning them sideways.


Alternatively a little extra searching may turn up a specific smaller binder. like the one on the left there, that fits the Upgrade cards in perfectly.  Personally I've got both, and it turns what would otherwise be boxes and shelves of cards wrapped in elastic bands into something that can both neatly go onto a bookshelf and also makes it quick and easy to find the cards I want to play with.


8.  Plastic Tokens (Cost: $$$$$)

An easy little way to upgrade your X-Wing Lover's collection is to buy him some shiny new tokens to play with.  

There's dozens of different types of token in X-Wing so this might seem daunting at first, but if you check out some of the most popular online destinations like Pinterest, Etsy or ebay you're likely to find that a lot of companies specifically bundle together the most commonly-used tokens that your X-Wing lover will need (eg. Shields, Focus, Stress, Evade, Target Locks).  

Shooting for one of those bundles takes a lot of the hassle out of picking out which tokens your X-Wing Lover will want, but if you have a better idea of the type of ships that they like to play with then some of the more specialist tokens like Emperor Palpatine, Cloaking Device or Extra Munitions may show just how much you've been paying attention!


7.  Star Wars Jumpers (Cost: $$$$$)

These won't help your X-Wing Lover to play X-Wing, but it will ensure that they both look the part and remain cosy and warm during the festive X-Wing season.  There are going to be Regional Championship tournaments for X-Wing running right through the winter months of January and February so a cheesy Star Wars Christmas jumper is both a fashion statement (or at least an ignorance-of-fashion statement) and valuable protection against developing hypothermia as your X-Wing Lover pursues intergalactic glory.

Alright, alright, I might be stretching a bit with this one but I could only think of eleven good ones so there had to be a bit of filler in to make up the dozen!  Back to better ideas...


6. Shiny Templates (Cost: $$$$$)

One of the most important pieces of kit for any X-Wing Lover is their movement templates that they use to push their little plastic ships around, and these days there are a wealth of companies and individuals offering the chance to upgrade them to something a little grander than the basic cardboard versions that come with the game.

Hunting down some custom movement templates will take you to most of the same places that you'd go for the plastic tokens as they tend to be made by the same people.  You can look on ebay, Pinterest, Etsy or Amazon and pretty quickly be overwhelmed by options - materials, colours, designs, Imperial or Rebel, official or third party?

The ultra-devoted may even go as far as commissioning some custom templates unique to their X-Wing Lover.  In my experience most of the companies that make these tokens will be able to help you out with a special request, like my TIE Fighter template below, though you may have to pay them a few more spacebucks to get something truly unique.




5.  SHIPS!  SHIPS!  SHIPS! (Cost: $$$$$ to $$$$$)

What do we want?  SHIPS!  When do we want them?  SHIPS!

Unless your X-Wing Lover already has all the plastic they need to recreate the Battle of Endor single-handedly then you're unlikely to go wrong by simply buying them more SHIPS!  This is especially if you can manage to work out what they've not got yet, and this Christmas a safe bet for a new purchase is the two ships that feature in the new movie (they're called the U-Wing and the TIE Striker).  Those two ships are coming into stores literally a week before Christmas, meaning your X-Wing Lover has had little chance to get to them before you.

Aside from that just buying them SHIPS! is a great gift, and a flexible one too because you can go as large or as small as your wallet will allow, right from a single fighter like a Protectorate Starfighter or an A-Wing to a boxed set like Heroes of the Resistance or Imperial Veterans, or one of the huge epic ships like the Imperial Raider or Tantive IV.  

If you're still utterly baffled as to which ships you should buy then as luck would have it I've recently compiled some handy buying guides of which the best ships are to buy for each faction, which may help somewhat...

REBELS        IMPERIALS



PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
You will almost certainly find the best prices online but without wanting to complicate your christmas shopping any more than I have to I'm honour-bound to mention that purchasing the ships from your X-Wing Lover's friendly local game store instead of online is the gaming equivalent of buying 'Fair Trade' products.  It may cost a little bit more than the best online discounts but it helps to keep the store open and without a store to support the local community your X-Wing Lover may find themselves without anywhere to play, or anybody to play against.  That would make them a sad X-Wing Lover.

Where you shop is entirely your decision but at least I've made you aware of the merits of the two options, so my conscience is clear!


4.  Alt-Art Cards (Cost: $$$$$)

This one may require some expert ebay or Google skills, but there are a number of alternative artworks for most of the ships & pilots in the X-Wing Miniatures Game.  Many of them are official FFG releases that have existed as prize support at one point or another, or on the other hand you could look for the celebrated Limited Edition cards drawn by Paul Le Rue.  

Whichever way you go, or even if you get creative and make your own cards, then if you know what pilots your X-Wing Lover loves to play this could be a nice little stocking filler that will be right up his exhaust port.




3.  Custom Ships (Cost: $$$$$)

X-Wing Lovers love very little more than they love SHIPS! but one of the few things they're almost guaranteed to love more is pimping out their squads by taking one of their favourites and giving it a unique custom paint job.  

Now unless you're harbouring a secret artistic side this isn't likely to be something that you can do alone, but that doesn't mean you can't get somebody to help.  Your X-Wing Lover's friendly local game store may be able to put you in touch with a painting maestro near you who will take a commission, or if not then the internet is full of people who will happily exchange your hard-earned currency for their skill, time and paints.  

Try searching for something like "Miniatures Painting Commission" and you'll not be short of options that might cost a few spacebucks but shouldn't totally break the bank, and which is almost certain to delight your X-Wing Lover.


2.  Kallax Shelves (Cost: $$$$$)

IKEA loves gamers and gamers love IKEA.  When it comes to finding cheap and practical furniture to fit out a mancave the Swedish gods of flatpack are an obvious choice and the Kallax shelving system has become the go-to choice of board game storage for dice-flinging, card-shuffling gamers the world over.  IKEA must know about this little niche market they've cornered because their latest addition to the Kallax range in 2016 is... *drumroll* ...a table that attaches right onto the shelves!  

And is this table big enough to play X-Wing on?

You bet your Tauntaun it is!
  
Father Christmas might need to get a larger sleigh to deliver this present when he makes his festive trench run, but combining storage and a playing surface in one place should be plenty to satisfy your X-Wing Lover.  I've got a sneaking suspicion that he may already have one of these tucked away in his Smuggling Compartment for delivery to yours truly, by the way.


1. Someone to Play X-Wing With (Cost: $$$$$)

Your X-Wing Lover loves X-Wing, and your X-Wing Lover loves you.  Let them combine those loves by sharing their X-Wing with you, the one they love.  You may be pretty sure that X-Wing isn't for you and you're not interested in playing but there's a reason why X-Wing has become the biggest miniatures game in the world - it's bloody good fun!  It doesn't take long to learn to play, or even that long to play a full game or two, and I'm sure your X-Wing Lover would secretly love you to give it a try, even if they'd never ask themselves.


What's the worst that could happen, really?

You might find you like playing X-Wing and have a new hobby you two can do together, or it might not be for and you're just indulging your X-Wing Lover for an hour or two.  Either way it's going to be time well spent sharing something that they enjoy.

And besides, bringing loved ones together to enjoy each other's company, playing board games together while you slowly digest your Christmas lunch... isn't that what Christmas is really all about?



That's all from me, and hopefully this lighthearted trip through the world of X-Wing paraphenalia will lead to some happy X-Wing players over the holiday season.

And in case I don't see you before the big day: Merry Christmas, one and all!


2 comments:

  1. Brilliant article :-) Thankfully, my wifey doesn't mind having a game or two. She hasn't lost a game yet!

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