I think it’s also worthwhile to go into detail with a direct comparison between the two games, because they are based on the same game system, after all, and the thematic dressings of both games have some overlap in their primary audience. So if you’re not sure which game to invest in, or if you’re interested to see how the two games stack up, you’ve come to the right place.
The components are obviously the first thing you see – especially with these games, as they prominently display their ship models through clear plastic windows in their packaging.
The X-Wing models are incredibly detailed, with slick paint jobs and a nice coating that makes them feel incredibly realistic; its almost as if these ships were pulled straight out of nice coating that makes them feel incredibly realistic; its almost as if these ships were pulled straight out of your TV. All models (with the exception of the upcoming HUGE ship sets) are at a 1/270 scale, which means the size of the Millennium Falcon is the correct relative size to the X-Wing. The plastic is durable and high quality; however, there is one catch. Many of the ships (especially X-Wings) have very tiny parts sticking out, that can break off very easily. We’ve definitely had some wings and guns that needed to be glued back on.
Attack Wing models loo fine, but in direct comparison to X-Wing models, fall way short. I’m told that the ships are modeled accurately based on the original studio models of the ships for the show. However, they are at a much smaller scale (and not a consistent one) so many of the details are just smoothed over. There’s no finish to the models either, so they look plastic, not realistic, and some ships aren’t color-accurate to the screen (why is the enterprise so blue?). Also, given lack of consistent scale, it baffles me why some ships are made much smaller than the other – the biggest one I’ve noticed is the original Enterprise, which seems to scale against the Enterprise D model, but other “small” ships are close to the same size as the Enterprise-D model. Weird. Anyways, the plastic is at least solid and not the bendy sort, so your nacelles will stay in place.
The cardboard components are pretty comparable between the two games, although I think I like the finish of Attack Wing components better. Both games come with plenty of components and I’ve never run short of anything I needed. Attack Wing comes with more scenario-specific tokens and a big ol’ planet, X-Wing comes with more asteroids/obstackles. Attacking Wing also has a distance ‘6’ forward movement template and a distance ‘4’ bank template, which x-Wing does not. Finally, Attack Wing made a significant improvement in the weapons range finder, which has icons to remind players that distance 3 attacks grant a bonus defense die, while range 1 attacks get an extra attack die.
The final set of components is, of course, the ship and upgrade cards. X-Wings cards are higher quality, and feature original art, whereas Attack Wing cards have generally low-quality screen captures. X-Wing upgrade cards are small and easy to distinguish from ship cards. Attack Wing upgrade cards are the same size as ship cards, which leaves more room for text, but it also takes up a lot more space on the table; it’s also hard to distinguish ship and upgrade cards at a glance.
The basic rules between Attack Wing and X-Wing are identical; you have the planning phase, the activation phase, the combat phase, and the cleanup phase. Nothing is changed at all between the two games in this regard. Well, one thing is changed; game terminology. Attack Wing changed many of the terms to fit the type of ships in the game better; for example, X-Wing’s Stress became Auxiliary Power. This is fine, but if you’re used to X-Wing and you switch over, there could be some confusion there. If you start from scratch on either side, the terminology in both games is consistent and not confusing in and of itself.
Each game has its own unique set of upgrade cards that have their own effects (there is some overlap between the games but not enough that knowing the upgrades of 1 game makes you an expert in the other), but Attack Wing does have a few additional “basic” actions you can do. The biggest is Cloaking, which is an icon in the action bar of many ships. Cloaking has a relatively complex series of steps required, but the steps prevent lower-skilled captains from getting a huge advantage, since they take an action first (which can activate the cloak) and fire last (which is what deactivates the cloak).
Cloaking also unlocks the “sensor echo” which is the equivalent of the X-Wing Barrel Roll, only it can be done with a distance 1 OR 2, instead of just 1, to simulate a cloaked ship being able to maneuver to an unexpected position.
Cloaking requires a new mechanism that is used in a few other upgrades as well – disabling shields. In Attack Wing, shields can be disabled by flipping them to their red side. This represents drawing power from the shields to accomplish some other powerful task. When shields are disabled, any hits are applied directly to hull, and shield tokens stay in play. In this way, an Attack Wing ship could technically be destroyed with remaining shield tokens.
Most of the other “action bar” actions are similar between the two games – you have a Target Lock which is the same in both games, Evasive Manuevers (Star Trek) and Evasion (Star Wars), and Battle Stations (Star Trek) / Focus (Star Wars). Attack Wing has a “Scan” action which reduces defense dice rolled by enemy ships, and X-Wing has the “Boost” action which allows certain ships to move forward a little extra.
Attack Wing has another common function of Upgrade cards – the “Disabled” feature. Both games have cards that have a constant effect, or can be discarded to use. The “Disabled” effect adds a Disabled token to an upgrade card when you use it. You can’t use an upgrade that has a Disabled token on it, but players can use an action to remove one of their Disabled tokens to reactivate that ability.
Other than that, the basic rules are pretty much the same. Though ships have different maneuver templates and firing arcs, the values and directions are applied in the same way in both games.
The biggest divide between the two games is, of course, the ships. You can’t get an X-Wing for Attack Wing, and you won’t see Fantasy Flight releasing the Enterprise in X-Wing.
The ships in X-Wing are designed to be small, one-or-two-person fighters. They are fast, maneuverable, and loaded with firepower. Terminology, rules, and upgrades are written around this fact – pilots can “focus” for better attack, they have skill upgrades, and loadouts tend to be more limited.
Most X-Wing ships have a forward 90 degree firing arc. Some ships have a turret weapon which allows 360 degree firing – although for most ships an upgrade card is required to accomplish this. The MilleniumFalcon is the only ship with a built in turret.
Slave I is another X-Wing ship with a unique firing arc – it has both a forward and rear firing arc of 90 degrees each.
Each X-Wing ship pretty much moves forward. There’s a range of maneuverability – some ships are slower to turn, or have a lot more red (which adds stress, limiting actions and later maneuvers) on their dial. The slowest ships are the medium-sized ships. Hey! X-Wing also have medium sized ships, with bases 4 times the size of the normal ships and models that are much bigger.
There’s a lot more variety in the ship design of Attack Wing. Ships from the Star Trek universe tend to be massive cruisers, fully equipped with crew and equipment. There are a few smaller ships, but even those are crewed by multiple people, not just single pilots.
Reflecting this, Attack Wing ships have a significantly higher number of upgrade slots, and Crew is one of the primary upgrade types you’ll use. The number of upgrades makes each ship a lot more customizable.
Ships in Attack Wing also have wider varieties of maneuver templates. Smaller ships are able to fly and turn more easily; Larger ships are slower, and most don’t even have the u-turn maneuver (called a Koiogran Turn in X-Wing, and Come About in Attack Wing). However, the larger ships often have much better firing arcs – many featuring a front and rear firing arc, and some with 180 degree arcs. I’ve only seen one ship with a built-in 360 degree arc, and that was the Enterprise, and the attack power of that was limited. Many Large ships have another very useful ability on their maneuver dial – “Full Astern” perhaps more recognizable as “going backwards.”
Attack Wing ships tend to have a lot of shields and hull, and very little agility (the value that lets you roll defense dice). Most ships, in fact, have only 1 Agility, which makes sense since these are large, lumbering ships. In X-Wing, ships in general have a lot more agility value and a lot less in the way of hull and shields. Rebel squadrons tend to lean towards hull and shield power, though, while Imperial squadrons have a lot of maneuverability and a lot of agility. Basically, the stats of each ship in both games are pretty representative of what you would expect from a ship of that type.
Flightpath™ system was developed for X-Wing and adapted for Attack Wing, so many were concerned that the system made no sense for large capital ships. In fact, while the system works perfectly fine for X-Wing, it might fit the Star Trek style of combat even better. The fact is, single-pilot fighters are (or at least are perceived to be) piloted at breakneck speeds with pilots relying on their instincts and training to make incredibly fast reactive choices with weapons exploding around them, while large capital ships are commanded by a captain with a larger view of the battle and more time to make tactical piloting decisions and choose targets. In that vein, the system actually simulates the command of a fleet more than the skill of a pilot.
Still, the system is well developed, and the differences in maneuver templates, ship stats, and abilities gives each ship a good feel for what it is. Neither feels out of place, and both will have you thinking through your tactics to get the best shots and blow up your enemies ships the fastest.
Both games come with some scenarios you can use to have more than just “eliminate your opponent” as the goal of the game – usually, moving some object from one side of the map to another, or defending a ship for a certain amount of time. X-Wing has a few scenarios in the rulebook, and a few additional scenarios in medium-ship expansions. Attack Wing has several scenarios in the rulebook, but pretty much every ship comes with a new scenario or two. However, while Attack Wing supports 3-player (or higher) free-for-all play, many missions are 2-player only.
X-Wing supports 2 players; it has 2 factions that go against each other directly. There are rules for team play, although it is generally recommended you have an even amount of players for this.
Attack Wing has multiple factions and supports 3 or 4 player (or higher, if you wish) free for all, to pit the various factions against each other with tentative alliances and the inevitable betrayal that comes afterward. Rules for team play are also included, so there’s a lot more flexibility in that system.
Squad building is a key part of both games. Both will require purchasing expansion packs to build your fleet how you choose. X-Wing, as mentioned above, has only 2 factions, and those factions cannot be mixed. Each ship has a specific set of pilots that can be assigned to it, and each pilot has a specific, limited number of upgrade slots. There are plenty of upgrades available, especially as you buy expansion packs, so you can definitely customize a fleet to your choosing. X-Wing however has a smaller variety of ships, so your squads will tend to include multiple copies of the same ship, especially if you are an Imperial player.
Attack Wing doesn’t have pilots, but it does have captains. Captains, however, can be assigned to any ship. There are 4 starting factions – Klingon, Romulan, Dominion, and Federation – and upgrades, captain, crew, and ships can be mixed and matched, although at an extra point cost. Ships tend to have a lot more upgrade slots than X-Wing ships, many of which are Crew, so you can customize your ships dramatically. There are also a greater variety of ships, so you can buy multiple copies of a ship if you wish, or you can buy a mish-mash of ships and have a nicely varied team.
So, I guess what I’m saying is, both games have a lot of customization available, but Attack Wing has a lot more flexibility and a wider variety of options for customizing each individual ship in a squadron.
Both games will definitely run up the cost if you want to invest. The core set for either game will definitely get you started, but if you like the game you’ll definitely want to get into expansions. MSRP for a single ship is $14.99 (both systems) although you can find them at a discount for around $10-$11 a ship if you look around. Attack Wing launched with 8 ships in addition to the core set, and has been expanding rapidly 4 ships at a time, while X-Wing launched with 4 ships – including the Core set X-Wing and TIE Fighters, although the expansions for those ships add more pilots and upgrades – and has released waves of 4 every 6-8 months or so. While Attack Wing will quickly have a much wider variety of ships out there, with X-Wing you’ll end up buying more copies of each ship to build your fleets, so the costs end up being pretty close to the same for similar investements.
Obviously, these two games are very similar; both are very good quality. Neither game is a clear winner overall, although X-Wing has generally better components and the system seems to fit Attack Wing better. But if you’re a Star Wars fan you won’t be disappointed in the X-Wing version, and the same is true for Star Trek fans.
If you’re a fan of both and you’re trying to decide which system to buy into, there’s probably no wrong choice. Hopefully this guide has given you an idea of the differences between the games and which might be the best fit for your tastes. If you really can’t decide between the two and are looking for a specific recommendation, I think I would point you toward Attack Wing. The system just works very well for those big command ships and their crew, and there is so much variety in the ships and upgrade options, you’ll be able to build to your heart’s content.