Chapter 2 of Learning X-Wing
How To Play Star Wars: X-Wing

Learning X-Wing is a series of tutorial videos and blogs that teach the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. This guide is updated continuously to provide the most current information.

In the video below we cover the basics of gameplay with co-designer Alex Davy using the escalation format contained within the core set. This video is great to gain a quick understanding of the game.

If you watched the video or are ready to dive further into the game, we recommend skipping to the next chapter, The X-Wing Second Edition Buyers Guide. Otherwise, you can find a full breakdown of each phase of the game below!


Star Wars X-Wing is played on a 3′ x 3′ surface. Before a game of X-Wing begins, players choose one side of the mat. In every Core Set (covered in our Buyers Guide) is a range ruler. The ruler is divided into three sections, representing one, two, and three range.

At the start of every game of X-Wing, Players alternate placing asteroids and debris, collectively known as obstacles, at least one range on the range ruler from each other obstacle and two range from any board edge.

Starting with the ship with the lowest initiative stat (the orange number found on a ship’s base and pilot card, pictured above) each ship is placed by it’s owner within one range of their side of the board. Once every ship is placed the game is ready to begin! Every turn includes five phases that repeat until one player has destroyed every enemy ship.

The Planning Phase (Phase 1)

Every ship comes with a corresponding maneuver dial that indicates the maneuvers a ship can take. The maneuvers shown on a dial correspond with the movement templates provided in every Core Set. For example, the image below shows a dial that has selected the 2-bank maneuver and an X-Wing using the matching template to make that maneuver.

During the planning phase, each player ‘sets’ the dial for every ship. To ‘set’ a dial, you rotate it to the maneuver you want that ship to take and place it facedown next to the ship. You can assign your dials in any order and look at or change your dials during this phase. Once you and your opponent agree to go to the System Phase though, your dials are locked in though!

System Phase (Phase 2)

During this phase, you have the opportunity to resolve any abilities that specifically reference the System Phase. This typically includes dropping devices (bombs), de-cloaking, and deploying or docking ships.

You will notice an orange number on the base and pilot card of each ship. This is the ships initiative stat. During the System Phase you start with the ship that has the lowest initiative stat and proceed in ascending order.

If two of your ships share an initiative value, you choose the order in which they activate. In the event that you and your opponent’s ships share initiative, the first player determines the order in which the ships activate their abilities.

Phase 3 – Activation Phase

During the Activation phase, every ship in play will activate one at a time. Starting again with the ship that has the lowest initiative stat and continuing in ascending order until every ship has activated. Again, if there are any ships with the same initiative stat you will resolve those ships in the same order as the System Phase.

To activate a ship, follow these steps:

  1. Reveal Dial – Reveal the dial you placed next to the activating ship.
  2. Execute Maneuver – Use the template matching your chosen maneuver and execute the maneuver you selected.
  3. Perform Action – Perform one action with your ship either from the action bar on the ship’s pilot card or one of its upgrade cards.

Pay particular attention to pilot and upgrade abilities that have abilities that work during this phase. Also, note that ships with one or more stress tokens cannot execute a red maneuver. If a ship executes a green maneuver, they may remove a stress token.

Engagement Phase (Phase 4)

During the engagement phase each ship engages one at a time. Unlike the Activation Phase you activate ships starting with the highest initiative and continue in descending order until every ship has engaged. When a ship engages, it may perform an attack.

To perform an attack, follows these steps.

  1. Declare Target – Measure range from the attacking ship to any number of enemy ships to determine which enemy ships are in it’s arc. The arc is indicated on the base of the ship and is measured with a range ruler. Choose either the primary weapon or one that has been added with an upgrade and declare a defender. Finally, pay any costs of using that attack (if there are any).
  2. Attack Dice – The attacking ship rolls a number of red dice equal to their attack stat, the red number on the base and pilot card, or the weapon they are using to attack. After attack dice are rolled, both players have a chance to modify the attackers dice by using abilities and tokens, like a Lock or Focus token. Note that the defending player gets the first opportunity to modify attack dice and each attack die can only be rerolled once during an attack.
  3. Defense Dice – After attack dice have been modified, the defender rolls a number of green dice equal to the agility stat, the green number on the base and pilot card. Like the attack dice, both players have the opportunity to modify defense dice. This time though, start with the attacking player. Again, none of these dice can be rerolled more than once during an attack. Note that for primary weapon attacks (the stat listed on a pilot card) the attacker gets a bonus die if they are at range 1 and the defender gets a bonus die if they are at range 3
  4. Neutralize Results – Pair every evade result with hit and critical hit results. You always start by canceling hits first, then critical hits. All paired dice are removed and any remaining damage means that the attack hits!
  5. Deal Damage – If an attack hits, the defender suffers damage equal to the remaining hit and critical hit results, with all hit results suffered before critical hit results. If the defender has any shield tokens, start by removing shield tokens to cancel hit and critical hit results. Whenever a ship no longer has any shields, remaining hits are assigned as damage cards from the top of the damage deck. Once all hit results are assigned, any critical hits are applied as face-up damage cards from the damage deck.
  6. Aftermath- Any after attack abilities resolve after damage is dealt. All after attack abilities follow this order:
    • “after you defend”, excluding abilities that grant a bonus attack
    • “after you attack”, excluding abilities that grant a bonus attack
    • “after you defend”, that grant a bonus attack
    • “after you attack”, that grant a bonus attack

If a ship is destroyed by an attack, it is not removed from the board until all ships at the current initiative engage. This means a ship that has yet to engage with the same initiative as the ship that destroys it will have a chance to attack before being removed from the table.

End Phase (Phase 5)

During the end phase all unused circular tokens (focus, evade, etc.) are removed from all ships, cards with a recurring charge icon recover one charge, and a check is made to see if either player has won the game. If not, the game returns to the planning phase for the next round and this continues until a winner is declared!

Join us in the next chapter to learn everything you need to know in order to start playing X-Wing!

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