I've been struggling with picking up a second game for a while. 40K is definitely my first love when it comes to gaming, but we all know that it's easy to get burned out on one game, especially one as time consuming as 40K. Unfortunately, I haven't had much success.
I tried to get back into Fantasy first, but it's just as time consuming as 40K, so I never gave it the time that was necessary. I've also tried both Warmachine and Dropzone Commander. I'd still like to play both of those games (especially Dropzone. I've got very high hopes for that game!) but they don't have much in the way of followings in my area. It's quite difficult to convince 40K players to pick up another game that requires collecting and painting a lot of miniatures. However, one game has taken off among quite a few of my 40K buddies.
X-Wing has a few characteristics that make it a great secondary game. First, it doesn't need many models for a standard game. The largest squadrons that I've heard of are only 8 ships, while many competitive builds only have 3 or 4 ships. This is easy to collect and transport. Second, the models are pre-painted, and actually look really good. Finally, a game of X-Wing only takes from a half hour to an hour. All of these mean that X-Wing doesn't take much time from 40K but still provides a welcome break.
I picked up enough Imperial ships to play a decent variety of Imperial squadrons, with a mix of TIE Fighters, TIE Interceptors, and a TIE Bomber. I've played a few games so far, and I'm really enjoying it. The game is heavily about maneuver, and both players choose and lock in their maneuvers in secret. This makes outguessing and out-thinking your opponent a real strategy, which is refreshing. In many wargames, both players know more or less what their opponent will try and do. Victory comes down to luck, match-up, and whoever makes the fewest mistakes. I've got nothing against games that work like this, but a change is nice. In addition, the ships activate in order of pilot skill, so both players are active pretty constantly throughout the entire game.
Of course, there are aspects to the game that I'm not crazy about. The biggest problem is the way that upgrades are handled. The rules for all pilots and upgrades are found on cards that come with the ships. Each ship comes with some appropriate upgrades, but most upgrades can be taken on any ship and sometimes a great upgrade is only available with a single ship. This means that you may need to buy a ship you have no interest in playing in order to get an upgrade card for a ship you do play. For example, Push the Limit is an upgrade that works so well with TIE Interceptors that it's almost compulsory. Until a relatively recent release, you could only get a Push the Limit by buying an A-Wing, which the Star Wars fans among you will notice isn't an Imperial ship. Fortunately, the people I play with don't mind if you don't have the cards for all the upgrades you use, but it would be a problem if I wanted to get into competitive play.
There is a flip-side to this. If a ship is underpowered and needs a boost, they only need to release some new cards that work well for it rather than wait and release a whole rulebook.
All told, I've really had a lot of fun playing X-Wing so far, and I plan to stay at it. I think I finally found a second game that fits into my 40K fixation. I'll be writing about tactics and units as I figure them out, mostly from an Imperial perspective since that's what I'll be playing for the near future.
I hope you enjoy it!