X-Wing And The Cost of Tabletop Games
When I was younger, I was really into BattleTech, when the minis were made of cancer-inspiring pewter. I played that game frequently, but once high school came around I stopped because of reasons (a mysteriously sudden lack of people to play with, for one). Then came the long dry spell of the soul, until I was introduced to the world of “German board games” via Agricola, and then Catan and Carcassone via their digital forms (leading me to buy the physical Catan later on). It was kind of down-hill from there, resulting in the purchase of Forbidden Desert/Island, Dungeon Fighter, Munchkin, Android: Netrunner, Golem Arcana, Alien/Marvel Legendary, a more recent edition of BattleTech, and since the title of the post gave it away, X-Wing.
I recently started watching X-Wing tournaments via the YouTube channel of the illustrious Team Covenant, and it’s gotten me really hooked back on the game after a brief hiatus. I had originally started out by playing one test game against myself. That was kind of surreal, because these games are actually well designed to play against oneself, but the whole “who do I want to win, and who do I want to ‘throw the game’?” question comes into play at some point, so it’s not so much playing as it is test driving. I did manage to get some friends to play one night as I adjudicated and explained the rules, and they seemed to enjoy it well enough. The tournament videos really re-lit the fire to focus on X-Wing, though, even though my circumstance — i.e. not having people around to play with — hasn’t changed.
I own the two core sets: the original and the recently released The Force Awakens edition which has new cards and abilities but basically the same ships. I also have at one copy each of Wave 1 ships, and 75% of Wave 2, but nothing beyond that because even though it’s not Warhammer-level expensive, fielding a proper fleet for a casual player is still pretty damn expensive. Most online retailers like Miniature Market and Cool Stuff Inc. offer impressive discounts, and since my FLGS are either not so F, or don’t bother to stock X-Wing merch, it’s just easier to buy online and spam the “shipping update” button.
Part of the cost of these kinda of games is actually hidden: the cost to use ratio. I mean, I can totally use X-Wing minis to play against myself, or can use some really amazing one-sided/solo rules from the community if I can’t find anyone willing to play, but other games like Netrunner are just so out there that convincing someone to let me explain the rules to them might as well be me trying to convince them to let me extract their liver. As much as I’d love to complete my Netrunner collection, I can’t really justify it since I doubt I’ll ever be able to actually play the game enough to make the purchase worthwhile.
“Find a local group to play with, Chris!” is what you’re saying right now, and I’m making that “Mmmmm….yeah….” face right back’atcha because I’m not really “stranger gamer” material. See, I like the games, and really would like to play the games, but like my video game strategies, I play uber-casually, I’m not competitive and actually get irritated by people who are, and I don’t bother to commit every single stat and value to memory like some people do who take these games really seriously. Watching the tournaments online is cool because these are the “grandmasters” of their respective games, but there’s no way I could ever come close to that, nor would I want to. I’d be the guy who’s checking in on his Neko Atsume cats when it’s not my turn to play.