The scum and villainy faction for the X-Wing game was always going to be a little tricky to get right. With the exception of Boba Fett’s Slave I, most of the ships where going to come from less well-known Star Wars sources and the game was originally written as Rebels vs The Empire. This meant that a new niche needed to be carved out for a new faction.Games creators Fantasy Flight Games almost got it right first time. Almost. The Jumpmaster, the scum version of the Millennium Falcon, was originally overpowered and a two of the nice-looking Starfighters were woefully underpowered. The StarViper and Kihraxz are fine-looking ships, working as TIE and X-Wing equivalents in the game, but an attempt to give them extra flavour made them extra lame. That is, until FFG released the Guns for Hire expansion. First off, this is a boxed set with one Starviper and one Khiraxz. They have different paint jobs to the ones we’ve seen before and this makes the StarViper look like the doom butterfly it’s meant to be and Kihraxz looks sleek in its BlackSun paint job (black and white is a good look). Rules-wise, we get title cards that modify the ships. You get two of each, one for the ship in the box and one for another ship in your collection. The StarViper Mark Two card drops the cost of the ship and makes the ship do a curved barrel roll. This is a better sort of move for the very flexible StarViper, as it lets you make the ship go backwards. You can also slot in another title, so previous StarViper builds still work. The Kihraxz’s new title is Vaksai, and it lets you spend less points on its upgrades. It lets you equip up to three modification upgrades. Basically, you can kit this baby out with all sorts of toys making it very configurable indeed. Purists might want to point out that canonically, the Vaksai was a different looking ship to the Kihraxz, but the change is slight. So far, so good. Two weak ships in the faction ‘fixed’. But we get more. The pilot cards for both ships are a lot of fun. Notably, Thweek, which lets you mimic other pilot skills, is a real game changer. Viktor Hel also works well as a proper ‘scum ace’ and goes really well with Protectorate Starfighters, to create a list of swift and deadly villains. Amongst a host of other rather nice cards, the box also introduces Harpoon Missiles. These do damage, then do damage later as well. If it destroys the ship, it does even more damage. If you combo this with Dead man’s Switch (a very scum card), you can potentially sacrifice weaker ships to take out hard to hit craft. A fun tactic if you can pull it off. Overall, this is an amazing addition to a growing range of highly addictive games.
STAR WARS: X-WING - GUNS FOR HIRE / DESIGNER: JASON LITTLE / PUBLISHER: FANTASY FLIGHT GAMES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW