On Saturday, I had the opportunity to work as part of Fantasy Flight Games‘ demo team teaching people at Salt Lake Gaming Convention how to play X-Wing Miniatures. As you may have already discovered, X-Wing is probably my all-time favorite game in the entire galaxy. And so to get paid to sit down and teach people to play it all day was an amazing experience.
What made it even better is that my voice decided to take a break that day.
I’ve had a cold since a week ago Monday, so by the time this con rolled around, my voice was all but gone. After an hour into the convention, my throat was so sore and my voice so hoarse, I thought I would most certainly destroy my vocal cords before the day was through. Fortunately, I had my water bottle with me, and throughout the course of the day, I drank about 4 liters of water. I also took a bathroom break every 45 minutes or so (but I guess you really didn’t need to know that).
Traffic at the Fantasy Flight booth was pretty constant, which meant I didn’t really get much of a break for my voice. Which was fine, since that was what I signed up to do. But being able to teach people this amazing game helped me take a step back and remind myself why I really love that game.
Everyone I taught enjoyed the game. Some played quietly, perhaps a little nervous and still trying to grasp the rules. Others were loud, talked smack to their buddy, and couldn’t stop smiling the entire time. Both types of people walked away from the con with at least the core set, and I’m pretty sure everyone that demoed the game at least considered buying it for themselves.
While watching two college-aged guys play after teaching them the rules, I realized just what this game means to people. These were your typical, I’m-too-cool-for-silly-things, gotta-impress-the-ladies type of guys. But the way they made sound effects as they moved their ships (and “destroyed” others), laughed nervously after barely coming out of an encounter in one piece, and just their entire joyful countenances showed me that this game is still magical. Even without all the expansions (which, let’s be honest, we can’t live without), there is a simple joy to be found in reliving an epic space battle from Star Wars.
Our imaginations make the game what it is. In tournament play, there are deep strategies, carefully crafted squad builds, and a whole lot of out-thinking your opponent. Those aspects – along with others – make the game even better. But without the fundamental core that is imagination to go along with the beautifully crafted minis, the game of X-Wing would be a flop.
Not everybody will enjoy the game, and that’s not to say they have no imagination or don’t like thinking. X-Wing just isn’t for everyone. But for those who do love it (like myself), I dare say a lot of it has to come from the images and soundtrack that play through our mind as we make our moves, take our shots, and blow each other’s ships into space dust.