So, X-Wing. Why should you pick it up?
Below are a few reasons, and I'll also include a couple of reasons why you *wouldn't* want to play it, just for the sake of balance.
The Initial Financial Investment Is Tiny
Starter set: £23
Rebel Aces: £22
Imperial Aces: £20
£65 will give you enough ships and mods to play 100pt games (the standard game size) with all dice, rulers, asteroids etc. That's Rebels and Imperials by the way - two different armies, so you can swap sides with your opponent after each game and try out different ships with different playstyles. Eventually you'll get antsy for more fighters, and you get each one for £10-12 with large ships (of which there are only 6 available) for £20-30. If you wanted one of every expansion for a given faction then it'd only set you back £150 or so. That's every single available unit
No Modelling Required (But You Can If You Want)
Pre-painted to an amazing standard, straight out of the box. No glue, no paint, no drilling or filing, washing or cutting. If you do want to paint em, they're just as easy to paint as Warhammer models. Undercoat, basecoat, wash, drybrush, highlight, detail. Each ship is small and most have no hard-to-reach places, you can get a brush in almost everywhere on them. Because they're single piece lightweight resin, they're pretty much indestructible and can be dropped, knocked, or flipped with minimal damage. A few people magnetise their models onto their bases, or convert them in one way or another, but you certainly don't have to.
The Rules Are Very Simple To Pick Up, And Extremely Tight
As a long term 40k player I've drifted away from it in the last two years simply due to the sheer inadequacy of the rules we're being supplied with. Forgeworld varies from completely unplayable to stupidly overpowered, supplements and dataslates just break the game, and flyers and superheavies making their entrance to regular games is my signal to get out. There's just no way to competitively play without pages of houserules restricting the more retarded units. You basically have to verbally agree with your opponent, even in casual settings, to not be a dick when writing your lists. There are so many internet-only, WD-only, extra-codex options you potentially need inches of books to play. I can't be bothered with it any more.
X-Wing, you can sit down opposite a complete stranger, and no matter what they pull out of their case, you can be assured you've got a chance to beat it fair and square, and vice versa. The rules and FAQ total about 40 pages, most of it pictures of cards and diagrams of simple examples. After about 15 minutes of playing, you'll fully understand every core mechanic. After your first game you'll have a handle on how to improve your play with the ships you used and will do better next time. After a few games against different lists and players you'll have seen most of the available cards. Reading the rulebook will answer pretty much any question you might have. Games take roughly one hour, allowing you to get 3+ games in per evening, instead of one.
The Entire Range Will Fit In Roughly A 12" Cube
Sick of carting giant heavy cases about, getting stuck in doors, catching it on public transport, banging your knees, and making it impossible to walk any kind of distance? Forget it. I fit my entire collection in a single GW carry case, excluding Epic ships (the *really* big ones). That's to the tune of 1800pts in a single case (so effectively 18 full size armies). That includes rules, cards, tokens et al. Often I can't fit a single 1800pt army into a standard size case with 40k.
The Community Is Great
When was the last time a Warhammer player gave you a set of dice or templates for free, gratis and for nothing? Or gave you a couple of limited edition accessories, asking nothing in return? Both happened to me within my first week of starting up this game, and I've since done it for other people because I honestly wanted to follow their example and pass the love onwards. If you have a question then there are loads of people who'll answer it quickly and in an honestly friendly manner. I've yet to meet a player I found personally objectionable (wish I could say the same for GW systems...) or that I've had anything other than absolutely amicable contact with. The whole atmosphere surrounding the game is so much more relaxed than a lot of other systems, even at events. Of course you'll get *some* whiners, but I've yet to see them anywhere except on the internet.
So, true to my word, here are some downers:
Limited Competitive Options
There are three main archetypes of list: Swarm, Large Turreted Ship and Phantom. In order to succeed at championships you essentially have to run some variation of one of those choices. Rebels don't have access to Phantoms, but compensate by having a better Large ship, and both sides can run effective Swarms. Of course this only matters if you want to go to tournaments; if you're just planning on playing at the club/friends level then you can play whatever the hell you like and it'll win games if you practice enough!
If the reason you play tabletop games is for the modelling/painting side of things rather than the game itself, X-Wing won't really be your thing. You can do some amazing repaints of the models, but ultimately you can't really convert anything substantially, and you'll get bored eventually. Better to play a system with multi-part figures.
Not Much Attraction To Non-SW Fans
One aspect of the two main GW systems that I like is that they're open to anyone even vaguely interested in Fantasy or Sci-Fi, you don't have to appreciate a pre-existing Canon. X-Wing, on the other hand, really wants you to be on board with loving Star Wars - you simply get more enjoyment out of the game. If you prefer Star Trek or Fantasy then two flavours of Attack Wing are available - one is essentially an inferior (in my completely biased opinion, despite loving Trek as well) X-Wing clone run with Star Trek ships and the other being a D&D based system with Dragons and whathaveyou. If you wouldn't describe yourself as really *feeling* something when you watch the original Star Wars trilogy then I imagine you potentially might engage less with the game, although of course I could be wrong.
If you have any questions, please feel totally free to post here and I (and the other lovely Heresy X-Wing players!) will try to answer to the best of our ability.
Take it easy, and... fly casual.