December 16, 2015 by stvitusdancern
Everyone knows the iconic opening a scene in Star Wars where the Star Destroyer is closing in on Princess Leia’s ship. It was an amazing spectacle to behold as a nine year old kid at a drive-in theater in the summer of 1977.
As I have grown up through the years, I still have imagined commanding a starship and fighting the evil Empire. Last summer (2014) we had the privilege of getting in a demo (video here) of a new and exciting game called Star Wars Armada from Fantasy Flight Games.
This game was the answer to all of the would-be space admirals that wanted bigger ships than the star fighters of the X-Wing game. To command a fleet of ships and fight among the stars taking on the large capital ships of your opponent.
What makes this game amazing is that anyone and I mean anyone can get into this game right away. The miniatures come already assembled and painted. All you literally have to do is punch out the counters and assemble the flight stands and you are already to play.
The initial box set contains enough models to get two people playing right out of the box. The set includes for the Empire a Victory Class Star Destroyer and six TIE fighter squadrons. The Rebels have a CR90 Corellian Corvette, Nebulon-B Frigate, four X-wing squadrons.
There are also custom dice, movement guide, command dials, many counters and cards.
The Force Is Strong With This One
This game is on its own level of play. If you were thinking you were an awesome X-Wing player and were going to come right in and be able to sweep other opponents off of the table, I would say that you have some lessons to learn. First, let’s start with some of the obvious differences, you have to reveal your command dial’s choices from…
- The Navigate command allows you to change your ship’s speed and increase its manoeuvrability.
- The Squadron command allows you to order nearby squadrons to move and attack early.
- The Repair command allows you to recover shields and repair your hull.
- The Concentrate Fire command allows you to increase the power of a single attack.
Once you have revealed your command dial you would complete that command and then that ship has the option to execute two attacks. This can be either against other capital ships or fighter squadrons.
When you make your movement, you use a flexible manoeuvre guide that you can set to the choice of speed and turns as allowed by your ships card.
Some of the smaller ships which are less powerful are faster and more manoeuvrable than the larger ships which helps to balance out the game. One thing to remember is that each ship has multiple command dials that the actions must be chosen prior to and placed on the bottom of the pile. So this makes you think several turns ahead as to what you want to do.
This helps to simulate the larger size of the capital ships and how they need more time and space to manoeuvre. This really is a perfect game for those who consider themselves strategists, but do not let this put off the casual gamer. It is easy enough for the causal gamer to get into and play and not feel overwhelmed.
“Red Five Standing By”
To add even more levels of play, you get to command fighters and go up against the other player’s fighter s or even take on the capital ships. The fighters are mounted as squadrons on a single stand and there is typically three fighters to a stand.
There are two ways to play fighters, to activate them prior to the ships phase or in their standard squadron phase. A good tactic is to use your squadrons to fly escort or interference for your own capital ships to gain the better position to make the attack.
With upgrade cards and each type of fighter having its own special abilities and manoeuvres, you learn to play the different fleets in a different style.
Wave Two Hits
Just in the past couple of weeks the second wave of ships for Star Wars Armada have appeared and among them is one of the most anticipated for many players, the Imperial Class Star Destroyer. While the Victory Class Star Destroyer is pretty cool and it is the one you get in the starter set, many players find themselves yearning for the big brother, the one they saw in the movies taking on the Millennium Falcon and other rebel forces. Now you can command one in your own fleet.
The next ship to enter the fray is for the rebellion, the MC80 “Home One” this is what I call a heavy cruiser as she sports 36 turbolasers and 16 ion cannons. She packs a lot of punch and can dish it out. She was the command ship of Admiral Ackbar during the battle of Endor. It is nice to see a bigger ship come available for the rebels as it always seemed they were outclassed in the capital ship department.
A more unique looking ship is the Gladiator-Class Star Destroyer. This smaller scale ship makes for an excellent patrol ship on the outer fringes of the galaxy and take also be used as an escort to the large ships. She is manoeuvrable and can take abuse while causing all sorts of problems for a rebel Admiral. I can only imagine the two pronged blade design coming at me would be a little unnerving.
To add to your rebel fleet, there is also the MC30c Frigate, a Mon Calamari warship. This little fast moving excels at getting in close and unloading its weapons and getting out of there as fast as it came in. I can honestly say, I am really excited to see my fleet expanding with all of these options.
Moving on to the smaller ships, let us start with the Imperial Raider expansion pack. This small patrol ship hunts for smaller rebel ships and lock onto them like a hunting dog and goes in for the kill without any mercy. It is nice to see some speedier ships being added to the Imperial fleets.
Since we are talking about the Imperials, in this second wave there is the Imperial Fighter Squadrons Expansion Pack which includes: Two TIE fighter squadrons, Two TIE Advanced squadrons, Two TIE Interceptor squadrons, Two TIE Bomber squadrons and all of their associated counters and cards.
For the rebels there is the Rebel Fighter Squadrons Expansion Packs which gives you all the fan favourites: Two A Wing squadrons, Two B-Wing squadrons, Two X-Wing squadrons, Two Y-Wing squadrons and all of their associated counters and cards, Fantasy Flight Games does love their counters and cards!
Lastly and by no means the least, there is the Rogues and Villains Expansion Pack, this is the mother lode, the golden ticket, the A #1 set so far for this game. Here is those ships many of us have flown in our heads for years, the Millennium Falcon and the Slave I. Also, included in this set is the Moldy Crow, Havoc, Hound’s Tooth, IG-2000, Outrider, and the Punishing One. Now you can customize your fleet to try and get that advantage on your opponents.
Is This The End?
By no means is this the end of the releases for Star Wars Armada, they are already talking about a wave three, I just hope they give us some time to get used to the new releases first, but I have a feeling that with the release of The Force Awakens we will be seeing more releases. Also, look for a future battle report from us as we get time to incorporate the wave two ships into our game, they literally arrived on our doorstep this evening.
How can I sum up this game? Easy, playable right out of the box for anyone, seasoned gamer or new player. Nice miniatures with no assembly or painting required (even though we know some of you will want to “customize” them). Tactics and strategy are key, you must be pro-active and less reactive.
If you wait for things to happen you have already lost the game. How are you going to prepare commands? Will you order a hard movement or direct your engineer to repair shields so you don’t lose shields? Take all the damage on one side or try to spread it amongst other areas of the ship so you do not have a weak spot.
Go after the fighter squadrons or attack the capital ships? This game has so many levels to it, I think you will find yourself making starship noise when you are playing too. Remember, “the Force will be with you, always.”
What do you think can you command a fleet of capital ships?
"The miniatures come already assembled and painted. All you literally have to do is punch out the counters and assemble the flight stands and you are already to play..."
"Go after the fighter squadrons or attack the capital ships? This game has so many levels to it, I think you will find yourself making starship noise when you are playing too. Remember, "the Force will be with you, always.""