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Review: Ship Shape or nervous wreck?

June 19, 2021 by greenman1400

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Mantic games are well known for simple rules with tactical depth however the origins of this game lie not with the aforementioned company. Armada is based upon Black Seas, by Warlord Games, a popular historical naval game with depth to satisfy the budding historian in gamers. Mercifully Armada has simplified the core rules to be more accessible and often more logical too. What is great about using the Black Seas ruleset is that the huge teething issues that often come with a first edition are not there. Armada is essentially a second edition of Black Seas but with orcs and dwarfs!

At the time of writing this there are only 4 fleets available but there are 4 more due to be released in the next 12 months. Thus far each faction has its own unique character which really comes to life in the game; orcs smash into other ships on purpose, basileans (a holy human faction) heal damage rapidly, Empire of Dust (undead) frighten their enemies in boarding actions and dwarfs have stubborn crew, engine powered ships and high tech weapons. The game is straightforward to play but not simple; positioning broadsides and avoiding collisions is deceptively hard for the first few games but with time creates great tactical depth, planning movement is key. The game is very unforgiving if things go awry; colliding ships take a lot of damage, hitting terrain can cause you to be stuck for the entire game and if you are unlucky enough to catch fire even the best ships will be in deep water.

The art and lore in the book is fantastic. From images of sea battles to sketches of a peasant fishing the art offers a fun range of epic to grounded imagery. Mantic are also building upon a rich world already created in their land based Kings of War game and throwing in plenty of history and intrigue to add to pre-existing content.

The miniatures for this game... It's complicated. Armada ships are arguably the best models mantic have made. Made from resin, the detail is incredible and the character behind each ship is a painters delight however, with the initial release, there has been a lot of issues with miscasts. Mantic customer service is excellent so miscasts are replaced without question but it is a shame that they need to be replaced in the first instance.

Armada has a lot of room to grow and has started with a good ruleset. Flyers and magic are due to be released soon for the game with more fleets inbound too. The future of this game looks promising and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes next.

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