Over eleven competitive Armada games, I went up against a few different fleets of varying composition. As part of a series of articles, I’m going to have a look at what I experienced across those games, and offer my own brand of insight.
First up I’m going to have a look at the Rebel ships of Star Wars: Armada, and how I saw each one performing. Your own experiences may well differ, and any opinion I offer should not be viewed as a statement of quality of the ship itself – just a review of how a specific type of ship performed in the games I played.
There is already some great analysis on the web of technical things like dice probabilities, so I’ll not venture too far into this territory, instead focusing on the more qualitative elements of each vessel. I’m generally a “play-by-gut” player – useful because my gut is of an extraordinary size – so my take on matters is usually a lot less logical and rational than some of the more academic theorists.
The Nebulon-B Frigate
I like the Nebulon-B – the abstract design, the unusual layout of shields, fire arcs and defense tokens. However, I seem to be in a minority, as I did not once face a single Nebulon-B across four tournaments, nor did I see one played.
I can only imagine that this is because it doesn’t fly comfortably alongside other Rebel vessels. The Nebulon-B has a powerful, narrow forward arc that requires it to face the enemy, out of formation with the Rebellion’s main combat ships. When you’re playing competitively, you need to make sure that your fleet is working as a single machine – so the Nebulon-B just doesn’t have a place, much to my sadness.
The CR90 Corellian Corvette
The first Star Wars ship to ever be seen by audiences, the CR90 is nearly as iconic as the X-Wing, the Death Star, the Star Destroyer, even the Millenium Falcon. In Armada, the Corvette is a fast, nimble vessel that, much like the Nebulon-B, was hugely under-represented in the games I witnessed. I never faced one personally, and I think I maybe saw one in a match at Lost Ark Games, although it seemed to mostly have the role of being an objective-focused vessel.
The CR90 is a fine vessel, I always thought, but it doesn’t lend itself quite so well to the broadside game as the next few ships – although a horde of the buggers led by Admiral Ackbar could be something scary.
The MC30C Frigate
The MC30C is a powerful, mercurial, fragile heavy-hitter. I personally love how imbalanced it feels compared to other, more rounded vessels. I only faced a handful in my games, and didn’t see many more in play.
Based on my experience, the MC30C is too fragile. It relies on its Redirects for its main source of damage reduction – and my reliance on Assault Concussion Missiles is a natural nemesis to such defenses.
The MC30C also has a powerful damage potential, however I found that I was hitting them too hard for them to last long enough to deliver those brutal Black-dice side batteries in a meaningful way. The fact that in both of the games I faced them they were led by Admiral Ackbar in slow-moving fleets leads me to believe that they need to keep the pace up to maintain effectiveness. I intend to try them out myself using a “shock-and-awe” strategy, rushing in with overwhelming firepower before the opponent has the chance to react.
The Mk. II Assault Frigate
The Assault Frigate has no alibi, it is U. G. L. Y. ugly, and I personally hate its bulbous aesthetic – the MC80 and the MC30C are curvy, they are streamlined and organic. The Assault Frigate looks like a failed experiment that ought to be stored in a murky tank in a mad scientist’s lair. It looks like an attempt to cross-breed a porpoise with John Candy. It looks like a depressed puffer fish trying to pleasure itself with a Nebulon-B, but in a bad way.
However, it performs very well. In every game I played against Rebels bar one, I faced at least two Assault Frigates, and it’s just a solid all-rounder. With all three defense tokens available, it can take a pounding, and it can kick out a fierce amount of firepower when it needs to. It will rarely finish a ship with a single barrage, but it’s similarly unlikely to ever be finished by a single barrage.
The Assault Frigate is a natural choice for Ackbar-led fleets, but it also lends itself well to Mon Mothma lists due to its Evade token. With a Command value of 3, it works nicely with Garm Bel Iblis, and it’s as viable as any other vessel with the likes of General Dodonna or General Rieekan.
I really enjoy facing Assault Frigates as they present a good challenge without being over-powered, and in terms of play-style they’re very thematic. They feel like the natural foil to the likes of the Victory– and Imperial– class Star Destroyers, as well as being slightly more generalist counterparts to the Gladiator.
I just wish they looked more attractive than a hippopotamus foetus suffering an allergic reaction to a bee-sting.
The MC80 – or Home One – is currently the crown in the Rebel fleet. Big, heavy, tough, powerful, and great fun to fly against. It presents a high-value target with a terrifying but specific area of threat – or danger zone – out of its side arcs. Indeed, taking your ships right into this danger zone is incredibly stressful, even for something as beefy as the Imperial-class Star Destroyer.
But the reach of the MC80 is limited – it has a specific but sizable front arc, out of which its armament is barely half that of its broadsides. And it was this front arc that I was forced to exploit each time I faced an MC80 – which was every game in which I faced Rebels, except two. Frequently the Rebel player would be left with a difficult choice – over whether to take advantage of Admiral Ackbar to boost the MC80‘s side-arcs, or to lose that benefit to also fire out of the much-weaker front arc, which was where I had positioned the bulk of my fleet.
The MC80‘s lack of Gunnery Teams (as it has no Weapon Team upgrade slot) was always a relief to me, as it meant that I only ever had to endure a single barrage of fire from it. This allowed me to red-line-overload the MC80 by flying multiple targets into the same danger zone. When faced with a choice between my flagship Gladiator, or my Imperial-class, both of which can survive a single barrage, my opponents were often at something of a loss over which target to prioritise.
I genuinely wonder if the MC80 is a worthy addition to an Admiral Ackbar-led fleet. Whilst certainly a powerful vessel, its lack of Gunnery Teams really does limit its effectiveness – since Ackbar‘s benefit limits a ship’s attacks to its side arcs only, this means the MC80 will realistically only be making one attack per turn – whilst the similarly powerful Imperial-class gets to double the use of its brutal forward arc.
Another key weakness that I found in the MC80 was its reliance on Redirecting damage – but much like the MC30C, this was largely due to my use of Assault Concussion Missiles. Whilst the MC80 is covered in heavy shields, it lacks enough hull strength to survive the kind of concentrated fire which an Imperial-class might shrug off. After a few collisions, an MC80 has already lost 25% of its structural integrity – and large-based ships are very prone to collisions.
I would be very interested to see the MC80 flown as a support and command ship instead. The Rebel fleet has access to a raft of upgrades and titles that boost the performance of friendly vessels, compared to the Imperial fleet’s much more individualistic approach. I think a Mon Mothma-led fleet with an MC80 with Projection Experts, Redundant Shields, an escorting Nebulon-B with the Redemmption title, and some aggressive MC30Cs for the heavy-hitting, could be a very dangerous prospect indeed.
Well, that’s the Rebel fleet. My experience against Rebels was almost exclusively against Admiral Ackbar, with the exception of Stephen at Shadow Games. I would have loved to see a bit more variety in the type of Rebel fleets I faced – certainly there was plenty of variety in Imperial fleets. However, at a competitive level players will naturally gravitate to the most effective means of playing the game – and Ackbar-led fleets are very effective.
To try to counter this in the future, I already have plans in the works for a guide on beating Ackbar through tactics and positioning – watch this space…