I’ve just come back from a another weekend of tournaments – this time, Store Championships at Shadow Games, and Galactic Models. So far, that’s… seven tournaments since the end of January, in such lovely and diverse cities as Lichfield, Derby, Coventry, Stevenage and Rugby. That’s also eighteen competitive games of ‘Armada’, plus plenty of friendlies in between.
I have certainly finished this run of tournaments as a better player, I think. And I have absolutely learned an awful lot – and probably forgotten much more. I have a sack full of swag and prizes, from fancy art cards to beautiful coins. And, perhaps best of all, I’ve spent a lot of time with some great people, and also James.
Sadly, despite all of that experience, I didn’t end up winning a Store Championship in the end. I would not describe that as “disappointing” – every event was great fun – but I would have loved to take one of those gorgeous little plaques home with me. It has not put me off, however, and I’ve already bought my ticket for Regionals in May, and am itching to book my place at Nationals once tickets are released.
I’ve still got so much to write up after my experiences – a follow-up to my guide to Killing Ackbar, as well as a more in-depth autopsy of my tournament performance, and what I need to do to improve my game in the future.
For now, though, here’s a another quick-hit article about some specific little things I’ve learned, beyond the more general lessons of my previous article. As always, based purely on my own experiences – there’s no theory-crafting here.
Some rejected titles for this post included “Two Lessons, Too Hard”, “Too Dumb, Didn’t Learn” and “BUT WHY DIDN’T I WIN ANYTHING? THIS GAME IS STUPID.”
Lesson 1 – MC80 Titles Are The Sex
So, I learned from Dean, the winner of Galactic Models’ Store Championship today, that Defiance is a truly brutal title on an MC80 – not only does it allow you to add any colour die to your attack – but you can then concentrate fire to add that same colour again, because it’s already in your attack pool. So, when your flagship is targeting an activated enemy ship, you can add a black die to your eight-dice attack, followed by another black die with a Concentrated Fire command dial.
Let me tell you now, six red dice, two blue dice and two black dice – with Leading Shots or X17 Turbolasers, is enough to ruin anybody’s day. And the Defiance effect kicks off on both attacks that an MC80 makes in a turn. Brutal.
However, that would mean you’re missing out on the also-awesome Home One title. The ability to get an accuracy on EVERY attack that allied ships make cannot be understated. That kind of reliability is Screed-worthy, and has also cost me games in the past.
I’ve not seen Independence in play – it doesn’t seem as dangerous, but I’m sure it counts when you need it to.
Lesson 2 – I Am Yet To Find The Upper Limit On Initiative Bid
Today, I faced a horrifically powerful list flown by another John. The list-type was made famous by Clontroper5 – four Raiders and a Gladiator. It hit like a freight train – and it also had a twenty-point bid for initiative. Given that I set my own limit at thirteen points, this seemed ludicrous, but it worked – I won the game, but only had two surviving ships by the end, each with a single hull point remaining.
Initiative Bid seems to be getting bigger all the time. James and I joke that eventually we’ll just be deploying a single TIE squadron each and flipping a coin for First Player.
I’m going to have a think about Bidding and its consequences, and post an analysis article in the future. But for now, I will simply continue to be amazed by the ever-increasing desperation for first turn.
Lesson 3 – I Thought An ISD Could Defeat Demolisher And I Was So, So Wrong
In the same match against John, I foolishly pitted my Relentless against his Demolisher. He was first player, but I figured that the damn thing had five hull and no Defensive Retrofits – how hard could it be?
I’m not sure John even noticed as his Gladiator-class vessel gobbled up my Imperial with its Expanded Launchers. It was casual. It was nasty. It was borderline pornographoic – I’ve never seen a Star Destroyer get fucked so roundly.
If you’re the proud owner of an Imperial-class, and you want to remain the proud owner of an Imperial-class, act smart – don’t underestimate the power of the Gladiator.
And bring a spare pair of trousers.
Lesson 4 – Objectives Matter But Feel Free To Ignore Them
Another lesson from Dean from a match at Titan Games two days ago – the Objectives make a big difference. They can also be completely ignored. He had “Hyperspace Assault” as one of his possible objectives. I picked it as the best of painful-looking bunch. He brought in an Assault Frigate right behind my Gladiators and at point-blank, indeed, point-Black range. That was a mistake.
We discussed today that you don’t actually have to deploy a ship via hyperspace at all. You could choose the same objective for a fleet made up entirely of Large ships – it would simply be ignored.
I have also played games with “Contested Outpost” as the objective – and I have frequently elected to ignore the outpost in favour of wanton disassembly of the enemy fleet. It works. Not always, and it might hurt your margin of victory, but simply refusing to dance to the tune of the objective card can be a viable option. Sometimes.
Lesson 5 – Take Off The Blinkers
An important lesson from all the games I’ve played is to not let your choices in fleet-building dictate your actions in an actual match. Dean proved this today when he elected not to use Admiral Ackbar on his MC80, but instead open up with his front arc on my blocking Raider, blowing it to smithereens and clearing a path.
In another game today against a different James than the much-maligned frequent (and deserving) target of my ire, I saw an Admiral Ozzel-led fleet containing an Engine Teched Demolisher repeatedly commit to Navigate commands, when other orders would have been more appropriate. The desire take advantage of both the Engine Techs and Ozzel‘s narrowed James’ vision and closed his mind to other possibilities – but it was also the last match of the day, and we were all pretty exhausted.
An interesting article over at Steel Squadron has just been published, highlighting the issues with Gunnery Teams and how they coerce you to think in a certain way. It’s important to be able to break your thinking out of the box defined by your fleet list, and look at each obstacle as a problem to be solved – rather than looking at your upgrades as solutions that require problems.
Lesson 6 – Never Give Up, Never Surrender
On two occasions now James, my close friend and nemesis, has trounced me with a 10-0 victory in the first round of a tournament, only for me to claw my way to second place in the next two rounds through sheer determination. I’m saying this partly to brag, and partly as a big “Up Yours” to James, but mostly to highlight the point that everything’s to play for in ‘Armada’.
If you get smacked, take the hit and bounce back with a vengeance, Indiana Jones-style. There are so many variables to this game, so much to go wrong, and so much to get right, that you never know what will happen. I’ve played individual matches that I had been winning right up until turn 6, when my opponent has outsmarted me with some inspired flying and completely turned the game around, often by a huge margin of victory.
There is one thing I can confidently say, and that is that there is no unbeatable list, there is no “broken” or “unbalanced” ship or upgrade. Whilst there’s definitely a spectrum of usefulness, I have seen every type of fleet get wiped out and sent packing, from unrelenting Ackbar conga lines to intimidating triple-Imperial gunlines.
The truth of the matter is that no fleet is safe when faced with a determined, thoughtful opponent willing to take risks and stay committed to the cause.
So concludes my little tableau of wisdom. I hope you all have had a good season of tournaments. I’m just glad that the next batch are on the way – I’m eager to get my hands on some arty X17s and Imperial-Is.