Angry Space Triangles: How to Kill Ackbar

There is a menace plaguing competitive games of ‘Star Wars: Armada’. A violent, dangerous thug capable of ravaging his enemies and leaving them battered and bloody with little to show for the assault.

His name is Admiral Ackbar and I have personally seen him devastate enemy fleets in just a few salvos of fire.

The first tournament I played this year I saw one player thrash every fleet he faced because nobody had an answer to his Ackbar-led flotilla, and the same has been true in almost every other tournament I’ve attended. Now, after a bit of experience, I have developed a technique for dealing with Ackbar and it works relatively well for me. There may be many other ways to deal with Admiral Fish-head, but this one is mine and I like it.

And no, it doesn’t rely on large fighter wings. This is a strategy based around glorious ship-to-ship engagements.

To follow this strategy, you will need a few things:

  1. The Hook – At least one cheap Speed-4 ship. Manoeuvrability is important but not vital, so any ship which can move at Speed-4 each turn will do. The MC30cCorellian CorvetteRaider-class corvette, or any Speed-3 ship which can reliably use Engine Techs for the first two turns of the game.
  2. The Club – A ship capable of Speed-3 minimum, preferably a small vessel with a powerful armament that hasn’t taken up too many fleet points. Demolisher is perfect for this role, but a lightly-equipped MC30c or possibly an Assault Frigate might do.
  3. The Frying Pan – The rest of your fleet, all of which should be capable of Speed-3. As hard-hitting as possible

Here is a list I have used successfully against Ackbar-led fleets in the past. It also happens to be my standard Tournament list, and functions against most other fleet types pretty effectively; this isn’t a list that’s been crafted solely to deal with The Fishy Menace.


The Principles

Before we get into the nitty-gritty we need to understand the core concepts behind why an Ackbar fleet is so dangerous, and the major weaknesses from which it suffers.

First of all, an Ackbar-led fleet is equally effective at long, medium and short range. Those Rebel broadsides are mostly red dice, so they only get slightly better at medium range with the addition of one or two blue dice – as opposed to Imperial frontal attacks, which double in strength when they get into primary range.

This means you gain very little from trying to deal with Ackbar at long range. Even your ‘Evade’ defense tokens only cancel one die, and you’ll be facing attacks of six or seven red dice on a regular basis.

If you’re going to take an Ackbar fleet down you’re going to have to do it at short range where you get every attack die available to you, and where he loses any benefit of the Rebel fleet’s numerous ‘Evades’.

The other, more obvious element of an Ackbar fleet is that it lives out of its broadsides, and Rebel ships have very wide broadsides. With such a wide arc of fire their projected area of threat – their “danger zone” if you will – is both enormous and terrifying.

The flip side is that Ackbar fleets have nothing to contribute our of the back or the front. Not only are most Rebel ships weak in these arcs anyway, but they’re also prohibited from firing out of them if they wish to take advantage of Ackbar’s enhanced gunnery techniques.

These facts give us our overall theory – hit Ackbar on the front or the back, at short range. Because he’s just as effective at long range as at short you need to get into short range quickly – as quickly as physically possible.

For myriad reasons to do with the intricacies of the rules and activation orders, hitting Ackbar from behind is a poor move. Without going into too much detail, he can in essence simply move away and turn, bringing his broadsides to bear on you once again.

So, now we have our strategic magnus principium (according to Google translate, this is Latin for “major principle”, but I am not a learned man):

Parchment.png
I should get this embroidered on a tea towel.

If you’ve got all of that in mind, we can begin. Let’s go fishing…


The Execution

Obviously, you’re not here for a load of theoretical waffling and bad Latin, so let’s get stuck into the thick of it.

One note, however – I am not addressing the use of Objectives with this guide. There are simply too many variables to take into account. Rather, this article addresses the scenario in which the Rebel fleet has deployed in line formation going from left to right or from right to left, and how to counter that threat. I will cover other scenarios at the end of this walkthrough.

I’m going to break this guide down into two segments, starting with the first:

DEPLOYMENT

Regardless of whether you’re going first or second your first deployment should be whichever vessel you’re using as “The Club”, and it should go right in the middle of your deployment zone, or close enough to avoid obstacles, facing forwards, at Speed-3.

By the time of your second deployment, you ought to have an idea of where the enemy fleet is headed. Assuming a standard line formation, they’ll be deployed perpendicularly to you, deep in their own deployment zone, facing to the left or to the right.

You need to take your ship acting as “The Hook” and set it, at Speed-4, on the front corner as far as you can in the direction of the Rebel fleet’s travel. I usually deploy mine on a slight angle away from the centre of the board, but this is up to you.

Then, just in towards the centre from your “Hook”, you should set “The Fryer”. All at Speed-3, all going more-or-less directly forwards.

Below you can find a rough deployment layout, gold borders highlighting flagships, with ship speeds under the letter which denotes their role – Club, Fryer or Hook respectively. Note that this is for illustrative purposes only, hence obstacles are absent and the scale is… irrelevant.

deployment.png

With your fleet deployed, it’s time to get going.


TURN 1 – THE CALM

There isn’t much to say here, except never mind the manoeuvres, just go straight at ’em! So I shall let the picture do most of the talking.

turn1.png

It’s useful to swing your Hook out a bit, give it chance to sweep into the nose of the lead Rebel ship on a good angle.

You may be wondering why the Club is advancing on its lonesome, and that’s relatively simple – it deters the enemy fleet from turning into the centre of the board at this early stage. A canny opponent will bring their ships about with some tight turns and end up bypassing the rest of your fleet, unless they find a powerful little ship in the centre ready to punish them for such tenacity.


TURN 2 – THE APPROACH

Well, this is the start of crunch time. The important fact to remember here is that a ship at Speed-4, having deployed at the forward edge of its own deployment zone, can pass the centre of the board on the first turn. On turn 2, then, it will by definition be in the enemy’s deployment zone.

turn2.png

This may also be the first turn on which you will start taking fire. To minimise this damage, make your Hook the first activation, and force the enemy to activate their ships first before your own move into range.

But under no circumstances must you lose your resolve. The powerful guns of the Rebel fleet can shake any soul to its core, but do not slow down. Keep your speed up, go at ’em like smoke an’ oakum and weather the storm. Ackbar salvos are harsh, but not so much that they can finish a ship in a single hit – usually, anyway.


TURN 3 – THE ENGAGEMENT

Now we’re up to our necks. As stated above, a Speed-4 ship will be in the enemy’s deployment zone in two turns. The mathematically-inclined of you will know that means that, by definition, a Speed-3 ship will achieve the same in three turns. As such, Turn 3 marks the Point of Engagement of the battle. Before I say any more, there is one thing I have to make very clear:

If, by the end of Turn 3, you are unable to position every one of your ships in close range of the Rebel fleet, you have already lost.

turn3

I shall refer you to my prior article, specifically Point 2: Engage at a point. If you do not have all surviving elements of your fleet at Ackbar’s gills then you will simply be dismantled one ship at a time. It is imperative that you strike against the enemy simultaneously, such that by the time the fourth turn starts, your pistols are holstered and your knives are out, glinting in the light of blaster fire and missile explosions.

It may be wise to slow some of your ships at this point, for the purposes of gaining additional manoeuvrability. Do so as required, but for God’s sake get into range. And plan accordingly. You know that Turn 3 is the turn with the most important manoeuvres, so make sure those Navigate commands are flowing freely.

Also bear in mind that in Turn 3 you will be hit hard. You may even lose a ship. However, if you have positioned correctly you will have the enemy in a bind – they will be prevented from advancing due to the presence of your Hook, they will be prevented from turning away due to the edge of the board and, of course, your Fryer. And should they find himself in this position then fry them you shall – I recommend a light ale and a touch of turmeric for the batter.


TURN 4 – THE CRUCIBLE

Should your approach have been determined and your demeanour unflappable, then the fourth turn shall be your moment to shine.

At this point, you will have the enemy penned in, and completely at the mercy of your own guns. Up ’til now, activation order, activation advantage and first player status have all been lesser concerns, but here there importance can not be overstated. Being the first player will be worth its weight in gold, because you absolutely want to be deciding the order of activations.

Obviously by this point, my own little diagrams will have little bearing on your own games, so the below image should be used solely as a “what-if” – a possible outcome of a fourth turn in which you lose your Club and your Hook, after they’ve already done their jobs of course, but where you’ve also nailed the lead Rebel ship and put the hammer down on their flagship.

turn4.png

Note, though, how vital it is to follow your Hook with another blocking ship. If the enemy flagship gets the chance to slip past, then this was all for nothing, and what remains of your fleet will crumple under sustained fire.

Also note how, although this particular arrangement favours an Imperial-style forward assault, because you are the one deciding the nature of the approach you can angle your ships exactly as you need to: if you’re flying a Rebel fleet, then you can position your own broadsides perfectly for some messy action.

A few Repair commands will be well received at this point, especially in conjunction with Repair tokens which ought to have been banked in the first or second turn. Use your Repair points to clear any particularly inconveniencing critical effects and to restore shields or, if possible, to move shields from your rear to your front and sides


TURNS 5 & 6 – THE CLOSE

As I can’t play your games for you – nor would I – the fifth and sixth turns depend very much on the preceding four turns, rather obviously I should hope. It is enough to say here that you should be finishing off the heavily damaged Rebel ships and doing your best to keep your own vessels from succumbing to enemy fire. You will no doubt have been put through the ringer by now, but keep your chin up and your spirits high, ride through to the end like a hero.

turn5.png

I had better make you aware that this strategy makes it much more likely that you will defeat an Ackbar-led fleet, but I cannot guarantee that you will destroy it entirely. Your opponent will try to find a way to avoid total destruction, and may well succeed. Above, you can see how they turn their rear ship down towards the centre of the board, away from your remaining guns.

What this strategy does offer you, however, is the chance to take one of the toughest builds out there and slam it with something new, something for which it isn’t prepared. By the nature of the attack, your opponent will have few options, and you will have them at your mercy.

It also benefits from being primarily a ship-to-ship engagement, with little focus on the nuisance of fighters. This is all about the big guns, the shrewd manoeuvres and the brutal, unforgiving attacks that leave ships burning.

For my money, I also feel it’s quite a dramatic strategy. It crafts a narrative of its own and leaves a story to tell, which I, personally, appreciate. It allows you to talk about tactics and positioning and allows you to dissect the battle, find out what went wrong, what worked well. It doesn’t come down to just throwing dice at each others’ ships and hoping you roll well.


Is That It?

Well, this may all be very well for those moments where you’re facing a fairly standard Ackbar set-up, but what about when they deploy differently?

Well, there isn’t much to say there except that the same principle applies:

Parchment

If the enemy fleet deploys pointing in any way towards the centre of the board, deploy your ships directly opposite them, at maximum speed, pointing right at ’em. Figure out what approach you will need to take, how you will need to angle your ships, to catch the Rebels in your net. The placement of your Club in the centre will always be useful, since a fast ship can turn to meet the enemy as needed.

Just remember that as soon as an Ackbar fleet turns towards your own deployment zone, it’s making your job easier. Ackbar‘s preferred angle of attack is to be pointing away from your ships, with the rear half of his broadsides angled onto you. Just make sure you never find yourself in this position, or else he will make you suffer.

If you prefer to use fighters rather than ship-heavy lists, then there’s probably not much that I can offer as you most likely already know more about using fighters than I do, so I won’t try and address that particular issue here – although I may revisit the matter at a later date.


I hope this guide will help you in future battles. These tactics have certainly served me well, delivering victory in roughly eighty percent of battles I’ve played against Ackbar fleets. Of course, it doesn’t guarantee victory, nothing does. But it will hopefully give you an edge against an otherwise terrifying enemy.

Good hunting, all.

Angry Space Triangles: Imperial Brutality

Concluding my review of the ships so far featured in Star Wars: Armada, this is a look at the vessels of the Imperial fleet. Characterised by sturdiness, brutal forward armaments and unrelenting aggression, the Imperial fleet certainly has a lot of character – as does each individual ship within it.

This article is intended to serve as a counterpart to my summary of the Rebel fleet, however the Imperials are the faction I have spent the most time playing as, and have by far the greater thematic appeal to me, so I’m likely to be a lot more emotive as I go through each ship. All I can say in my defense is that I’m a man of passion.

And, as always, this is all based on my participation in a series of tournaments around the UK – there’s an awful lot to this game, and to each ship, so I’m just hoping to pass on the insights I gleaned from my own limited experience.


The Raider-Class Corvette

raider

I have already covered my feelings on the Raider to some depth, so I will try and keep this brief. In short, the Raider is a great utility vessel, but you have to know its limits. I rarely saw any Raiders included in other Imperial fleets, and when I did they were typically in line with my own take on them – as a versatile instrument, as a picket vessel, as an extra activation, or just as eye candy.

The simple matter is that I had tremendous fun flying the Raider. I didn’t get too sad when it was blown up and I loved blasting it around the engagement zone, zapping fighters and being a nuisance. I also enjoyed the rare occasions where I was facing a Raider – it was too potent to be ignored, too small to warrant a significant portion of my attention; it simply added to the challenge of facing an enemy fleet. For me, it also makes fleets feel much more rounded – like actual real-world navies, with different classes of vessel, rather than just one or two particularly powerful varieties.


The Gladiator-Class Star Destroyer

gladiator

There’s little I can say about the Gladiator that would surprise even rookie Armada players. The ship is ubiquitous in Imperial fleets – indeed, I can’t recall a single Imperial fleet out of the twelve that I saw that lacked a Gladiator – it’s a powerful, tough little ship that consistently pulls its weight.

The Gladiator is a schoolyard bully. In each game I witnessed or took part in it was fantastic at beating down other small-based ships with its punishing combination of broadsides and nasty frontal arc.  However, against anything big, the Gladiator had to gang up with other bullies – or else land one punch before running away like a coward. And I really like the fact that it has this amount of character.

Obviously, if you have one Gladiator in your fleet then it’s going to be the Demolisher – the ability to fire after moving is absurdly useful. However, even without the title, the basic Gladiator is still an incredible ship. It can easily set up double-arcs due to its wide broadsides and small base, and although it will quickly fall to sustained fire, it will sustain a solid beating at long range whilst it gets into position.

I used my non-Demolisher Gladiator as my flagship for Admiral Screed, and that’s not a decision I regret. By building redundancy into my list – an Imperial-class that doesn’t rely on critical effects, Ordnance Experts on my Demolisher – I was able to use my flagship aggressively without worrying too much about it taking fire. This meant that I could lose either my flagship, my Demolisher or my Imperial-class Relentless and still have two very powerful ships on the board. If I lost more than that, then the game was likely decided anyway.


The Victory-class Star Destroyer

victory

The Victory is an aged warship. Very aged. I personally felt the Victory-class was obsolete before Wave 1 of Armada was even released, and since Wave 2, with the Imperial-class, my disdain for the Victory-class is greater than ever. In truth, it can be an effective carrier, if that’s how you choose to live your life. But its limited manoeuvrability and speed leave me with little faith in its ability to perform in ship-to-ship combat.

My own opinions seemed shared at least a little by the other tournament players – the Victory was a rare sight across the Imperial fleets, and where it was present I rarely saw it having as big an impact on the game as other vessels in the same list. But that was just as likely due to my prejudice as to the ship’s performance.

The simple truth was that whenever I saw a Victory activating, I was always thinking, “That’s great – but imagine what it would be doing if it was an Imperial instead…” In my very first tournament game I faced two Victorys, and they managed to put up a fight – but I had foolishly chosen “Contested Outpost” as the objective, allowing them to sit near-stationary on the outpost in question, forcing me to attack them. Had they been forced to move positions themselves, things might have been different.

I want to like the Victory– it’s a great-looking ship, but it has too many limitations. It has a maximum Speed of 2, much like the Rebel MC80, but the MC80 has an extra “click” of turning at Speed 2, and has the ability to make itself even more manoeuvrable and speedy by using a Nav Team or Engine Techs. The Victory has no ability to account for its weakness in this regard, beyond simply being tough and having a decent, but not exceptional, frontal arc.


The Imperial-Class Star Destroyer

imperial

The Imperial-class is the jewel in the crown of the Imperial fleet. It’s huge – I mean, it really is enormous – it’s imposing, it’s completely iconic and fantastic fun to include in a fleet. It’s fast and manoeuvrable enough to enjoy the use of daring tactics and strategies, it kicks out buckets of damage and it can endure plenty more. It’s everything it should be, all in a single, very bulky package.

At least one Imperial-class Star Destroyer featured in most of the Imperial fleets in play, and they were consistently brutal. By no stretch are they unbeatable or overpowered, however – I saw many valiant ships taken down, either by Ackbar-fueled broadsides, close-up Demolisher barrages and on more than one occasion other Imperial-class Star Destroyers.

I think, though, the real danger of the Imperial is the fear factor. When one of those beasts starts cruising towards your fleet at Speed 3, it tends to draw your attention quite effectively away from all of the other dangerous ships that are also approaching you at high speed – even ships like Demolisher. Even when you have an Imperial-class in your own fleet, you can lose focus when you see another deploying opposite.

In my own games, I was surprised to see that it was rare for my own vessel, the Relentless, to inflict the killer blow. Whilst she certainly put a lot of hurt on enemy vessels, her main role was consistently to endure as much punishment as possible whilst my Gladiators carried out the bulk of the demolition work. Indeed, this was a theme I saw across multiple games – where the burden of damage-dealing fell to the smaller ships, whilst the Imperial made for a very large, very expensive bullet magnet.

However it’s used, the Imperial-class is the rightful centrepiece of any Imperial force. You certainly don’t need one to build a viable list, but you will never regret adding one to the fleet.


The Imperial ships appeal to me as a player as I really enjoy fast, aggressive ship-focused tactics based around getting right into your opponent’s comfort zone and going to town on their poor vessels. Whatever your play style, though, the natural strengths and character of Imperial vessels means you’re going to be getting into nasty scraps with opposing fleets on a regular basis.

I definitely prefer commanding Imperials to Rebels, but I’m trying new Rebel lists to develop my palate. And that’s one of the great things about Armada – there’s so much to the game that you can always find new avenues of exploration and experimentation.

 

Angry Space Triangles: Rebel Ships of the Line

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.

rebel fleet.png

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

nebulon b

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

Tantive_IV_box_art

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

mc30c

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

assault frig

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.


MC80 Cruiser

home one

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 ExpertsRedundant Shields, an escorting Nebulon-B with the Redemmption title, and some aggressive MC30Cs for the heavy-hitting, could be a very dangerous prospect indeed.


Home_One_Endor

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angry Space Triangles: Stay On Target

With tomorrow’s tournament being a Store Championship, I need to make sure I’m on top form. I’ve been on a rigorous protein diet over the last week (four-cheese pizzas) with a lot of metabolism-boosting supplements (Ben & Jerry’s, one pint at a time). I also need to make sure that I have learned from my previous mistakes. Here’s a few that I’ve made in the past – if I ever need to prove my innocence, the following should serve as evidence that I’m incapable of anything particularly nefarious.

in action


1 – Flip Those Dials

At the start of every ship’s activation, I need flip its top-most command dial face-up, revealing the command. This is a step that I, and many of my opponents, have occasionally skipped. The truth is, when I know it’s a Navigation and I don’t need to use it this turn, my excitement to roll some dice often takes priority.

Of course, the last game I played, I consistently forgot to place my Raider‘s dial face-down in the first place. Not sure how I managed that one, but it happened most turns. I must be getting senile.


2 – Do the Math

I have a nasty habit of making gut reactions, rather than stepping back and thinking it through. It definitely cost me one game last weekend, and has probably cost me a few more. Although there are time limits to tournament rounds, 135 minutes is more than enough time to step back, take a breath, and actually think about what it is I need to do to win – whilst remembering to avoid slow-play.

I Will Not lose another Imperial-class Star Destroyer because I didn’t take ten seconds to do the math at the critical moment. I don’t want to be a dickhead, do I?


3 – Remember the Rules

Five days ago I managed to forget that I had a second shot with my Relentless, a mistake that almost certainly made the game considerably worse for me. I have spent Navigation commands to slow my vessels down, but forgotten to change their speed dials. It’s possible that I need a physical checklist to run through for each ship activation, because honestly the things I forget or skip past in a turn make me look like a dribbling idiot.


4 – Count those Cards

Remembering a raft of special rules can be tricky for lots of people. Fortunately, Fantasy Flight Games provide handy little upgrade cards to remind you of all of the special things you can do. Unfortunately, I’m still dumb enough to forget even those – and the fact that my SW-7 Ion Batteries would’ve done another two damage is as useless as a marzipan dildo if I only realise it ten minutes after I made the bloody attack.

Same goes for damage cards – ruthlessly enforce both my own and my opponent’s Critical Damage effects, lest I become a gurning wanker.


5 – Stay On Target

Two of the big games I won last Sunday were only won because I remembered my objectives. I didn’t get sidetracked by simply trying to destroy the enemy fleet (although that played a big part, of course). If you’re playing ‘Opening Salvo’, you need to minimise the damage to your own fleet. ‘Contested Outpost’? Remember to stay within range of the fuckin’ station.

Really, this is basic stuff – but when I’m tired, and excited, and anxious, I still find a way to struggle with even the basics. I’m not a clever carrot.


6 – It’s a Game

I love playing Armada, I really do. And it’s important that I don’t stop loving it because I got caught up in winning, or wound myself up because I made yet another embarrassing mistake (“embarrassing mistake” happens to be my Dad’s nickname for me). I’ve enjoyed 90% of the games I’ve played – and I’ve enjoyed 100% of the games I’ve played since Wave 1 was released.

The ultimate objective of Armada isn’t to destroy enemy fleets or dodge mines – it’s to enjoy the entire process of playing. So far, I’ve stayed on the right side of that. I need to make sure I continue to do so. And not turn into a Twat.

Angry Space Triangles: Titan Games, The Second Day

On a cold, dreary Sunday our two warriors stepped from their four-wheel drive, off-road vehicle onto the damp macadam of Lichfield’s long-stay car park. Across the road was the crucible, Titan Games, a charming and old-fashioned game shop in a timber-framed terrace.

The store was another winner – well-stocked, friendly staff, and really conveniently placed for car travelers – plus, right around the corner from a McDonald’s, the milkshakes of which would prove key to sustaining us through the day.

Armada weekend 1 (3 of 26)
A lovely photograph of James’ fleet – a rarity to find one with the ships all intact.

Sadly, Sam couldn’t join us today, so it was just James and I. There was another friendly face, though: Paul, whose Ackbar-led fleet had won the previous day’s tournament at Shadow Games.

Against us were four admirals of great renown and valour:


Paul – Rebels, led by Admiral Ackbar

  • MC80 Mon Calamari Cruiser Defiance
  • Two Mk. II Assault Frigates, with Gunnery Teams
  • Tycho Celchu

Paul (a second Paul) – Imperials, led by Admiral Motti

  • Imperial-II -class Star Destroyer
  • Imperial-I -class Star Destroyer
  • Gladiator -class Star Destroyer Demolisher
  • Firespray and an Aggressor – both unnamed.

Graham – Rebels, led by Admiral Ackbar

  • Two Mk. II Assault Frigates
  • MC30C Scout Frigate Foresight
  • Jan Ors, three A-Wing squadrons, and an X-Wing squadron.

Dan – Imperials, led by Admiral Screed

  • Imperial-II -class Star Destroyer, with Gunnery Teams, Electronic Countermeasures, X17 Turbolasers, etc…
  • Gladiator -class Star Destroyer Demolisher
  • Gladiator -class Star Destroyer
  • Dengar and several TIE squadrons

In the first round, I was set against Rebel Paul, James was to take on Imperial Paul, whilst Graham and Dan faced off on the third table.

Our lists were unchanged from the day before, and we’d had our practice now – today, no quarter would be given.

At least, not intentionally.


James’ Day

James had a solid start to the day. However, it didn’t look that way at first. Here’s his own description of how the match went:

Okay, so in my first fight I was the second player and he chose ‘Opening Salvo’, an interesting decision as I had more ships then he did, but I wasn’t complaining. I knew my ISD wouldn’t be able to out-position his two ISD‘s so I just aimed mine at his and hoped my dice didn’t fuck me. I positioned Insidious at an angle to make sure I could fit the rest of my fleet around the obstacles and so that hopefully I could get it round the back to deal out some damage.

My first mistake was to angle Insidious too far out when really it wasn’t going to get much thrown at it with my ISD there anyway, and it ended up not getting a single shot out, making my second player advantage a little slimmer. The second mistake was to remember that I had a second player advantage when I got my first shot off with my ISD; Paul offered to let me keep the token and use it next round but the rules are clear that it has to be the first shot so I didn’t take him up on that. However, my opening shots with the other two GSD‘s were able to add black dice into their pool allowing me to use my ACM‘s at long range. I targeted his ISD1 as it can deal out more damage at close range and I wasn’t planning on letting him past.

My third mistake was to position a GSD blocking his ISD2, I thought he would target my ISD in order to go for the win but instead he blew my standard GSD out of the sky so he could move past. This made the game effectively 5 rounds as we couldn’t do anything to each other in the 6th round that would have any impact on the game. However his Demolisher, that was quite loaded up with upgrades, didn’t manage to slow down in time before flying off the edge of the board, and I went from a loss of about 30 points to a win of 68.

Armada weekend 1 (12 of 26)
Who even brings two Imperial-class Star Destroyers to a tournament, anyway? Someone who knows what it’s all about, that’s who.

James’ second game was somewhat more one-sided. Facing off against his second Paul of the day, he went up against the Ackbar menace. Attempting to replicate an incredibly risky tactic he had seen employed in the previous round, James stormed his Star Destroyers past the minefield and directly at the head of Paul’s Rebel column, hoping to stop it in its tracks. But his timing was out, and as he tried desperately to engage the Rebels on their weak frontal arcs, he fell short – and the punishment from the Rebel broadsides was unrelenting. Imperial iron gave way to Rebellious fury as ship after ship succumbed to overwhelming firepower. As the guns abated, all three Rebel ships remained  – and all that was left of the Imperials was smoke and ashes. Paul’s 400-point margin of victory gave him ten tournament points.

Finally, James took on Dan’s Imperial fleet. Dan had, thus far, been put through the ringer, having suffered two nasty defeats already. James spared no sympathy, however, as he dismantled Dan’s vessels with extreme prejudice. With a numerical advantage of four ships to three, James set his guns and missiles blazing and stole a hefty victory, although he lost the Demolisher in the process. Nine tournament points in the bag, taking him to sixteen in total.

Armada weekend 1 (15 of 26)
Dan’s flagship meets her fate.

Jon’s Day

My first battle was against Rebel Paul, and I hope you will forgive me if I indulge in a little additional detail. I had seen Paul fight the day before, and he was a formidable tactician. He had flattened every fleet he had come across, and I was eager to face him today for the challenge. There had been talk that his Ackbar-led fleet was unstoppable, unbeatable, immortal – I wanted to prove that there was no such thing. Don’t get me wrong, Paul is a great guy who fights hard with a good fleet – but I needed to know if I was up to the task. And I knew that if I fared as poorly against him as everyone else, I would have no hope of seizing a win on the day.

He deployed his minefields to deter the approach of my sharp-prowed fleet. I placed my corvette, Instigator, on the far, far left of my deployment zone, and at maximum speed – this would be key later on. He deployed his vessels in a standard column, going from my right to my left with the Defiance, his MC80 Assault Cruiser, at the front. I set my flagship and the Relentless, my Imperial- class, to the right of the Instigator, going straight ahead, whilst I placed the Demolisher much further over to the right, angled towards the middle of the Rebel column – and carefully positioned to navigate through the minefield.

Everything then happened very, very quickly. In two turns, the Instigator crossed the entire map, ending up directly in front of the steadily-cruising Defiance. The Defiance slowed to avoid a collision, as the rest of the Imperial fleet sped towards the Instigator’s position. The Relentless headed straight for the side-arc of the Defiance and unloaded with her entire frontal battery as the flagship Gladiator cruised around following the path of the Instigator. The approaching Rebel Assault Frigates were too far distant to affect the engagement meaningfully, and the three Imperial ships tore the Defiance to pieces. The Instigator was lost, but her gallant crew had done their jobs admirably – stalling the Rebel line of advance and pinning the Rebel flagship in place for eradication. My flagship dealt the killing blow with a brutal short-range delivery of heavy ordnance.

Armada weekend 1 (18 of 26)
The final moments of the ‘Defiance’.

Meanwhile, the Demolisher slowed to a cautious advance through the minefields, before rushing up into the middle of the Assault Frigates. She didn’t remain intact against the two larger ships, but she put a crippling blow on the lead vessel, leaving it to be finished off by a volley from the Relentless. The surviving Rebel ship was largely untouched by the fighting, and departed towards the relative safety of the minefield. As the wounded Relentless desperately slowed to avoid leaving the combat zone, and then again to avoid a rogue asteroid, the battle ended with a solid Imperial victory – I took nine tournament points, with which I was very happy.

I should note here that, although I was pleased with the victory, to his credit Paul didn’t make a single mistake. He was a tough opponent to crack, and it was only the fact that I employed such a risky, incredibly aggressive strategy that I was able to do the damage I needed to do to win. When James tried to replicate it in the next game, Paul had already learned and adapted, and promptly took James’ fleet apart.

My second game was against Graham, who had secured a strong victory against Dan in the first round. Our ships each prepared their guns for a brutal opening salvo, and brutal it was. The Relentless suffered heavy damage in the earliest stages of the fighting, and this was worrisome – the Relentless wounded was worth as much to Graham as any other ship dead. However, she pulled away from the combat and set her damage control teams to frantic repairs, whilst my flagship Gladiator and Demolisher devastated Ackbar’s flagship; the Demolisher suffered heavy damage in the process. Without their admiral’s expert gunnery tactics, the Rebels’ fighting strength was diminished. Their Scout Frigate swept into a nasty crossfire between my flagship and Instigator, and was wrecked in the final stages of the battle. The Relentless repaired the last of her damage, and the score was tallied – I gained eight tournament points, with two to Graham.

Armada weekend 1 (16 of 26)
I have no idea what was happening at the time, but it must have been pretty intense.

The final fight was as climactic as it should have been. I faced Imperial Paul, and everything was to play for. He had suffered a minor defeat to James, but had trollied Dan, and now needed to beat me by a margin of victory of 70 points or more to take first place.

Two Imperial- class Star Destroyers was a threat I’d not faced before, and with Motti in command they were tough old beasts to kill. They approached at high speed, whilst my own fleet deployed in a tight cluster at low speed, to avoid unnecessary damage from a nearby minefield. The two Demolishers got stuck into each other quite quickly – Paul’s near-crippled my own, whilst mine put the wallop back on his, before rushing forward into the frontal arc of his ISD-I. My flagship finished off the Demolisher before also rushing into the front arc of both the ISD-I and the ISD-II. This was my first mistake of the battle.

My Demolisher was finished off casually by the enemy ISD-I, and the ISD-II put a devastating blow into my flagship. The Relentless was still slowly navigating around an asteroid, too distant to help. But my flagship survived, and in turn put both her forward and her broadside torpedo tubes into the ISD-I. My flagship sped between the two larger vessels, desperately trying to escape retribution. Set on their course, Paul’s two capital ships moved into engagement range with my own, and here, the Relentless shined. Unabashed by being outnumbered two-to-one, she launched salvo after salvo into the approaching aggressors, and she lived up to her name – she took their return fire like a champ. By the time they were nose-to-nose, she was ready to really go to work on them – in a single volley, she finished off the ISD-I at close range. Her crew cheered, and her admiral excitedly moved her forwards, forgetting – like the big stupid idiot he is, that she was yet to make a second shot against the enemy ISD-II, one which would surely have finished the beast off. This was my second mistake of the battle.

Armada weekend 1 (23 of 26)
‘Relentless’ living up to her name – she would have come out on top of this fight, had her admiral not been a moron.

Charitably, Paul allowed me to make a side-arc attack against his flagship, it in turn delivered a frontal assault into the rear of Relentless. She survived – barely – and was now departing the scene, hoping to avoid further punishment. And as she did, I made my final mistake, the one that would ultimately cost me the match. As Relentless‘ damage control teams set to work, I had the option to repair her hull, or regain some shields. A lone enemy Firespray was loitering abeam of my proud vessel, and I was, foolishly, not convinced that I would clear the guns of Paul’s rapidly-turning ISD-II. I regained shields on one side only, and Paul’s firespray subsequently attacked the opposite side, delivering exactly as much damage as was needed to kill Relentless and swing the match to his favour.

With tension, we calculated points, and after some double-checking of our maths, the score was settled – Paul had won with a margin of victory of 69 points. One solitary point short of the seven tournament points he needed to win the day. I am not even making this up.

Armada weekend 1 (26 of 26)
The wounded ‘Relentless’ tries to escape her own destruction.

Everyone Else

Dan had an rough day, having lost all three matches and having been tabled in two of them. He finished in sixth position, but hopefully he has learned what he needs to learn to come back another day and really bust some heads.

Graham finished in fifth, which surprised me to an extent, as he was a great player – very thoughtful, very deliberate and very focused. I worked hard – damnably hard – to defeat him, but his final match against Rebel Paul went against him.

Rebel Paul finished in third place, and played well all day. Defeating a rival Ackbar list can’t be easy, and he tabled James with fairly ruthless efficiency. However, I should imagine he was still fairly pleased after his tournament win the previous day.

Imperial Paul came in second, but only by a single tournament point (a common theme, it seems). He was a fantastic, incredibly sporting player – as was everyone – and he fought very, very hard indeed. In truth, I feel that with a bit of refinement to his list he could be unstoppable. Further, had he not flown his own Demolisher off the board in his first game, the scoreboard would have looked very different.

Armada weekend 1 (19 of 26)
Just two ships passing in a cliche.

To Summarise

James placed fourth for the second day in a row, but had a great time doing so. He was, admittedly, a little hungover again today, so it will be interesting to see what happens when he manages to stay sober – I imagine he’ll do rather well indeed.

I managed, by the skin of my teeth, to win. I was inordinately grateful to receive a pewter medal for my victory, but, in truth, I felt a little sad. The fact that it had come down to a single victory point in the last game, and then that I had won by only a single tournament point, left me feeling like this was an undeserved victory – almost as though I had won on a technicality, or by default, where Paul had been the better player.

I was proud of my performance in my first two games, but my blunders in the final game were crippling and unforgivable. I actually made a fourth mistake that game – turning my Instigator into the forward arcs of Paul’s ISD-II needlessly, handing him yet more victory points. And had I not gotten carried away with finishing off the ISD-I, I might have remembered to make my second attack and finish off Paul’s flagship, and everything would have changed.

However, as it was my sixth game that weekend – and I was already on a sleep deficit – my blunders were perhaps to be expected. I have made the promise to myself that I will simply do better next time, stay focused, and make sure that I really earn my victories.

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#tournamentswag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angry Space Triangles: Shadow Games, the First Test

Note – Despite this being our first day, James didn’t take any pictures because he was so hungover that the paint started peeling off of his Star Destroyers when he breathed too heavily near them. I’ve included pictures that James expertly took from games we played a few weeks ago – please join me in pretending that they were taken today.

Today, James, Sam and I drove through gales and torrents of freezing rain to attend the Winter Tournament hosted by Shadow Games, in Rugby. This was a great venue – clean and tidy, loads of space, friendly and helpful staff – overall, I was very impressed.

Battle3

There were three other participants – Paul and Stephen, both with Rebels, and Craig with Imperials. Six players, three tournament rounds, nine games in total.

We had our fleets ready, and our opponents assembled theirs. We were facing off against the following:


 

Paul – Rebels, led by Admiral Ackbar.

  • MC80 Mon Calamari Cruiser Defiance
  • Two Mk. II Assault Frigates, with Gunnery Teams

Stephen – Rebels, led my Mon Mothma

  • MC80 Mon Calamari Cruiser
  • Two MC30C Torpedo Frigates, with Assault Concussion Missiles

Craig – Imperials, led by Admiral Motti

  • Two Victory-Class Star Destroyers with a myriad of upgrades
  • Gladiator-Class Star Destroyer Demolisher

 

Neil, the tournament organiser, wisely opted to split us three apart, so we each played someone new for the first round. Sam took on Paul, James took on Stephen and I faced off against Craig.

We started playing at 11 a.m. sharp.


Sam’s Day

Sam had a rough start to a tough day. Up against Paul in the first round, the long-range turbolasers of the Mon Calamari fleet made light work of Sam’s poorly-shielded Raiders and didn’t waste any time before steadily dismantling the remainder of the Imperial fleet. Despite the speed of the Imperial ships, they struggled to approach the Rebels quickly enough to bring their torpedoes and missiles into effective range, and Paul walked away with a 400-point margin of victory, and ten tournament points overall.

Battle6

Sam’s second game, against Craig, was less one-sided. Sam’s Demolisher was held in reserve, ready to arrive via hyperspace at the appropriate time. The two fleets approached, Sam at full speed, Craig more cautiously, although Craig did send his own Demolisher in on a fast attack to disable an isolated Raider on Sam’s flank. Sam’s flagship, Relentless, took a pounding as the gap between the two fleets narrowed. Worse, issues with Sam’s Demolisher‘s navicomputer led to it dropping out of lightspeed directly in front of Craig’s flagship – the Demolisher was soon smouldering ashes and, with the Relentless now out of action, so too was Sam’s hope of victory. The match finished with nine tournament points in Craig’s pocket.

Sam’s final game was against James. They had not played before, but it was a much more balanced match. Early successes from opening salvoes saw James’ own Relentless suffer the full brunt of the forward guns aboard Sam’s Relentless – the older Imperial-I class of vessel possessed a more potent short-range armament. However, Sam’s flagship finished the exchange of fire almost entirely unshielded and with an 82% loss in structural integrity. Sam’s Gladiators had already been ruined and abandoned, and a perfect shot from one of James’ Gladiators saw Sam’s flag set ablaze, the once-triumphant Relentless now on her way to the breaker’s yard. With a 50-point margin of victory James took six Tournament points, leaving Sam with four. This put Sam at five tournament points in total.


James’ Day

James had a similarly bleak start to the day as Sam. His first battle, against Stephen, saw a series of tactical blunders on James’ behalf that cost him the game – as his bleary-eyed attempts to seize an advantage failed, his fleet was quite comprehensively dismantled over a few turns by Stephens’ powerful formation of broad-sided vessels. I have to be honest, James was visibly struggling at this point, and I did feel badly for him – just not quite badly enough to resist making fun of him. Stephen achieved eight tournament points from this match, with two to James.

ISD3

James’ second fight was against me. And fortunately, despite the fact we have played each other many times before, we managed to maintain a mature attitude throughout the game – until James revealed his true colours as a backstabbing traitor by capitalising on all of my mistakes and punishing me for my poor decisions. Both our fleets had entered into dangerous territory to reclaim… something… from each of the scattered obstacles. On the first turn my flagship risked a collision with an asteroid to seize an objective, suffering critical damage which dropped its front shield, right in sight of James’ approaching gun line. This put me on the back foot for the rest of the match, and James promptly picked my Relentless to pieces and polished off my Raider with casual contempt. The final result was close, though – James claimed six tournament points, which meant four for me.

James’ final match against Sam has already been covered. Suffice to say, James was by this point sobering up, and Sam had already nearly doubled his experience with the game in the two preceding matches. The improvement in both players’ abilities was clear, but by this point we were all tired and growing lethargic. James finished his final fight on a six-point victory, giving him fourteen tournament points in total.


Jon’s Day

My day started off mostly positively. Craig claimed to be an inexperienced player, but he had a cool confidence with the game, and made me work hard for a narrow victory. I elected to assault a contested outpost held by Craig’s Victory-class Star Destroyers. Why I made this decision is beyond me – I was likely having a moment. It seemed like a good idea at the time, although I quickly learnt my lesson as I threw my attack force against his sturdy vessels, suffering heavy damage. Both of my Gladiators fell to combined attacks from his capital ships and his fighters – a key strike by Soontir Fel and three TIE Fighter squadrons put my Demolisher down for good. By the time the last laser blast had cleared, I had managed to control the outpost for four turns and burned a Victory and the enemy Demolisher. I was grateful for the seven Tournament points, but aware of how much effort I had to exert to account for my initial mistakes.

Battle2

My fight with James was, as described above, painful. The loss of front shields due to a misaligned projector on my flagship absolutely sent me reeling, and a damaged fire control aboard my Relentless, similarly gained due to asteroid collisions, pretty much did for me on the first turn. The misaligned projector was arguably the worst result I could have gotten at that point – I had hoped to repair any damage suffered from the asteroids in the subsequent turns, but the loss of my flagship’s forward shields turned me from a cautious attacker into a quivering defender, and James wasted no time in seizing the initiative and applying the pressure straight away.

My last battle was against Stephen, and I was glad for the chance to face some Rebels. Here, the dice were on my side, my gun crews ceaseless in the brutality they inflicted on the enemy vessels. Stephen’s flagship MC80 met its fate inside the front arcs of my Relentless and the two Gladiators at short range. My Raider proved its real worth here, racing ahead to block the advance of Stephen’s MC30Cs – the Raider perished in doing so, but the resultant collisions put the Mon Calamari torpedo boats in a bad state, and they were soon finished off by my Gladiators. Stephen maintained air superiority with his potent A-Wing force led by Han Solo – his eradication of my TIE Fighters and Han’s mortal strike against my Raider prevented me from achieving a full margin of victory – but I was still very pleased to be awarded nine tournament points – taking me up to twenty in total.


Everyone Else

Paul won the day – finishing on twenty-seven tournament points, he was well ahead of anyone else. He tabled Stephen in the second round, but came a bit unstuck in round three versus Craig, whose valiant Demolisher slotted an Assault Frigate – however, he still won with a solid seven tournament points.

Craig came third overall, just topping James by a single tournament point. He was using a tough list – two Victory-class vessels leaves you with a very slow fleet, but his use of the Demolisher saw him do very well for someone as relatively new to the game as he was.

Stephen placed fifth overall, and I feel he was let down by some poor dice and the limited range of his torpedo frigates – with only his MC80 in poessession of a long-range armament, I found that, at least against my own fleet, he struggled to apply enough pressure early on in the game, and consequently I was left brash in my attitude.

battle7


To Summarise

I have given James grief for not taking photos, but in truth I too failed in my duties, abjectly negligent of any note-taking or record-keeping. However, suffice it to say that it was an excellent day, and I am very glad we started our tournament run at Shadow Games.

Sam placed sixth overall, but his last game was several weeks ago, and he had only played a couple of times before that. He will be adding his own thoughts in a later article, but he has certainly claimed to have learned a lot and enjoyed himself whilst doing so – with a few modifications to his fleet, he will be back with a vengeance very soon.

James came fourth, but would have been third but for a single Tournament point. He has promised not to be so hungover tomorrow, which will hopefully see him crush a few more heads and take a few more names.

I came second, but was still seven points behind Paul, the lead player. I did learn a lot today, enough to work on over the next few matches. James and I only usually fight against each other, and it had been a few weeks since we had done even that – and I felt rusty. Tomorrow, I shall aim to be sharper and less dull-witted – I would dearly like to win one of these tournaments, if only so I can one day claim to have ever achieved anything in my life.

Tomorrow, we’re in Lichfield. Watch this space…

 

 

 

 

 

Angry Space Triangles: The Fleets

The Basics

For anyone unfamiliar with the game, there are some key concepts to Armada that any competitive player has to master. If you know the game well, probably best to just skip to the next section.

First off, you’ve got Initiative. At the beginning of each match, the player with the smallest fleet in terms of points gets to choose to go first or second for each game round. This means you’ve got to choose: do I use more points to get more stuff for my ships, or do I keep some back so that I can “bid” for Initiative? How many points do I keep for the bid? It’s a difficult and important choice.

You also have Activations. In a game round, the players take turns to activate one ship at a time. If you have fewer ships than your opponent, then you will have to activate your own ships earlier on, giving your opponent much more chance to respond effectively to your tactics. In essence, you can’t “hold anything back”. Again, this might not matter to some players and their fleets, but we all agree that having more ships in a fleet, and hence more activations, is important.

Finally, there are Squadrons. Armada is all about big, heavy capital ships duking it out with big laser cannon, but between them dart small craft of incredible power and speed. Squadrons broadly fall into two categories – bomber wings, which are dangerous to ships, and fighter wings, which are dangerous to bombers. Even if you’re not relying on squadrons in your own fleet, it can be dangerous to ignore an enemy’s bomber wings, because they can drop a lot of damage that can be very difficult to avoid.

These are probably the three biggest concerns when assembling a fleet with which to fight, or at least, they are for me. There are, of course, other things to consider, such as your Fleet Commander, who can drastically change the way a fleet performs. There are also upgrade cards galore, as well as ace pilots. And each class of ship has two variants which can make a big difference to how they are used.

It’s a very, very complex game, and I love it.


The Fleets

My own fleet is relatively balanced, I feel – I’ve got something of an answer to bomber-heavy opposing lists in the form of my Instigator and escorting TIE Fighters. I’ve kept myself to a minimum of four activations, and a healthy initiative-bid of eight points. I referred to the Fantasy Flight Community Page for ideas on objectives, and picked three based on the advice I received – objectives are difficult to get right.

Sam, meanwhile, had independently picked the exact same objectives for his bruiser of a fleet. With five activations, and a compelling bid for initiative, he’s likely to dominate any ship-to-ship action on the board. However, with no fighter support and no dedicated AA-platforms, he will take a lot of damage from enemy bomber wings. However, his proliferation of Overload Pulses and Assault Concussion Missiles means he’s making the most out of Screed with every activation.

James has taken a very hard-hitting list. His ISD and three, yes THREE Gladiators are sure to knock enemy ships about the map like the galaxy’s most explosive game of ping-pong. He has a small fighter wing, enough to bog down bomber wings for a spell or two. It’s the three lots of ACMs that scare me – in a single turn James could be rolling buckets of black dice, with every attack dealing two extra damage from the missiles. But his manoeuvres and timing will have to be flawless to make the most of his short-range vessels.

You may notice that I’ve linked to the really attractive web-based fleet-builder, Armada Warlords. This is a fantastic site that produces some really fancy-looking fleet lists in multiple formats. However, for printing and fleet-crafting, I used Fab’s Fleet Builder – this is a great tool, as you can tell it what you have in your collection and it will limit your options accordingly. It also produces neat, compact .PDFs for printing. Both are great for different reasons, and I’m very grateful to their creators.


Jon’s Fleet – The Bloody Spear

ISD1
The pride of the ‘Bloody Spear’ – the Relentless. And no, it doesn’t look like a tampon.

The Bloody Spear
Author: jhox

Faction: Galactic Empire
Points: 392/400

Commander: Admiral Screed

Assault Objective: Most Wanted
Defense Objective: Hyperspace Assault
Navigation Objective: Intel Sweep

[ flagship ] Gladiator I-Class Star Destroyer (56 points)
–  Admiral Screed  ( 26  points)
–  Assault Concussion Missiles  ( 7  points)

Gladiator I-Class Star Destroyer (56 points)
–  Demolisher  ( 10  points)
–  Ordnance Experts  ( 4  points)
–  Assault Concussion Missiles  ( 7  points)

Imperial II-Class Star Destroyer (120 points)
–  Relentless  ( 3  points)
–  Captain Needa  ( 2  points)
–  Gunnery Team  ( 7  points)
–  Electronic Countermeasures  ( 7  points)
–  Heavy Turbolaser Turrets  ( 6  points)
–  SW 7 Ion Batteries  ( 5  points)

Raider-I Class Corvette (44 points)
–  Instigator  ( 4  points)
–  Ordnance Experts  ( 4  points)

3 TIE Fighter Squadrons ( 24 points)


Sam’s Fleet – Battlegroup Relentless

Battlegroup Relentless
Author: Plumbership

Faction: Galactic Empire
Points: 394/400

Commander: Admiral Screed

Assault Objective: Most Wanted
Defense Objective: Hyperspace Assault
Navigation Objective: Intel Sweep

[ flagship ] Imperial I-Class Star Destroyer (110 points)
–  Admiral Screed  ( 26  points)
–  Relentless  ( 3  points)
–  Gunnery Team  ( 7  points)

Gladiator I-Class Star Destroyer (56 points)
–  Demolisher  ( 10  points)
–  Assault Concussion Missiles  ( 7  points)

Gladiator I-Class Star Destroyer (56 points)
–  Assault Concussion Missiles  ( 7  points)

Raider-II Class Corvette (48 points)
–  Overload Pulse  ( 8  points)

Raider-II Class Corvette (48 points)
–  Overload Pulse  ( 8  points)


James’ Fleet – Imperial Fury

Imperial Fury
Author: jhox

Faction: Galactic Empire
Points: 395/400

Commander: Admiral Screed

Assault Objective: Opening Salvo
Defense Objective: Hyperspace Assault
Navigation Objective: Dangerous Territory

[ flagship ] Imperial II-Class Star Destroyer (120 points)
–  Admiral Screed  ( 26  points)
–  Relentless  ( 3  points)
–  Gunnery Team  ( 7  points)
–  Electronic Countermeasures  ( 7  points)
–  XI7 Turbolasers  ( 6  points)

Gladiator I-Class Star Destroyer (56 points)
–  Demolisher  ( 10  points)
–  Assault Concussion Missiles  ( 7  points)

Gladiator I-Class Star Destroyer (56 points)
–  Insidious  ( 3  points)
–  Assault Concussion Missiles  ( 7  points)

Gladiator I-Class Star Destroyer (56 points)
–  Assault Concussion Missiles  ( 7  points)

3 TIE Fighter Squadrons ( 24 points)