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: Lessons Learned the Hard Way

One thing about Star Wars: Armada that I find myself frequently repeating is how much you can learn from every match you play. It’s an uncommon depth of experience and is one of the main reasons that the game has cemented itself so quickly as one of my favourite pastimes.

The fact that I get to command Star Destroyers whilst humming ‘The Imperial March’ and pretending to be an admiral would be the other main reason.

box art 1

With that in mind, and after some time for retrospective, I’ve assembled some of the lessons I learned after my time playing tournaments, and also just in general. Many of these points will be obvious to the experienced and actually talented players out there, but for a bumbling moron like myself, they’re vital to my efforts to not make a mess of everything.

These lessons may not contribute to you winning more games – but they will hopefully contribute to you having as much fun as possible with the game.


1 – Take.

Your.

Time.

I have lost far, far too many games, and ships, by rushing. This is a lesson that I have already covered, but still I fail to put it into action. When I get excited or anxious or nervous I rush ahead, forgetting key upgrades, fumbling activation orders, omitting critical effects that have a huge impact on the game.

The enemy of any game experience is “slow play” – pondering for what seems like hours over the smallest decisions. It drives me up the wall, and so I make an effort to make my decisions in good time and with determination. And that doesn’t have to change, but if you want to avoid silly mistakes then before you pick up your attack dice… take a breath. Before you set the manoeuvre tool, count to three. About to declare your defense tokens? Close your eyes for a heartbeat and think of somewhere peaceful.

Step back, and go through the rules in your head. Ask yourself questions. Before you move a vessel, ask “Have I performed both of my attacks with this ship?” When declaring a change of speed, ask “Did I update the speed dial?” If you just rolled fifteen damage with a single attack, ask “What weapon upgrades do I have? Which critical effects change what I can do?”

missiles.jpg

Armada is a gloriously steady game. It’s not a high-paced dogfight between X-Wings and TIE Fighters, it’s a gradual, thoughtful game that rewards careful play – Remember that. In a tournament, you have over two hours to finish your game, so if you’re on the last turn within fifty minutes, maybe you’re not spending enough time on your activations. Ninety minutes is a perfectly acceptable duration for a good game of Armada.

And if every game runs on to two-and-a-half hours, maybe you need to step things up. Maybe you need to spend a little less time achieving the perfect strategic placement for a solitary squadron of A-Wings, or the perfect colour of die to pick with a “Concentrate Fire” command. But don’t skimp on your self-checks. Focus on getting your turn procedure right. Maintain your discipline.

Stay frosty.


2 – Deploy as a Front, Engage at a Point

This is probably the most tactical of the lessons I have learned. Broadly speaking, it’s quite simple: it is perfectly acceptable to divide your forces, but it is death to engage your enemy so divided.

Positioning is everything in Armada – fire arcs and hull zones are the primary means of interaction between ships. And to achieve the best position against your opponent, sometimes it is necessary to split your fleet. Attacking with a divided force is frequently a suicidal tactic in other theatres of war, but in Armada it can be a necessary part of achieving a superior position. Gladiators hammer into the prows of Assault Cruisers whilst Scout Frigates swing rapidly into the rear arcs of a Star Destroyer, as that same Star Destroyer lines up its forward guns against the weakened shields of a Rebel flagship.

The issue, however, lies in timing. Specifically, at the time of engagement with the enemy, you must be acting with the entirety of your strength at a single point. In game-specific terms, on the turn in which you expect to be doing the most damage, every one of your vessels must be acting effectively against the same enemy ship.

rebels

Every game I have lost has been a result of me failing at this task. I have deployed my fleet spread across a broad front, ready to outflank the enemy – and then either lost my nerve, slowing a portion of my ships to reduce enemy fire, or I have failed to bring my fleet together, engaging on the same broad front and failing to inflict the damage necessary to truly hurt my opponent.

The simple fact is, if I want to take down an Imperial-class Star Destroyer, or an MC80 Assault Cruiser, I have to be hitting it with the primary firepower of all of my main-line capital ships, pretty much all at once. If I fail to do so, the target will simply cruise away, hurt but unbroken. Against a larger number of smaller ships, I still need to be engaging with my entire fleet, one target at a time. Methodical and precise.

Getting this right is, in essence, the true skill to be learned from your games of Armada. The ability to time your vessels’ manoeuvres for a crucial convergence at the same time is challenging, and can only be achieved through practice and patience. You may have devised the most synergised and synchronised fleet list that was ever scrutinised, but being able to control that fleet, to bring it to the focal point of the battle as a united, unstoppable force, that’s the real key to victory.


3 – Gunnery Teams are Glorious

Normally, I’d hesitate to focus on so specific an element of the game as a single upgrade card, but Gunnery Teams are the exception. Their straight-forward benefit – the ability to fire out of the same arc in the same activation, but only at different targets – is an absurdly useful addition to the right ship.

Not all ships, mind. Gladiators have wide-enough side arcs,and operate at short-enough range not to gain a great deal from Gunnery Teams, especially since their front and side arcs are similar in strength. Likewise, a Raider is unlikely to make full use of the seven-point upgrade due to their limited range. But on big ships with big primary arcs, like the Victory-class, the Imperial-class and the Assault Frigate, and the Scout Frigate in an Ackbar fleet, the ability to fire twice from the same powerful location is priceless.

star-wars-battle-of-endor

Of course, spreading your firepower may not seem ideal, especially given that it runs contrary to the mantra “Engage at a Point”, but bear this in mind – an Imperial-class Star Destroyer with a Gunnery Team is able to take on two other Imperial-class vessels on an even footing. Granted, it will eventually succumb to damage first, but if two enemy Star Destroyers are tied up taking it down, that means there’s a potential for one Star Destroyer’s worth of smaller ships – preferably Gladiators with hefty Ordnance upgrades – flanking behind the enemy vessels.

This is perhaps overly simplistic, but it certainly held true in one game where I played against a double-Imperial fleet. Of course, due to my disregard of the first rule I rushed through activations and went on to lose the game, but if I’d kept my head, then a single Gunnery Team would have won me the day.

I think that in general, Gunnery Teams are one of those upgrades that is useful more often than not. There are plenty of more expensive upgrades that are fairly situational, but Gunnery Teams will consistently perform for you in all but the most specific circumstances.


4 – Certainty over Potential

This is more an issue of personal preference, really, but my feelings on the matter are shaped by experience.

Armada uses dice to determine a large portion of the game. It also relies upon a shuffled card deck for critical damage results. Hell, whether or not you’re in range and arc of an enemy ship ultimately comes down to chance, unless you have particularly astute spatial awareness.

All of these things are random. And if, like me, you have a history of rolling less damage in an entire game than your opponent rolls in a single attack, you’ll appreciate how viciously the dice can bite you in a sensitive spot. Indeed, I have built up such a complex over my own luck (justifiably or otherwise) that my approach with most games is now to assume that I will receive the worst possible outcome of any given range of random possibilities. And hence, I plan accordingly.

star-destroyers

Admiral Screed is an auto-include for me. The ability to guarantee a single critical hit once per activation is so absurdly valuable that I don’t really know how to play without it – as long as it’s coupled with special “trigger-on-critical” upgrades. Darth Vader’s ability to reroll as many dice as you want may sound amazing, especially with a big, powerful attack, but when you spend a Defense token to roll another load of blanks, you find yourself cursing the Gods themselves for their cruelty.

Similarly, SW-7 Ion Batteries are just too damn reliable for me not to take them. I have in the past rolled four blue accuracies, two red accuracies and two red blanks with my Imperial-class’ forward arc. That kind of outcome is so depressing that it can lead to me switching off from the game if I don’t keep my morale up. Hence, SW-7s provide that safety net that I need: a guaranteed four points of blue damage from my Star Destroyer – again, certainty, instead of the uncertain re-rolls of Leading Shots.

I was previously asked on the Fantasy Flight community forum about my thoughts on Assault Concussion Missiles versus the awesome Assault Proton Torpedoes. My thoughts were simple: I can always rely on the ACMs to do the same thing every time I use them. APTs may well land an amazing face-up damage card at exactly the right time; that same damage card may also do nothing to help you. ACMs, on the other hand, have no element of random choice once triggered. You know exactly what they will do, so you can plan around it.

When it comes to making decisions in Armada, I always go for the reliable option. The known quantity. Whilst your own take on the game may differ, in my experience, trusting to fortune is a very quick and simple way to lose ships. Home One’s guaranteed Accuracy result for friendly ships’ attacks is just the edge you might need in a sustained firefight. Defiance’s extra die might simply come up blank.

Alternatively, just use weighted dice. I hear that works pretty well.


5 – Never mind the Lists, just go straight at ’em!

After one particularly painful defeat, I asked my opponent for his opinions on where I went wrong and what I should’ve done better. He immediately picked up my fleet list and began to point out the issues with it – despite the fact that the issues he pointed out had no bearing on the game we had just played. To my despair, he had no comment on the way in which I had deployed, or approached, or activated – his only insight on the game was though the medium of fleet building.

This was… unsatisfactory to me. Which is why the fifth and final lesson has no view on winning games. Rather, it’s about succeeding at the most important thing – enjoying yourself.

One of my favourite aspects of Armada is theory-crafting. Of approaching the game academically, running calculations, even simulations, discussing tactics with your friends and people who live on internet forums. And here, list-building is one of the biggest elements of discussion.

victory

But my most favourite aspect of Armada is playing the game itself. Setting your ships on the correct trajectories, planning two, three turns in advance, second-guessing your opponent, planning responses to his counters, counters to his tactics. The game comes alive in the thick of the battle, turn three, maybe four, ships nose-to-nose, filling the void of space with missiles and laser bolts. The thrill of that decisive activation, that critical moment, that decision you make and then instantly regret.

That’s why I love the game. It’s why I play. It’s how I play – aggressive, direct, brutal.

But that may not be how you play the game, and that’s fine too. The player above, who viewed the game through fleet lists – that’s how he plays, that’s what he enjoys: crafting powerful lists with cunning synergies is his game.

My point is… Play the game you want to play. Make it fit your style. If you’re less fussed about manoeuvres and tactics, pick a slower, sturdier fleet with a broad reach, where you can really maximise those upgrades. Everyone might be talking about “Rhymerballs” and how the fighter game can’t be ignored – if you don’t like the fighter game, ignore it. Do your thing. Find a way to make it work the way you want it to work. There’s always a way.

If you’re going to play competitively, you will have to take some amount of care to have an effective fleet list. But it’s better to ensure that there aren’t glaring contradictions – such as Ordnance Experts on an Assault Frigate – than to try and finely hone your fleet to the maximum possible efficiency, when all you really want to do is fly your ships around the board.


If I’ve achieved my objective, then this will have proven somewhat helpful to a few Admirals out there who are reading it.

Coming soon – my own take on cracking Admiral Ackbar and the terror he brings. Watch this space.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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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