Angry Space Triangles Guest Article: Stick ‘em With the Pointy End – An Armada Newbies’ First Tournament Experience

A guest article from my friend Sam, who attended one of last weekend’s tournaments with James and I. I’ll offer no unnecessary introduction, so take it away, Sam…

Looking around my room it is safe to say that I have something of an addiction to miniatures games. My PC monitor is surrounded by a crowd of X-Wings, E-Wings and TIE Interceptors, and my book collection has now been boxed and put in the loft to make room for Leman Russ battle tanks and battlegroups of UNSC Heavy Cruisers. My fondest memories of university are of being part of Coventry’s awesome Games Workshop community, or of trucking off to Warwick games club on Friday evening to play huge games of Apocalypse.

As an old Battlefleet Gothic player, it was perhaps inevitable that Fantasy Flight Games’ second Star Wars offering, Armada, would end up in my collection. When one of my friends excitedly messaged me on Facebook with “DUDE! Look at this! There’s a new Star Wars game with STAR DESTROYERS! You don’t even need to paint the models!” it took all of 30 seconds for me to have a starter set on the way from Amazon. When I finally got my hands on the game I was astounded by the size and detail of the miniatures, and excitedly pored over the rules.

Unfortunately there’s a catch. I live in the middle of buttfuck nowhere, as in REALLY the middle of buttfuck nowhere. Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire are a big black hole in the miniatures gaming world. One peek at the Armada players map on Facebook shows a good 50 miles of sweet FA around my own location. As a result, by the time last week rolled around, I had managed a piddly three games. But then an old friend from Coventry, Jon, asked me if I would like to go with him and a friend to an Armada tournament. With my last game being shortly after the release of wave 2 I jumped at the chance to, well, actually play the bloody game.

I put together a list for my favourite faction, the Imperial Navy, and headed off to Rugby’s Shadow Games, hopeful that my inexperience would not lead to me being soundly thrashed like a rambunctious Victorian boy in a Catholic nunnery.


My list – Battlegroup Relentless

Imperial I Star Destroyer – Admiral Screed, Gunnery Team, Relentless – 146 points

Gladiator I Star Destroyer – Assault Concussion Missiles, Demolisher – 73 points

Gladiator I Star Destroyer – Assault Concussion Missiles – 63 points

Raider II Corvette – Overload Pulse – 56 points

Raider II Corvette – Overload Pulse – 56 points

Fleet Total: 394

Objectives: Most Wanted, Hyperspace Assault, Intel Sweep

My logic behind this list was two-fold. Screed is probably the most reliable Imperial Admiral when combined with every Imperial player’s favourite ship, the Gladiator, reliably procing its Assault Concussion Missiles. Similarly, Screed can reliably proc Overload Pulse. Pair Overload Pulse with the ISD plus Avenger title… Well, to slightly paraphrase Dr Thrax from C&C Generals “Aah general, now you cannot discard your defence tokens, EVEN IF YOU WANTED TO!”

However, I picked Avenger over Relentless so that I could maintain a healthy initiative bid. Relentless, while not as synergizing with this list as Avenger, did allow me to be more reactive by reducing my command value to 2.

The choice to include raiders was also twofold. Firstly, they are fast and when combined with navigate commands can pull off some utterly bullshit maneuvers that make even Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson in The Fast and Furious look like fucking rank amateurs next to the Raider’s awesome drifts. This would keep me covered in the event of an Intel Sweep mission. Secondly, Raider II’s get an Ion Cannon slot and thus Overload Pulse, making for a cheap Overload Pulse buggy.

My logic was that the Raider could get in and steal a ship’s ability to defend itself and run off again… Kinda like a Slough chav running in and stealing an old lady’s purse before running off again and hurling poorly constructed sentences over its shoulder, all while thinking it’s the hardest man to ever live. Fucking chavs. The ISD was there to do what ISDs do best: remove things from this plane of existence. Simple, really.


The Matches Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Embrace My Role As A Baby Harp Seal Being Clubbed To Death By A Tribe Of Eskimos

Now I’ll preface this by saying that I knew I would not be walking out a winner, or indeed having any real standing at all. I came to play Star Wars Armada and learn more about the game, and that’s exactly what I did, and I had a helluva lot of fun doing it. My ships also blew up. A lot.


Match 1 – Battlegroup Relentless vs Home One and Battle Guppies

My first match was against a chap named Paul, who was fielding a style of list that I had feared facing before arriving at the tourney. His list consisted of an MC80 with Admiral Ackbar that was tanked to crap with Redundant Shields. The MC80 was accompanied by two Mk II Assault Frigates, each with Enhanced Armament if I recall. I had initiative and erroneously chose second player, a mistake that would bite me in the ass again in match two. For some reason I thought picking to be second player was the best way to play the game, no idea why. I had five activations but was throwing away that advantage.

Paul selected ‘Most Wanted’ from my list of objectives, so I nominated my ISD and one of his Assault Frigates as the objective ships. I didn’t want to nominate the MC80 as an objective ship as I was not confident I could break through its defences before it took me to pieces. The deployment was roughly as follows (PH43R MY l33T MAD PAINT SKILLZ). Objective ships have a yellow dot.


My intention was to have the raiders swing wide, cross the “T” of the frigates and Overload Pulse the objective ship, by which point my Gladiators would have closed in and would be able to pummel it. The ISD was hopefully to take attention off the Gladiators and to also dish out some serious hurt to the Assault Frigates or to tie up Ackbar.

The first two turns consisted primarily of embracing my inner Nelson and closing the distance. On turn 3 our forces met, and things went very south very quickly. Ackbar puts out an obscene amount of dice. Paul’s first shot from one of his Assault Frigates put a Gladiator into hull and his second activation saw that Gladiator reduced to a smoldering hulk. Neither of my Glads were in range to shoot back. Meanwhile the Raiders ‘Vin Diesel’ and ‘Dwayne Johnson’ on the right flank were now closing in on the frigates, hurtling in behind them to hopefully unload their Overload Pulses. Ackbar laughed at this plan in turn 4 and I had both Corvettes one-shotted by the Assault Frigates. Welp.

The remaining turn saw the ISD trying and utterly failing to break through the MC80’s defences, and after two turns of MC80 broadsides, the barrage of turbolaser and ion cannon fire overcame the Relentless. With a dreadful shudder, the Star Destroyer began to roll over as it’s maneuvering thrusters failed and a series of internal explosions ripped through bulkheads and engine assemblies, turning the one-proud flagship into a radioactive debris field.

End result: Total Hell Death, 400-0 10-0 victory to Snackbar and the Rebel scum.

My tournament debut was NOT going well. I had been utterly humbled by this list and realized in that moment that in terms of player skill I was totally outclassed. I also learned just how deadly Ackbar could be. In retrospect my list probably had no chance of victory here. I had to spend too long at ranges where the Rebel fleet could pound me with impunity and I just could not fire back due to the short ranged nature of my ships. In terms of a pure gunfight this Rebel list is dominant, and the only real weakness I can see it having would be carriers.


Match 2 – Battlegroup Relentless vs Admiral Motti and the Victorys of Doom

This match I felt far more confident, as I was facing what I considered to be a roughly equal force in terms of direct firepower. My opponent had two Victory II class Star Destroyers, ships that are widely considered to be bad and outclassed. He had also included the Demolisher, complete with ACMs and Engine Techs. His Admiral, Motti, was on a highly upgraded VSD and was accompanied by nine TIE Fighter squadrons.

Again I had initiative and again I chose to go second for some reason. I recall reading somewhere that second player was always preferable because your opponent picks from your objectives, but I now know this to NOT be the case. My opponent Craig picked Hyperspace Assault as his objective and I thus elected to keep Demolisher in reserve to appear when needed. Following ship deployment I placed my three warp in beacons directly in between our fleets, the hope being to catch him in a trap when our fleets merged. Deployment was as follows:


The blue dots on the map are my warp-in beacons and the two ships with yellow dots are the flagships. Here I placed my ISD and remaining Gladiator close together, with a Raider on each flank. I was hoping to envelop his fleet with the Raiders while closing with the ISD and remaining Gladiator. When our fleets merged, Demolisher would appear behind his lines and get tasty rear arc shots.

The first two turns were closing the distance, myself advancing at flank speed while Craig perhaps wisely dropped down to speed 1 and awaited my arrival. He knew he could not afford to charge over my beacons and have my Demolisher appear uncontested. My right Raider flanked right wide, at what I thought was a safe distance. My left Raider flanked straight up the board to come in from my opponent’s edge of the board. By turn 3 the first combat occurred. His Demolisher complete with Engine Techs sped down the right edge of the board to catch my Raider at close range. The results of this exchange are kind of obvious. First blood to Craig.

Meanwhile, in the middle of the board we had our first long range exchanges, with a few shield points being lost on both sides but otherwise no significant damage. But here I made a terrible mistake. I warped in Demolisher, acutely aware that my forces already on the board were outgunned. Demolisher landed directly off Motti’s right flank, but unfortunately some stupid positioning on my part left the Demolisher’s rear arc JUST exposed to the frontal arc of the second Vic II.

Craig opened turn 4 with his trailing Victory, immediately punishing my mistake by removing Demolisher’s aft and port shields. My Demolisher activation followed next, and laid some serious smack down on Motti, breaking through his shields and procing ACMs to remove his remaining forward shield. Craig activated Motti now however, and slapped Demolisher down. Oh dear. My second activation was my ISD, which now had a clear shot on Motti’s Victory. In a hail of turbolaser and missile fire, Screed’s flagship decimated Motti’s Victory, high-powered energy bolts ripping through exposed armour and exposing entire sections of the Victory to hard vacuum.

His flagship reduced to a crippled, venting hulk, Motti was no more. Unfortunately my movement now resulted in ‘The Imperial Kiss’, the ISD and Victory slamming into one another and taking damage. Our remaining activations for turn 4 were inconsequential, I stupidly took asteroid damage on a Raider, while Craig’s Demolisher was still returning to the fight from its deletion of my other Raider.

Turn 5 opened with me hoping that I could destroy the second Victory before Craig’s Demolisher could get back into range. This was not to be. A squadron activation by the remaining Victory saw my ISD take a full 3 points of damage from squadrons, while it’s shooting destroyed my last Raider and punched through my ISD’s forward shields. With Demolisher now one move away from being in range, I knew that the writing was on the wall. Turn 6 opened with the Victory dropping my ISD down to 4 remaining hull points, and the final squadron activation saw the horde of TIE fighters finally destroy my flagship.

End margin of victory –250.

This match hinged on my being smart with Demolisher, and I was not smart. To compound matters I was realizing just how badly taking two 56 point raiders was crippling my fleet. To proc their Overload Pulses, the Raiders would have to close to point-blank range to have the black die to expend to guarantee an Overload Pulse proc with screed. At this range Raiders die very quickly, their two evade tokens useless. I was happy that I had killed Motti’s flagship, as it meant I had at least done SOMETHING as opposed to my first game. I also learned just how dangerous the Demolisher is with Engine Techs. Watching that thing shoot up the board and catch my Raider was a very rude shock.


Match 3 – Battlegroup Relentless vs Imperial Fury

My final match was against one of the guys I had come to the tournament with, a chap named James. James and Jon had both played against each other a lot, and while I was unsure of my previous opponent’s skill level I knew James was a good player and thus my feelings about this match were bleak. James’ list was horrible. An Imperial-II Star Destroyer backed up by THREE Gladiators with Screed left me feeling like a prison bitch sadly waiting for a painful ass fucking. At this point I decided to throw any caution to the wind. I was going to go in, and I was going to kill something and die gloriously. In my previous match I had been very cautious with my Raiders, and yet had still lost them, so I thought I might as well just send them straight in with the rest of the fleet, no silly flanking maneuvers.


In this final game I again had initiative but decided to go as first player, and picked James’ ‘Opening Salvo’ objective. We both deployed our fleets slightly left of the centre of our deployment zones, and advanced on one another very quickly. My fleet advanced tightly, with Raiders on each flank, with James also keeping a tight formation as we closed. On turn 2 I was forced to send my rightmost Raider wide to avoid a pointless death against his two Gladiators, which resulted in this Raider being out of the game for all intents and purposes. On turn 2 we also had first contact, with my fleet managing to cripple and then destroy James’ lone Gladiator that had moved slightly ahead of its comrades. I took a pounding in return however, with my two Gladiators ultimately succumbing to James’ ISD II and Gladiators by the end of turn 4. Meanwhile, my leftmost Raider managed to get in and Overload Pulse James’ flagship, with both ISDs hammering away at one another.

In turn 4 we had another ‘Imperial Kiss’ as the two flagships slammed into one another, and with both being at speed 2 were unable to free themselves for the remainder of the game. My Raider’s Overload Pulse proved to be critical, as my Relentless finally pounded his into scrap, but not without taking heavy damage, only two hit points remaining including two criticals. By some stroke of luck I managed to avoid losing my crippled ISD in the closing part of turn 4, as both of James’ remaining Gladiators had gone wide after killing mine and could not close to range.

Following some bad rolling from his TIE squadrons, we entered Turn 5 with my ISD still intact along with both Raiders, one however still being hopelessly out of position. To make matters worse both of James’ speed 3 Glads were now closing on the rear arc of my speed 2 ISD and all I could hope for was to run. It was not to be. An excellent Double Hit/Double Hit/Hit roll from Demolisher’s forward armament landed the killing blow on my flagship and it was reduced to scrap metal. With James’ ships having no hope of catching Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson zipping around at speed 4 we called the game there.

Final MOV -50 with a 6-4 victory for James.

I was honestly surprised I managed such a close defeat considering my previous two matches, and I won’t be arrogant enough to claim it was totally down to developing skill on my part. By the point of the third match I was beginning to tire and James was still wrestling a whiskey-induced hangover which he later credited with being the reason he hadn’t done well in his first game. James was very gracious and helped me out several times when I forgot to take actions or made rules mistakes. I was continually forgetting to flip up my command dials by this point and once forgot to take a second shot with Demolisher after moving, but James allowed all these mistakes on my part. This match again proved to me that the Raiders just weren’t a good investment for a player of my skill level, even though it was the first match I had actually used them as I had originally intended!


Closing Thoughts

Overall I had a lot of fun attending the tournament and feel like it has helped me learn a hell of a lot about the game. Armada is a game that is very easy to get into, but actually learning all its intricacies is a tough job. Coming from games like Battlefleet Gothic, one is always in the “move firsts shoot second” mindset, but in Armada it is the opposite. You really need to be thinking several turns ahead so that your movement in one turn sets you up for a shot in the next turn, which might seem obvious to any Armada player who has spent time with the game, but not to a player like myself. Similarly, I was beginning to realise just how much thought needs to go into my order of activations. By the end of my third game I was beginning to get a full grasp of the logic behind this. Having my Overload Pulse Raider activate last to get it right up to a target only to activate it first in the next round allowed me to cripple James’ ISD in the final game, and was the first time I actually used that part of my list as I had originally intended it.

Talking of the list, I have seen just how much thought I need to put into a list intended for competitive play. I initially thought that my two Raiders could win some games for me, being part of a one-two punch that would cripple enemy ships and allow me to easily dispatch them with my heavier vessels. As it was the Raiders were a poor choice for Overload Pulse, as I do not have the knowhow to use them effectively and they are just so fragile. I think that perhaps a list composed of several larger, heavier ships would be better for a person of my skill level, as I need ships that don’t punish me heavily for making a poor maneuver in the way that Raiders do. Perhaps three ISDs with Motti…

I have played against some cracking lists and this has helped me understand what I need to do with my own list, and to look at fleet building in a new light. Just because a ship can do a thing does not necessarily mean it should do a thing. I also learned a lot more about my preferred playstyle, and can now build a list that synergises with it.

Was going to a tournament with so little experience a good idea? Honestly I think it was. Playing casual games at home with friends is one thing, but in the tournament environment I got to play three games against opponents who all knew their stuff. The opportunity for learning in such an environment is just so much better than anything one can get playing a few casual games every couple of weeks. Yes I was defeated, terribly in my first game, but I improved markedly with each game and was able to directly carry the lessons I had learned from each game over into the next game. I feel that I am ready to try a second tournament with a new list and a new understanding of the game!

Now, can I justify £90 to run three ISDs…

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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)