Friday, 4 December 2015

Reinforcements have arrived

So I finally got my hands on my wave 2 order yesterday. Sullust seems like a distant memory, and now I get to play with those toys too! As you can see, the game should look very impressive with the addition of the large ships. This is Star Wars as it was meant to be.

Imperial-class Star Destroyer and Raider: unleashing terror on a Galaxy near you

By coincidence, I have a game lined up for tonight against a friend I met at the most recent tournament. We didn't play against each other, so should be interesting to see his different style. He definitely prefers the glass cannon type fleet (Gladiators and Raiders).

I am taking the opportunity to test out my Imperial list ahead of an upcoming tournament in early January. I want to try both Ozzel and Vader. I love Vader's damage output, and Ozzel's unpredictable navigation. This could really give the element of surprise.

I figure Vader will be a relatively more straightforward fleet to fly. Therefore I am going to put Admiral Ozzel to the test:

Admiral Ozzel: Hopefully lasts longer in my fleet than he did in The Empire Strikes Back!

Imperial Navy: Surprise Attack Force

- Admiral Ozzel
- Relentless title
- ECMs
- Gunnery Team
- Leading Shots
- Phylon Q7 Tractor Beams

- Demolisher title
- Ordnance Experts
- Engine Techs

- Insidious title
- Ordnance Experts


6 x TIE fighter

- Most Wanted
- Hyperspace Assault
- Superior Positions

The main strategy is to fly in a speed 3 with everything, and come to a halt for engagement - using nav tokens to disengage as needed.  The ISD should soften up key enemy targets before Demolisher swoops in for massive damage. The raider is here to clean up and help control activations.

In Most Wanted the Raider will be the opposing player's target and run away while I take out their biggest ship. Hyperspace Assault will see Insidious land in the opponent's rear arcs for damage. I think Superior Positions will be picked most often as it is the least threatening. So I need to have a game plan (after enemy deployment, try to use positioning to divide and conquer).

Will report back in a few days on the result and hopefully with a battle report!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Imperial Tactica

One of the things I love about Armada is that the dynamic in the game between the two factions is a microcosm of that between the protagonists in the movies. The Empire has powerful ships that want to close with and clobber the Rebels, while the Rebels like to hit hard and keep away.

This is the essence of my Imperial fleet doctrine for Wave 1:

- Close with the enemy as quickly as possible

- Pin them in against the board edges and your fleet, to force bad choices

- Use navigate commands to outmanoeuvre the enemy

Let's take these points in turn.

Close with the enemy

As noted above, the Rebels love to shoot and scoot. Sitting at range and trading red dice is a guaranteed losing strategy for three reasons.

1) Damage output - a Victory class star destroyer puts out 3 red dice at maximum range. This is the same as a Nebulon-B or basic Assault Frigate. Gladiators are even worse, with 2 red dice equivalent to a corvette. Point for point, the Rebels will outshoot in red dice.

2) Evade - the Rebels have evade on all of their ships (except the forthcoming MC80). Rolled a double hit on that long range fire? You can say goodbye to that. The Victory has no such ability, and must eat the damage instead. Although the Gladiator can evade, you don't seriously want to keep it at long range!

3) Speed - the Rebels can quickly dial up the speed, with all the current ships in their fleet able to go at speed 3. At long distance, it is much easier for your opponent to slip out of range than when you have parked your star destroyer right next to them.

All in all, trading shots at range is a losing proposition for the Empire.

Pin them against the board edges and your fleet

The Imperial fleet tries to trap the Rebels
I like to deploy in such a way (usually close-ish to a corner) that the Rebel opponent is forced to flank either around the short table edge or near my deployment zone. This allows you to navigate your fleet in such a way that they have two choices:

1) Cut close to the board edge, and risk flying off. This has happened on several occasions, when the Rebels have tried to slip past at too high a speed. Free dead enemy ship = win!

2) Cut close to my fleet, and face the barrage of firepower from my forward arcs of my Victorys.

Although the latter choice doesn't guarantee a kill, it does mean that when I park Demolisher on the line of advance for the Rebels it will normally find a wounded target to finish off.

Navigate commands

Those slippery Rebels outpace the Imperial fleet again
When I first started playing Armada, I thought this was the most lame command.  I wanted more dakka, steering was for wimps! Now I think it is the best, especially for the Empire for a couple of reasons:

1) Unpredictability - normally the Victory class in particular is the most obvious and slow moving object in the game. By varying speed and yaw, it allows you to be where your opponent doesn't expect. Thought you could slip past my side flank, huh? Too bad.

2) Lining up shots - ensuring you have the greatest flexibility on your move means you can line up much better arcs for your next shot. Concentrate firepower gives just one extra die. A well timed navigate command can ensure you bring in the best arc (Victory front, Gladiator side) and likely a second arc too.

In summary, my Imperial doctrine boils down into a few key principles.

- Engage the enemy at favourable range for your match-up

- Seek to box in your enemy where possible and force bad choices

- Navigate, navigate, navigate - who wins the battle of manoeuvre wins the battle

That's all for now folks, hopefully that is an interesting insight into my gameplay philosophy.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Massing After Sullust

I finally managed to get another game of Star Wars Armada in on Friday at my local club.  My opponent is also a big fan of Armada, who consistently plays as the Rebels (which works as I prefer the Empire).  He won our local Massing at Sullust, including beating me on the way in a very close game, and took the MC80 Mon Calamari cruiser as his prize.

Needless to say, I was keen for a rematch and to see Ackbar and his crew in action.  In order to take down the big beast, I figured going squadron heavy against his usual A-wing screen should give me a helping hand.  My opponent is a strong player who never pulls his punches in list building so I knew it would be a tough game.

(Apologies, I forgot to take any pictures of this battle - description and analysis will have to suffice!)

Fleet Lists

Empire (Me) = 394 pts

Victory-I, Grand Moff Tarkin, Expanded Hangar Bays
Victory-II, Gunnery Team, XI7 Turbolasers
Gladiator-I, Demolisher, Intel Officer, Engine Techs
2 x TIE Interceptor
4 x TIE Fighter
Major Rhymer
TIE Bomber
TIE Advanced

The Rebel Scum = 399 pts

MC80 Assault Cruiser, Admiral Ackbar, Home One, Redundant Shields, Advanced Projectors
Assault Frigate Mk2-B, Gunnery Team, Enhanced Armaments
Assault Frigate Mk2-B, Gunnery Team, Enhanced Armaments
4 x A-wings

I chose to go second, with my opponent choosing from Most Wanted, Contested Outpost and Minefields.  Naturally he picked the one which wouldn't require him to drive straight at me (Most Wanted).


Before deployment, a quick word on terrain.  Generally I follow the principle: place the Space Station first, then plant obstacles around it to make my opponent avoid it and corral their movement to some extent.  My opponent did a really nice trick: I placed the space station, he placed asteroids blocking my route (sensible), then I returned the favour.  Then he placed a large debris field on the top left corner of my deployment zone.  Didn't even think about it at the time, and kept placing as usual.

When it came to deployment, I was able to see the shape of the giant conga line Ackbar had formed.  Due to the debris field on the corner of my deployment zone, I couldn't place my Victorys in the usual position to squeeze my opponent between my fleet and the board edge.  Well thought out!  In the end I made the decision to fly to the right of the obstacle, and therefore directly into the arcs of the enemy fleet.  Yeah, not a great choice...

My opponent had a conga line of AF-MC80-AF, with A-wings around the flagship.  I deployed with Demolisher in the centre to draw out his deployment, then placed fighters and eventually the Victorys together on my left to try and get ahead of the Rebel fleet.

I chose the objective ships to be the respective fleet flagships, as it felt the most fluffy and I wanted to gun for the Mon Cal!

Turn 1

I advanced the fleet forwards at speed 2, banking lots of tokens.  Demolisher turned left to try and navigate around my Victorys and get ahead of the enemy conga.  The Rebels shuffled their conga forward at speed 2.

Turn 2

The fighters kicked off proceedings, with my opponent's A-wings attacking my TIE interceptors.  The TIE fighters and Howlrunner hit back at the leading squadrons, wiping out the 2 A-wings for the loss of one interceptor.

At this point, I slowed my Victorys to avoid running too fast into Ackbar's gunline.  This seemed sensible, until I realised I had completely screwed up Demolisher's flight path, who proceed to crash into the Vic-II rather than jump ahead into enemy broadside range.  Doh!

Turn 3

The lead Assault Frigate popped off a few dice at the lead Vic-II.  When I say a few, I mean about 7 red dice with a couple of double-hits, plus Home One bonus (free accuracy) blocking the brace giving 6 damage to the face, wiping out two whole shield facings.  In one long range potshot.  Wow.

This made me realise the fleet wouldn't survive more than about 2 broadsides per ship before exploding horribly.  As a result, I decided to be cheeky and halt my Victorys at speed zero, a whisker out of firing range of the Rebels.  Unfortunately, this meant Demolisher was stuck in the same position... so had to go to speed zero also.

At this point my entire fleet was paused out of range waiting to see what the Rebels did.  Meanwhile, my fighters managed to kill off another A-wing, but devastating AAA fire wiped out several of the fragile TIEs leaving Howlrunner locked in combat alone with an A-wing on 1 health.  The bomber group (Rhymer, Bomber, Advanced) popped off shots at the lead frigate... and did a total of one damage between them.

Turn 4

Things were looking bad.  My fleet was stuck, the Rebels were circling around my left flank, and the small bomber group couldn't help me out.  My fleet stayed out of range for another round of shooting, but the lead assault frigate moved into position for a volley on my flagship next turn.  The bomber group again failed to do more than one damage between them on three black dice.  Thanks for turning up guys!  If I remember rightly, Howlrunner died to a counter attack from the A-wing ending in mutual destruction.

Turn 5

At this point, I had to start the fleet moving again to use my tokens and try and pick on one Rebel vessel.  My flagship took a beating, losing about 5 shields from one Assault Frigate volley (blocking brace again - Home One's bonus is awesome/terrifying).

The bomber group did some damage on the lead frigate, chipping off a few more shields.  Imperial firepower wasn't great as we were still at red dice range, a poor position for us.  Demolisher positioned for a turn 6 attack on the lead frigate.

Turn 6

It was pretty clear that this would be the end of the line for my flagship.  She survived a Home One volley, taking about 5 damage on the hull and wiping out the few repaired shields in the way.  The trailing assault frigate administered the coup de grace, and Tarkin went down hard.  My Vic-II took a single volley and lost a lot of (previously repaired) shields but no hull damage.

I was relying on the Demolisher and bomber group to pull back some points by taking out the lead assault frigate.  Unfortunately in my excitement I had given her a Concentrate Fire order, so couldn't get up to full speed or use engine techs - meaning I had an obstructed front arc shot.  One red die, which was evaded (didn't even bother with Intel Officer at this stage).  The bombers took down a fair few shields, but the lead frigate didn't take a scratch on the hull.

Final Score

Empire = 4 x A-wings = 44 pts
Rebels = Victory-I (objective ship), Tarkin, Hangar Bays; Howlrunner, TIE interceptor, 4 x TIE fighter = 248 pts
Margin of Victory = 204 pts = 9-1 win to the Rebels

Post Match Analysis

Couple of thoughts on this game in particular and going into wave 2.  Firsly, hats off to my opponent for the trick with setup of the obstacles and getting his deployment right.  I messed this up when I already faced an uphill battle - to some extent, the conclusion was foregone once all the models had been placed.  Most Wanted was the weakest of my objectives too, and he saw that.  I made deployment mistakes and some horrible navigation decision which left my fleet stranded - don't plan on doing that again!!  I was also really underwhelmed by Imperial anti-ship squadrons.  Unlike the Rebels, they just don't have the ability to take fire and keep hitting - might stick to space superiority fighters next time.

In terms of different deployment, perhaps I should have deployed the Victorys centrally, and put Demolisher into the enemy rear.  By going slow with the Vics, I could have used them to hit any ship which sought to turn and engage Demolisher.  I will also take the second Gladiator next time to help that strategy!

Finally, going into wave 2 it seems clear to me now that the Victory will not see much play any more.  The Empire needs to be in close to the Rebels to get the firepower edge, and for that you need speed AND smart manoeuvring.  The ISD, Gladiator and Raider have speed and manoeuvrability in spades which will be needed, unlike the poor lumbering VSD.  Hence perhaps why the most successful Imperial builds so far have been VGG or VGGG.  Wave 2 should bring a lot more variety to that formula.

That's all for now, as we retire to the Imperial Class Star Destroyer Avenger to lick our wounds and plan how to beat Ackbar another day!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Battle Report

Location: Rebel Base near the Sullust Sector

First Player = Me

Objective = Hyperspace Assault

My Imperial Fleet (399 pts)
Victory-I, Admiral Screed, Expanded Launchers, Sensor Team
Victory-II, Gunnery Team, Overload Pulse
Gladiator-I, Demolisher, Engine Techs, ACMs, Veteran Captain
Gladiator-I, Insidious, ACMs
4 x TIE fighter

Rebel Fleet (399 pts)
Assault Frigate MkII-B, Dodonna, Enhanced Armaments, Gunnery Team, Adar Tallon
Nebulon-B Escort Frigate, Yavaris
Nebulon-B Support Frigate, Salvation, XI7 turbolasers
Corvette A, Leia Organa
Luke Skywalker
3 x X-wing
2 x A-wing
2 x Y-wing


The Rebels placed the objective markers on the edge of my deployment zone, in the left, centre and right hand side of the board.  Yavaris, Luke and the 2 Y-wings went into reserve.


I deployed the Victory class ships in the middle of the board, facing toward the gap in the debris which led to the space station.  Demolisher deployed on my left to cover the centre objective marker, and Insidious on the right to cover the right objective marker.  The idea being to give the Rebels a hard time if they dropped out of hyperspace in those areas.

The Rebels deployed with Salvation on my far left, the Space Whale in the middle of the board facing to my left to line up broadsides, with the Corvette, X-wings and A-wings between the other ships.

Turn 1

My Victorys advanced at speed 2 in the middle.  I realised here I made a mistake, as Screed's flagship was a bit far ahead of the Vic-II which I had intended to lead the echelon formation.  The Gladiators moved to cover their respective objective markers to prevent a Rebel assault.  The Rebels advanced cautiously at speed 2.

The Imperial fleet makes an implacable advance

Turn 2

The Victorys continued their advance, turning past the first set of asteroids but still out of engagement range.  Demolisher was able to cover the centre objective, but Insidious was too far away to cover the right objective with its broadsides.  A gap was left for the Rebel fleet!  The Rebels continued their cautious advance, with a lone X-wing coming out to play who was pounced on by TIEs - but still had one health.  The A-wings moved to start plinking at my flagship, taking down a lot of shields along with some long range Rebel sharpshooting.

The fighters begin the engagement, and the flagship loses many shields

Turn 3

The Rebel reinforcements now landed in the gap in my firing arcs, threatening the flagship!  My first choice of activation was therefore Screed's Vic-I, flying him forward at speed 2 and turning to move out of range of Yavaris in his rear.  The flagship proceeded to take a pounding from the Rebels' red dice, losing all of his shields on the right and front arcs and taking a Dodonna's crit (crew panic).  The Vic-II put some damage on the AF which was redirected to the far side.  Demolisher flew up and put some pain on the corvette, but it survived with just a few HP left.  Insidious then parked next to Yavaris in my rear to get a double arc the next turn, and in return a Y-wing and Yavaris damaged Insidious.

Yavaris arrives to ambush the Imperial forces!
While Demolisher fails to kill the Corvette

Turn 4

Top of turn 4: I decided to try and Demolish the Corvette and Salvation

I now had a tough choice of activation.  The flagship had repair, but was going to have to repair the crit or keep getting damage each turn - which meant no shields back up.  I therefore flew Demolisher forward, after hosing down the corvette for first blood with a broadside - which initially had 4 blanks!!  I used my concentrate firepower token, but that was redirected, and so grudgingly used my Screed ability to get the kill.  Demolisher then sped forward to land two hits on Salvation's side arc - neatly moving Demolisher out of Salvation's front arc and the Whale's side arc.

Yavaris put further damage on Insidious, along with another hit/crit from the Y-wing.  My lone TIE fighter squadron bogged down the other Y-wing.  Insidious then fired back with a double arc into the Neb's side.  When the smoke cleared, Yavaris was no more and Insidious dialled up the speed to get clear of the Rebel bombers.  However, the flagship was now in serious trouble with another crit preventing use of exhausted defence tokens and 4 HP left.  The X-wings took a few more HPs, then the Whale opened up and blew apart Screed's flagship.  Meanwhile, my token complement of TIE fighters had been pretty much wiped out.  Was this a decisive swing for the Rebels?

The Imperial flagship is gone, but Demolisher sets up retaliation

Turn 5

My Vic-II opened up on the Whale taking down some shields, and cleared out Salvation's front three shields.  At this point, I totally forgot about overload pulse as Screed had gone.  I then turned aggressively and collided with the Neb - leaving me in place.  Salvation then activated, landing on his own X-wings which I moved safely away and putting minimal damage on the remaining Vic.  Demolisher concentrated firepower into the front shields of the Whale, gobbling up all 4 shields and putting damage on the hull with ACMs.  The Whale now had almost no shields, but was able to skip past the speeding Demolisher (who couldn't get a second shot - I forgot to use my Veteran Captain to slow down and do a tight turn with engine techs.  Dammit!)

The Whale escapes Demolisher, while the Vic-II and Insidious close for the kill

Insidious continued to fly forward, putting some light damage on Salvation and getting into broadside range for the last turn.

Turn 6

At this point, I felt happy with my lead - although the flagship was down, my other ships were in good health and the Rebels had a wounded Salvation and Whale with no shields left.  Time to go for the wipeout.  I then had a brainwave, activated Insidious first to get the broadside off - bang went Salvation.  Then I flew the Gladiator forwards into the path of the Whale, hoping to trigger a collision and bag an extra HP on him and lock him in place for my Vic-II.

As it happened, this was a completely moronic idea.  Insidious wasn't able to block his ship, and instead presented the Rebels' only remaining ship with a juicy double arc shot - which he took, and blasted the Gladiator apart with the second volley.  The Whale flew forward, took some light damage from my Vic-II while Demolisher was already far away from the game.

The Whale escapes after blowing Insidious apart with its last volley!

The Rebels remaining forces included a heavily damaged Whale (2 hp and no shields left!) and most of his fighters.  I had lost Screed’s flagship, Insidious, and all my TIEs (as expected).  The final round was decisive, and it was a well-deserved win for the Rebels!

Final score:

Empire: Yavaris, Salvation, Corvette A, A-wing = 184 pts

Rebels: Victory-I, Screed, Insidious, 4 x TIE fighters = 215 pts

MOV = 31 pts (6-4)

Post-Match Analysis:

This was a fun game.  Felt very close all the way through, and could have gone either way with some better rolls at key points on either side.  My opponent played well, using Yavaris to unbalance my formation.  I also made a couple of big errors in this game, which I think made all the difference to the result in the end.

·       Putting the flagship in the front of my echelon (by accident) – I definitely should have put the Vic-II here as I planned, as it would have been able to get much greater use of its blue dice in this position (including overload pulse).  Next time, recognise who will get hit hardest and repair sooner.

·       Upgrades: some of the upgrades I paid for didn’t get used to best effect.  I never got a single shot off with my front arc 3 red 5 black dice on Screed’s flagship, forgot about overload pulse and the veteran captain on Demolisher.  Need to take my time a bit more rather than rushing on with the turn!

·       The aggressive first move with Insidious on turn 6.  If I hadn’t activated him first, he would have been at long range and evaded/braced any damage.  I was too keen to go for the aggressive move at the end!

I also think the squadrons were really effective for the Rebels – although my TIEs bogged them down, I lost 32 pts in the process and they were able to inflict damage on my ships at key moments.  Need to bring some more squadrons in the next list!

I am not a big fan of overload pulse.  Every time I think it will be really useful in a game, it just doesn’t really add a lot.  For the points, upgrades like intel officer or XI7 are much more useful.  However, I think it will work on an escort ship for the ISD Avenger when we get wave 2.

That’s all for now, I plan to add some thoughts on tactics in the next post.

Thursday, 15 October 2015


Hi all,

So I plan to update this blog with battle reports, analysis and tactics for the Star Wars Armada game by Fantasy Flight Games.

In case you don't know, Star Wars Armada lets you recreate epic fleet battles between the evil Galactic Empire and the Rebellion. Basically, it is about flying around in Star Destroyers and blowing stuff up. What's not to like?!

As you may tell from the cover photo, I am more of an Imperial player. However, I like to dabble with the Rebels sometimes to mix it up. The game is relatively immature still - however, once the much awaited wave 2 ships arrive I think the game will feel more complete and allow much greater richness in putting together fleet combinations. This includes the dreaded Inperial class star destroyer. Can't wait to get my hands on those new ships!!

That's all for now, hope to post a battle report at 400pts with wave 1 ships in the next few days.