Friday, February 17, 2017

Star Wars Armada: first play

Crush the sci fi terrorist!
 I've managed to locate another war gamer locally. A great find of high caliber: he has both sides of numerous games....painted! We met up for a first game of Star Wars armada. I randomly drew the imperials (secretly I was hoping to play the star destroyers).

There's an interesting mission selection mechanic where each player builds three options into their list. The dice off for initiative determines which players choices get used. Having no idea what we were doing we random selected a mission which ended up with the imperials getting to hyperspace jump in one smaller ship and 3 groups of fighters into the middle of the board later in the game.

 This game seems to theme, and reward, the player who can predict what till be happening/needed in the future. 

There are 4 types of commands you order up (roughly damage control, shoot more/better, change speed/turn harder, get more fightyness from your fighters). The big/slow ships have to queue up their orders up to 3 turns in advance.

Firing happens before movement, so you remove a crutch most players don't realize they have where they can move into better range before letting loose with their guns.

 The movement ruler is articulated and ships are allowed certain numbers of 'clicks' of turning each space interval. It's pretty clever and easy to learn to use, but quite restrictive maneuvering wise for the big ships. Very thematic. We both ran into space hazards, and my opponent managed to bumper car his own ships a couple of times.

The ships end up with quite a different flavour. I particularly notice my smaller star destroyer was a pig to move and turn. There's a variety of defensive tokens that each ship gets, which also conveys a difference in how each ship functions in battle (ex nebulon b frigates have 2 evade tokens, whereas the big star destroyer has none). 

I was soundly thrashed by my opponent. I think poor setup (I didn't get my big ship where it was much use, and my small ships ended up directly facing his bruisers), and a failure to capitalize on my hyperspace ambush (I popped in right as everything was flying out of range of my guns) weighed pretty heavily. It also takes a bit of time to grok a new game. 

I'm totally looking forward to getting in some more games, as it has a very cool look, and seems to play reasonably fast.

We figure a bit under 3 hours with 'tournament point value' including rules explanations, occasional rules look ups, & general unfamiliarity (i.e. thinking hard about what to do for each phase, rather than it being fairly obvious what the better options are).  I could easily see this dropping to 2 with a second or third game.


  1. Thanks for the review! Those pictures look amazing. I'm ashamed to say I own the basic set of Armada but have never busted it out. I'm glad to hear that it's simple to learn -- you've given me some further encouragement to throw it on the table.

    1. Definitely worth a spin to see if you like them. My opponent (and owner of the gear) did some minimal paint work. I think some of the rebel ships got a light wash to improve the contrast, and the fighters I don't think come painted?

  2. I like Armada. I own a bunch of ships. But it seems to miss the mark for me in lots of places. It's fun, no doubt, but then a swarm of Corvettes can take out a Star Destroyer, dodging return fire with aplomb, then I call shenanigans.

    1. I can see that being pretty annoying....although....I do think of the Tiger tank vs sherman thing a bit. One expects there would be some sort of point where a swarm of smaller ships could take out a bigger one. Maybe SD vs corvettes shouldn't be that point.
      The risk I *do* have a big fear about, is min-maxing/stupid combo stuff from the huge amounts of special rule options there are. I think if you play friendly games this is less of an issue, but certainly competitive play would probably exacerbate that issue which is a killjoy for me.

    2. That's my fear exactly in this game and why I've yet to play any sort of organised event. Too many add-ons and upgrades to keep track of and I really just want to blow stuff up! :)