Game Buzz – Star Wars: Armada

Probably past time that I talk about this, but hey, it’s Star Wars Day.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Star Wars: Armada is the latest miniatures based game from Fantasy Flight Games, this one designed by James Kniffen and Christian T. Petersen.  It came out about a month ago, is for 2 players (though I’m sure there are team rules), and takes two hours to play.  The game is set during the war between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance, and plays out battles from that conflict.  The game is going to draw inevitable comparisons to X-Wing, but there are some differences.  The miniatures are scaled up so you can actually have Star Destroyers (I think having Star Destroyers on X-Wing scale would require a box that is WAY too big for any reasonably priced game), and combat has been altered to fit that new scale.

Armada comes with three miniature ships: a Star Destroyer, a Corvette, and a Nebulon B Frigate.  There’s also 10 squadrons of three X-Wings or three TIE Fighters.  There are plastic bases for all of the miniatures.  Additionally, there are three ship tokens for the bases, 10 squadron discs, 9 attack dice, 10 activation sliders, 6 command dials, 3 speed dials, 6 ship cards, 4 squadron cards, 12 objective cards, 52 damage cards, 18 upgrade cards, an initiative token, 6 obstacle tokens, 4 setup area markers, 13 defense tokens, 12 shield dials, 12 command tokens, 10 victory tokens, one maneuver tool, one range ruler, 6 round tokens, 7 objective tokens, 6 ship ID tokens, 3 main ship tokens, 2 main flagship ID tokens, and 20 squadron ID tokens.  So, yeah…MUCH more than in X-Wing.  And this is just the core set – there are bound to be endless expansions, so I’m sure you can sink A LOT of money into this.

There are going to be a number of scenarios you can play through in this game, and each one is going to require some different set up.  In general, however, you’ll have to make sure you have at least a 3’x3′ playing surface.  The setup area markers will mark the corners of this area.  One player is the Rebels, the other is the Imperials.  You’ll begin the game with a combination of ships and squadrons – for the base scenario, the Rebel gets the Corvette, Frigate, and four X-Wing squadrons; the Imperial player gets the Star Destroyer and six TIE fighter squadrons.  Each ship sets their speed dial to 2, and sets their shield dials to the maximum indicated on their card.  Each squadron’s disk is set to the maximum number allowed.  Ships and squadrons are set up on opposite sides of the playing area.

image by BGG user R2EQ
image by BGG user R2EQ

The game takes place over six rounds, and each round has four phases: Command, Ship, Squadron, and Status.

COMMAND: Each player has three command dials for their ships – the Star Destroyer gets three, the Frigate gets two, and the Corvette gets one.  Each dial will be set to a command and stacked.  The possible commands are:

  • Navigate: Change speed and increase maneuverability.
  • Squadron: Order nearby squadrons to move and attack early.
  • Repair: Recover shields and hull damage.
  • Concentrate Fire: Increase the power of one attack.

Once all commands have been assigned, move on to the next phase.

SHIP: The player who has initiative chooses a ship and reveals the top command dial.  Each ship will only use one dial per round, so you’re really planning ahead with the dials in the first turn.  This dial will be used at some point in the turn, or you can gain a command token for use later in the game.  After this, your ship may perform up to two attacks.  The attack comes from one of your hull zones (there are four).  You can attack another ship’s hull zone or one or more squadrons.  You roll dice to determine the success of this attack.  Your second attack must come from a different hull zone.

Finally, you can execute a maneuver.  Use the maneuver tool, which is a little grey snake thing, to determine where you can move.  The joints can be moved according to a chart based on your speed.

SQUADRON: After ships go, then players can activate any squadrons that were not activated by a ship command.  You take turns activating two squadrons at a time, and you can either move them or attack with them.  To move, you use the range ruler and place the squadron at any point within that range, up to its speed.

STATUS: This is basically clean up – ready exhausted defense tokens, flip the initiative marker, discard a round marker and proceed to the next round.

If all of a player’s ships are destroyed, the game ends immediately and they lose.  Otherwise, the game ends after six rounds and the player with the highest score wins.  Score is basically the total cost of ships and squadrons you destroyed.

I’ve played X-Wing a few times.  It’s a fun game, though I particularly like the team game with bigger scenarios and more ships going at it.  And from that perspective, I think this looks like a pretty good and different game.  There’s certainly some similarity, but this is its own game.  The programming aspect is still present, but even moreso with the ships having to program a few turns in advance.  It seems odd that the game is only six rounds long, but I suppose a lot of damage can be done in that time.  I guess that also prevents the game from going on forever once all the squadrons are destroyed and it becomes a dogfight between the big lumbering ships.

The minis in the game look awesome, and to be honest, that’s why people are going to get this game.  FFG has developed a reputation with the high-quality X-Wing minis, and this looks to continue the tradition.  The game itself may be fun, but I think most people are just looking forward to having some scale Star Destroyers.  Plus whatever expansions are coming in the future.

Happy Star Wars Day to everyone, and thanks for reading!

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