Fantasy Flight Games hs released their first preview of Star Wars Armada, the fleet level game of starship conflict. Here is a portion of that preview, for the rest of the story visit the Fantasy Flight Games website.
Armada is an epic, two-player miniatures game of large-scale fleet battles set in the Star Wars universe. The time is the height of the Galactic Civil War. As the Imperial Navy’s Star Destroyers move systematically across the galaxy to impose order and crush those who would oppose the evil Galactic Empire, the Rebel Alliance launches its rag-tag fleet of ships and starfighters on daring raids and surgical strikes. Its aim? Weaken the Empire, blow by blow.
In Armada, you enter this ongoing conflict as a fleet admiral with either the Imperial Navy or Rebel Alliance. Your ships have come upon the enemy. Conflict is imminent. Thousands of crew race to their battle stations, preparing for massive exchanges of turbolaser fire. Thousands will die, but it is your job to command the fleet to victory. You must overcome your foes. You must achieve your objective. There is no room for failure.
Even though Armada is a game of capital ships and starfighter squadrons – with battles on a scale large enough to alter the fate of the galaxy – their outcomes still hinge upon you and your decisions. If you wish to emerge victorious, the first thing you’ll need to do is learn how your ships function in battle. Capital ships aren’t nimble like starfighters. In fact, the larger and more powerful your ships, the more time they take to respond to your commands. You can’t react instantly to threats as they arise. You have to plan for the future.
The Command Stack
You begin each round of Armada by entering the Command Phase and secretly assigning commands to each of your capital ships. To do this, you select one of the game’s four possible commands and lock it into your ship’s command dial. You then place the dial facedown at the bottom of your ship’s command stack.
At the end of the Command Phase, a ship’s command stack must always contain a number of facedown command dials equal to its command value. This means that in the game’s first Command Phase, you build full command stacks for all of your ships, assigning them all a number of commands equal to their command values.
The Nebulon-B escort frigate has a command value of “2,” so the Rebel player assigns two commands to the ship in the first Command Phase.
In the Ship Phase that follows, you and your opponent take turns activating your ships. When you activate a ship, you reveal the top of its command stack, turn the dial faceup and resolve its command or spend the command to gain a matching token. Each command provides a different type of benefit, which we will address in more detail below. For now, it’s just important to note that after you assign commands to your ships in the Command Phase, you reveal one command per ship in the Ship Phase.
As the game progresses, you continue to order new commands in each Command Phase, replacing the command dials that were revealed the previous round. These new commands go facedown on the bottom of the command stack, so when you’re assigning commands, you’re always planning for the future.
Devising Your Battle Plan
Again, the larger your ship is, and the more that it can do, the more you have to plan ahead. This is also a truth that multiplies as you consider the impact of your commands across the whole of the battlefield: You’re not piloting a single ship, after all; you’re directing the coordinated efforts of an entire fleet.
Your initial commands establish the tone for your early rounds; they might even establish the tone of the entire match. If you find your Star Destroyers are drifting out of position in the early rounds, you can issue a navigate command, but you’ll still know that you’re going to have to spend several rounds doing your best to survive and maintain the semblance of an aggressive stance until you can adjust your speed and course.
Moreover, when you start building larger fleets, your ships may feature an array of command values, and your command stacks may vary a great deal, even among ships with the same command values. If your fleet contains both a Victory II-class Star Destroyer and a Victory I-class Star Destroyer, you might want to position them both to fire upon the same enemy ship within a single round in an effort to blow it out of the skies. However, this plan might require two different command stacks.
Since the Victory II features an armament with both the long and medium range red and blue dice, respectively, you might want it to concentrate fire two rounds in a row. In this case, you can spend the first concentrate fire command to get a token. Then, you resolve the second concentrate fire command directly from the dial. By combining the concentrate fire commands from both the dial and token, you get both the most possible dice and the best possible results.
Aiming for a third-round barrage of fire, the Imperial player assigns the concentrate fire command to his Victory II-class Star Destroyer for two sequential rounds.
The Victory I replaces the mid-range blue dice with short-range black dice, meaning you’ll need it to draw close to its target in order to unleash its barrage at maximum firepower. Accordingly, you might want to issue it a navigate command the round before it concentrates fire so that it can speed up to be on target.
To unleash its most devastating volley on the third round, the Victory I has to get closer to its target than the Victory II does, so the Imperial player assigns it a navigate command on the second round, hoping it will be able to get into position before revealing a concentrate fire command on the third round.
By planning ahead – and responding appropriately to your opponent’s actions – you may be able to build toward a single round in which you unleash a single, devastating hail of fire from both ships.
Engaging the Enemy
No battle plan ever fully survives contact with the enemy, and learning how to adapt to the challenges of combat is another massive part of achieving success in Armada.