Star Wars Armada Review

By Keith Wilson, 2015-04-17 14:30

A game that has seen a considerable amount of play in the shop since its release is the new miniatures game from Fantasy Flight Games: Star Wars Armada.

Armada is a game based on fleet battles between the iconic capital ships from the Star Wars universe. The core set comes with a Victory Class Star Destroyer for the Imperials and two ships for the Rebels: the Nebulon-B Frigate and the CR-90 Corvette. But that's not all; the game also comes with 10 fighter squadrons – 4 X-Wing squadrons and 6 TIE Fighter squadrons, as well as all the other components you need to play the game.

The capital ship miniatures are pre-painted and look amazing.

 

The Star Destroyer really becomes the centre piece of the battle, with it's sheer size looking over the enemy fleet. The fighter squadrons come unpainted, in white or grey plastic (depending on the faction). This doesn't cause an issue though, because the scale of the fighters is so small compared to the capital ships, you wouldn't catch any of the painted detail if they were painted. The bases and dials that make up the rest of the ships and squadrons are a lot sturdier than I initially thought they would be, which really adds to the look of the miniatures.

The game plays over 6 turns. The winner is the player with the most points after the six turns. Points are gained from either completing objectives, or destroying enemy ships, so there are multiple ways to win.

A single game turn consists of four main phases:

The first phase sees you plan commands for your capital ships. The Victory class has a command value of 3, which means you are planning your commands 3 turns in advance. This takes some getting used to, but with practice it will become much easier. I feel it also adds a lot of strategy to the game, adding to the number of meaningful decisions you must make during the course of the battle. Commands see you activating nearby squadrons in an attempt to engage enemy bombers before they destroy your capital ships; navigating your ship, increasing or decreasing its speed and increasing manoeuvrability; concentrating fire-power on enemy ships and the repairing your ship in the event it becomes damaged.

The second phase is all about the Capital ships. They reveal their top command dial, complete the command, attack and then manoeuvre. Capital ships may attack from up to two of their four hull zones, in an attempt to destroy enemy ships or nullify enemy squadrons. The manoeuvre tool and the way it is used is a really clever part of the design of the game. It gives the feel of the Star Destroyers being slow and clumsy in their turns, while the 11 engined Corvette is fast and agile.

The third phase is the squadron phase. Squadrons get to either move or shoot in this phase, which is in contrast to if they were activated via a squadron command earlier in the turn (in which case they move and shoot). Squadrons cannot move or attack anything else if they are within a certain distance of an enemy squadron. Because of this and the fact that the distance a squadron can shoot at is so small compared to the scale of the game this adds many more tactical decisions to the game.

One thing I wanted to mention when it comes to squadrons is the activation slider. After a squadron is activated, you toggle its activation slider. In the first turn this will be set to blue, which is the same colour as the first side of the initiative token. When a squadron is activated the slider becomes orange. This indicates it has been activated. In the final phase of the turn, the status phase, everything is cleaned up, the round tracker is advanced and the initiative token flips and becomes orange. This indicates that the squadrons are now yet to activate this turn. This interaction is an ingenious way of determining which squadrons have activated or not, especially since they can activate at different times every round.

The one thing I have been asked the most about Armada is “Is it just the X-Wing miniatures game on a grander scale?” No. Absolutely not. Armada plays completely differently and has many more tactical decisions to be made in the course of a game compared to X-Wing. There is definitely room for both of these games in a single collection.

In summary:

- The pre-painted miniatures look amazing, the bases and dials are really sturdy and the quality of the components overall is top notch as usual in an FFG game.

- Planning multiple turns in advance, the manoeuvre tool and squadron engagement add many meaningful strategic and tactical decisions to the game.

- The manoeuvre tool and the interaction between the initiative token and activation sliders is an ingenious part of the design of the game.

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