Nathan and I met up at The Sentry Box today to give the Star Wars Armada game a try. This was the first game for either of us so it was certainly a learning experience and we did mess up a few rules but nothing that would have changed the game.
We only did a a 180pt game and I decided to take two Victory I class Star Destroyers with a small screen of TIEs consisting of two regular squadrons and Howlrunner. I wanted to see how the ships worked in a pair and I also thought that it might be advantageous to have the added firepower. Nathan used the default Rebel build from the Starter Set and I won initiative since I was two points under.
We built up a small mass of asteroids and debris on one side of the map and Nathan set up on one side of it and I set up on the other. My idea was to split my ships and have one push through the obstacles and the other cut Nathan off and hopefully catch him between the two Star Destroyers. Bad idea :-)
My second Victory I was too fast and so it moved in to engage Nathan before the second one could make it through the debris and asteroids. As well, while I was able to move my TIE fighters in to attack the X-Wings, once I lost a squadron I wasn’t able to use Swarm as effectively. Given that the TIE fighters have two fewer damage points that the X-Wings it left me quickly without a fighter screen.
Once I was able to get my Star Destroyer in range to use its black dice it dealt a heck of a lot of damage but the lack of a medium range blue dice attack meant that I was doing very little damage until I got in to use my close range firepower. We also used the objective which gives bonus dice to fire against a single opposing ship. I suspect is something an Imperial player should never have in their hand of objective cards. It adds a single dice to an attack but this gives the Rebels a significant boost in terms of the percentage of additional firepower it gives them.
By the end of the game I had done a bit of damage to Nathan’s ships but he had taken out the Victory I target that was chosen as an objective so he had a substantial victory.
The game went very quickly even considering the size the inevitable interruptions for checking the rules. FFG’s current habit of creating “Getting Started” rulebooks and then a reference means that it is often a bit difficult to find a specific ruling during gameplay. The rulebook isn’t bad when you are on the couch and can hope between the reference and basic rules but during a game its a bit of a mess.
Once you get the core rules worked out though they are actually fairly basic. Where the additional complications come in are from the order system. Not just the fact that the larger ships need to plot turns in advance but that you can use the selected command to either immediately effect your ship or to store a command token for later use.
Doing attacks before movement also means that have to be thinking several turns in advance not only in terms of movement but also attacks and your placement after your attacks. There is a lot to think about in the game and it strikes me that it will really benefit players, especially Imperial players, who can keep track of their commands and anticipate their opponent’s actions. The fact that the current Imperial vessels are tug boats compared to the Rebel players speed boats really gives each side a distinct feel and also gives each player a set of unique challenges. The Nebulon B and the Blockade Runner can run circles around a Star Destroyer but can’t take much damage. The Victory I and II are slow and lack responsiveness but can really deal out a significant amount of damage.
I’ve had a chance to reread the rules (did it as soon as I go home :-) so I have figured out what we did wrong. Next time I hope to do a 300pt game and use some of the upgrades to add some more options to the two Star Destroyers. And also to get more TIEs. The poor things last like Mayflies.