Star Wars Armada

2016 Summer Tournament

This last weekend was our Summer Tournament for the year, using the official FFG Summer Tournament kit (ironically enough).  Since waves 3 and 4 were released recently, we decided to make it a little interesting and require 1 ship from each wave in everyone’s build.  Going into the tournament, I tried to practice a few different fleets to figure out which combination I preferred but there wasn’t a lot of time to practice.  After playing a game and watching a few others with the Interdictor, I could see the potential but figuring out exactly how to fly it in a short amount of time wasn’t something I thought I could do.  So I settled on Rebels for this tournament.  Following the list requirements, I was obligated to use an MC80 Liberty and a Rebel Transport.  The Rebel Transport is a new class of ship, flotilla.  They are pretty small and are mostly support type ships, so little shield, little hull, and not a lot (if any) firepower.

My list consisted of the following.

MC80 Star Cruiser.  Mon Karen title, Dodanna, XI-7 Turbolasers, Spinal Armament, and Leading shots.
CR-90A with Jaina’s Light and Turbolaser reroute circuits
2x CR-90A with Turbolaser reroute circuits
GR-75 Transport with Bright Hope and Slicer Tools
6x A-Wing squadrons.
Total points 398 with Most Wanted, Hyperspace Assault, and Dangerous Territory.

My list originally had 2 CR-90s with TRC and 2 GR-75s.  The second Transport had Bomber Command and both had Expanded hangers.  This was to assist the 5 X-Wings with Jan Ors.  I was less than impressed with Bomber command on that build so I switched my squadrons to the most annoying ships (for my enemy) that I could find and decided to use them to slow down any enemy fighters and whittle them down with counter.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to practice the recent list changes before the tournament.

Game 1: Brian and his dual MC80 Battle Cruisers.

I’ve played against Brian and his list before, but with my previous iteration.  I also knew he had more opportunities to practice his list since he settled on his long before I did.  I believe I came out on top in our last game, so I went in hoping to do it again but Brian is a very skilled player… and aggressive.  His bid was a point below mine so he opted for first player, picking Dangerous Territory from my objectives.  My opening moves were not very pretty.  In round two, I had pretty much given up two of my CR-90s to the front arc of his massive MC80.  I still had Jaina’s Light and my own MC80, now in range of his Mon Karen.  Since he had focused the CR-90s, I was able to put all my firepower into his Mon Karen and the Neb-B “Salvation” beside it.  Jaina’s light worked around behind the rest of the fleet.  I was able to destroy Salvation before it sank a double-arc shot into my own Mon Karen’s side and finish off his Mon Karen pretty quickly.  Slicer tools helped me limit his commands, keeping away concentrate fire commands and repairs.  At the end of the game, which almost went to time, I ended up taking down all but his second MC80 and I think one of the YT-1300 squadrons.  I ended up with 4 of the 6 tokens, starting me off with an 8 – 3 win.

Game 2: Dan, the only guy to bring an Imperial list.

This is only the second time I’ve played against Dan, who is also very skilled.  The first time I played him was GenCon where he beat me in the 3rd round of the tournament.  So this is payback time!  Like Brian, he also opted to go first with his 10 point bid and picked Dangerous Territory.  Dan’s list consisted of an Interdictor set up to repair itself and scramble targets, with two Gladiators (one being Demolisher), and rounded out his fleet with a Gonzanti with Comms Net (I think).  His squadrons were very synergistic with Darth Vader, Howlrunner, Dengar, and Soontir Fel.  Not many points in squadrons but very deadly.  Sensing I was going to lose the squadron battle, my mind went on the defensive side.  How to draw his fighters in close and protect my ships.  He also set up his Demolisher toward the middle of the board with the rest of the fleet to the side.  I used this to my advantage to attempt to bring down Demo first and then move on to bigger things.  Since the Interdictor’s guns aren’t THAT big, I wasn’t overly concerned with it.  I started off flying my CR-90’s very aggressively toward Demo.  I mis-judged the distance and ended up outside of red dice range.  This made my next turn worse since he was able to wait out my CR-90’s and that put 2 of my 3 in close range.  He took a side-arc shot at the front of a CR-90 and did some substantial damage to the front and put a couple damage cards on the hull, but it lived.  Doing what Demo does best, he flew in fast and took a second shot at the front of my Mon Karen.  Dan uses Assault Concussion Missiles on his Gladiators since it does damage to both sides in addition to the front zone.  Since Mon Karen is lightly shielded on the sides, this is bad.  Luckily, I sensed the danger early on and had an engineering command ready.  I was able to recover both side shields to prevent it from doing too much damage on the next turn.  As expected, he activated Demo first.  Luckily my MC80 survived.  Thanks to Slicer Tools, his Demo no longer had a Nav command so he couldn’t easily get away.  With my CR-90’s safe (for now) they headed towards the Interdictor cluster.  The annoying scatter from his flotilla kept it alive much longer than it should have been, but it eventually was destroyed.  My Mon Karen was able to finish off Demolisher before it could get away.  This gave me an early lead in the game.  However my Mon Karen was heavily damaged and couldn’t take much more pain.  Unfortunately it was heading straight towards Dan’s Interdictor and another Gladiator.  During round 4 (I believe), Mon Karen finally split apart and blew up.  My CR-90’s were able to finish off the Interdictor and my remaining A-Wings were still keeping the squadrons occupied.  This was a close and tense battle.  Dan picked up 3 tokens and I was only able to get 2.  We ended the game with me coming out on top with a 7 – 4 win.

Game 3: Corlin, also running Dodanna.

The first time I played Corlin was at my first store championship (I believe).  I didn’t expect to do well but he was the first person I played and had a great time with.  Just like last time, our fleets were somewhat similar once again.  Corlin was flying an MC80 with the Liberty title.  His fleet focus was on squadrons and was maxed out on squadron points.  Since my squadron answer was pretty weak, I was slightly concerned.  He considered going second but after realizing that I would get first and last activation, he decided to go first.  For the first time that day, someone picked a different objective.  Corlin picked Hyperspace Assault.  This objective is the only one I didn’t really want to play but didn’t have any better options in the Yellow category.  I set aside Jaina’s Light and two A-Wings.  I set up my MC80 towards the center to square off against his MC80.  He set up his Neb-B “Yavaris” to the far left (my left) edge and his GR-75 behind it.  Squadrons clustered around the smaller carriers.  I knew I didn’t have the juice to outright beat him in the squadron game so my plan was to divide and delay.  And hopefully Slice away some squadron tokens.  My CR-90’s faced the bulk of his squadrons and I put my A-Wings around my MC80.  I flew my CR-90’s in fast to keep his squadrons busy.  In all fairness, I hoped they would do a little damage but their fate was to die and keep the squadrons busy.  At 51 points each, I could give up 102 points and drop his MC80.  Since there were no squadrons to contend with, he flew his bombers toward the CR-90’s and kept his X-Wings with Jan near his MC80.  At the top of round 2, Jaina’s light exited Hyperspace near his Liberty.  This allowed me to attempt to tie down his X-Wings.  However Jan was doing a good job of preventing that.  As expected my CR-90’s began to die quickly to concentrated bomber fire.  I was able to do a little damage to Yavaris and the GR-75 before both CR-90s eventually gave up.  They definitely served their purpose because by now his bombers were back at his starting area and Yavaris was halfway across the field.  Without much aide from the bombers, my Mon Karen was able to quickly dispatch the Liberty before suffering much damage.  My A-Wings were cleaning up the X-Wings and almost had Jan taken care of until she ran away.  Surprisingly, I didn’t lose a single A-Wing in the fight.  I ended up losing all three CR-90’s and was unable to get enough damage on Yavaris (not for lack of trying).  We ended with an 7 – 4 win for me.

Going into Game 3, Corlin was the top player and 3 points ahead of me.  My win against him caused us to tie for first place at 22 tournament points.  But because he was able to get a 10-1 win on his first game with 400 MoV, he had a higher margin of victory and took first place in the tournament.

Overall it was a very fun day with some really great games.  Congratulations to Corlin for his first tournament win.  Maybe some day that will be me!

GenCon 2016 – Day 1

Last year’s GenCon was pretty fun, but we ended up overall underwhelmed.  So this year, we tried to take a different approach.  We actually planned a few things, signed up for some events, and tried to make the whole thing an adventure.  The first day (Thursday), our plan was to get to the hall early and rush the FFG booth for pre-release Armada and maybe X-Wing stuff.  The hall opened at 10am and we arrived slightly before 8.  We had decided against getting a bunch of X-Wing stuff but I certainly wanted the new Armada ships.  Getting there early paid off in a big way.  We only had to wait in line for about 30 minutes (and then 15 more minutes to check out) but the time flied by because we struck a conversation with the couple in front of us, Scott and Kyrie.  After getting out of the line, we met up with Kyle to browse the exhibit hall.  Around 12:30, we realized we were hungry and decided to take a break.  Last year, we ate from the many food trucks parked by the Convention Center but they were pretty crowded.  We ended up taking a walk a couple of blocks and ended up at a Steak ‘n’ Shake, of all places.  The line stretched out to the door but we actually didn’t have to wait long.  We met up with Scott and Kyrie, so the 5 of us had a nice sit down lunch.  After lunch, we headed back to the Convention Center.  Kyle and I wanted to check out the Armada action to see where we would be playing the next day in the tournament.  As luck would have it, we arrived during their break so we didn’t get to see anyone playing.

At this point, the 3 of us separated from Scott and Kyrie and continued to browse the Exhibit Hall.  We had a Pathfinder: Action Card Game session scheduled for 5PM, so we had to make the best use of our time.  We demoed a few games, which were pretty fun.  While Rachel was looking at a booth and Kyle was talking to a guy, I ended up getting distracted by a puzzle game that was hard to figure out.  I ended up buying it just because they wanted to move on and I would have spent all day trying to win it.  Rachel picked up a corset and looks amazing in it.  We looked at some nice gaming tables that can double as a dining room table (which we’re in the market for).  While Rachel was looking at clothes, Kyle and I found a cool looking game called Mercs.  It’s a 28mm miniatures game that emphasizes fast-paced action.  As we approached 5pm, we had made it through the hall, seeing pretty much everything.  Lots of amazing products, games, and other goodies.  We started to head up to the area to play Pathfinder: Action Card Game.

Kyle ended up coming upstairs with us, even though he’s not into Pathfinder so much.  Turns out there was a pretty light turnout for it anyway.  We got sat down at our table and encouraged Kyle to join us but apparently you need generic tickets to play and we didn’t have any.  We were originally going to play by ourselves and be led by one of the organizers but a nearby game of experienced players needed more people in their game.  So we joined them.  In a matter of about 2 hours, we went from not knowing too much about the game to feeling pretty confidant in it.  Even though we lost the scenario, it was a lot of fun.  At this point I can’t even remember the names of the folks we played with but they were super nice and helpful.  We had planned to try to get back together with them for another game, but our weekend was pretty packed.

As we left the Convention Center at around 8:30PM to go pick up David, we felt very good about the day and the amount of fun we had.  The original plan was to bring David for Day 2 but we decided it would be best to leave him with Rachel’s parents.  It was about 10PM when we got home.  Time to get everything unpacked and everything ready for Day 2!

Carrier Build

For the last 3 weeks or so, I’ve been using a Carrier Build for my SW: Armada game nights.  Since I played Rebels for the store championship and Regionals, I decided it’s time to jump over to the Imperial side to shake things up a bit.  I didn’t really want to follow the crowd and play Demolisher, but it’s mostly because I’m not super good at it and I didn’t want to have to buy 2 more Raiders to get to the required 4.  So I went with a low-end carrier list.  The basic idea is to maximize on the number of squadrons in play, sufficiently support them, and get them to activate efficiently.  To do this, I chose 3 Victory-Class Star Destroyers.  Vics are typically left at home due to their very low speed and horrible maneuverability. They can only go speed 2 and for both speeds, they only get a single ‘click’ for the highest value.  Basically, they move slow and turn even slower.  Their firepower looks impressive but in practice is just not there.  They are not ships you would plan your entire victory around.  To boost their power, I chose Motti as my commander.  Since Vics are medium-size ships, they gain an additional 2 hull points for a total of 10.  This makes them significantly harder to bring down, but will still fold under sustained fire.  On all 3 ships, I have Boosted Comms to allow me to command the squadrons at long range.  On the non-flagships, I also have Flight Controllers to give my fighters some additional punch when dealing with enemy squadrons.  My squadrons consist of 132 of the allowed 134 points.  Yes, this is where most of my points live.  In fact, you can take down one of my Vics, and I can still win the game.  You can take down two of them and, depending on the objective, I’ll still win.  My squadrons consist of Mauler Mithel, 2 TIE Advanced (for escort), Major Rhymer, 4 TIE Bombers, Dengar, and IG-88.

Each Vic can command 3 squadrons.  Luckily my 10th squadron has ‘Rogue’ so IG-88 can move and shoot on his own.  While playing this list, I try to play to my strengths and let my opponent figure out the counter.  My build is 399 points, but I actually prefer to go second since I know my objectives very well.  My actual strategy changes depending on the objective and what my opponent is flying, but the basics are still the same.  Fly all 3 Vics close together.  Fly them slowly.  Keep the squadrons somewhat close and don’t over-extend.  I’ve only lost 1 game with this list and it was a 5 point margin of victory (MoV).  My opponent was very skilled, so a 5/5 tournament point is ok by me.  The only time I feel like I’m in jeopardy is when I deviate from one of my core strategies.  Usually when I over-extend my squadrons.

So far, I’m still having fun with the build.  The first few times it was very mentally tasking and I started to question whether or not I’d be able to play it at GenCon.  But the more I’ve played it, the more comfortable I’ve become with everything.  Most squadron compositions don’t worry me anymore since I know I have the firepower to deal with just about anything.  The bombers are the real work horses of the build, even with my excessive blank results on black dice.  The Vics have decent damage output, but it’s difficult to get them into close range.  At any rate, I feel like I can probably do well with this list at GenCon so I may just have to give it a try!

SW: Armada – Competition style

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been playing Star Wars Armada at a local game shop in West Lafayette.  I’ve met some nice people and we meet up once a week to play a round or two of Armada.  I had originally planned on joining a group of X-wing players, but as a certain sequence of events unfolded I ended up going to a random Tuesday night of Armada.  Ironically enough, the following Saturday was the “Winter Tournament”.  I ended up coming and playing.  Early on when Armada was released, I picked up two core sets (since that’s what you do in X-wing…).  When Wave 1 was released, I bought one of everything in the hopes that this would make the game more complete and my wife and friends who also love X-wing would join in the fun.  That never happened so my Armada stuff laid dormant… UNTIL NOW!  With only a few days until the tournament, I made a pretty basic list with my Wave 1 stuff.  I don’t have much memory of what it was, but I didn’t expect to do too well.  My knowledge of the rules was pretty limited and my experience included 1 full game and only 2 or 3 of the “learn to play” scenario.  With low expectations, I came that Saturday to play.  I came in last place, but still had fun.  I did manage to win a game, but the margin of victory was only 5 points.  It was still a good day and I managed to leave with a couple prizes.

Fast forward a few weeks and the start of the Store Championship season.  At my local shop, I was hoping for a top 8 finish that would get me some nice acrylic movement and range rulers.  I ended up just shy of that mark with a 9th place finish.  It was still a lot of fun, but I was slightly disappointed at my showing.  That day I won my first match pretty big but was destroyed on the second match.  The 3rd and final round of the day was a mediocre loss which ended my day pretty low.  At this point I knew I was still learning but getting a win or two might have helped my self-esteem.  Another store in the area was preparing for their store championship, so I had another 3 weeks to prepare for it.  At my first two tournaments, I used Imperial fleets.  At this store championship, I changed up for a Rebel fleet with Admiral Ackbar at the helm.

The showing for this tournament was pretty low.  Only 5 players.  So I knew I would get my top 8 finish and get those nice acrylic rulers.  So now my goal shifted to making the top 4, which rewarded a challenge coin.  The day started off well.  I was placed against Jonathan who was flying a 5 Gladiator list, including Demolisher.  He had no squadrons.  My list included an MC-80 with Ackbar, Defiance, Electronic Counter Measures, and XI-7 turbolasers.  Flying alongside it were two Assault MK II with gunnery teams and 4 A-wing squadrons, Luke Skywalker, and Jan Ors.  My point total was exactly 400 points since I planned to always go second.  For this game, Jonathan decided to let me go first.  From his list of objectives, I chose “Hyperspace Assault”.  I forget which of his gladiators he chose to put aside, but I was surprised to see that he picked one without the Demolisher title.  At any rate, I set up my gun-line parallel to my edge near his hyperspace tokens.  I took care to always keep my squadrons surrounding a token.  At round two, he hyperspaced in.  My squadrons began doing their work on the gladiator.  I ended up playing too cautiously and only took out two gladiators and lost a handful of squadrons.  I ended up with an 8-2 win.  For the second round, I was paired against Nick who came with me from my local store.  He didn’t really want to play my Ackbar gunline and I didn’t really want him to destroy me so we decided to play to a draw.  Seeing what we were doing, the other table also played each other regularly and decided to also play to a draw.  This basically allowed us to bypass a round to end the day a little sooner.  The 3rd round put me against the other Nick (there were 2).  He was also flying an Ackbar list, but had an MC-30 instead of a second Assault Frigate.  He also had a CR-90 in his list, so he had 4 activations.  I don’t recall what squadrons he had, but I believe it was only 4 A-wing squadrons.  He chose to go first and picked “Hyperspace Assault” from my list.  I again chose to play cautious and brought in my hyperspaced Assault Frigate in line with my other ships.  Basically negating the whole objective.  He brought in his MC-30 aggressively to get close range and with the help of Ackbar it was torn to shreds.  My squadrons began working on his MC-80 to strip some of the shields from it.  He began aggressively repairing it the following round but it was no match for the sustained fire from my entire gun line.  With the help of Defiance, his MC-80 went down in flames by turn 5.  Around this time, his Assault frigate had done considerable damage to my lead frigate but luckily my entire fleet survived.  I was unable to put the last nail in the coffin and take out his remaining frigate.  After a decisive win on the squadron battle and severely devastating his fleet, it was a 9-1 win for me.  The other Nick’s day was slightly better and got him the first place win for the day with me coming second at two points behind him.  I managed to earn a challenge coin which is really cool.

During the time period between store championships and regionals, my local store did an “escalation league” to get newer players interested in playing.  It was an 8-week league in 4 blocks.  The first two-week block was core set only, 180 point fleets.  The second block was 200 points, no large ships.  The 3rd week allowed for 300 points and all ships available with the final two weeks being 400 points.  The highest score achieved in each two-week block was recorded.  Over the course of the 8 weeks, I managed to get 38 points.  The second and forth blocks were the only weeks I scored 9-1 wins.  I was able to pick up a medal (from the Winter kit) for this win.

Two weekends ago, I was fortunate enough to have a regional event in Indy.  There were about 30 total players there.  I slightly modified my list to prepare for a loaded out Demolisher trying to alpha strike my MC-80.  I added Advanced Projectors to it and changed my squadrons to just 6 A-wings.  They may not have a lot of punch, but their only job is to keep the bombers away from my ships for 6 turns.  My first game put me against Alexander who had two ISD and a handful of squadrons.  Two aggressors, a couple firesprays, and a bomber I think.  He chose to go second and I picked “Hyperspace Assault” from his list since he didn’t have any small or medium base ships in his list.  Basically negating the whole objective.  He was also a relatively new player so it was just a fun match.  He set his ISDs facing straight at me in the center and I set my gunline to my right, parallel to the edge (like I always do) and circled around so his ISDs were forced into my killbox.  This mostly worked but I ended up losing my lead frigate shortly after dropping one of his ISDs.  I ended up with a 6-4 win after a pretty fun and laid back match.  My second round was against a Reiken list with an MC-80, Neb-B, and a CR-90 with lots of squadrons.  Between the Y-Wings and B-wings, I knew I was going to be in trouble.  He chose to go second and I tried to pick the lesser of all the evils and picked Advanced Gunnery.  I made my objective ship the rear frigate to help mitigate some of the loss while he predictably made his MC-80 his objective ship.  The first two rounds were pretty uneventful.  I made the mistake of doing a squadron command and sending my A-wings on an alpha strike.  I took out a couple of his bombers but without the capital ship support those A-wings did not last very long and did not cause very much damage.  In hindsight, I should have kept them back as close support for my ships.  At the end of the match, my lead frigate was the only thing remaining.  I did manage to take out his objective ship on the last round, but with his zombie commander he was able to inflict massive damage to my ships.  I ended up with a 3-7 loss.  Not horrible but not great either.  My final matchup was with another Ackbar gunline.  This variation had the MC-80 a little more loaded out and the frigate heavily loaded up.  Instead of a second frigate, he had an MC-30 instead.  His squadron consisted of only 4 A-wings.  I knew I could win the squadron game but wanted to mitigate the loss so it wasn’t a 1 for 1 trade.  He was also at exactly 400 points so we flipped for initiative.  I won and chose to go second.  Ironically my list was designed to go second and this was the first time for that.  From my objectives, he picked Advanced Gunnery.  Given that I had Fire Lanes and Superior Positions as my other two, he chose wisely.  We both made our MC-80s objective ships and proceeded to battle it out.  After the loss of my previous game, I played a little more cautiously that I should have.  I thought I set up close enough that he would need to turn into me and I could avoid his broadsides but I set up a little further out than I should have.  By the end of the match, I had taken down his MC-30 and his MC-80 and my lead frigate barely died.  I won the squadron battle, only trading 2 of my A-wings for his 4.  I ended up with a 7-3 win.  After the match, I started to wonder if he remembered to double the point cost of his objective ship.  In the end, it probably would not have matter much though.  I ended the day 18th out of 30, which was just shy of the 16th place I had hoped for.  But with two wins out of three matches, I felt pretty good.

With regionals behind me, I thought I might skip Nationals at GenCon.  In fact, the wife and I were considering skipping GenCon altogether.  But we ended up deciding that it’s a lot of fun and we might as well go.  There’s a strong chance she’ll have to work on Friday, so I went ahead and signed up for Flight 2.  After playing Rebels for the last several weeks, I’m ready to try Imperials again.  But first I have to play a few more games to figure out which ships I prefer to fly.  What a shame! 🙂