SW Armada: Burning Retros and Going to 0

Sometimes you gotta pump the old space brakes and take your ship to speed zero.

Today I want to talk about one of riskier, but also most rewarding tactics an Armada player can use: going to speed 0. This is a powerful tactic that has served me very well in a number of games It is however not a widely used tactic, or even a widely considered one. Lets take a look at why people avoid using this maneuver, and when you should use it.

The Forgotten Tactic

While going to speed zero is a perfectly valid tactic it is not one that most people think about much. In fact I highly suspect that there are players who either don’t know you can go to speed zero or have forgotten you can. In part I would guess this is X-Wing’s fault. Many Armada players are also X-wing players and in that other game it is only a very few ships that go to speed zero. That being the case it is no surprise that players coming over from X-Wing might forget it’s a standard part of the game.

Much like Kamino it’s been erased from memory banks

In addition to this however is the risk you take by going to speed zero. Ships at speed zero are not able to use any of their defensive tokens. Since defensive tokens are such a huge part of a ship’s ability to survive most players will not even consider doing something that would lose them the ability to use their tokens. While one or two tokens might be exhausted or spent in service or using Turbolaser Reroute Circuits or Vader, losing all of them at once is a huge risk. Due to this risk players naturally shy away from going speed 0. Many are so adverse to this idea that they forget to even consider the tactic. I however find it very useful, lets look at the situations you should consider it.

The Slow Start

Kind of like this show… 

The Most obvious and most common time to use speed 0 is at set up. Putting your ships at speed 0 at set up is the least risky time to do so as, barring a few tricky exceptions, its going to be at least turn 2 until the enemy will get any shots at you. Starting at speed zero with some or all of your ships can have great rewards. For one its allows you see where the enemy is going to move without giving away your plans, letting you react the enemy moves while leaving them guessing. While it can surrender the initiative to the enemy in some missions, you wouldn’t want to do it in Intel Sweep, in others it can force the enemy to come to you allowing you to fight on your ground.

It can also be used as a useful tactic for part of your fleet, keeps a flank guard or reserve behind while the enemy strategy develops. Holding a ship back to cover your flanks can be really useful.  Going speed zero means the ship will stay in position until needed

A Risky Start

The down side to starting at speed zero is that you will then have to spend a good part of the game getting up to your desired battle speed. At least one turn, and most likely more, of commands will have to be spent on navigate commands. This not only prevents you from using other commands, but also lets the enemy know what commands you will be using and plan around them. In many ways starting at speed zero is better for slower ships, like a VSD, since it will take less turns of navigating to reach full speed. A ship like a CR90 will end up spending most of the game getting up to speed.

Of course fleets or ships with the ability to change speed more than once a turn will gain additional benefits from this tactic. Fleets led by Leia, Ozzel or using Entrapment Formation!, can all change speed fast enough to get up to full speed quickly and negate the risks of a slow start.

Emergency Combat Braking

You know those things can turn off, right? 

The more dangerous, but also potential rewarding, time to stop is during the middle of combat. Now we’ve already discussed the risks of stopping, losing your defense tokens, so why would anyone want to stop? Let looks at three situation you might want to go full stop in.

Avoiding Shots

 

Using tokens to reduce incoming damage is great. Not getting shot at all is even better. While people will often consider going down a speed, from 1-2 or instance, to avoid moving into black dice range, or the arc of an enemy ship they will rarely consider going to down to zero to do the same. They should. Well laid enemy traps can often be avoided by the simple act of stooping and not flying to their guns. I’d rather take a 3 dice long range attack with no tokens then an 8 dice close range attack with tokens. As long as I can be relatively sure that I wont be one-shotted it a risk to consider.

Holding Position

Sometimes you gotta hide in a nebula or asteroid 

Sometimes staying were you are can be the best move. This is related to the above point, in that by stopping you can often force the enemy to fly into your guns rather than you flying into theirs. This is always good. Other times you can use a stop to take advantage of terrain. In one game I hid a stopped ship behind a dust cloud preventing it from getting shot at all. Another time I stopped a ship forcing the enemy to ram me and get pushed back on asteroids. In both cases moving at all would have put me out of position to use the obstructions to my advantage.

Just remember the risks

Throwing Off the Enemy

Armada is very much a game of thinking and planning ahead. Because so few players considered going to speed zero they often don’t consider that their enemy might either. I’ve used this tactic to throw off some of the best players I’ve faced simply by doing the unexpected. Oftentimes a really good player will have all your potential moves mapped out and be planing around them. By doing something they never even considered, not only can you avoid traps but you can completely throw them off their game causing them to make mistakes they might not have otherwise.

Final Thoughts

Going speed zero is a risky maneuver that is good in certain specific situations such as those described above. While it can be very powerful, its also not something you want to do all the time. It’s also not a speed you often want to be at for long, if you plan on doing it make sure you have a way to get some speed on next turn. I’ve found it to be a very useful tactic, especially with slower ships, that can take some damage, such as VSDs. I also think its better used if you are the first player, so that you have a chance to take as few hits as possible before speeding up again. While its not a tactic that you can use every game, it is one that a good player needs to keep in mind.

That’s all for this time BoLS fans. Let us know the times you’ve gone full stop, down in the comments! 

  • Jeremy Larson

    For the record, you cannot start the game at speed zero. Ships must be deployed at a speed listed on their maneuver diagram, which does not include zero. So, you can start at one, and immediately drop to zero, but you can’t start there.

    • JD Robertson

      The rules just say that you must set the speed to a speed available on its speed chart. The Speed section of the rules says that the speed chart gives the maximum speed of the ship, with the minimum speed always being 0. So it seems like speed 0 is available on all speed charts. At least, that would be my reading.

      One thing to keep in mind with this tactic is all the recent upgrades which allow your opponent to manipulate your dials. You probably don’t want to hit the brakes if your opponent can keep you from moving again for multiple turns.

      • Dan Berger

        its not. you can not deploy at speed 0 the only way to do this is via an interdictors ability.

        deploying at speed 1 you have 2 turns of navigate commands dialed up cuz you want to be able to turn on the engines immediately

      • Jeremy Larson

        directly from the armada faq
        Q: During the “Deploy Ships” step of setup, can a player set his
        or her ship’s speed to “0”?
        A: No.

  • Tim Brown

    Starting at speed 0 is only for those who have no plan of their own and their only option is to wait to guess what their opponent is doing. Frankly, giving me the total speed advantage means all my ships will be ganging up on one of yours while you sit there helplessly unable to move. By the time you can react effectively, two of your ships will be scrap. Going to speed zero is only applicable in very rare specialized situations and even then a good player will make you pay dearly. Only if all my tokens were gone would I set my speed to zero. That, and flying off the board. Otherwise, it would take extraordinary circumstances. I have consistently pummeled guys by adjusting their most dangerous ship set to ‘1’ speed to zero at the beginning. That ship never sees combat and when it can, the game is effectively over. Decent article. Not a decent tactic.

    • Dan Berger

      its completely do able in missions like contested outpost. you turn 1 command navigate to drop speed. then turn 2 navigate and bank, turn 3 you que engineering and turn 4 is whatever you actually want as thats the turn engagement starts.

      this is an imperial strat. a defensive imperial strat. it works well with 2x ISDs and massed Fighters. you play this at 400pts as second player and let them come to you in to your 2 front arcs. you will out fighter them and isds are scarey so if its advanced gunner/contested outpost/superior positions they will almost always take contested outpost which is what a double ISD list wants.

      speed 0 strat is a carry over from the core set days of the game and it was pretty much unbeatable due to the state of the game at that time.

  • Dan Berger

    this strat also works well with admirals like motti so you can take more hits, tarkin so you have more commands ready and ozzel because if done right your fleet goes from speed 0 to speed 3 in one turn.

    • rowansl

      directly from the armada faq

      Q: During the “Deploy Ships” step of setup, can a player set his
      or her ship’s speed to “0”?
      A: No.

      • davepak

        yeah, I thought this was kind of obvious….