“In Armada, a starship isn’t just a starship. It’s also a weapon that’s wielded by the pilot who flies it or the crew that operate it. It can be enhanced with weapon upgrades, reinforced hull plating, and better comm systems. You might improve your command ship by outfitting it with an expanded hangar bay, or you might simply improve its performance by hand-picking all your crew members from the most elite talent available.
In Armada, your fleet isn’t just the collection of miniature starships and fighter squadrons that you bring to the table; you also bring a collection of cards that define how your starships will function. These include ship, squadron, upgrade, and commander cards.
Each card has a fleet point cost, indicated by a number in its lower right corner, and in a standard game, you and your opponent can each spend up to a total of 300 fleet points. If you spend fewer fleet points than your opponent, however, you can determine who will have initiative as the first player.
You need a ship card for each ship you bring to battle. Your choice of ship card for a given miniature will impact both its abilities and its weight in your fleet.
As an example, here we see the ship card for the Victory I-class Star Destroyer
(left) presented alongside the ship card for the Victory II-class Star Destroyer
(right). The Victory II costs eighty-five fleet points, as opposed to the seventy-five fleet points that you need to spend to add the Victory I to your fleet, and for the extra ten fleet points, you have five of your short-range black dice upgraded to medium-range blue dice, and your upgrade bar changes, losing the missile upgrade option in favor of an ion cannon upgrade slot.
As noted in our preview of the game’s fighter squadrons, each squadron can be fielded as a non-unique collection of starfighters, or as one led by an ace pilot. Your decision impacts the abilities, defense tokens (if any), and fleet cost of your squadron.
An X-wing squadron led by Luke Skywalker
(left) is far more likely to make a major impact than your standard X-wing Squadron
(right), but bringing Luke’s talents to your table will cost you an extra seven fleet points.
Upgrade cards come in all forms. You have weapons upgrades, comms upgrades, and crew upgrades, and each ship in your fleet comes with an upgrade bar that indicates what sort of upgrades you can attach to it. For a modest investment of fleet points, each upgrade card introduces a new ability that allows you to customize a ship to better fit into your overall strategy.
Each fleet needs a commander. Your commander is a special type of upgrade card, and you must assign one commander to one of your capital ships. This ship then becomes your flagship. You can only have one flagship in your fleet, but it can be any of your ships, regardless of the upgrade icons on its upgrade bar. Then, so long as your flagship remains intact, your commander bolsters your fleet with a powerful and unique ability that you’ll do well to incorporate into your strategy.
The Core Set comes with two commander cards. Grand Moff Tarkin
bolsters an Imperial fleet by assigning an extra command token to each of its ships at the start of each Ship Phase. Rebel commander General Dodonna
, on the other hand, ensures that the faceup damage you deal your enemies will be as impactful as possible.
As you select the specific ship and squadrons that you’ll add to your fleet, along with any upgrades that you intend to use, you begin to form the outline of a larger strategy. As you change your selections, this outline changes. Accordingly, even with a limited number of ship miniatures, you can field an impressively diverse assortment of fleets, each of which may pursue its own strategy in battle.
A Victory-class Star Destroyer heads to battle, flanked by six TIE fighter squadrons.
Define Your Objectives
Your selection of ships and fighters to fly into battle isn’t accompanied only by your decisions of how to upgrade them and who to assign as commander. There’s another, critical step to fleet-building in Armada.
Along with its ships, fighters, and upgrades, your fleet must include three objectives. These add variety to each battle by providing a narrative for why your fleets are fighting each other. Importantly, they also change how you score points, so you want to make sure that your choice of objectives fits into your overall strategy.
There are three categories of objectives:
||Assault: Assault objectives typically identify one or more ships that are worth extra fleet points when destroyed.
||Defense: Defense objectives encourage you to position your ships so that they control specific sections of the battlefield.
||Navigation: Navigation objectives reward you for maneuvering aggressively and with precision.
You have to bring one objective from each category. Then, at the beginning of the game, the first player chooses one of the second player’s three objectives to use throughout the game. All other objectives are set aside.
Like Most Wanted
, each objective introduces additional rules to impact your setup, as well as a number of unique game effects that can shape the course of a game. Additionally, most objectives introduce ways for you to score points that aren’t based solely upon the costs of the ships and squadrons you destroy.
Expanded Fleet, Expanded Options
For those players who want to explore Armada and its battles beyond the Core Set, the game’s expansion packs increase your options considerably.
As you grow your collection with new expansions, their ships, upgrades, and commanders all offer you new options for fleet-building. Already, in our announcement of the first wave of Armada expansions
, we’ve had an early look at the Gladiator-class Star Destroyer, the Assault Frigate Mark II, and the other starships that will arrive to retailers at the same time as the Core Set. Each comes with its own strengths, so that you can build the fleet that best suits your tactics.
You can already sense the impending avalanche of add-ons ships, fighter squadrons and commanders from here can’t you. I can’t begin to imagine how white hot these games are going to be once the new STAR WARS movies hit…