Armada has an active and highly organized tournament scene and ever shifting meta – Look who’s dominating now!
A little while ago I talked a bit about the overall meta and it’s variety in Star Wars Armada. Since then I’ve been thinking a lot more about meta and how it’s played out in the higher level organized events. Over at the FFG Armada forums intrepid user shmitty has taken the time to compile a database of results and list info from this years regional events. He managed to get some data from a total of twenty five official regional events (As of June 8th, he may have collected more since then). These include not just US events but events from all over the world, Poland, Austria, Australia and England are counted among the places he’s gotten data from. Now fair warning, this data is only complete for about seven of the events, for the others he only managed to get partial data. Still I think this is one of the best sources we have for checking out what the competitive meta looks like right now. So let’s dig in!
First I want to talk about what fleet builds people took to these events. Later we will cover how those builds did. Overall there was a slight bias towards the Imperials as a faction, with something like 55% of fleets being Imperial and 45% being Rebel. This is honestly a lot closer than I had expected and a good sign to get a nearly 50-50 split. Motti was the most played admiral, 1 out of 5 total fleets had Motti in them. Screed was a close second. Ackbar and Rieekan were both well played on the Rebel side, but no other admirals saw significant play. Vader was the least taken Admiral. DeMSU (Demolisher and at least 3 other ships) was the most taken fleet archetype at 21% of the total fleets. A swarm of small Rebel ships was the second most taken type.
The average fleet size was between 3-4 ships and the average number of squadrons taken was 4-5, though about 22% of fleets took no squadrons, so this number is a bit skewed. The most popular ships where the Gladiator and ISD, both where taken by 61% of Imperial players. 51% of Rebel players took the CR90 making it the most fielded Rebel ship. Unsurprisingly 61% of Imperial players took Demolisher in their fleet also. The venerable Victory was the least taken ship.
While the overall fleets taken show a pretty good spread of options, the winner’s fleets are a different story. First off, the Imperials crushed it at the Regional level, winning 68% of the Regional events, which is pretty dominating. Only 5 admirals showed up in winning fleets, Motti, Screed, Ackbar, Rieekan and surprisingly Vader. 40% of the winning fleets took Motti. In addition a fleet comprising some version of the Rhymerball/Fireball won 40% of the events, making it the winningest archetype, even though it made up only 15% of fleet builds. DeMSU came in for the next most wins, followed by a tie between Rebel Swarm Fleets and Rebel Carrier Fleets. While both the ISD and the Gladiator were taken in 61% of Imperial fleets the Gladiator proved to be a more winning ship. 63% of winning Imperial fleets took at least one Gladiator, while only 44% of them included ISDs. 75% of winning Rebel fleets contained a CR90.
So What’s the Meta?
Well at least as far as the competitive meta is concerned the short answer is: Imperials. In addition to Motti, Rhymer and Demolisher all proved to be at the top of the game. With a Rhymer/Fireball fleet being the fleet to beat. Rebel wise the wave two admirals Rieekan and Ackbar proved to be the best chance of winning, no other Rebel admirals won tournaments, or even performed very well. Turbolaser Reroute Circuits proved to be a winning card for Rebels, 63% of winning Rebel fleet contained them.
The fighter vs no fighter debate still rages. While Rhymer based builds did win the most games, outside of them, fighter heavy builds did so-so. DeMSU and Rebel Swarm, both fighter light builds, placed in the top four winning fleets. 13% of winning fleet even had no fighters. I would argue that Major Rhymer is the main factor in making fighter builds seem dominant, and a major factor in the Imperial winning streak. In addition the MC80 proved to be a major component of winning Rebel fleets, while the Assault Frigate performed much worse.
Problems and Concerns
I do think looking at this data raises a couple of balance concerns for the game going forward. With this large of a sample size I’d really like to see a more even 50-50 split among the winners in regards to the factions they took. That it’s skewed so heavily towards Imperials worries me a bit. I think a large reason for this is that Imperials tend to be easier and more forgiving to play, but a few of the cards are also issues.
When it comes to the squadron game I think Imperials have a clear advantage and this is mostly thanks to Major Rhymer, though he gets a little help from the Firesprays. I think the extreme dominance of this list is something of an issue, especially since the Rebels can’t get anything like it. I think Rhymer is too much of an auto include for offensive Imperial fighter builds and something should be done.
Speaking of auto includes I think we can all agree that Demolisher is a bit of a problem card as well. It’s simply too good. I’m not saying this simply because 21% of the total fleets and 16% of the winning fleets were built around it, that alone wouldn’t be a huge problem. No, I am saying that because 63% of Imperials took Gladiators and 63% of Imperials also took Demolisher. Every single Imperial player paid the points to upgrade a Gladiator to Demolisher. It’s just that good. No card should be such an auto include and to me this shows it’s just too good; there is no option but to take it.
In addition to those cards I think there is a pretty big issues between parity among the Admirals. Those that get played, Motti, Screed, Ackbar and Rieekan, got used a lot (70% of lists had one of those admirals) and they are also the ONLY Admirals who are winning (with the one Vader win being an exception). The other six have pretty much entirely fallen by the wayside and that’s too bad. Lastly Victory Class Star Destroyers have pretty much been entirely eclipsed by ISDs and were the by far the least played ship. I hope FFG can find a good way for these older ships to remain playable.
Overall I think despite some hitches the Armada meta is actually in a pretty good space. There are still a lot of viable fleet options out there you can take to stay competitive in the Organized Play. In addition while I’ve talked about what fleet archetypes are winning there is still a lot of variation within those builds. I’d also go on to say that player skill remains a huge deciding factor in Armada and the people winning these events are doing it based on skill more than pure build power. Lastly, it’s important to remember that meta is always changing. People build and adapt to face the winning fleets. And, in addition, we’ve got waves 3 and 4 right around the corner. They are sure to shake up the meta again and provide for many more exciting and fun games of Star Wars: Armada.
Well that’s all for today folks! I encourage everyone to check at the full list of results and tell us what you think. Did you play in an Armada tournament? If you did share your stories and thoughts below!
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