SW Armada: Liberty vs ISD Fight of the Century
The MC80 Liberty and Imperial Star Destroyer are two of the most feared ships in Armada. How they match up to each other?
The Imperial Class Star Destroyer is the iconic Star Wars capital ship. In Armada it the most powerful Imperial ship in the game, and the mainstay of most Imperial fleets. In Wave IV FFG released the Liberty variant of the classic MC80, this is the closest ship the Rebels get to filling the role of an ISD. Both ships are bruisers with their main armaments focused on frontal attacks and able to take a pounding. The question then has to be asked: how do these two similar ships match up against each other. In particular how does the MC80 Battle Cruiser match up vs the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer (ISD2). Let dig in.
Our contestants tonight
Cost and Role
Off the bat the ISD2 is a more flexible ship than the Liberty. While both have command 3 and engineering 4, fairly standard for large ships, the ISD2 has Squadron 4, the MC80 has 2. Because of this the ISD2 can fill the role of front line battleship or carrier, while the Liberty makes a weak carrier at best. This does however allow the Liberty to focus a little more, while the ISD2 runs the risk of trying to do too many things at once. Both are fast ships with good range, so they can fight however they want. Neither is particularly maneuverable, but the ISD2 wins out in that regard, at speed two at least, getting two clicks to one.
The big down side to the ISD is its cost, 120 points, the Liberty is 17 points cheaper at 103, making it only the third most expensive Rebel ship. While 17 points may not seem a lot it is a significant difference in a 400 point list. Overall in terms of roles, speed and cost, the ships are pretty similar.
Spoiler: it didn’t help
Of course front line battleships like these are all about the big guns. In these cases each ship represents the pinnacle of long range firepower for its side (I’m talking base states alone here). In anti ship armament the Imperial is the clear winner, getting an extra blue one every facing over the Liberty. With this exception they are equal in fire power. Now a single blue dice may not seem like much, but it can really add up over a game. Anti-squadron armament is a bit more of a toss up. On the face of it two blue dice seems better than two black dice. Better range and the ability to more squadrons is great. However blue anti-squadron dice only have a 50% chance to hit, whereas black have a 75% chance, making the shorter ranged Liberty very deadly to squadrons.
Defenses, the one technology Gungans have mastered above all other races
In Armada being able to take a hit is as important as being able to deal them out. Both of these ships are built to take some punishment. The Liberty starts off strong, it has the best front shields in the game so far at five , but overall it’s shields are worse than the ISD2s, 11 vs 12 total. In addition the ISD2 has three more hull points, this is big. While the shields mostly balance out, the difference in hull points really buts the ISD2 ahead in defenses.
Even the best defenses have flaws
The saving grace of the Liberty is it’s defense tokens. While at first glance it seems the loser here, since the ISD2 gets four tokens and it only gets three, the fact that it gets two braces is big. Brace is the best defense token a big ship can get (obviously scatter is the best token overall). Most ships, like the ISD2, only get one, allowing for it to be easily targeted by an accuracy, having two braces vastly increases the chance that the Liberty will be able to halve any major hit it takes, and is really the only thing that lets its match the toughness of the ISD2.
Titles to match their mighty deeds
Both ships get three pretty decent titles. Overall I think the ISD2 gets better ones. Relentless is my favorite, it’s cheap and gives a great benefit. Endeavor is I think the best Liberty title, giving you a contain to make you a bit more survivable. Avenger is great for a ship that is going to active last. The Liberty title works well if you need your ship to act as a carrier. Both Devastator and Mon Karren seem cool but I think they are a bit pricey and most likely not worth it.
I feel the need, the need for speed
Lastly each ship can take a host of upgrades. The ISD2 can take, a title, officer, weapon team, offensive retrofit, defensive retrofit, ion cannons and a turbolaser. The Liberty on the other hand gets a title, officer, weapon team, support team, ion cannons and two turbolaser slots. Thus the ISD2 is again a more flexible ship, while the Liberty’s upgrades are most focused on dealing direct damage. The big thing the ISD2 gets over the Liberty is the defensive retrofit, an upgrade the Liberty would love to have and one that with things like Electronic Counter Measures makes the ISD2 even more survivable. To balance this the Liberty does get support teams, allowing it to gain speed (with engine techs) or agility (with nav team) over the ISD2.
Talk about an unfair match up!
The Final Comparison
So after looking at them in-depth like this I really am beginning to think the Liberty is either over costed or under-powered. For 17 points the ISD2 gets: three points of hull, one point of overall shields, one blue dice on each facing, two points of squadron, an extra defense token, an extra click at speed two and longer range anti-squadron firepower. In addition I would say it has better titles, better upgrade slots, defensive retrofits, and is better served by it’s fleets admirals. That’s a lot for 17 points.
The all power ECM helps put the ISD2 at the top of the game
Consider also that spinal armaments is a favorite upgrade for Liberty. With this upgrade they now put out the same number of dice fore and aft (5 red and 3 blue vs 4 and 4 for the ISD2). However your Liberty is now only 8 points cheaper than the ISD2 and still falling behind in several areas. In essence the Liberty is banking on it’s braces and the ability to take support teams to make up for its worse overall stats.
A brief summery of my feelings
So do I think the Liberty is useless? Not entirely. I do think it makes a weak match up point for point in a straight up fight vs an ISD2, though not an impossible one. I do think the ship could be better. However I think run with the right support it has a place in the Rebel fleet. And maybe that’s not a bad thing. The ISD2 is the classic Imperial ship, it might be OK that it’s an amazing ship and that most Imperial fleets want to take one. The Liberty on the other hand is more specialized. With some help it still has a role to play in certain fleets, albeit a more limited one than the ISD2.
Well BoLS fans, that’s it for today. Let us know which big ship you favor down in the comment!