Is Star Wars Armada moving to a 500 points game? Should it?
One of the more interesting aspects of the Corellian Conflict is the fleet building aspects of it. In particular the ability to build fleets up to 500 points in size. That this is allowed in the campaign has caused me to wonder if Armada might be moving to a new 500 points standard. This would not after all be the first time fleet lists sizes have changed. When Armada was first released the standard size for fleets was only 300 points. It was not until wave two, and the first large ships, came out that we moved to the 400 points standard we have today. So, should Armada move to 500 points? Lets take a look.
Nothing is Certain
Rumors there are, unverified are they.
I want to start off by admitting this is mostly speculation on the part of some fans. To my knowledge there is no official word or real rumor that the game size is changing. The introduction of larger fleets in the Corellian Conflict is however the perfect way to test the waters and get players used to a larger game size. I think we can take the inclusion of larger fleets in the Conflict as proof that FFG is at least thinking about fleet sizes.
How do They Work in Practice?
Practice makes the Jedi.
During my play-though of the campaign I got to play a couple of games with larger size fleets, and got to watch a couple more. Overall I felt the larger size worked perfectly fine. I did not notice that the size shift made the go overly complicated. Nor did I see significantly impact the time it took to play a standard game. In fact while people had some complainants about the Corellian Conflict, I have yet to see anyone online who had an issue with the point increase. You know how hard it is to find something the internet doesn’t complain about!
Wider Variety of Fleets
Perfect on a good nerf steak!
I think that a move to 500 points would be a real benefit for Armada. In particular I think it would really help balance the game. It would also allow for a wider variety of fleets to be effective. It seems clear that in the top tier meta, Rebel lists are a little more powerful than Imperial builds, and lists with several small or medium ships beat lists with a few large ships. I would say in general this trend is due to Rebels having more and better small cheap ships, while Imperial ships tend to be more costly. To me this has really limited some ships.
This is not what we were promised
For instance taking an ISD2 with some upgrades and plus your admiral is about half your points. Leaving you with the options of either taking a heavy fighter wing, and next to nothing else, or a couple of support ships and few fighters. Both versions of the MC80 suffer for similar problems. Seeing top tier lists with more than one big ship is rare. In their comments on the campaign the developers actually even note how some Admirals who are hard to fit in at 400 points, work really well at 500.
But… I love big things!
Moreover we’ve all seen a large number of lists with a few stripped down flotillas for activation purposes. Now while I like flotillas, taking ships thats’ sole purpose in the game is to be a cheap activation seems like a bit of a cheat. However at 500 points I think things really change up. Taking a large ship and supports with a fighter squadron is suddenly viable. Taking two large ships with some support is also viable. In general the less a percentage of your overall points a single ship is, the better it is and the more play it will get. In addition, support ships, like the Interdictor and Pelta, get a lot better when they are not taking a quarter to a third of your points. Bigger fleets leads to more variety and more balance at the end of the day.
Except for Chewie
Now obviously FFG has a good incentive to move the game to 500 points. Larger fleets means players need more ship. Players needing more ships means more sales. That being said, I don’t think FFG would make the move solely for finical reasons. Rather I think they would make it for the good of the game, and then just be happy with the benefit. But players too will benefit from a bigger game with more options. It also helps with game longevity, allowing for larger and more powerful ships, such as the Praetor Mark II–class battlecruiser or the Pellaeon-class Star Destroyer. The move from 300 to 400 points was widely considered a success and everyone won that time. I feel another jump in size could have similar results.
There are no downsides
The arguments against a move are twofold. First their is the argument that increasing the game size will slow down the game, making each battle take longer. This is definitely a risk. At some point increasing the game size would make the game too unwieldy. However based on my experiences, 500 points is not the breaking point for Armada. In fact I saw relatively little slow down in play.
We’ve got binders full of wo.. upgrade cards!
The other main argument is that increasing point size raises the barrier to entry for new players. This makes it more expensive to get into the game. This is technically true. Larger fleets will in the long run cost more. And yet I don’t feel its a real good argument. Just because tournament standard is 500 points does mean all players, or all new players need to play ever game at that size. Even at 400 points a lot of new players play their first few games at lower levels, and this is encouraged. If the standard moves to 500 points, nothing will change in that regard.
Unlike the movies
In addition, the nature of Armada fleets means its relatively easy to go up to 500 points. Most fleets can do it with only the addition of some upgrades and squadrons (of which everyone I know has extras.) In fact I would wager that every player who has a current 400 points fleet could also build a 500 point fleet right now with out buying a single thing. Sure, building the most optimal 500 points fleet might require a purchase or two, but that’s no different from what happens each time a new wave comes out. In the end while it may technically raise the barrier to entry, I don’t think it does so in an appreciable way.
Think deep we must.
Overall I think that a move to 500 points would be a great thing for Armada. It would allow for a lot more options in fleet building, as well as making large ships more viable. While making the game too large is always a danger, I feel that 500 points is still a good size. In addition I would say that the inclusion of 500 points fleets in the Corellian Conflict is a good indicator that we could be heading that way. We’ve already gone through one size change in Armada, and we might be about to get another one.
~That’s it for this time Armada fans! Let us know what size you think the game works best out, down in the comments!