Friday, 21 October 2016

Mundo: Star Wars Armada

Although I enjoy lots of board games and war games, the game that has really given me the bug since it came out in April 2015 is Star Wars Armada by Fantasy Flight Games.  For those who haven't played it, Armada is a classic 2 person wargame played with miniatures set in the Star Wars universe.  The miniatures are prepainted capital ships (think Imperial star destroyers from the movies) with swarms of fighters.

The basic principle is: gather two fleets (preferably Rebel vs. Imperial), build a fleet to 400 points (tournament standard, plays out in about 2 hours) and choose a mission (called 'objectives').  Movement is determined by the current speed and movement chart for each kind of ship, which can be changed by navigation commands.  When in range, dice are rolled to conduct attacks and eventually a winner emerges over 6 turns.

What makes Armada unique is the movement system which means that the capital ships (especially large ones) feel lumbering and have momentum, while fighters flit around them, engaging the enemy in dogfights or conducting bombing runs.  In addition, the order system means that you have to plan what your capital ships will be doing several turns ahead, and attacks are conducted before movement - meaning that having a clear battle plan is absolutely vital.

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My Imperial fleet in action

So far, so awesome.  However, there are 3 key reasons why this game is currently the best wargame in the market (in my opinion):

1) Easy to learn, difficult to master
- I think the rules are simple enough to be easy to learn, while not requiring a law degree to unpick interactions between a ton of special rules during a game
- At the same time, mastering the game requires a lot of practice and finesse, which rewards planning and some hard thinking. I am still learning with every game!
- The 'meta' (sorry) also means there is no one dominant list which totally kicks everyone else's butt, and that the well supported organised FFG tournaments can be won by any type of list

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Although the Rebels appear to be in trouble, I tabled this Imperial fleet through sneaky manoeuvres

2) Minimised influence of random luck
- Although war games inevitably involve some element of dice or random chance, this is kept to a manageable level in Armada, primarily when ships and squadrons attack
- What is really great is the deterministic collision (often literally) of two opposing battle plans, which can give very different results depending on the players' commands and fleet builds
- Movement and orders are to a large extent predetermined due to the choices on your command dial, which further rewards good planning and skillful play

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All the blanks - even minimising luck you can get these kind of dice rolls!

3) It feels like the movies
- Massive star destroyers floating along and battering enemy ships to dust. Swarms of X-wings hammering Imperial battleships. It really all evokes Star Wars.
- Folks who walk past our gaming table always stop to look at the really great miniatures. What could be more iconic (and terrifying to face) than an Imperial-class star destroyer?
- And best of all, the models look good straight out of the box due to prepainting - which as a working dad with 2 small kids, I really appreciate!

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Imperial-class star destroyers for sale - yours to drive today for only £35 RRP

Overall the cost to buy-in is pretty reasonable (£60 for a starter set, plus the same again for some ships and fighters).  However, like any wargame it sucks you in and drains the wallet, but at less of a rate than GW games.

I would highly recommend anyone give it a try if you like Star Wars and/or 'chess-like' war games.  Now I just need to convince Hewkers and Pyromatt to play some more games with me...


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