Star Wars Armada Battle Report: Fleet Ambush!

It took longer than I would have liked to finish this post, but at least it’s up now.

Once every two weeks or so a few of my friends and I get together to play some Star Wars: Armada.  In the past I’ve posted pictures of these games in real-time on Twitter with a super-condensed summary of the last round, but obviously being limited to 140 characters makes that extremely difficult.  So let’s try a full-on Battle Report!

Part of my excitement for this game is the fact that finally, after months of this game, we had an actual table surface to play on.  I own two card tables that we often put next to each other when playing Dungeons and Dragons or painting miniatures, but they are too small to fit a 3×6 play area for Armada.  As a result, we’ve always been forced to play on the floor. Tired of this arrangement, I finally purchased a nice piece of plywood from the hardware store and, some time spent sanding later, we have a gaming surface that can be stored as two separate pieces.  Quick and simple, and in time I’ll stain the wood and add some method to keep the pieces together when in use, but for this first match perfectly functional and much more comfortable.

You’ll see in the photos that I’m using a large 3×6 gaming mat with a beautiful star field.  That pricey accessory was purchased from Deep-Cut Studio, and I absolutely love it.  The mat is essentially a giant mouse pad, so it’s not a PVC mat nor a flat piece of fabric; it has a printed-on fabric top surface and a rubberized bottom.  It’s thicker than a cloth mat and doesn’t develop creases, and can be easily rolled up and stored in the fabric bag that it was shipped with.  Because the mat isn’t made of PVC the surface isn’t nearly as slippery, so ships don’t go sliding everywhere.  It’s absolutely great to play with, so if you have the money and you’re looking for a mat for Armada or any other tabletop game (they have ground terrain for games like Warhammer as well as space terrain) I’d heavily suggest you look into a Deep-Cut mat.

The 3D terrain you’ll also see in the pictures is from the now defunct Space-Rocks.com, which unfortunately received a cease and desist and thus is no longer functioning.  I got the asteroids, ship debris, and space station just a month or so before they closed down; lucky me.  Really adds some great depth to the board.

 

The match was myself as the Imperials vs my good friend Jake as the Rebellion.  As luck would have it, Wave IV of Armada had just come out the prior week, and the Interdictor-class cruiser I had ordered arrived just before the match. Didn’t even have time to paint it, but at least it got some game-time.

 

Part 1: Pre-Battle Preparations

Jeff – The Empire
          Admiral Motti (24pts)
Imperial II-class Star Destroyer (Flagship) – Intel Officer, Phylon Q7 Tractor Beams, Electronic Countermeasures, XI7 Turbolasers, Relentless (149pts)
Interdictor Suppression Refit – Admiral Titus, G-8 Experimental Projector, Targeting Scrambler, Interdictor (108pts)
Gladiator I-class Star Destroyer – Ordnance Experts, Engine Techs, Assault Concussion Missiles, Demolisher (85pts)
TIE Fighter Squadron (8pts)
TIE Fighter Squadron (8pts)
TIE Fighter Squadron (8pts)
TIE Fighter Squadron (8pts)
Total: 398pts
Objectives: Advanced Gunnery, Fleet Ambush, Intel Sweep

I intended on using the Interdictor for hard support of the Relentless.  Demolisher would swing in and ultimately be an expendable source of punishment for the ships that Interdictor would hopefully be able to prevent from moving.  The TIEs are of course a modicum of a screen, intended just to tarpit any squadron Jake might bring to the table.  I’m hoping to go first this game to take advantage of Demolisher, an oddity as I often try to go second to get one of my objectives in play.

Jake – The Rebellion
          Mon Mothma (30pts)
 Assault Frigate Mark II B (Flagship) – Defense Liaison, Flight Controllers, Expanded Hanger Bay, Redundant Shields, XI7 Turbolasers, Gallant Haven (109pts)
Nebulon-B Escort Frigate – Defense Liaison, Engineering Team, Redemption (73pts)
Nebulon-B Escort Frigate – Defense Liaison, Yavaris (65pts)
Tycho Celchu (16pts)
Wedge Antilles (19pts)
HWK-290 (12pts)
X-Wing Squadron (13pts)
A-Wing Squadron (11pts)
Y-Wing Squadron (10pts)
Y-Wing Squadron (10pts)
B-Wing Squadron (14pts)
B-Wing Squadron (14pts)
Total: 396pts
Objectives: Opening Salvo, Fleet Ambush, Superior Positions

Jake ends up going for a very squadron-heavy list, and his upgrade choices definitely reflect that.  Initially I’m fairly pleased that my TIEs will have plenty of targets to tie up (ha), but then realize quickly that the HWK-290’s Intel ability will make them ultimately useless for that purpose.  It can’t be everywhere at once, though, so perhaps I can still harass him effectively.

Jake wins the initiative bid and, to my delight, chooses to go second.  His objectives, also to my incredible delight, include Fleet Ambush.  Perfect; had I been forced to go second I was hoping he would pick my own Fleet Ambush to put some of his ships right in Interdictor range.  This decision puts Demolisher at an unfavorable distance, but with its higher speed I’m hoping it will get to the battle by Round 3.

This is the set-up at the beginning of the game, before Round 1 begins.  At this point I’m already not looking favorably at my positioning; I placed Interdictor first and too far to the left and back, leaving no room for Relentless to position ideally.  I decided to place Relentless pointed in the direction of Jake’s Gallant Haven, intending on swinging Interdictor around toward the twin Nebulon-Bs ASAP to try and keep within Targeting Scrambler range.  Relentless and Interdictor are both beginning at speed 2, with Demolisher at speed 3.  Jake starts Gallant Haven at speed 2, and the Yavaris and Redemption at speed 1.

 

Part 2: Battle Report

Round 1

I start by first using Admiral Titus’ ability to reduce the speed of Gallant Haven (in these images the one on the right, closest to the space stationto 1, then activate Relentless which is already close enough to take a few pot-shots at Gallant Haven, doing  a bit of damage to its front hull zone.  Jake responds by activating Gallant Haven in turn.  Ultimately the Assault Frigate does decent damage against the ISD’s shields before it is forced to position itself just ahead of its swarm of squadrons.  My guess here; Jake is hoping his bombers will be able to do enough damage to Relentless and Gallant Haven will be able to survive a Round 2 strike and fire back at the ISD and take it out.

I activate Interdictor second, using a navigate command to bring it around nearly 90° and aim straight down the line between his two Nebulon-Bs.  This puts me within distance 5 of both frigates.  I allow the Yavaris (in these images the one on the left, closest to Gallant Haven) to complete its speed 1 maneuver and Demolisher then heads toward the battlefield.  Now within distance 5, I use my G-8 Experimental Projectors to temporarily lock the Redemption down to speed 0 as it tries to move.

IMG_1733
Round 1, before the squadron phase begins.
This first squadron phase is relatively uneventful.  I attempt to position my TIEs as close to his bombers as possible in order to engage them while staying away from the HWK-290.  Ultimately Jake gains first blood by using Wedge to destroy one group of TIEs in a single attack, then moving the HWK to a new position and prevent those TIEs from halting his bombers even further.  He finishes Round 1 with a large mass of squadrons clustered around Relentless, ready to disperse their payload on the next round.

 

Round 2

Round 2 starts out well for me.  I begin by activating Relentless again and lay waste into Gallant Haven.  Mon Mothma does her part and reduces the impact of the attack, but Relentless leaves the Assault Frigate with 1 hull point left after causing Structural Damage.  Gallant Haven activates next, doing what it can put a few cards on Relentless before it moves forward and it and Mon Mothma are lost to the asteroid field.

I activate Interdictor second, putting some fire on Redemption and parking directly in front of Yavaris.  Then Yavaris actives with a squadron command.  Jake has plenty of his bombers in position with no need to move, and so two of them to unleash a total of four die pools of fire onto the rear-hull of Relentless, taking out most of its shields in the process and adding a few cards of damage.  Included in this attack is a face-up Comm Noise, which Jake gleefully uses to change my up-coming engineering command into a useless squadron command.  Demolisher moves up next, lined up directly with Yavaris (and the interceding asteroid field). Redemption activates last and puts a few die into Interceptor‘s starboard side, then my G-8 Projector once again prevents it from going anywhere.

IMG_1737
First flagship down.
Round 2’s squadron phase is significantly more bombastic and doesn’t go nearly well for the Imps.  I am able to bring Wedge down to 1 hull left, but the HWK has two of my engaged TIEs made utterly useless, allowing the rest of Jake’s bombers to relentlessly fire into Relentless‘ aft.  They’re able to pile on the 14 damage cards needed to take it down, with Interdictor literally millimeters too far out of range for its Targeting Scrambler to help.  I thus lose my flagship on the same round that Jake does, and mine is worth exactly 40 extra points, not including the squadron of TIEs lost earlier in the match.  My earlier advantage is now gone; Jake is winning the points-war.

 

Round 3

I opt to activate Demolisher first, but make a stupid mistake by attempting to fire at Yavaris from long range while obstructed by the asteroids, somehow forgetting that once I shoot from my front arc I will be unable to do so again once I get within close-range.  Still, I am able to deal two damage cards with a lucky double-hit roll before Demolisher runs straight through the asteroids into Yavaris, dealing another damage card to the frigate and two to itself (one for the collision and one for the asteroids; and yes unfortunately we entirely forgot that asteroids deal a FACE-UP damage card).  I use Engine Techs to execute another speed 1 maneuver, colliding with Yavaris again (and remaining on the asteroids) to bring the total damage on both ships to four.  Then, with nothing else to do, I shoot some AA fire at Jake’s mass of ships, dealing 1 damage to every squadron except Wedge, who continues to fly on.

Yavaris activates next, putting some damage into Interdictor to bring its total damage to 4.  It then runs directly into the cruiser, blowing itself up and bringing Interdictor‘s damage to 5.  Interdictor itself goes next, and I use a repair command and token for a whopping 8 engineering points.  I use these to remove 2 of its damage cards and move some of its shields around.  The cruiser then takes out Redemption‘s starboard shields before heading out, getting uncomfortably close to Jake’s cloud of bombers.  Jake activates Redemption, puts a few potshots onto my two ships, and uses a navigate command to increase it’s speed to 2 before attempting to start up its engines.  Interdictor‘s G-8 Projector keeps it moving at speed 1, though, meaning the frigate doesn’t get very far.

IMG_1741
That rogue TIE near the upper left corner should be on the asteroid with Demolisher; we just forgot to move it back.
This squadron phase is again mostly uneventful.  Jake positions some of his bombers directly in Interdictor‘s path for when Round 4 comes, I lose another TIE squadron, and Wedge finally succumbs to the cold embrace of space.

IMG_1743

 

Round 4

As Round 4 starts I find myself with a small lead in points, but everything hangs on this next round.  If I am unable to destroy Redemption before the round ends, Jake’s bombers will easily wipe out Interdictor on this and the next two rounds.  Demolisher, unfortunately, is also poised to run right off the map after this round.  Redemption must fall or it will easily fly out of range and I’ll be tabled.

I activate Demolisher first, firing a single red die at Redemption‘s starboard side.  Its evade token earlier already burned, Demolisher is able to deal a damage.   Demolisher executes its speed 3 maneuver which puts it about a centimeter from the board edge, and Redemption‘s starboard flank directly in the way of a close-range broadside.  Four black dice deal another two damage, bringing Redemption to three.  The Rebel frigate activates, puts a few shots on Demolisher‘s own starboard, and tries to speed away, but Interdictor once again keeps it at speed 1.

IMG_1744

Interdictor moves last, but is within medium range thanks to the G-8 Projectors.  One red and three blue dice give me two accuracies, targeting his braces, and two damage to the frigate.  Redemption goes down at the last possible second, leaving Jake with no ships left on the board.

But he could still score a psychological victory; my Interdictor is staring down a host of bombers, and the game doesn’t end until the end of the round.  On the last squadron phase of the game Jake’s bomber’s fire into the Interdictor‘s unshielded sides.  My contain tokens and brace token prevent any crits from hitting the hull, but the cruiser’s hull goes from three damage to four, then six, then seven, until finally with the last salvo of two damage incoming I burn my brace and bring the total damage to eight out of nine with the closing of the game; Interdictor has just managed to survive.

 

Result

Imperials win over the Rebels by way of defeat, with a 107 margin of victory.  That would earn me 7 tournament points and Jake 4, though of course in a tournament we wouldn’t have forgotten how asteroids work.

 

Part 3: Reflection

I walked away with the win, but it was a sour one.  We didn’t realize the asteroid error until the next day, and that’s a big mistake to make.  Those face-up damage cards could have easily been anything to cripple or take out Demolisher with its one remaining hull point, and without Demolisher in that last round Redemption never would have gone down.  Interdictor barely scapped by once Jake’s bombers spotted it, so once the game went on to round 5 I would have been dead.  Not making that mistake again.

That said, the game was called as it was.  I probably should have tried a different strategy with the double-collision-through-the-asteroids bit.  My brain momentarily assumed that Nebulon-Bs have four hull points, not five, and thus I thought the double-collision idea would give me another dead ship, and then Interdictor could fire on Redemption.  Stupid stupid stupid.  Another mistake I’m not likely to repeat, but that’s the value behind playing; you always learn something, even if it’s re-learning.

I will say, the Interdictor was the star of this show.  I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion about how it’s a glorified and overly-expensive Victory that can’t even function as a carrier.  That is correct; the Interdictor isn’t going to be great at supporting squadrons.  But that’s not what it’s designed to do.  This cruiser is an absolutely fantastic support ship.  Many of my moves would not have been possible without the G-8 Experimental Projector, which wonderfully shut down the Rebel’s speed advantage.  Jake started his ships at a relatively slower speed in the first place, but the G-8 turned that tactical decision into a nightmare as his frigates weren’t able to do much of anything.  For the Imperials with generally slower ships, bringing the Rebels down to their speed is incredibly rewarding.  I actually could have made better use of Admiral Titus by parking one of his frigates at speed 0 at the beginning of round 1, and then using the tractor beams on Relentless to bring Gallant Haven down to speed 1 anyway; I’ll be paying closer attention to that next time.

I never got to use the Targeting Scrambler, though in hindsight I could have made use of it on the Interdictor itself a few times (at the time of the game I didn’t realize the upgrade could work on the ship it’s attached to) and at least once on Relentless early in the game to prevent the initial damage from Gallant Haven.

Besides the great support value, though, the Interdictor is not a bad ship on its own.  It’s not quite as offensively formidable as a Victory, but it has amazing durability.  The ability to have 8 engineering points in a round, provided you have access to a token, is phenomenal.  Without it my ship would have popped in the last round.  The two contain tokens also seems like overkill, but the standard critical effect can be absolutely devastating if you pull the wrong card.  In this game alone spending and burning through them on the last round against the bombers likely saved the ship.  It’s also surprisingly maneuverable.  Interdictors aren’t particularly fast, but having a click on each slot greatly increases it’s ability to maneuver, and a navigate command or token lets it make an almost 90° turn.  That’s valuable, and kept my ship in the middle of the fray where it was needed even when it and Relentless were pointing in nearly opposite directions.

I enjoyed this list, but it has some glaring weaknesses.  The Interdictor shenanigans are great against ships, but I had almost no answer to the bomber swarm that Jake brought with him; my paltry fighter screen was rendered nearly useless thanks to his HWK-290.  I think squadron-heavy lists will find themselves quite strong against Interdictor-focused fleets.

 

And that’s the Battle Report!  Hope you enjoyed, and perhaps I’ll try to do more in the future.

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