A friend, bought a copy of Star Wars Armada a while ago and we finally got around to having our first game this evening. The initial “Learning to play” guide gave a nice, straightforward to follow set-up and allowed us to get moving with ease.
N. took the Imperial forces, a Victory class star destroyer with 6 squadrons of Tie fighters whilst I took the Rebel forces consisting a Nebulon-B frigate, CR90 corvette and 4 squadrons of X-wing starfighters.
The game play involves six turns during which time each player attempts to score as many points (by destroying enemy units) as possible. The ships are activated in turn first and each ship goes through three phases, command, attack and move. The command phase involves sending commands down from the captain to the rest of the vessel and allows to player to focus on a specific aspect (navigation, engineering etc.)
The game has a great way of simulating the fact that larger ships have larger crews and hence respond slower to commands. Each ship has a stack of command dials which are placed face down. During the command phase you turn over the top one and this gives you the ability to do things like change speed, repair shields, activate fighter squadrons early etc.
Once this is done you choose a new command for the dial and place it at the bottom. This means you commands take as many turns as you have dials to take effect. The corvette only had one dial so you choose a command and can use it next turn. The star destroyer had a stack of three so you have to start planning three turns ahead.
After the command phase is over the next is to attack during which turn you can attack using any two hull zones. This allows you to spread your attacks over one ship and one squadron or concentrate fire on a single ship.
Finally the ship can be moved using a great manoeuvre “snake” which allows repeatable movements to be performed but with some flexibility in how your ship moves.
After each of the ships has completed its ship phase the squadrons take their turn and can simply move or fire. Combat is simple and swift with it possible to wipe out an entire squadron in a turn or two.
Our game started with my ships picking up some speed and moving apart in order to approach the star destroyer from either side which in turn lumbered towards my side moving more towards my Neb-B. The squadrons started to swarm in together although it of range for the first turn or so.
The middle of the game involved my Neb-B and CR90 pounding the Victory class SD resulting in her shields being almost completely reduced to nil. Squadron-wise, the melee split into two sub-groups which continued to duke it out.
Unfortunately I overcooked the approach speed and although I managed to do some damage, I ended up shooting past the SD with my CR90 and offering a view of my more lightly guarded engines at the rear. A serious bombardment by N. and my CR90 exploded into a thousand pieces. The Neb-B wasn’t much better and suffered a fair bit of damage (coolant leaks etc.) so ended up out of range and safe although not able to come back into range before the end of the six turns.
The X-wings, however, fare a little better. All but one TIE squadrons were destroyed although half of the X-wings were sacrificed in this brave exchange.
Overall, N. easily won on points especially due to the CR90 copping for it. The whole first game took around 2 hours to play with the final turns down to 5-10 minutes as we got used to the rules.