Assemble the Fleet
A Look at Fleet-building in STAR WARS (TM): Armada
“Hurry. The Alliance should be assembled by now.”
The Star Wars galaxy is vast. Thousands of space-faring species inhabit millions of worlds. Their diversity is expressed in their technologies, philosophies, and attitudes, and in Star Wars™: Armada, rules for fleet-building allow you to bring a degree of this diversity to your strategies.
For starters, in Armada, a starship isn’t just a starship. It’s also a weapon that’s wielded by the pilot who flies it or the crew that operate it. It can be enhanced with weapon upgrades, reinforced hull plating, and better comm systems. You might improve your command ship by outfitting it with an expanded hangar bay, or you might simply improve its performance by hand-picking all your crew members from the most elite talent available.
Ships, Crews, Commanders, and Weapons
In Armada, your fleet isn’t just the collection of miniature starships and fighter squadrons that you bring to the table; you also bring a collection of cards that define how your starships will function. These include ship, squadron, upgrade, and commander cards.
Each card has a fleet point cost, indicated by a number in its lower right corner, and in a standard game, you and your opponent can each spend up to a total of 300 fleet points. If you spend fewer fleet points than your opponent, however, you can determine who will have initiative as the first player.
You need a ship card for each ship you bring to battle. Your choice of ship card for a given miniature will impact both its abilities and its weight in your fleet.
As noted in our preview of the game’s fighter squadrons, each squadron can be fielded as a non-unique collection of starfighters, or as one led by an ace pilot. Your decision impacts the abilities, defense tokens (if any), and fleet cost of your squadron.
Upgrade cards come in all forms. You have weapons upgrades, comms upgrades, and crew upgrades, and each ship in your fleet comes with an upgrade bar that indicates what sort of upgrades you can attach to it. For a modest investment of fleet points, each upgrade card introduces a new ability that allows you to customize a ship to better fit into your overall strategy.
Examples of upgrade cards include the crew member Leia Organa, Enhanced Armament, and the CR90 corvette title, Dodonna’s Pride.
Each fleet needs a commander. Your commander is a special type of upgrade card, and you must assign one commander to one of your capital ships. This ship then becomes your flagship. You can only have one flagship in your fleet, but it can be any of your ships, regardless of the upgrade icons on its upgrade bar. Then, so long as your flagship remains intact, your commander bolsters your fleet with a powerful and unique ability that you’ll do well to incorporate into your strategy.
As you select the specific ship and squadrons that you’ll add to your fleet, along with any upgrades that you intend to use, you begin to form the outline of a larger strategy. As you change your selections, this outline changes. Accordingly, even with a limited number of ship miniatures, you can field an impressively diverse assortment of fleets, each of which may pursue its own strategy in battle.
Define Your Objectives
Your selection of ships and fighters to fly into battle isn’t accompanied only by your decisions of how to upgrade them and who to assign as commander. There’s another, critical step to fleet-building in Armada.
Along with its ships, fighters, and upgrades, your fleet must include three objectives. These add variety to each battle by providing a narrative for why your fleets are fighting each other. Importantly, they also change how you score points, so you want to make sure that your choice of objectives fits into your overall strategy.
There are three categories of objectives:
Assault: Assault objectives typically identify one or more ships that are worth extra fleet points when destroyed.
Defense: Defense objectives encourage you to position your ships so that they control specific sections of the battlefield.
Navigation: Navigation objectives reward you for maneuvering aggressively and with precision.
You have to bring one objective from each category. Then, at the beginning of the game, the first player chooses one of the second player’s three objectives to use throughout the game. All other objectives are set aside.
Like Most Wanted, each objective introduces additional rules to impact your setup, as well as a number of unique game effects that can shape the course of a game. Additionally, most objectives introduce ways for you to score points that aren’t based solely upon the costs of the ships and squadrons you destroy.
Expanded Fleet, Expanded Options
For those players who want to explore Armada and its battles beyond the Core Set, the game’s expansion packs increase your options considerably.
As you grow your collection with new expansions, their ships, upgrades, and commanders all offer you new options for fleet-building. Already, in our announcement of the first wave of Armada expansions, we’ve had an early look at the Gladiator-class Star Destroyer, the Assault Frigate Mark II, and the other starships that will arrive to retailers at the same time as the Core Set. Each comes with its own strengths, so that you can build the fleet that best suits your tactics.
In our next couple previews, we’ll explore the different Wave I ships, as well as their new crews, commanders, and weapons, and we’ll look at how these ships offer different strategic options for your Rebel and Imperial fleets.