18 September 2015 | Star Wars: Armada

Fast and Aggressive

A Preview of the Imperial Raider Expansion Pack for Star Wars™: Armada

The Massing at Sullust preview event for Star Wars™: Armada is now only a couple of weeks away. That means you'll soon be able to take your shot at the exciting new starships from Armada  Wave II. Prove your worth as fleet admiral, and you might walk away with an early copy of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Expansion Pack, Home One Expansion Pack, MC30c Frigate Expansion Pack, Rogues and Villains Expansion Pack, or Imperial Raider Expansion Pack.

Of course, to win any of these expansion packs, you'll need to make your plans to attend a The Massing at Sullust event. You'll also need to assemble your fleet and refine your strategy, and if you hope to claim first place and your first choice of expansion, you'll want to keep up to date with our Wave II previews.

Our first two previews offered closer looks at the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Expansion Pack and the Home One Expansion Pack. We looked at the different ship cards these expansions offer, as we as some of their new upgrades, including the new commanders, Darth Vader and Admiral Ackbar. Today, we continue our previews with a look at the Imperial Raider Expansion pack and what it might offer your Imperial fleet.

A Dedicated Anti-Fighter Warship

Conceived by Lira Wessex, the designer of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer, as a small and aggressive assault vessel that could reinforce the TIE fighter squadrons deployed by its larger Star Destroyer cousins, the Raider-class corvette is a durable, 150m vessel that features multiple hardpoints and excels at suppressing Rebel fighter attacks.

Fighter squadrons can play one of two primary roles in Armada, which developer Max Brooke noted in his strategy article about squadrons, "Bomber Wings and Fighter Screens." Bomber wings can quickly rip through enemy ships, while fighter screens are designed to engage bombers and keep them from your larger ships. Because bomber wings can be so brutally effective unless they run into screens of TIE fighters, TIE interceptors, or A-wings, and because those fighter screens are not terribly effective in combats when there are no fighters for them to engage, your investment in fighter squadrons is always something of a calculated gamble.

As a dedicated anti-fighter warship, the Raider-class corvette offers Imperial fleet admirals a chance to hedge their bets. Whether you use it to support a bomber wing, to reduce your investment in your fighter screen, or to replace your fighter screen altogether, the Raider is extremely fast, accurate, and well-suited to fighter suppression in ways that the Empire's other capital ships are not.

For starters, both versions of the Raider-class corvette – the Raider I-class Corvette and the Raider II-class Corvette – come with anti-squadron armaments of two dice, a lethality matched only by the anti-squadron armament of the Gladiator II-class Star Destroyer . Still, the Raider's two anti-squadron dice come at a discount of at least fourteen fleet points from the Gladiator's sixty-two points. Of the two Raider designs, the Raider II-class Corvette is the more expensive at forty-eight fleet points, while the Raider I-class Corvette weighs in at a mere forty-four fleet points.

Equally important to the Raider's role as an anti-fighter warship are a pair of upgrade cards that the Gladiator can't access – the two Raider titles, the Impetuous and the Instigator .

  • The Impetuous title reads, "At the end of your Attack Step, choose 1 of your hull zones. You may perform an attack against 1 enemy squadron from that hull zone, even if you have already attacked from that zone this round."
  • The Instigator title reads, "Enemy squadrons at distance 1 are treated as if they are engaged by 2 additional squadrons, even if they are not currently engaged."

Between them, these titles allow you to transform your Raider into either a powerful anti-fighter escort for your bomber wing or a resilient counter to your opponent's starfighters.

Outfitted with the Impetuous title, your Raider excels at cutting quickly through whichever squadron it prioritizes. While this ability doesn't offer it any extra defense against an enemy bomber wing, it comes in truly handy as you use your Raider to escort your bombers past an enemy fighter screen. Since admirals investing in fighter screens typically want to spend as little as possible on their fighter squadrons, they aren't likely to deploy more than a few squadrons to keep your bombers from their ships. That means that if your Impetuous can quickly punch through one or more squadrons in a round, your bombers are far more likely to be free to rain devastation upon a capital ship in the next round.

Meanwhile, the Instigator serves as a shield between your opponent's fighters and the rest of your fleet. In fact, because it can engage enemy squadrons, it can, in most ways, replace the need for a fighter screen, especially when it's further outfitted with Quad Laser Turrets and Ordnance Experts . These upgrades enhance the threat the ship poses to enemy squadrons by granting it both counter 1 and the ability to reroll any number of its black attack dice; the Raider I-class Corvette has two black dice in its anti-squadron armament.

Finally, because the Raider is relatively inexpensive, it's not inconceivable that you'd run both the Impetuous and the Instigator in the same fleet, using them to pincer your opponent's squadrons, locking them into position by engaging them with the Instigator, and blasting through them with multiple shots from the Impetuous.

Paired together, the Instigator and Impetuous can lock down enemy starfighters and eliminate them, all while directing a bomber wing against enemy ships.

The Raider and Ship-to-Ship Combat

While the Raider was designed specifically to suppress enemy fighters, it is still a capital ship and, therefore, benefits from all the mechanics associated with capital ships in Armada. It activates every round. It reveals commands. It is able to attack as many as two times before moving, and it has defense tokens, as well as upgrade slots.

These facts give the Raider some advantages over squadrons in certain Imperial fleets. For example, if you swap out three or four fighter squadrons from your fighter screen for the Instigator, then run against a Rebel fleet that doesn't use any squadrons at all, your Instigator will be able to switch from anti-fighter mode to anti-ship mode much more effectively than your TIE Fighter Squadrons or TIE Interceptor Squadrons would.

To start, your Raider offers a forward attack of four dice, of which either two or three can be launched from medium range. Then, if you want, you can equip it with Overload Pulse so that it can deactivate your opponent's ship's defense tokens, leaving that ship exposed to a later attack from your Imperial-class Star Destroyer or other ship. Alternatively, if you're not trying to set up future shots so much as you're trying to boost your Raider's shots, you could use your SW-7 Ion Batteries to convert the extra accuracy from your blue dice to damage.

The Raider's speed and maneuverability also help define its role in ship-to-ship combat. At speed "1" or "2," the Raider-class corvette can adjust its yaw by as many as two clicks at each joint of the maneuver tool, and while it loses some of this maneuverability at higher speeds, the fact that it can race about the battlefield as fast as speed "4" means that it can introduce a new measure of flanking tactics to your Imperial fleet, especially if you give it an Expanded Hangar Bay and use it to harry your foes along with a couple of TIE Bomber Squadrons .

In the right fleet, your Raider can replace a number of fighter squadrons without sacrificing your fleet's anti-ship or anti-fighter capabilities.

Finally, the Imperial Raider Expansion Pack introduces two more upgrades that play to the Raider's speed and maneuverability. Because the Raider doesn't feature any red dice in its battery armaments, it needs to race into close or medium range in order to attack other ships. This would leave it vulnerable at distance, but it can rely upon its two evade tokens to avoid most damage as it makes its approach. Furthermore, when it's in a fleet led by Admiral Ozzel , the Raider can either fly into combat at an astonishing speed before slowing down to take its shots, or it can accelerate quickly to get back to distance after firing. And if it's flying off to long range at a speed of "3" or higher, Admiral Montferrat allows you to treat enemy ships' attacks as though they're obstructed, thereby reducing their available attack dice by one, meaning there's a better chance your evade tokens can cancel out the rest of the damage you might otherwise take.

While Admiral Ozzel is your commander and Admiral Montferrat is aboard your Raider, it becomes a truly slippery target, able to accelerate quickly to high speeds, meaning that it's more likely to be able to get to long range, where its two evade tokens nearly guarantee its safety from your enemy's obstructed attacks.

Swift and Merciless

With its speed, maneuverability, anti-fighter capabilities, and versatility in ship-to-ship combat, the Raider-class corvette is well-suited to a wide variety of quick assault tactics. It has enough attack and defense to stand up to a wide range of threats, and it can easily race across the battlefield, launch a quick assault, and then sprint away. This makes the Raider ideal for use in a number of select Imperial strategies, many of which you're certain to see players explore during The Massing at Sullust.

In the meantime, head to your local retailer to pre-order your copy of the Imperial Raider Expansion Pack, and keep your eyes open for more Armada previews, including a look at the MC30c Frigate Expansion Pack!

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