Strategic Positioning. Ace Piloting.
Preview the Fighter Squadrons from Star Wars™: Armada Wave V
“If all you do is fight for your own life, then your life is worth nothing.”
As a game of epic space battles, Star Wars™: Armada will always remain sharply focused on capital ships. They dominate space and win wars. They fight with overpowering barrages of laser fire, missiles, and torpedoes. They soak astonishing amounts of damage on their heavy shields. And they cast ominous shadows over the planets they orbit. More than that, they make Armada the strategic game that it is, forcing you to plan your actions and your movement well in advance of the actual exchanges of fire.
Still, there's no denying the tactical value of a starfighter squadron used correctly. Starfighters have made their impact felt since the game's release and continue to do so. Both of the finalists in the recent 2016 Star Wars: Armada World Championships made extensive use of their squadrons, using them both to protect their capital ships and to strafe their opponents'. The importance of the game's starfighter squadrons hasn't changed, but the ways they are utilized have evolved over time.
The next evolution is coming.
Wave V Starfighters
The short logic of Armada fighter squadrons, as developer Max Brooke identified in his article "Bomber Wings and Fighter Screens," is that you either invest heavily in squadrons with the bomber ability to concentrate masses of fire on your opponents' ships or you spend as few of your fleet points on fighters as possible, aiming merely to carry a fighter screen that can slow your enemy's bombers long enough to let your capital ships focus on scoring objective points and blasting through your opposition.
For a long time, many players interpreted the minimal number of fleet points they could invest in their fighter squadrons as "zero," and it was certainly a valid option—at least, for a period of time. Since that time, however, the dedicated "bomber wing" or "fighter screen" designations began to falter. Wave II dramatically expanded the tactics that fighter squadrons could employ, and led to more dynamics not only between fighter wings, but also within them.
Then, Wave III gave us flotillas that were able to activate squadrons with minimal disruption to the command stacks of your other, larger ships. Together with the additional fighter squadron abilities from Wave II, these changes have led to an environment where squadrons are able to play high impact roles in your fleet, especially when flown by players at the top level of the game.
Soon, Wave V is bound to effect another shift in the metagame and the ways that players at all levels—from elite tournament players to casual enthusiasts—make use of their fighter squadrons. After all, like the rogue ability from Wave II, Wave V breaks down many of the barriers that separate the roles your fighter squadrons can play from those that must be fulfilled by capital ships.
These barriers start to fall mostly as the result of the wave's four new abilities: Cloak, Relay X, Snipe X, and Strategic.
Extend Your Reach
If there's any theme that runs throughout the new squadron abilities in Wave V, it's that they all—in their own ways—extend the range of your fleet's impact on the battlefield.
- Like Colonel Jendon's Lambda-class Shuttle, squadrons with the Relay X ability allow you to activate squadrons outside the normal reach of your ship's squadron command; when a friendly ship resolves its squadron command, up to X many of the squadrons it activates can be at distance "1–3" of your Relay X squadron, rather than within close to medium range of your ship.
- Snipe X allows squadrons like the Rebellion's E-wing Squadrons to fire upon their enemies from outside the normal distance for an engagement.
- Only "Whisper" and the Galactic Empire's other TIE Phantom Squadrons currently have the Cloak ability, but it makes them truly hard to pin down. At the end of the squadron phase, Cloak allows these squadrons to move up to distance "1," even if they are engaged.
- Finally, squadrons like the VCX-100 Freighter and Lambda-class Shuttle effectively extend your fleet's reach with their Strategic abilities by allowing you to reposition objective tokens. Sometimes, if you can't get your ships into position to score your objective points, you just need to get those objective tokens into position closer to your ships.
What effect will these abilities have upon your games? While the future is never clear, it's likely that these new abilities will both accommodate existing squadron tactics in new fleets and lead to new squadron tactics in other fleets.
For example, we may see fleets of smaller Rebel and Imperial ships staying back at long range from larger enemy ships; these ships could then try to win the better of their long-range exchanges of fire while using their Relay X squadrons to activate their potent bomber wings. Here, it's worth noting that the Relay X ability is passive and can work with each friendly ship that delivers a squadron command, regardless of its position on the battlefield.
Alternatively, as examples of the new squadron tactics we might find with Wave V, we gain both the use of the Strategic ability to set up your ships' ability to score objective points, as indicated by the diagram above, and we gain the ability to Snipe squadrons with the Counter X keyword or to outmaneuver squadrons with the Escort keyword and eliminate the high-value targets they want to protect. In turn, we may see more variants on the squadron tactics employed by 2016 Armada World Championship Runner-Up Justin Curtis wherein the game's ace fighter pilots, such as Tycho Celchu, are used to lock enemy squadrons into engagements, and Snipe squadrons then help pick them off.
The Latest Technology
While the Wave V squadrons that come with these new abilities are certain to impact the ways that you wage your space battles, they're by no means the only notable squadrons coming with the Imperial Fighter Squadrons II Expansion Pack and Rebel Fighter Squadrons II Expansion Pack. In fact, they only account for half of the wave's new squadrons. The other squadrons rely upon solid stat lines and novel combinations of existing abilities to make their impact.
The Rebellion's Z-95 Headhunter Squadrons, for example, bring the Swarm ability to the Rebellion. Also, since each squadron costs you a mere seven fleet points, they allow you to restructure the points you spend on your fighter wings; you might mass your Headhunters in large numbers or simply use them to fill in the gaps of a more diverse fighter wing.
While the Z-95 Headhunter Squadron offers the Rebel Alliance a new low-end on its fleet-point investment in fighters, the Empire's new TIE variants go the reverse route, balancing a higher fleet-point investment against greater firepower and versatility. With its five speed, six hull, and anti-squadron armament of two blue dice and two black dice, the TIE Defender Squadron sets the Empire's new bar for its top-end dogfighters. There's nothing subtle about this fighter squadron; it's just loaded with enough speed to get to wherever it needs to be, enough hull to survive a couple shots from even the best Rebel aces, and enough raw firepower to put some hurt back on those Rebels.
Finally, the Empire's VT-49 Decimator and the Rebellion's Lancer-class Pursuit Craft both come with the Rogue ability and enough speed, hull, and attack dice to make a significant impact on your battles, whether or not you fly them in formation with the rest of your fleet.
Ready for Action
What will you do with your Wave V squadrons? Will you use their new abilities to run bomber wings with ships that need to hold back at distance? Will you Snipe the enemies you pin down with your most elusive ace? Will you batter your foes with the firepower of Maarek Stele's TIE Defender Squadron or Morna Kee's VT-49 Decimator?
Your capital ships will always be the stars of Star Wars: Armada, but the more that its squadrons introduce diverse and Strategic abilities, the more important it becomes to consider how exactly might be the best way your fleet can make use of them.
Discuss your Wave V squadron tactics with the other members of our Star Wars: Armada community. Then be sure to mark your calendar—Armada Wave V and the Imperial Fighter Squadrons II Expansion Pack and Rebel Fighter Squadrons II Expansion Pack are scheduled to arrive at retailers next Thursday!