2 June 2017 | Star Wars: Armada

Prepare for Impact

Preview the Hammerhead Corvettes Expansion Pack for Star Wars™: Armada

"Corvette Five, locked on target. Prepare for impact."
     –Kado Oquoné

There were plenty of high-impact scenes in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. We saw starfighters colliding with a planetary shield. We saw AT-ATs firing at Rebel soldiers, causing the ground to erupt with every blast. We saw an armored tank explode. And we saw the first test of the Death Star's superlaser, in which a single reactor ignition utterly obliterated Jedha's Holy City.

Among these various collisions and explosions, we also witnessed a scene that almost appeared like it had been scripted for fans of Star Wars™: Armada. Locked into close-range combat with dozens of enemy TIE fighter squadrons and a pair of Star Destroyers, the Rebel fleet still couldn't punch through the planetary shield it needs to disable until Admiral Raddus had an idea.

Calling up a Hammerhead corvette, the Lightmaker, Raddus ordered it to ram into the side of a Star Destroyer that had been disabled by a barrage of ion torpedoes. The disabled Star Destroyer subsequently collided into the other Star Destroyer, which suffered damage and crashed into the Shield Gate that protected the planetary shield. The shield was disabled, and the Rebels collected the secret plans that eventually led to the destruction of the Death Star… and Armada fans everywhere thought to themselves, "All that from one facedown damage card?"

Well, with the Hammerhead Corvettes Expansion Pack coming in Wave VI, those incredulous players will soon have the chance to fly their own Hammerhead corvettes and ram them into enemy Star Destroyers, and when they do, they might very well land the sort of faceup critical hit that could lead to such a crippling chain of events!

Sublight Thrusters, Full Power Ahead

While your collision will only deal a faceup damage if you ram into your opponent while your Hammerhead has the Garel's Honor Title equipped, you'll find all your Hammerheads oddly well-suited to the sort of straight-forward, head-on approaches that captains of small-base ships should most typically dread.

For starters, both the Hammerhead Torpedo Corvette and the Hammerhead Scout Corvette boast three dice in their forward battery armament, comparing quite favorably to just the single die at either side, with a grand total of zero attack dice in the rear. This doesn't just suggest that the Hammerhead needs to go straight toward its target; it all but mandates that approach.

Likewise, the Hammerhead features twice as many shields on its forward hull zone as it does anywhere else, and while it can turn pretty well at low speeds, it's something of a stubborn ship as it picks up the pace—locking in on its target with little maneuverability to either side.

Finally, the ship's attacks and upgrades are so heavily focused on close-range combat that your straight-forward approach makes sense, even as you wonder whether or not your two shields and five hull can hold together long enough for you to attack. The straight approach is the fastest approach and, therefore, the fastest way for you to get the Hammerhead into position to do all that it can to help turn the tide of battle. And the amount to which this little ship can contribute is not to be underestimated.

Boarding Action

One of the reasons the Hammerhead Corvette can hit so far above its weight class is because, at a minimal investment of just thirty-six fleet points for the Torpedo Corvette, the Hammerhead leaves you plenty of room to invest in upgrades. And those upgrades can lead to some surprising exchanges. While both versions of the Hammerhead feature the Officer, Weapons Team, and Offensive Retrofit upgrade slots, the Torpedo Corvette features the Ordnance upgrade slot instead of the Scout Corvette's Turbolasers upgrade. This means it can equip a set of External Racks for a mere three fleet points, which would then allow it to make one heroic attack per game with an extra pair of black dice.

With External Racks and a concentrate fire command, the Hammerhead Torpedo Corvette can hit almost as hard as a Star Destroyer!

It's not always advisable to take single-use items when you could, instead, outfit your ship with a persistent upgrade, but when you consider that a small-base ship like the Hammerhead isn't likely to withstand more than a single volley from one of the Empire's larger battleships, you may view your External Racks as a ten-point savings over a set of Expanded Launchers .

But even such an upgrade in your Hammerhead's arsenal doesn't truly reflect all that the ship can offer. After all, all your ships are merely tools—weapons of war—to be put to use by the captains and crew who fly them, as well as by the admirals who command them. Your ships are far more effective when you have crews that are creative enough, brave enough, and talented enough to make the best possible use of them.

Just as the Imperial Light Carrier Expansion Pack comes with the Boarding Party upgrade, then, the Hammerhead Corvettes Expansion Pack comes with its own boarding teams.

First, you have a team of Boarding Engineers ready to sacrifice themselves for the larger cause. If they can find their way aboard an enemy ship, they can flip a number of facedown damage cards faceup, ensuring that every point of damage assigned to its hull will hit for maximum effect. Perhaps, you'll be able to reveal a combination of Compartment Fire and Faulty Countermeasures , effectively denying your opponent the use of his or her defense tokens. Or maybe you'll reveal a Life Support Failure and Thrust-Control Malfunction to strip your opponent's ship of its navigation token and keep it headed full-speed toward the board edge.
Then, if your Boarding Engineers couldn't fully disable your opponent's Imperial-class Star Destroyer or Interdictor, you could load Cham Syndulla on your other Hammerhead corvette, fly up alongside the Imperial vessel, and throw its command structure into absolute disarray.

For five fleet points, Cham Syndulla gives you the power to reorder your opponent's command stack so that its Star Destroyer could end up with three squadron commands, despite the fact it has no squadrons to command. Or you might change the command stack for your opponent's Interdictor Suppression Refit so that it can't spend the repair command it so badly needed, but can only reveal navigation commands that still leave it no way to avoid colliding with your ships.

Using Cham Syndulla to deny the Interdictor Suppression Reft its five engineering points may leave the ship vulnerable to your fleet's next attack.

Either way, Cham Syndulla's pride is reflected in the way his effect is strongest against your opponent's largest and least responsive vessels.

The Stories We Could Tell

"Oh, the stories I could tell. So many of them true."
     –Hondo Ohnaka

The Hammerhead Corvettes Expansion Pack grants you access to yet another crew member—an officer upgrade—who isn't likely to take part in any boarding action, but can nonetheless increase the effectiveness of those actions. Hondo Ohnaka , the renowned pirate, is willing to join your side for a short time and two fleet points, but true to form, he's always playing both sides.

His ability reads, "At the start of the ship phase, you may discard this card to choose 2 different command tokens and place them on 2 different ships. Then your opponent chooses 2 different command tokens you did not choose and places them on 2 different ships."

At first, it seems like Hondo Ohnaka offers an even deal for both sides, but the truth is that it should never be even. Hondo Ohnaka (and the player controlling him) should always find a way to come out ahead. Late in the game, you might be able to get the two tokens you most desperately need and offer your opponent a pair of rather useless tokens.

For example, you might claim a concentrate fire token and a navigation token, leaving your opponent with a squadron token that can't be applied toward the squadrons you've already destroyed and a repair token that can only be assigned to the ship you're about to destroy on your next activation because the other ship already has a repair token.

There Is Another

“I don't know who you are or where you came from, but from now on you'll do as I tell you, okay?”
     –Leia Organa

The crew in the Hammerhead Corvettes Expansion Pack aren't the only new characters it brings to Armada. Its new commander is easily the most recognizable and important of them all— Leia Organa .

Although she didn't train to become a Jedi like her brother, Leia is still the daughter of Anakin Skywalker, and the Force is strong with her. She is also a trained diplomat and military officer, and in Armada, she brings all these talents to your fleet as a commander who can empower your ships' commands, allowing you to treat a command that you reveal from a dial as though you had revealed it from the dial and from a token, as well.

This could be the difference between removing both of your MC80 Command Cruiser's faceup damage cards or removing only one, leaving the other to continue hindering your ship's performance. It could be the difference between increasing your speed by one point or two whenever the Interdictor and Admiral Konstantine slows your ship to a crawl. And that, in turn, may prove the difference between sitting in or out of range of a Victory I-class Star Destroyer's black dice.

Perhaps most importantly, however, is how Leia's ability allows the rag-tag Rebellion to bring its ships together in a way that they can fight above their weight class. With their command values of "1," the smaller Hammerhead and CR90 corvettes are some of the game's most responsive ships, but they're also limited in their ability to stack command tokens. If you want to keep a navigate token on hand for emergency use, you can't take or make use of a concentrate fire token—unless, that is, you play with Leia Organa and resolve your command dial as though it were paired with the token.

Leia Organa allows your fleet of corvettes to concentrate their fire—with commands from both dials and tokens—round after round.

The end result, here, is that Leia Organa can empower your swarm of Rebel corvettes so that your Hammerheads and CR90s are consistently firing four dice from their forward firing arcs. A thirty-three percent increase on the firepower of all the ships in your fleet? That's notable.

Flying in Formation

Finally, the Hammerhead Corvettes Expansion Pack offers one more twist—the introduction of "task force" upgrades. These non-unique Title upgrades don't name their Hammerheads but, instead, assign them to one or another task force—either Task Force Antilles or Task Force Organa .

Your decision to assign your Hammerheads to Task Force Antilles or Task Force Organa will invariably follow your decision to focus on defense or offense.

At three points per ship, Task Force Antilles lends your fleet of Hammerhead corvettes a surprising measure of resilience. Not only does it allow you to shunt your damage to another Task Force Antilles ship at distance 1–3, it allows you to place that damage wherever it's least likely to slow you down.

If you're crashing forward toward a Star Destroyer with four Hammerheads all assigned to Task Force Antilles, you're going to take damage. But if you can assign that damage to the rear hull zone of a nearby ship instead of your ship's forward shields, you might just avoid having crippling critical damage applied to your hull.

In fact, if you have three other Task Force Antilles Hammerheads all within distance 1–3 of you when a Star Destroyer's forward battery armament would bombard you for seven damage—enough to destroy your corvette—you can activate three copies of the Title to shunt away three damage, and you can continue your flight, battered but unbroken.

Seven damage and two accuracy are enough to punch straight through a fully shielded Hammerhead… were it not for the protection the other members of Task Force Antilles offer the ship.

At just one fleet point, Task Force Organa is a bit trickier. When you're attacking, you can exhaust a copy of the Title on another friendly ship at distance 1–3 to reroll up to two dice. However, Hammerheads in Task Force Organa that have their Title upgrades exhausted are unable to attack.

Since the greater accuracy afforded by rerolls is good, but the loss of attacks is bad, the impact of this card all comes down to how well you can time your attacks. You want to activate at least half of Task Force Organa before you start exhausting the ships' Title upgrades. If you do, you still get all your attack dice, and you get extra rerolls with your later attacks, exhausting the Title upgrades on the ships that have already activated.

Naturally, this tactic works even better when you have Leia Organa delivering concentrate fire commands to a whole fleet of corvettes, many of which are loaded with External Racks. After all, your defense is only important if you can't obliterate your opponent in the first combat pass.

Call Up the Corvettes

"Call up a Hammerhead corvette. I have an idea."
     –Admiral Raddus

Once you get your hands on the Hammerhead Corvettes Expansion Pack, you can be sure that Admiral Raddus won't be the only one having great ideas about how to put these venerable ships to use. The ships may be small, but the ideas are big. How will you outfit and fly your Hammerhead corvettes? Share your ideas with the other members of our community forums.

Then be sure to head to your local retailer to pre-order your copy of the Hammerhead Corvettes Expansion Pack (SWM27) today!

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