Spending Time in Kansas City

So I’ve been here in Kansas City for a little over a week now.   Played a few games of Armada with some of the local gamers – probably gonna play some more this weekend if I’m still here!  Some cool stores here!   Here are some of the videos!

Very home sick though!   Miss the family!

Giveaway Time!

So as I get closer to 8,000 subscribers I wanted to do another giveaway!  This time it’s a Star Wars Celebration Exclusive Rey with Speeder Funko Pop!

Details in the video!

Ackbar Nebulons – Turning Taboo into Terror

A few weeks ago I was getting ready for an Armada tournament, and I posted on facebook that I was planning on trying a new build, and that it would be “outside of my comfort zone”.  In jest, a friend said that I should be flying Ackbar Nebulons.  This post received several ‘likes’, and a few follow up comments urging me to fly Ackbar Nebulons.  Clearly, I was being mocked.   Or was I?  I decided at that moment that I would put some work into an Ackbar Nebulon list to spite them all either with shock or dismay.

 

Why is this so taboo in the first place?

Generally you want to enhance your biggest strengths, rather than simply offset your weaknesses.  Some times players try to fill in a ‘gap’ in a ship to make it more well rounded, but most of the time in a short game of only 6 turns, championships are won by those who tend to focus more on a ship’s specialty.  Pairing Ackbar with Nebulons is breaking that rule completely down the middle, by not simply enhancing a weakness (the side arcs) but also by crippling the biggest strength (the front arc).

Nebulons want to be pointed directly at the enemy.  Their 3 shields, and 3 red dice are as tough as a Victory Class Star Destroyer when at long range – but they are so weak on their sides they are a great example of a glass cannon.   One well-placed Raider can take down a Nebulon with a single activation.

So how can it work?

To make it work we have to look past the obvious strength of the front arc and look at how that actually limits it.   Anyone who has spent time trying to fly a Salvation, knows how frustrating it can be to NOT have a front shot with that narrow front arc.

That strong front arc, is so narrow that we can flip the entire mentality of this ship by pretending like we WANT to shoot out of the sides.  Why?  The sides are huge – we will ALWAYS have a shot.   And for the few times we don’t – well that’s fine the front will work in those cases.

Another strength here is that they are cheap.   Typical lists with Ackbar will only have 3 main attacking ships.  Here we can get 5 or more with ease.  Cheap allows for that, and allows for upgrades.   Lets talk about upgrades:

Upgrades:

The main upgrade you’ll want to consider is which Turbolaser you want to use.   Typically, I would suggest running with Slaved Turrets.   They are cheap and this is one of the best ships to use them on.

A fleet full of Nebulons running in a line, can ensure that nearly all of their ships will have a side arc on a target.   Declaring Ackbar is also going to rule out your front and rear arcs anyway, so you are likely only ever going to get ONE shot to begin with.  So now you’ve transformed one red die, into four (or five if you’ve selected a concentrate fire command, which in this case you’ll probably want to do a lot).  Five red dice out the side is pretty nice – and consider that against your front arc, which at best could match that, but not beat it.

The ONLY thing you lose this way, is the ability to take two shots.   A typical Nebulon doesn’t ever get two GOOD shots regardless.   And in the rare case that your enemy is directly in front of you and no side-arc is possible – well that is no problem at all.  Just use your front arc, slaved turrets and CF command and you still have the same amount of dice.

Oh and there are still titles available – you don’t have to run them as generics. Consider this fleet:

Nebulon-B Support Refit + Slaved Turret

Nebulon-B Support Refit + Slaved Turret

Nebulon-B Support Refit + Slaved Turret + Salvation

Nebulon-B Escort Frigate + Slaved Turret + Yavaris

(Flagship)GR-75 Medium Transports + Admiral Ackbar + Adar Tallon

Squadrons:

2x VCX-100 Freighter

Luke Skywalker

Biggs Darklighter

Jan Ors

Here is a fleet that is actually pretty versatile and can prove to be very deadly.  First the squadrons – it’s only 88 points but we are taking good advantage of them.  The GR-75 can activate early, getting Luke to get into position and then readying him with Adar Tallon.  Then when Yavaris activates, Jan can move in if needed to free-up Luke, and Luke can shoot twice.   This lets Luke shoot 3 times per turn.   Biggs and Jan will both help keep Luke Alive, and the VCX-100s will allow both Yavaris and the GR-75 to activate from relative safety.  Luke will be a major threat here, even without having a Bomber Command Center close by.

And as for your ships, you just fly them in a line and go keep the Concentrate Fire command dialed up.   You’ll probably want to lead with the Salvation, to discourage an enemy force from getting in front of you.

 

But suppose you want to go with Enhanced Armament.

Now it gets more expensive.   Each upgrade costs 10, but this does have the obvious benefit of allowing you to attack twice.  Assuming you are able to double arc an enemy at long range, you can now shoot 3 out of the front and 2 out of the side.   That alone isn’t particularly noteworthy on it’s own.   What is clearly the better case is to try and do the “Ackbar Slash” on your enemies now: Attacking one ship on the right, and one ship on the left – getting full bonuses now on both attacks!  This does require that you fly your nebulons directly in the middle of your opponent’s ships, and that is pretty much the tricky part – because you will almost certainly be dead as dirt doing that.

But what if you manage to survive?   Assuming you keep your front pointed directly at an enemy, you may end up being able to force them to fire at your front with 3 shields – and using your double braces you may be able to survive.   If you can manage to get a shot after a forward facing enemy closes in on you, it may be possible to double-arc them from EACH of your sides.   This is the absolute best case scenario and would require you being first player in order to pull off, because you are almost certainly dead if you don’t kill them.

In this case a Neb can declare Ackbar and get two side shots on the Star Destroyer.  Enhanced Armament, Ackbar, and being close up allow the use of all of the extra dice available here.  Four red and one Blue on each side, plus a concentrate fire depending on where you need it will add up to 11 total dice.   Not a bad deal at all from a 61 point ship!  (51 plus 10 for Enhanced Armament).  And if the star destroyer survives you can just ram them! And if you cannot manage a front double arc shot a side version should be significantly easier.

 

Here’s a list trying this out.

Nebulon B Support Refit + Enhanced Armament (61)

Nebulon B Support Refit + Enhanced Armament (61)

Nebulon B Support Refit + Enhanced Armament (61)

Nebulon B Support Refit + Enhanced Armament (61)

Flagship -Nebulon B Support Refit + Enhanced Armament + Lando Calrissian +Admiral Ackbar (103)

Squadrons – 3x YT-2400

Five Ships – Five Shooters.   The Squadrons have Rogue so you won’t have to worry about squadron commands, and they are well rounded enough to at least slow down most squadron based threats.  Lando will help prevent Ackbar from being taken out too early.  The rest of the ships you just fly directly at your opponent trying to get as many double side arc shots as you can muster!

 

The strength of this fleet is that with those ultra wide side arcs you’ll be able to shoot at pretty much everything.  If nothing else this type of fleet should be fun!   Imagine charging these unlikely heroes at your enemies!   If you can manage to get a few double side arc Ackbar shots it will be so satisfying your opponent may just stop the game and come shake your hand!

 

Large Ships Need Some Help

 

The Imperial Star Destroyer just doesn’t scare me that much anymore….

So I recently played in a small-ship only tournament for Armada.  Although I wasn’t thrilled about having a restriction on list building, considering Armada has a relatively small collection of ships to choose from to begin with, I felt comfortable regardless, since so many of my competitive lists tend to mostly be small ships anyway.  Here is a video of the tournament for those who are interested:

But this got me thinking why I haven’t been using medium or large ships lately regardless.

Activations:

The biggest advantage I typically see is that having multiple small ships allows me to have a ton of activations.  I like to run with 5 or more, and often can manage at least 6.   This, combined with an initiative bid will usually allow me a ton of flexibility in terms of activations, and allows me to often double-tap an enemy ship with a last activation, then first activation.

Missed opportunities:

Having a large ship with 120 – 150 points all in one spot can be a really dangerous place to be.  Suppose you end up with a crit that says “You cannot attack at long range” – you might be completely ruined for the rest of the game, depending on the fleet you are facing.  Or if you find yourself with no enemy ships in your primary firing arc, you end up getting stuck shooting out of a sub-optimal side, and it can be a huge missed opportunity.  When you are putting almost half of your fleet points into one ship – missing a big shot with it is devastating.

Firepower:

Small ships can have almost the same amount of firepower as large ships.  Consider an Arquitens with enhanced Armament and concentrate fire.  That’s five dice at long range for only 64 points.   And that’s only one arc.  If you are lucky enough to double arc (left and right) you might manage 9 dice from a 64 point ship!  The Aruitens in this case work best with Vader as commander, and while this is effective, it does require a more expensive commander, and deprives you of the flexibility of using someone else like Jerjerrod or Motti.  So if I can get the same firepower as an Imperial Star Destroyer for about half the points.   Sure the ISD can potentially fire twice if it has Gunnery teams, but I could instead just bring a second Arquitens at that point, and not even have the same-target restriction that gunnery teams gives.  And while the ISD is a difficult target to kill, I could argue that a swarm of small ships are even more difficult to fully kill.

A TRC-90 for only 51 points, while not having the same dice as an Arquitens, still has consistent damage and doesn’t require any specific commander to excel. Four of them come in at 204 points and leaves you plenty of room for other ships.  You could potentially run SEVEN of them, and still have points left over for some squadrons.   They are just able to pack so much more firepower per point than Large ships, and they are so maneuverable as well!

 

At Long range, small ships can do ALMOST the same damage that Large ships can do.   And because they tend to be fast and maneuverable, small ships can more easily KEEP the battle at long range without getting stuck in close range.  I feel like Large ships need something to make them formidable again.   Medium ships have a little bit of help with the inclusion of Disposable Capacitors in Wave 6’s Quasar Expansion, but that also can go on small ships!

And what’s worse, it isn’t allowed on Large Ships.  (A real shame in my opinion).  Large ships need some help if I’m going to ever want to bring them to a tournament again.

 

Improving Boba Fett through Rapid Launch bays

Since the new FAQ declared that after you place a squadron with Rapid Launch Bays, you then officially begin their activation, I’ve been itching to try out my long-planned Raider with Boba Fett.  The general idea is that I take a fast ship like the raider, and allow it to drop Boba Fett after moving, turning a raider into a miniature Gladiator (Well for one move at least).  For reference here is a video where I talk about a build for this.

Well I finally got the chance to try it last night.   It wasn’t however, in a 400 point game, but rather at the spur of the moment by buddy and I decided to play a massive 800 point game!  I figured this would be a good time to try out some new things, and I did manage to use Boba Fett on board a raider in this build.  Granted the game was huge – it was also fun!

My opponent ended up having far more squadrons than I did and I was quickly overwhelmed by the darned things.  So I ended up using Boba against a squadron, rather than a ship.   It worked well enough, deploying and dealing a damage, followed up by an attack- but I would have rather used it against a ship.  And yes I realize that even against a ship the activation damage can STILL go to a shield, but it just fits into the whole idea of what I’m trying to do – damage damage damage!   Even so – using Boba’s ability against squadrons is solid and generally a pretty good thing too, as it can’t be impacted by most defensive abilities as it is not an attack.

After the match I began to think that I had missed an opportunity to maximize this ability.  Suppose I had multiple squadrons deploying and Boba was the LAST one.  His ability could finish off a weakened hero squadron, such as Howlrunner, Tycho, Jan Ors, or even an enemy Escort – and then allow for him to attack whomever he wanted.  I could easily get three squadrons loaded up onto a ship with Rapid Launch Bays and Flight Commander.  A Victory would work easily but is slow.  I could significantly increase my cost if I use an ISD – but the squadrons I would want to end up using would be expensive enough.  I could go with a gozanti for the cheaper option, but I’d end up having to use only 2 squadrons.

So my NEW plan is going to be a bit expensive but should be fun.  For now lets assume I’m using a victory.   Sure it’s slower, but I’ll deploy far forward and I probably won’t die before I get the opportunity to drop my squadrons. I’m going to load up Boba Fett, IG-88, and Colonel Jendon.   IG-88 drops first, (Who by the way, is more awesome now than ever before since crazy counterers like Shara Bey exist), then Colonel Jendon drops, and lets IG-88 shoot AGAIN.   Finally Boba Drops and does the last damage needed to finish off an enemy or two.  This may not be the ultimate combo, and it certainly is expensive, but I suspect it will be a powerful way to counter squadrons with Scatter, Rhymerballs, and Howrunner swarms.  And once the Quasar comes out…..

Once the Quasar comes out I believe this would be ideal for that ship in particular, as it will be able to shoot enemy squadrons at LONG RANGE first, soften them up… move in, and then commence shenanigans.  And we’ll be able to a 4th squadron to the mix.  Maybe we an escort like Vader, or change things up and add Zertik Strom and Bossk… the possibilities are endless!   As long as we finish with Boba Fett though!   That is key!

Again I realize that Armada’s version of a Boba Fett Pez Dispenser is an expensive way to launch fighters, but I have realized that the more fighters you add, the more fun can be had!

Destiny – Rolling blanks for a living

There is only one blank side on Darth Vader’s dice.   How is it that I roll that side nearly every time?

Playing some Destiny tonight it became clear to me that I need to come up with some custom alternate art for my Vader deck.   Here it is.

Honestly my first 3 games I only rolled damage on Vader one time.   Ended up having to use a No Mercy on a single ranged damage from my Nightsister.  My 4th game was almost all damage though.   Good thing the game is fun though, otherwise I’d have felt lousy.

What an Amazing Celebration!

So Star Wars Celebration is over…. Well It’s been over for 2 days but I’ve been completely exhausted and had to get back to doing things around the house that have been neglected.  As a result I haven’t had much time to write.  I did a short recap video here:

It was a great experience for sure.  I’ll admit Sunday morning, that I honestly just wanted to stay in bed… but that quickly went away, as I was instantly reminded of how awesome the con was as soon as I arrived!

One of the coolest parts was being there so early in the morning as an exhibitor before they opened the doors.  Seeing Dave Filoni and Andi Gutierrez just walking around like normal people was almost surreal!   It was the calm before the storm, and I spent a good deal of time sitting at the food court trying to take it all in and commit as much of it as I could to memory.

One of the most important things this year was diversity.   Sitting at the Star Wars Show Stage, watching Kelly Marie Tran shoot T-Shirts at the crowd… I noticed an Asian woman behind me who was trying to get Kelly’s attention.   She said “Oh my god she’s so great!!!” and she meant it.   This was a powerful moment for me because I think everything suddenly came together.   I couldn’t help but wonder what it meant to her to have Asian women represented in Star Wars finally!

That has been an important part of what Lucasfilm has been doing over the past few years.   As a white male, I’ve never really felt left out of the Star Wars Fandom – because almost everyone was a white male.  I could cosplay as anyone I wanted to, and didn’t need to wear a helmet to do so.  But this convention put everything into perspective for me.

The last time Celebration was in Orlando, was long before Episode 7 or Star Wars Rebels.   There were VERY few cosplay options for women… even white women.  The sheer volume of Slave Leia costumes were staggering.   And this year I was able to draw a stark contrast between the two time frames and really take a good look at what has changed.   There were ALOT of females at Celebration, and a lot of young girls were among them!   And a huge portion of them dressed up!   Sure there were some dressed up as Princess Leia, (and even a few as Slave Leia, though not nearly a majority), but there was incredible diversity this time around!

I saw everything ranging from Rey, to Jyn, from Mon Mothma, to Aurra Sing.   From Hera and Sabine, to Governer Price and Mandolorians.   It’s no longer taboo for females to wear an Imperial Officer’s uniform, and no longer to you have to wear a mask if you want to be a bounty hunter.   This year was amazing!

 

 

 

 

Celebration Day 1

Exhausting day but also so amazing!   Got my exhibitor badge so I was able to get inside the exhibit hall early – so if you haven’t seen my youtube videos, go check them out because alot of the footage from today was taken before people came in…. very cool to see the calm before the storm.    Having the main hall empty was also the perfect opportunity to check out the Star Wars Show live stage – and look who I ran into!

Seriously!  I have watched Andi every week for what seems like forever now… and she’s brought me new Star Wars on a pretty regular basis!  She’s amazing and I got to meet her like right away!    Now whatever happens I already hit my goal so this whole weekend is already a success!

Here is some video of the day:

 

Fire the Ion Cannon!

A look at the Armada Defense Objective – Planetary Ion Canon

One of my favorite objectives in Armada has to be Planetary Ion Cannon.  I’ve played it several times in standard games, and also played its Base Defense option in the Corellian Conflict three times back to back – and it has made me a believer!  This objective comes in the Corellian Conflict expansion, so if you want to include it in your fleet, you’ll need to pick up a copy.  And for that matter, if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, what are you waiting for?  There are so many upgrades to your game in that box beyond running a campaign that it’s clearly an expansion everyone should be getting!

Lets look at this objective.

So what does that mean?   It means you get to place 3 objectives on the map, and SHOOT using them, during the game!   You get extra shots!   One extra shot from each objective actually, but only once each turn, so you don’t want them all right next to each other.   It helps to think of them as a sort of land mine – Your opponent may want to avoid them, or they may wish to plow right on through hoping to repair the damage before you add to it.

There are a couple of really significant aspects to this objective that many people might overlook on their first time using it, so I’ll walk you through the important parts first.  First off, you  deploy obstacles as usual.   The setup for this objective starts after that – so you won’t get any setup advantage from this one.  Next you are going to place three objective tokens beyond range 5 of both players’ edges.   That much is easy enough, and you likely wouldn’t want them too close to each other.  If your opponent’s ships are fast enough they could potentially fly right past your tokens and you’ll run the risk of forfeiting shots.  You generally want to set up your obstacles in such a way that give your opponent one clear path to approach you, and that is the path where you will likely want to deploy your objective tokens.  If your opponent decides to go the long way around, that will generally be their downfall, because they will either break up their formation, or have their fastest ships reach you first and allow you to cherry pick targets.

These tokens have a pretty large radius, being able to hit anything up to range 3 of them, and they can target ANY hull zone, which means even if your opponent’s Star Destroyer has it’s front hull zone barely in range 3, you can still target the rear hull zone when shooting!  Additionally, while you can use the special blue crit effect listed on the card, you are also free to use the default crit instead.   Many newer players read this and forget that you always have the default crit unless otherwise specified (A squadron without bomber, for example).

One general strategy when placing the objectives is to try to plan to destroy at least one ship using them.  This may mean placing them in a path, so your first shot, and second shot will likely be able to hit the same target.   And if you are lucky, then possibly even the third shot as well.  This can mean placing all three objectives moderately close together, or it might mean spreading them apart, depending on the speed of the ship you are facing.   A Victory Star Destroyer, for example will go slow enough that you would be able to place all 3 fairly close and get all three shots on the same target – however there is very little chance that these shots alone would be able to kill a Victory, so unless you are going to be able to combo these shots with a barrage or two from your fleet on the same target, you may want to try to cripple a weaker ship on it’s own and save the heavy ships for once your fleet is fully within firing distance.  Which brings me to the two main placement options:

Placement option 1: Aggressive

An aggressive placement means trying to get shots on turns 1, 2, and 3.   Generally, this will often end up giving your opponent the opportunity to repair any damage from the first attack or two before the rest of your fleet is in firing range, and can sometimes prove to be a complete waste of an objective if this is done.   If you DO plan to place your ion tokens aggressively, generally you’ll want your opponents having deployed at very fast speeds, and to do so yourself, in hopes of shooting as early in the game as possible.   An example might be if your opponent deploys several CR-90s at speed 4, and you have a Gladiator with Demolisher that may actually have a shot round 1.

Another aggressive strategy is to commit to a single ship each turn.   If your opponent has a Nebulon-B for example, you can target it’s side and try to get critical damage through.   Or perhaps you have General Dodonna and are fishing for a disabling crit early in the game.   Sometimes an enemy fleet gets positioned so close together, that if you are able to reduce a ship’s speed by 1, you can cause everything to bump – and your opponent may not have a Nav command prepared for turn 1 if they expected to get shot.

Ultimately though, an aggressive placement is very risky because your opponent is likely to repair all damage before the real combat begins.  Additionally, if your opponent has any squadrons with STRATEGIC, they will quickly be able to move your tokens out of the way and ruin your setup.

Placement option 2: Defensive

Defensive is typically the wiser strategy and the one I tend to use most of the time.  Keep in mind that the 2nd player will be the winner if the game ends in a tie – so that means the 1st player has to come to you.  With this knowledge you can set a trap that your opponent will be forced to walk into.  I like to pick a section of the map that I’d like to concentrate on, usually the left or right corner, and set up obstacles blocking most of the ways in.

I will usually leave one single path into my area, and once the time comes to place Objective Tokens, I will put them into the path that I’ve laid out for my opponent.  Now they can choose to come to me  through the Ion Cannon, or come to me through the rocks.  This is particularly effective at harming larger and slower ships, but agile ships like CR-90s can often “thread the needle” so to speak, and will still be able to get to you.   However, if you are keeping your fleet fairly close together, you shouldn’t have any problems dealing with one or two CR-90s that approach your formation too early.  It’s basically Divide and Conquer, for Star Wars Armada.

 

Regardless of which approach you decide, one thing you don’t want to do is spend one of your three shots on a ship that will simply repair all of the damage before you can continue to fire.  If your opponent has built in shield recovery, like Redundant Shields or Projection Experts then you will not want to start shooting them on turn one, since in all likelihood they will fully repair all damage right the same turn.  Don’t forget, your opponent does get to set dials after you place your tokens.

And lastly, you don’t always HAVE to shoot.  You can maximize your advantage by waiting until the right opportunity to spend an objective token.  Maybe you deploy your tokens fairly far forward, which prompts your opponent to start the game with an engineering command.  If you opt NOT to fire, your opponent will be forced to take a token rather than repair the damage, and now you can fire the next turn when they have something less helpful queued up in their command dial.

 

But what if you are 1st player?

   If you are the 1st player you might want to consider this one if you have a few squadrons with Strategic, as you can then move the objective tokens out of the way.   You may also want to choose this objective if your fleet has mostly tough ships that can mitigate or recover the damage easily.   Ships with Redundant Shielding, supporting ships with projection Experts, and Tarkin fleets handing out Engineering tokens (possibly Garm here as well) all will help minimize the impact from an aggressive 2nd player who might deploy these tokens close to your starting position.  Additionally, if you have Mon Mothma you will be able to remove a die of your choice with an evade token, making the attack even weaker.

The GREEN Version In the Campaign!

 

The Corellian Conflict has a Base Defense version of this map that is slightly different.  I’m not going to talk about the Base Defense version too much other than to say that it plays differently, and if you haven’t played the campaign’s Green Version yet, you will want to re-read each card because of two primary differences.  1) You will have to deploy ALL of your forces first as second player, and 2) you DON’T pick up the tokens after you use them.  (Yes that’s right the base defense version actually leaves the tokens on the map so you can fire from it multiple times!   The campaign can be crazy that way!)   This one is a great way to defend a base, especially against a superior force.  I’ve used a fresh 400 point fleet to fend off a 500 point fleet attacking, and this was my all-star objective of choice.   Try it and you won’t regret it!

 

 

Does Armada Need a New Core Set?

Every single time I talk to someone who is interested in Armada, the number one complaint they have is that the price point is too high to get started.  And they are right.   An MSRP of $99 is a huge barrier to entry for most people, and while it does go on sale from time to time, it still remains one of the most expensive FFG games on the market.  If you compare it to X-Wing’s core set at only $39.99, it is easy to see why even the biggest Star Wars fan will choose X-Wing over Armada.

 

So what if FFG followed X-Wing’s lead, and released a new core set, priced around $40 bucks?   It could have all new stuff, so new players and veterans alike will both want to pick up a copy.  It would have all the basic components, but include smaller ships.  No Star Destroyers in this one.   If it’s going to have three ships, then they need to be small.   Reducing the plastic can help reduce the cost.  That also means less squadrons.   Heck they could possibly do a core set with zero squadrons if they wanted to.  The game has more than enough right now.  If it gets people to buy in, then I’m all for it.

Episode 8 could in theory provide the perfect opportunity to do this.  If Episode 8 has enough ships, and the right types, we could potentially see 3 small ships in a smaller core set.   It might also provide an opportunity to balance the factions, since the Rebels have one more ship than the Empire right now, it could be 2 weaker First Order ships paired up against a stronger Resistance ship.   And yes, First Order and Imperials would be allowed to team up, and so would the Resistance and Rebellion – they would effectively be the same faction, just like in X-Wing.

There’s also the idea that they could create smaller core sets called “Starters” – one for each faction.  A “First Order” starter and a “Resistance” starter – this way you could include only 2 ships in each one and really bring the cost down.   Most players on a budget tend to stick with a single faction for awhile anyway.

Anything to get people into the game is a good thing!  Especially people who don’t have $100 to spend on a game they aren’t 100% sure of.