Saturday, June 13, 2015

Armada Rules: First Thoughts

Over the past few weeks I've managed to knock out half a dozen games of Armada, basically playing through the basic scenario that is covered in the Learn To Play booklet which puts the contents of the core box set; one Victory Class Star Destroyer and some TIE Fighters vs a Corellian Corvette, Nebulon-B Frigate and some X-Wings.

As a long time fan (although not necessarily regular) player of naval wargames (Napoleonic through to Modern) the basic mechanics seem to be really intuitive, but how you use them brings in the complexity and replayability. Ships pick actions, and depending on the size of the ship determines how far in advance you must pick them (not as big a penalty as it sounds), resolve actions, fire at your targets, and finally move. Your opponent does the same until you are out of ships, at which point you move on to your Squadrons of fighters. If you want more information you can either download the rules from the FFG website, or better still head over to YouTube where there are a bunch of videos that will take you through the finer points of the game.

What I really like is that with a relatively short (24 page) rulebook you can get up and running quite quickly (I'd watched one video from GENCON and my opponent had read the rules once) without too much fuss. Of course there is always a catch...

The catch is the Rules Reference booklet which adds another 16 pages of rules, clarifications and expanded reference. Basically it helps with all the sticky parts that they did not want you to have to worry about up front. Of course it also serves (for me) to cause some confusion and delays (told you there was always time for Thomas the Tank Engine) as you try to recall where you read a rule. My thoughts are that when in doubt you should head to the Rules Reference document first if you know which rule you are looking for, and the Learn To Play guide if you don't.

Last up is the FAQ. If you have played X-Wing then you will know how important this particular living document is. Coming in at massive 3 pages I have only managed to skim read it so far, but trust me when I say that it is going to be something worse spending a little more time focusing on once I have my head around the core concepts a bit more.

So what do I like about Armada?
  1. I get to fly big ships.
  2. I get a totally different gaming experience to X-Wing.
  3. I get lots of different coloured dice with lots of different symbols.
  4. Finally, I get to play with some friends that are not interested in X-Wing but want to play a game in the Star Wars Universe.
What am I scratching my head about?
  1. Going to have to paint the Fighter Squadrons.
  2. Need to do some touch-ups on the Capital Ships.
  3. Two rulebooks.
  4. If I really need another distraction from painting my Trollbloods.
What am I yet to come to grips with?
  1. Upgrade cards - no biggie as they are just like X-Wing, but grander
  2. Objective cards - these really bring some complexity (or maybe thinking is the right term) to the game.
  3. The subtleties of each ship class.
  4. And last but not least, how to get the best out of your Fighter squadrons.
I've hopefully lined up a 300 point game with some friends next weekend where we will get to try out a few more things and my job before then is to re-read all the rules etc to try and start bedding down the core concepts.

Bottom line though, I like it and I guess I need to work out how to fit more games in.

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