“What of the reports of the Rebel fleet massing near Sullust?” –Darth Vader
Rebel and Imperial fleets fight for the fate of the galaxy in Star Wars™: Armada, the two-player miniatures game of epic Star Wars space battles!
Massive Star Destroyers fly to battle against Rebel corvettes and frigates. Banks of turbolasers unleash torrential volleys of fire against squadrons of X-wings and TIEs. Engineering teams race to route additional power to failing shields. Laser blasts and explosions flare across the battlefield. Even a single ship can change the tide of battle.
In Star Wars: Armada, you assume the role of fleet admiral, serving with either the Imperial Navy or Rebel Alliance. It’s your job to issue the tactical commands that will decide the course of battle and, perhaps, the fate of the galaxy.
However, battles between capital ships are fought on a massive scale all their own; the more powerful your ships, the harder it is to adjust their actions on the fly. Capital ships can’t easily vary their speeds or execute hairpin turns like the starfighters that buzz around them, so successful admirals must learn to master every aspect of the ships in their fleet and learn how best to implement their strategies well in advance of the initial engagement.
Capital Ships in Combat
At the game’s heart are its capital ships—massive war machines that can exceed a kilometer in length and whose crew can number in the thousands. These ships are sophisticated and complex. Their defenses, armaments, and engines all run from separate systems. You and your opponent must balance all these systems throughout your battles. Accordingly, emerging victorious will require more than just raw firepower. It requires a keen tactical mind.
Armada balances the awesome scale of the Star Wars galaxy’s ships and space warfare with intuitive ship designs and accessible rules for issuing commands and resolving combat that make for rich, engaging, and highly tactical play experiences.
Each pre-painted capital ship is divided into four sections: front, rear, left, and right. While a ship has a single hull value, which indicates how many hits it can take before it’s destroyed, it has separate shield values for each of its sections, and each of these sections also comes with its own firing arc and attack value, indicated by a number of dice.
Meanwhile, each of your capital ships features multiple layers of defenses. The first is its reinforced hull. The next is its shields, which vary in strength from section to section. Finally, each ship comes with a number of defense tokens. You can spend these each round to trigger their associated effects. For example, you can angle your deflector shields so that a shot fired against your front section might be absorbed, instead, by your left section. Some tokens even allow you to take evasive maneuvers to avoid attacks fired at long range.
Executing Your Battle Plan
Games of Armada are played over six rounds, each of which is broken into four phases.
1) Command Phase
In the Command Phase, you and your opponent secretly assign commands to each of your ships. These are locked into that ship’s command dials and are placed facedown at the bottom of its command stack.
You can choose from any of four basic commands, each of which offers distinct advantages:
- The navigate command allows you to change your ship’s speed and increase its maneuverability.
- The squadron command allows you to order nearby squadrons to move and attack early.
- The repair command allows you to recover shields and repair your hull.
- The concentrate fire command allows you to increase the power of a single attack.
Importantly, each ship has a command value that indicates how many commands it will have facedown in its command stack at the beginning of the round. This means that, in the game’s setup, before you have yet engaged the enemy, you need to issue commands for your first round or rounds of combat. Then, each Command Phase, you continue planning further ahead, reacting to the shape of battle, but issuing commands that you intend to have your crews execute one or more rounds later. Moreover, the more powerful your ship, the slower it reacts to your commands. Most of the more powerful ships, like the Victory-class Star Destroyer, feature higher command values that demand you plan your actions two or more rounds ahead of time.
Once you and your opponents have assigned new commands to each of your ships, you proceed to the Ship Phase.
2) Ship Phase
In the Ship Phase, you and your opponent take turns activating your ships, starting with the player who has initiative for the round. When you activate a ship, you first reveal its command for the round. You can either trigger the command’s effect from the dial for full effect, or you can store the command for future use, placing a token upon your ship’s card, and reserving the command’s effect for a more opportune moment, albeit at a reduced effect.
After you resolve a ship’s command, your ship can perform up to two attacks, though each attack must originate from a different firing arc. Each attack can target a single eligible ship, or it can target every fighter squadron within range of your firing arc. Attacks made against enemy ships use the type and number of dice indicated on the section from which they originate. Attacks made against enemy squadrons use the type and number of dice indicated by the Anti-Squadron section of your ship’s card.
Notably, while you must fire both of your attacks from different sections, if a single enemy ship lies within range and line of sight of both firing arcs, you can perform both attacks against that ship.
After your ship fires, it must set its course and move. You establish your ship’s initial speed during setup, and you must continue to move at that speed until you reveal a navigate command. Your speed determines both how far you can move and how many times you can click the game’s maneuver tool to adjust your course at each speed increment.
This maneuver tool is one of the game’s most innovative features and adds a unique feel to the way your capital ships must accommodate for inertia as they maneuver through the stars.
Capital ships can’t easily vary their speeds or execute hairpin turns like the starfighters that buzz around them. Accordingly, you only use the maneuver tool to maneuver your capital ships. Then, even as it makes it easy for you to set a ship’s course, the game’s maneuver tool lends an element of realism to its pitch and yaw.
As an example of how Armada uses its maneuver tool to realistically portray the different ways its capital ships can maneuver, we can consider the differences between the CR90 and the Victory-class Star Destroyer.
The CR90 is both capable of tighter turns and faster, with a maximum speed of “4” versus the Star Destroyer’s maximum speed of “2.” At speed “2,” while the Star Destroyer can adjust the maneuver tool only one click at the second joint, the CR90 can adjust its course one click at the first join and two clicks at the second. Still, the faster the CR90 flies, the fewer clicks it can adjust its course through the initial range increments.
3) Squadron Phase
Although Star Wars: Armada is built around the galaxy’s many capital ships, you’ll almost certainly want to fly one or more squadrons of starfighters in your fleet, both to threaten enemy ships and to defend your ships from enemy squadrons. If left unchecked, a swarm of starfighters can quickly tear down even the largest capital ship, and though capital ships can exchange fire with the starfighters that harry them, any shot directed at a squadron is a shot not taken at a larger ship.
In the Squadron Phase, you and your opponent take turns activating any unactivated squadrons, beginning with the player who has initiative. When you activate a squadron, you can move it or perform an attack with it.
Squadrons have 360-degree firing arcs, so a swarm of fighters can quickly menace even the greatest capital ships. Accordingly, every good fleet admiral needs to develop a plan for dealing with these fighters. You don’t want to reduce the amount of firepower that you unleash at your enemy’s larger ships, but you can’t afford to allow enemy fighters to attack you at their leisure. As a result, then, most fleets protect their ships by using screens of fighters to engage enemy squadrons.
Meanwhile, even though the squadrons in Armada aren’t pre-painted like the capital ships, they are presented in colors intended to complement their fleets.
4) Status Phase
In the Status Phase, players ready their exhausted defense cards and flip the initiative token. Then the player with initiative increases the round count, or if you’ve just completed the sixth round, the game ends. Victory is awarded to the player who has scored more total points, counting both those awarded for eliminating enemy ships and squadrons as well as those awarded for completing objectives worth victory points.
Fighting for the Cause
Your Armada battles aren’t meaningless confrontations. You’re fighting them to make progress within the Galactic Civil War. You’re waging battles over key tactical concerns. The fate of the galaxy is at stake.
With twelve objectives, Armada defines your confrontations and immerses you more fully in its Star Wars experience. At the beginning of each game, you and your opponent will select one of these objectives, which introduces special rules and helps to define the narrative of your battle. Are you tracking down a specific target? Are you contesting a key outpost? Are you trying to intercept key intel?
Importantly, the game’s objectives change the ways that you’ll score points in your game, and they force you and your opponents to adapt your strategies, leading to tremendous replayability.
Assemble Your Fleet
“Deploy the fleet so that nothing gets off that system. You are in command now, Admiral Piett.”
With its capital ships, starfighter squadrons, and accessible rules, Star Wars: Armada provides you an unparalleled take on the largest and most consequential battles in the Star Wars universe. What’s more, your first games are only the beginning of your involvement in the Galactic Civil War.
Just as it is your job as fleet admiral to assemble a battle plan, it is your job to build the fleet that stands the best chance of emerging from battle victorious. Rules for fleet-building allow you to handpick your strike force as you prepare to meet the enemy. Not only can you choose which ships and squadrons to bring to battle, you can upgrade them with powerful weaponry or call upon the talents of elite pilots and officers.
As Rebel and Imperial fleets collide, thousands of crew will heroically perform their duties, thousands more will die, but you are the one whose decisions will determine the course of the battle and help decide the fate of the galaxy.
Command your fleet, win the battle, and play your part in the Galactic Civil War!