Star Wars: Armada Wave 6 Review
on Aug 2, 2017
Star Wars Armada remains a somewhat overlooked and underappreciated game as it heads into its sixth wave of expansions. Without the rigorous meta, tournament scene, and overwhelming popularity, the game has sort of developed along its own lines, quietly expanding itself and gradually introducing more specialized ships and more complex capabilities appropriate for a game that you could almost get away with calling "the thinking man's X-Wing". As I've stated in my Armada coverage in the past, I am 100% a casual player of the game so I'm not one to discuss how any of this new stuff "shakes up the meta" or any of that because I frankly don't care. I play Armada because I'm a Star Wars Fan and to date, this game captures the widescreen excitement and epic engagements of the films at a bigger scale - and slower pace - than its more popular cousin. So I am excited about these new ships, but more because of their cool factor than anything to do with their efficacy or ability to win a tournament.
Yeah, you know you want to do that.
If you are a Star Wars fan and a game player like me, when you saw Rogue One last year at the theater your first thought when they called up the Hammerhead Corvettes during the Battle of Scarif was "I want one of those for Armada". Fantasy Flight Games has heard the call and one of the expansions in this wave is a box of not one but two of these awesome ships. And as you might expect, these bad boys are get-up-in-your-grill brawlers- something the Rebel side has somewhat lacked.
The Hammerheads are pretty basic corvette-class ships in terms of points and stats. They come in two flavors - a Scout model and a slightly up-gunned Torpedo version with more firepower at the fore and ordnance upgrade options. Hull and shields are fairly standard, but where I find this ship to be especially valuable is when you pair them up (as you should, given that they come in a set) and use the Task Force Antilles or Task Force Organa. These cards let you block damage (Antilles) or reroll attacks (Organa) for friendly ships with range 3. But even better are Garel's Honor, which allows you to slap a face-down damage card when you overlap (i.e. ram) another ship. There are also a couple of really great upgrades focused on close range encounters. Boarding Engineers, which let you flip an enemy's facedown damage cards face up (ouch!), are especially fun. But the External Racks, which let you add two black dice a single time to a close range attack can be a ship-destroying one-shot option. Well worth the three point cost.
I like these ships a lot, but it is somewhat disappointing that they don't do a little more. I mean, in the film one of these things SHOVES a Star Destroyer. The thing is, ramming, displacement and overlapping are the very weakest and most nonsensical areas of the Armada rules. And these ships have a specialization, based on their film appearance that would obviously fall squarely into that. I'm also not entirely sure that anyone already loaded up on CR90 Corvettes or other Rebel options will necessarily be missing out on much if they don't see these as a must-have from a fan perspective.
It's like a slice of pie that dispenses TIE Fighters.
Over on the Imperial side, the new ship is the Imperial Light Carrier and as you might surmise from the way out-of-scale launch bays along its lower hull, this is a mid-range ship focused on squadron support. It has a high Squadron value (4) and pretty decent maneuverability given that it is a carrier-class ship. A couple of particularly valuable titles increase its value as the focal point of a squadron-based list. Stronghold allows a TIE swarm to defend as if obstructed and Squall can, upon activation, move up to three squadrons a distance of 2. This is a pretty nice ability that can help you keep your swarms cohesive and deadly. Pursuant is nice in that it allows you to always substitute a Squadron command for anything on your command dial.
The Imperials also get some boarders (Boarding Troopers) but these squander defense tokens, as does Admiral Sloane when you attack a Rebel ship. Another great Rebels character shows up with The Grand Inquisitor, who gives you decent speed decrease ability- great for tracking and pursuit.
Like the Hammerheads, the Imperial Light Cruiser definitely feels more like a "nice to have" rather than a "must have". Players that like to run a lot of Squadrons (like me) will definitely appreciate it and there may be some value in having at least two on the table. But with that said, it's another case where I'm not sure I would miss if it were gone.
Perhaps in the meta these ships will carry more weight - or wind up regarded as broken or ineffective. I don't particularly care. As a casual player, I enjoy these ships and I am glad to have them, but for those who feel like Armada was complete after wave 3 (an argument that I would not necessarily dispute), then these ships are definitely inessential. Of course, the big question is where FFG is taking the game next with all of the major capital, support, and squadron ships pretty much covered. I wouldn't be heartbroken if this were the game's last wave.