Monday, July 20, 2015

Building a Fleet - Squadron Composition

Last time we covered general concepts in fleet building, but now it is time to dig into the details.  In this article we are going to be covering Squadron Composition for constructing a fleet - figuring out in what way the squadrons will compliment your ships and play style, what kind of squadrons you want to bring based on their role, and making it all come together for your finished list.

My apologies, I'm still in the middle of my move (everything is moved in, but Armada isn't unpacked and internet is installed later this week), so no pictures on the blog posts yet.

Edit:  With Wave 2 out, this article is slightly out of date.  Stay tuned for an update in a future article.

What Ships Will You Bring?

The most important decision for how many squadrons to bring are what kind of ships you are bringing for them to support.  Fighters work best when being supported by Capital ships through squadron commands, and the various ships have Squadron Values that determine how many of those squadrons they can reasonably support.  Let’s take a quick look at the different ships and see how many squadrons each one could reasonably command during an engagement:

CR90 Corvette – 1
Nebulon B Support - 1
Nebulon B Escort – 2
Assault Frigate MkIIA – 2
Assault Frigate MkIIB – 3
Assault Frigate MkIIB w/ Hangar Bay - 4

Gladiator Class Star Destroyer – 2
Victory Class Star Destroyer – 3
Victory Class Star Destroyer w/ Hanger Bay – 4

Everything else equal, the ships with higher squadron commands are the ones that could reasonably be though to be able to effectively make squadron commands on a regular basis.  There are, however, a few squadrons that work well independent of squadron commands, namely A-Wings, TIE Interceptors, and TIE Fighters, though all three of them do this in different ways and for different reasons.

“Unsupported” Squadrons

A-Wings and TIE Interceptors work because both have access to the COUNTER keyword, which allows them the ability to intercept other squadrons, particularly unescorted bombers, and deal damage on the bomber’s activation.  A-Wings are slightly better at this, having 4 hull to the TIE Interceptor’s 3, however Interceptors can be improved immensely by one key addition.

Because Interceptors have the SWARM ability, they can improve their COUNTER attack with rerolls if their attacker is also engaged with another ship.  This ship could be a second Interceptor, or a TIE Fighter that has also just engaged. 

The TIE Fighter, due to its inexpensive cost and the aforementioned SWARM boost to the Interceptor, make it a viable un-supported squadron as well.  Due to its cheap cost, the TIE Fighter can be used either to ensure a larger number of squadrons, giving you the option to go last during the squadron phase after your opponent has moved and activated all of their own squadrons; thus letting you engage enemy squadrons without fear of reprisal that turn, or attack any enemy that has already engaged you.  Finally, TIE Fighters can be used as sacrificial lambs, engaging high priority targets like Luke, Wedge, or B-Wing cover for a Nebulon B, making certain that while those ships will eliminate the TIE Fighter in short order, they won’t be using them against your higher value targets that turn.

What Will Your Squadrons Do?

Here, you have a decision to make regarding how your fleet is going to work.  What role are the Squadrons going to take, considering what ships you are bringing and what your own plan of attack is going to be?  Are you going to go with the intent on shooting down a bunch of your opponents fighters, to win the overall fighter duel and wind up with free points?  Are you going to launch a BOMBER attack on the enemy ships, adding your squadrons anti-ship battery to your own ship’s attacks?  Will you fly defensively, using your squadrons as a delaying force, keeping the enemy BOMBERs from your own ships?  Or will you protect your ships with a screen of BOMBERs, deterring an enemy ship that comes into close range?

There are a variety of options for how you will build an effective force of snubfighters, but for point values the roles are something like this for using the squadrons effectively:

BOMBER Attack – Max Points (~40% BOMBERs and ~60% Anti-Squadron) – This approach requires maximum numbers of carrier spec’d ships to establish squadron superiority and then send its bombers at the enemy ships it will be attacking for a one / two punch - for example a pair of AFIIs or a pair of VSDs.  The best combinations of squadrons for this role for the Rebels are X-Wings and A-Wings (both as an Anti-Squadron role and then to transition to bombers once the enemy is wiped out), with Y-Wings being the fast (relative to B-Wing) moving bombers.  For the Imperials, Major Rhymer lets you make the “Rhymer Ball” turning your squadrons into effectively a Medium Range shooting ship.  Aside from him, TIE Fighters and TIE Advanced make up the anti-squadron fighters (and can transition to fairly cost effective anti-ship squadrons once cover is eliminated) while TIE Bombers cover the heavy hitting.  Due to how many points are sunk into squadrons for this list, consider “Unsupported” ships to fill in the gaps and screen your flanks, like TIE Interceptors, lots of TIE Fighters, or A-Wings.  They can always be the recipients of Squadron commands if the needs arises or other squadrons drop to enemy fire.

For ship based support, you will want carrier spec’d ships all the way.  More activations means larger ships with hanger bays and flight controllers are needed, if you are going to take space superiority. 

Space Superiority – 50% to 70% Anti-Squadron and Interceptors – The Space Superiority role is all about taking out enemy squadrons.  The best fighters for this role are squadrons with large amounts of anti-squadron dice, and the ability to switch to an anti-ship role if the squadron fight is over faster than expected being a big plus.  X-Wings are the probably the best at this role, while TIE Fighters / Advanced and A-Wings are all good options as well, each having something that they aren’t particularly good at.  Interceptors work okay, though they are hurt by their low hull and poor anti-ship die if they have to serve in a pinch anti-ship roll.  Named Squadrons shine at this, with Darth Vader, Dutch, Soontir Fel, Wedge, Howlrunner and Mauler Mithel bringing considerable additional power to the mix.

For ship based support, you will also want carrier spec’d ships, though possibly not as many, for example one VSD1 spec'd as a carrier and a VSD2 built to murder enemy ships would be a reasonable build.  You may wind up having squadrons that are “unsupported” to tie down stragglers until your ball of death can catch up with them.  Going with named squadrons limits the number of ships you need support for.

Ship Escort – 30% to 50% Bombers, Interceptors to taste – The Ship Escort is usually seen with B-Wings keeping close quarters Imperial ships from closing into short range of Nebulon Bs or Assault Frigates.  There really isn’t a viable Imperial alternative to this, though.  This is especially effective with Yavaris and a double attack activation, allowing a pair of B-Wings to savage an enemy dumb enough to get that close with a total of 4 Blue and 4 Black dice.  Using A-Wings to screen the B-Wings from enemy fighters is almost certainly a part of the equation as well.

For ship based support, Yavaris is the biggest name on the list, though Gallant Haven is an option as well.  Flight Controllers can be useful if your bombers are engaged, though not necessary.  Adar Tallon can mean an extra attack for that B-Wing escort, and that can be an absolute deathblow.

Anti-Fighter Escort – 30%-50% Anti-Squadron – This build assumes you already have enough anti-ship capabilities, and just want a screen against enemy squadrons - for example, a VSD and two GSDs / or an AFII and a pair of NebBs.  In this case, you want to limit the amount of points you are giving up if the enemy brings a large fighter base, but still have enough to keep their bombers off of your ships.  TIE Fighters, A-Wings, TIE Interceptors (or Soontir Fel) with Advanced support works best in this scenario.  Tycho Celchu is also a good pick for his ability to lock down enemy squadrons and then run away once they are out of range of your ships.

Really, if you’re going this route you aren’t putting much down for ship support, though a timely squadron command can make all the difference.  Warlord / H9, Point Defense Reroute, or any of the 2 Dice Anti-Squadron ships can also help with this build.

No Squadrons – So, you went with a CR90 Corvette Swarm?  Consider this, an A-Wing flying with each Corvette would let you engage a Rhymer Ball, or the Corvette could use a banked squadron token to send the A-Wing to attack (and probably stick to) an enemy VSD or Nebulon B.  One command, banked until later, and the A-Wing is fine to go off and work its magic on its own after that, no further input required.

Bringing It All Together

So a quick summary of what squadrons you want to bring, and for what role:

X-Wings – Space Superiority / Secondary Bomber
Y-Wings – Bomber Attack
A-Wings – Interceptor & Escort / Secondary Space Superiority & Bomber
B-Wings – Ship Escort

TIE Fighter – Space Superiority & Anti-Squadron Escort / Secondary Interceptor / Emergency Bomber
TIE Interceptor – Interceptor (Bombers Only), Anti-Squadron Escort & Space Superiority
TIE Advanced – Support for TIE Interceptors / Secondary Bomber & Interceptor

TIE Bomber – Bomber Attack

Well, that is it for this round.  Let me know what you'd like to see for next time at the Steel Squadron HQ.  More advice for fleet building?  Covering more upgrade cards?  It's up to you to let your voice be heard!


  1. Thanks Matt, enjoying the strategy articles for building fleets and squadrons! Would be interested in any thoughts around formations to use for your fleets if you have any ideas. (How far apart to keep capital ships, relative positioning etc.)

  2. That does sound like a good idea for an article, and something I don't think anyone has really covered for Armada yet. Sounds like an excellent request!

  3. Great articles Matt! I just got the game and have been reading all of your articles. They're well thought out, and very comprehensive. Thank you for all of your work!