Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Obstacle Placement - Part 2 - Obstacle Specific Objectives

On Monday we talked about placing obstacles in Objectives without any special obstacle rules.  This time we are going to talk about the three objectives that specifically change obstacle placement or rules in their use.  Both Minefields and Contested Outpost change who places what obstacles and where each obstacle can go.  Dangerous Territory, while it doesn't directly change the location of the obstacles, changes how they function for both the first player (worth points when overlapped once) and second player (points and no effect for rocks and debris).

In addition to these, the objective Fleet Ambush also puts some ships from the First Player deployed within a zone where obstacles could be set up.  While I won't be explicitly covering this in the article, keep it in mind when setting up obstacles, both as First and Second player.


There is nothing odder than Minefields as an objective played by someone who has no idea how it is going to be set up.  With that being said, I have been extremely hesitant the play Minefields, as I was not entirely sure how I would set it up.  Well, that and I have an extreme love of Superior Positions, and don't usually consider any other objective.  So, how does one get the biggest advantage from Minefields?  

I found a small bit of discussion on the FFG forums from back in October on this very topic, but all in all, not a whole lot of discussion on Minefields and how to set up on the internet.  In that discussion, a setup was discussed called "The Funnel".

Minefield Setup - The Funnel with Imperials as Second Player

The Funnel:  This setup uses mines as a fence, forcing enemies to fly either down the middle of the field or way out on one of the flanks, seriously decreasing maneuverability.  For a list that relies on powerful, short range weaponry, or that lacks the agility to keep up with speedier and more maneuverable opponents, this setup can help turn the tide.  This list relies on 4 main obstacles, all of which are each set at the minimum distance from one another.  2 of the 4 key obstacles are set up near the edge of the setup area within Range 3 of the opponent's side, and the other 2 are set up diagonally across the board towards the center of the map.  The objective tokens are then placed to complete the funnel making 2 lines with the obstacles on either side.

This setup is typical of Imperial lists, with their slow, powerful front arc VSDs as a counter to the Assault Frigate and its ability to slip around an Imperial line, and to limit the Assault Frigates maneuverability for GSDs to pounce.

Board Cutter - uses a lot of mines one one side of the board to effectively cut the board in two.

The Board Cutter attempts the same maneuvering limitations, but instead of funneling the fighting to the middle of the board, but being limited to being broken through at the point of a single mine, the Board Cutter tries to limit that by giving even more mines right where they are most needed, the middle of the board where the enemy could flank around you.  This requires the larger obstacles to fit more mines around them, preventing anyone from making it around.  It also frees up the side you expect to engage on for other obstacle consideration, such as the station.

Dangerous Territory:

Since we've already covered the first Navigation objective, let's get the other one out of the way.  Dangerous Territory changes obstacle rules by making them deploy at Range 5 of the edges, with the first overlap of each objective worth 15 points via Victory Token.  The basic idea is, you'll have 3 objectives, the opponent will have 3 objectives, and you can both place them to pick up 3 objective tokens.

Obstacle selection is easy:  Second Player places first, and it should always be the station.  Why would it not?  Your biggest advantage for this objective is getting your opponent to run their ships over rocks before engaging you.  From there, obstacle selection could go one of two ways:  Larger obstacles to try and get your opponent to miss their obstacles (which they shouldn't) or smaller obstacles to try and get the First Player to accidentally overlap twice.  In terms of what obstacles you want - consider the repairs necessary for each.  Theoretically, a Face Up Damage Card from rocks is only 3 engineering to repair, while debris is 4 engineering, but there are a lot of Face Up Damage cards that can strip shields, add more damage cards, or discard defensive tokens.  Better to hit debris where you can.

Frankly, I can see 3 ways to set this up, and it all depends on what you see your opponent going for:

Option 1 and 2.  2nd Player Imperial has gone with the 2 ship scoop.  Rebels have gone with the 3 ship line.

The Line:  This setup takes 3 obstacles and sets them out one after another in a line.  Ships will then deploy behind the obstacles, one per, and make a Speed 2 maneuver to pick them up.  Turn 1, your 45 points are out of the way.  The disadvantage is it can really put some of your ships out of the rest of the fight - fine if your distant pickup ship is something fast and wants to engage late - say a CR90 or a NebB.  This is also something First Player might choose, to limit the damage to his fleet by only have one overlap per ship he selects.

The Two Ship Scoop:  This setup sets the 3 obstacles up to have one ship grab just one of the obstacles as it makes its first maneuver, and the other ship nab the other two, grabbing the second one on the second turn.  Probably a little better for the first player, who can reliably count on being able to grab the second obstacle as his first activation.  The First Player can also send a ship to try and steal a fourth obstacle from their opponent if the opponent tries for the Two Ship Scoop, but should be aware that there will be 2 enemy ships bearing down on him if he tries that.

Second Player, Rebels, went with a One Ship Sweep

The One Ship Sweep:  This really is more of a gambit than anything else - giving up any pretense of having your one of your ships do anything else while the rest engage the enemy directly.  Again, best for First Player, it offers the enemy a choice - split their forces to go after the lone ship picking up tokens, giving local superiority to the enemy right at where their own ships are taking hits from obstacles, or keep their forces together, and lose any chance at denying those 60 points being grabbed by a 40-something point corvette.

The final option is just to do a Brawl.  For the Second Player, after the First Player places his obstacle, begin to place your own obstacles near it.  Worst case scenario, you've just picked up a free obstacle which he would have been afraid to play for.  Play when you know you can win a crazy free-for-all.

Contested Outpost:

I'm not going to bother talking for too long about Contested Outpost as the Second Player - first off, it is obvious where you want the Contested Outpost - snuggled up right at Distance 5 from your side of the board.  Instead, lets talk about something fun you can do as First Player with the only two obstacles you get.

Just 2 obstacles - the Second Player cannot place the station on the top left half of the setup area.

Namely this - just 2 obstacles, strategically placed, can cut off half of the board.  Remember, your opponent places the Station last - and they have to place it outside of Range 5 of either player's edge.  You can use other obstacles the opponent sets up to make this an even larger area cut off from receiving a station.  Consider an opponent that decides to play his first obstacle defensively, to keep you away from his flank.

A fairly normal starting spot.

Well, you can now place one rock, and deny placement of the station on the entire right side of the map!

Right side is cut off for the outpost.

Now the opponent has to put out a rock.  Already they opened defensively, so maybe they continue that idea - more rocks to keep you from flanking them?

Now the center has been cut off too!

And suddenly they only have the far left to put out the outpost, shrinking the field considerably.  Depending on where they put their last rock, you could be looking at the outpost on your side of the field, or at least isolated to one flank.  The point is, with just your two rocks, you can decide where the outpost will eventually wind up - at least whether it goes in the center or on one of the flanks.  And if the opponent doesn't watch, it can wind up on your side of the field!

And that is it for objective discussion regarding obstacles.  Next article we will be looking at games of Armada, how the obstacles were placed, and ultimately how those placements defined the setup and movements of the game.  Until next time!

Want to read more articles like this?  Check out The Academy section.


  1. I don't understand the pics for Contested Outpost - the outpost is illegally deployed on most of them, no?

    1. In the pictures the outpost is not yet deployed, signified by it and the other undeployed obstacles passed to the side of the player who has not yet gone.

  2. A strategy I've found useful for Minefields (typically as Imperials with ISD/VSD dominant lists) has been to spread the obstacles and mines around on one side of the board leaving the battle on a 3'x3' field with nowhere to hide and nowhere to run once they've driven past. I would have an ISD on the outside edge and a VSD running along side the minefield with its flank protected by either fighters/bombers or the field.

  3. I have a friend who does something similar, but uses a funnel design, where I either have to crash through some mines, or fly right into his guns in a 1' opening.

    I like your strategy a lot better though, as it cuts off an entire flank (which my friend's strategy does not do. I would beat him by crashing through one mine a turn before his forces were in range, and repair any damage suffered with an Engineering and banked token.