Monday, January 4, 2016

Using Objectives to Your Advantage: Part 1 - Assault

The first thing I discussed on this blog relating to Armada was the objective system, and for good reason.  At the time, no one was really talking about one of the core components of list building.  So much attention had been made about each individual ship, how it fit into the grand design of the game, and not one article had come out about using your objectives strategically, either as the Second Player and choosing ones to force your opponent to play your game, or as First Player, and taking advantage of your opponent's choices.

Since then a lot has changed.  The GenCon special revealed a preference for going second, and dictating the objective choices while being terrifying at first player.  Meanwhile most players continued to push for first player, seeing the concrete advantage of the first activation of a turn.  Nationals showed us the value in strategic objective play, with Superior Positions and Intel Sweep being live streamed - and the objectives themselves being used to secure wins for the second player, and first player respectively.  Wave 2 came out, giving us a large number of new commanders, ships, squadrons and upgrades to play with.

With all of this in mind, let's take a look at the objectives, starting with the Red "Assault" Objective cards.  In the end, they haven't changed, though the game has moved around them.

Opening Salvo:

There are two big bonuses to Opening Salvo - the first is that each player's first shot is improved (Red dice for First Player, and Any Color for Second Player), and the second gives end game points (half the ship cost) to any ships that have a damage card on them.  So, two advantages are given to someone that chooses this objective - improved Alpha Strike damage, and receiving points from hard to kill ships like the ISD without finishing them off completely.

Second Player:
This objective is custom built for lists with colored critical effects, or effects that are based off specific dice colors.  Consider Scout Frigates or Gladiators firing Red dice from long range, then tossing in a pair of Blacks to fish for an early APT critical effect.  Screed up against an MC80, ISD, or VSD just guaranteed the day starts off right.  A CR90B could hunt for a NK-7 hit, or a Raider II can Overload Pulse in preparation for the rest of your forces.

This is also an objective for a list without large, heavy hull ships.  This benefits Rebels and their shields more than Imperials - with only the MC80 being really an oddball there.  The MC30c is probably the best ship for this objective out of all of the new bunch, with Raider swarm being a close second (though without redirects to keep damage away from it's juicy hull).  This is emphatically not an objective to bring your ISD along for, and not an objective for Motti.  Upgrades that help here are Advanced Projectors (though less useful now with XI7s out and about) and Engineering Teams to get hull damage repaired with standard commands.

First Player:
This is an objective to select if you have reliable methods of putting damage onto hull.  Assault Proton Torpedos, XI7 Turbolasers, these are your bread and butter and will give you points even if an enemy ship is able to flee.  You are also counting on being able to use those extra Reds for an Alpha Strike of your own.  Vader is probably the best option for this choice as Imperial - as he is the only way to really effectively reroll Red dice.  As before, the ISD is not the best option, but you may find that you have to take this objective - use its high Engineering to your best effect.  It is going to be a target, as it is worth 55 or 60 points with just a single point of damage on the hull when the game ends - have engineering commands ready to remove anything that manages to sneak onto the hull.

For that matter, any ships that you have should prioritize hull repairs to save points, and prioritize spending defense tokens to keep damage on the shields.

Overall Strategy:
Small ships are the real winners here.  A CR90B that can ram an ISD has already earned its points back if that ISD doesn't repair itself before the end of the game.  Hit and run tactics are the name of the game - you don't have to specifically destroy the enemy - as long as your ships make the pass without any hull damage, you've come out on top.  For that matter, if you have a ship that is already damaged, ramming an enemy can net you some free points even if you were otherwise doomed.  If you do have a bigger ship, protect it with lots of repair and/or navigate commands, and prioritize removing damage cards if at all feasible.

Squadrons can be a key contribution as well, swarming hull zones with to lower shields and getting damage cards through to the hull.  They can also be a big help screening your own ships from this same thing happening to you.

The biggest winner of this objective is the MC30c Scout, who has their defense based on shields, has incredible hit and run speed, and with Second Player, the ability to drop APTs on heavy targets from long range with its first shot of the game. On the Imperial side, the Gladiator fills many of those same roles, just with less shields and less speed.

The losers are the ISD, MC80, and VSD - all of which have lots of hull, lots of point value, and no normal way to evade a long range APT strike.  Also in the loser bracket is the Nebulon B, which has too few shields on its side arc to reasonably expect to not take some damage to hull by the end of the game against a determined bomber force.

Advanced Gunnery:

The old king of Wave 1 Medium Ship objectives - no one wanted to hand a double attack to a VSDII or a AFII with Paragon.  Now with Wave 2, this is the ISDII / MC80 objective, bar none.  Advanced Gunnery lets you chose one of your ships and have it shoot twice from the same hull zone.  For Second Player, this means being allowed to focus down a single enemy from one arc.  For First Player, it functions as a slightly boosted Gunnery Team, letting you fire on the same enemy ship only if you can shoot two different hull zones.

Second Player:
You have the biggest, baddest ship on the block, and you intend to use it to murder your opponent.  At this point there is no need to even think of selecting this objective without either an ISD or MC80 to put it on.  Since the ship itself is doubled in cost, but not upgrades, you can put this on the fattest ship in your fleet and hope to weather the storm.  XI7s are your best friends for this objective - multiple attacks on the same hull zone means a net 2 damage stripped away to bordering shields if the opponent can use redirects at all.  That could be enough with an ISD or MC80 to put a serious hurt on anything you are focusing on.  For Rebels, Ackbar is the obvious MC80 partner, and Defiance the best title of the bunch.  For Imperials, Vader gives you the best offensive punch, while Motti or Tarkin can give your ISD the staying power to weather the inevitable counterattacks.

First Player:
Skip it.

No seriously, skip it.  There's got to be something in the yellows or blues that are better for you than this!

If you find yourself thinking that you can compete with this objective, there is basically three situations that I can think of that might work:  First, an MC80 with Ackbar.  This gives your MC80 a gunnery team, turning it into a monster.  A monster that can hopefully play long-range keep-away from your opponents even more terrifying monster.  Try to maneuver so that you can get multiple enemy arcs in your side arc, so you can double tap enemy ships anyway.  Engine Techs are your best friend here.

The second is a Rhymerball, either Cinnamon or Vanilla flavored.  It has the hull to eat anti-squadron fire from the objective ship, and the damage potential to punch a lot of damage onto the hull before your vulnerable capital ships engage.

The final is Rieekan swarm.  Who cares about an objective ship firing twice at a single target when it has 5-6 targets to chose from?  And that target isn't dead until it gets another shot off.  Oh, and your ISD is worth 240 base points?  I guess you can have an extra 39 from this naked CR90B I have here.

Overall Strategy:
Protect your big boy, ether with a screen of smaller ships, or with fighters.  Losing your objective ship is basically losing the match at the point values you'11 be playing with, so you have to ensure it does not happen.  Fight defensively, and use every trick in the book, including running away to ensure your objective ship survives.

Most Wanted:

After deployment, the second player chooses a ship on each side.  That ship, when it is attacked by another ship (sorry squadrons, it got Errata'd) you can throw an extra die (of a color you already have) at it.  Also, that objective ship's value is doubled at the end of the game.

Second Player:
So, you have a Corvette.  This objective lets you send that corvette on its merry way away from the fighting (or just skirting the edges), and even if it blows up, no big loss.  Meanwhile, you get to select the biggest, nastiest, thing on the opponents side and turn it into a point pinata!

Really, this objective is better the more ships your bring to the party, but really just don't chose this objective if you don't have at least one small cheap ship to pawn objective ship off on.  

First Player:
So, you don't have an ISD or MC80.  You know your biggest, tastiest ship is going to be the one that gets "Wanted".  Maybe your commander is on a Corvette?  Maybe your biggest ship is a stripped down AFIIB?  Hell, maybe Motti is just sitting on the bridge of your ISDII, laughing, waving at the projection experts Raider next to him, and saying "try me".

The big thing here is that you need to be able to protect whatever ship your opponent selects.  This needs to guide not only your play, but also your deployment.  The opponent doesn't even name the ship until then - so if all your ships are roughly the same, they may go after the easiest fruit first to get it off the board.  Having both first and last activation is a serious advantage here if you can manage it, as you can move your objective ship last, and then run him first back out of danger, still getting shots off.

Overall Strategy:
Corvettes are the big winner for this objective, for both players.  For second player, you can make your CR90 or Raider the objective ship, and for either player, it means more activations to hunt the objective ship, and more dice to throw their way.

The big loser is a high point value command ship for the First Player - You really don't want to throw away an ISD or MC80 with its point value doubled.

Precision Strike

Precision Strike is the first and only of the Red objectives to give out victory tokens.  Now after a ship or squadron performs an attack, you gain a 15 point objective token for any damage card dealt face-up, or flipped face-up during the attack.  In addition, any ship or Bomber squadron gains the ability to spend a die with a Hit result during the roll to flip a face down damage card on the defender face up.  Also, the second player gets some free CF tokens I guess.

Second Player:
This is for you squadron heavy lists out there.  You have a chance to earn in points far more than most ships are worth without even blowing it up.  Also, this is a great objective for upgrades that put damage directly to the hull - APTs, Dodonna's Pride, Luke Skywalker all give you a way to prime the pump, pending the crit being one that gets flipped face down.  

Once damage starts getting to the hull, even more points can be won.  Spending a hit to flip a card over earns a point, and the standard crit effect can earn a point too, giving you high potential for points in attacks against a resilient target, like an ISD.  XX-9 Turbolasers hand out even more points from shieldless ships.  Plus your own ships need to be able to take a hit without it getting onto the hull.  Defensive upgrades such as Lando, ECM, or Advanced Projectors are crucial.

This is not a Rieekan party, don't invite him along.  Note that his ships hang around until the end of the round - which means they hang around to be shot at even after they are dead, earning extra victory points for your opponent.  Do not do this.

Plus you get free Concentrate Fire tokens on all your ships.  That's... something?

First Player:
You saw where I mentioned Rieekan above, right?  This goes double for you.

On the other hand, if you do have a lot of high shield, low hull ships, this can be a good objective for you as well.  You'll also need to be fairly confident in your ability to manage the squadron game, and either win, or have a plan to effectively engage the enemy Bombers.  At least, that's if you don't think you'd be better off doing bombing runs of your own, and turning the thing into a foot race for points.

Overall Strategy:
General Dodonna and Screed are the best commanders to bring along for the ride for this one.  High hull Imperial ships are at a disadvantage, though Contain tokens on the ISD mitigate the danger somewhat.  The MC80 really shines, between high shields, Contain, and good squadron commands.    On the Imperial side, this is the preferred objective for the Rhymerball.

Be ready to pounce on any ship that finds itself with hull damage, or low on shields.  In a pinch, ramming an enemy ship can open the floodgates for more points from squadron swarms or follow up shots.

Really it is kinda amusing writing this article and realizing how much has remained the same - even as a lot of stuff changes.  I'll have part 2 later, with the yellow "Defensive" objectives, but until then have a wonderful weekend!


  1. Very useful, thank you!


    1. If you liked this, stay tuned for the rest. I'm going to try and have Defensive Objectives up for Monday.

  2. Really helpful article, thanks. Good to go back to basics with wave 2 in mind!

  3. great article but what is Rhymerball? we noobs know not what this is.