Monday, March 27, 2017

The Art of the Turn

There aren't many players that would dispute that maneuver is the most critical part of Armada. After all, if you can't get that big ISD front arc into range, it's not worth all those points you sunk into it. You're not going to win by flying a CR90 straight at an ISD. However, it's all well and good to just say that. It's another thing to actually do it. What does good maneuver look like? What tools are have available to enhance maneuverability?

Spacing and Coordination
I harp on this a lot, but it cannot be overstated: have a plan. You have to know what you want to do with your list. Unless you're JJ Juggernaut (Seriously, you won the World Cup with a list you put together at the last second?! I hate you... #superjealous) , ad-libbing rarely goes well. That's how self-inflicted collisions happen. If you're playing with squadrons, you need to account for your carriers spamming squadron commands. If you're going MSU, you need to have a way to time your approaches and dodge those dangerous arcs. Practice makes perfect, so don't get frustrated if you don't get it right away with a new list.

Nav Teams and Engine Techs are the most obvious upgrades that can help maneuver, though since they compete for the same slot, Engine Techs usually win out. It's not hard to see why. Despite the high cost, Engine Techs provide a ton of flexibility. It's especially nice for ships that have two ticks at speed one, such as the Arquitens, the CR90s, and the Gladiator. Less noticed, but potentially just as critical, are token generators, such as Veteran Captains or Comms Nets. Speed is just as critical to maneuver as ticks on the tool. Speed adjustment via Nav token can be the difference between life and death.

As Commanders, Jerry and Madine have the greatest impact on maneuver of any upgrade card. Jerjerrod is the more popular of the two by a wide margin. That's mainly because he doesn't require a certain command to work. He's a god send to carrier builds that want to spam Squadron commands. Jerry allows them to just keep spamming, but maintain a huge range of options for maneuver. The single point of damage required to use him is more than worth it. There's nothing quite so amazing as an ISD making an insane 90 degree inside turn...
Yes, this is a legal turn. 

...until you see a Liberty do it and then add an Engine Techs maneuver. Madine is considerably harder to maximize than Jerjerrod, but I'm warming to him. Unlike Jerjerrod, who works with pretty much any build, a Madine fleet has to be built around Navigate commands to work. That means squadron heavy play is pretty much out the window. I've come to think that he needs to be paired with the Liberty to achieve his full potential. The Liberty's funky maneuver chart and access to Engine Techs means you can get a lot out of Navigate commands. I originally thought he would go well with Nebulon-Bs. That many still be true, but I've found more luck with CR90s. While Cracken and Mon Mothma add a certain amount of toughness to CR90s by making them tankier, Madine allows you to dodge arcs with an paralleled nimbleness. A Madine CR90 with Engine Techs is capable of some truly astonishing maneuvers. At speed 4 with Madine and a Navigate command, a CR90 is capable of a 180 degree turn in a single move. Add a Nav token to the equation and it becomes a 202.5 degree turn.
Liberty's final position after the same inside turn as the ISD, then Engine Techs added.

The Inside Turn
This all brings me to what I consider to be the most important open secret to solid maneuver: the inside turn. What I mean by an inside turn is when you place the maneuver template on the opposite side of the direction you end up traveling. You don't really consider it as a new player. You think "I need to turn left, so I need to put the maneuver tool on the left." That's not necessarily true, nor is it always the right choice. The only requirement is that you don't overlap the maneuver tool on the last notch. Generally it results in the ship either making a tighter turn or traveling less distance. This comes in handy when you can't (or don't want to) drop your speed enough to stay out of range. This is easiest to do with small ships, but it's achievable on medium and even large ships. Let's go through a couple examples.

This first example is typical for MSU. You don't want your CR90 in range of that mean ISD, but you're already burning away at speed 4. You have a nav command to add an extra tick and drop your speed, but that just won't do it. You might be able to burn straight through, but the side arc at medium range is still a dangerous place for a CR90 to be. Plus, you lose your chance at a good shot of your own. The inside turn here effectively lets you stay in a relatively safe spot while continuing to keep your primary arc facing the ISD to shoot it next turn.

In an outside turn, this CR90 gets caught at medium range, no matter what speed it chooses

Taking an inside keeps the CR90 at long range, where it is much more likely to survive.
This second example come up in a recent game I played. The flotilla is the only ship remotely in range of claiming the Station in Contested Outpost. However, it's going speed 2 and it needs to be able to use a squadron command to help out a couple squadrons. With an inside turn, you don't need to choose between a squadron command and the 20 points from the station; you can get we.
A straight move or a sharp outside turn can't keep you in range of the Contested Outpost

An inside turn keeps the flotilla just in range and able to use a non-Navigate command.

1 comment:

  1. Really helpful article, must admit I have been playing Armada for 2 years almost now and I never really clocked this! Great tip.

    Also very cool to see all my favourite bloggers on one site. Go team Steel Squadron!