Monday, May 29, 2017

AAR - Garm Goes To Red Castle Games

Yesterday was the Store Championships at Red Castle Games in Portland, OR and the first stop on the Make Garm Great Again World Tour 2017!  The tournament was well run, the shop is a nice venue, and a great crowd of players showed up for the event.  Keep reading to see how Garm did.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Making Garm Great Again

Did you know that Garm bel Iblis was the winning admiral at the 1st Armada World Championships and also the 2nd place admiral at the first North American Championships?  Given how he has performed since then it wouldn't be surprising if you didn't know that.  But at one time Garm was the top admiral in Armada.

Store Championship season is upon us and I am lucky enough to live in a part of the world that has several excellent game stores.  While I will probably take a different fleet to each tournament I play in, my one real goal is to win a Store Championship with Garm bel Iblis.  I had a lot of success with him in the early days of Armada, but more recent waves have not been as kind to Garm.  It's not so much that Garm does poorly in tournaments, it's more that no one really brings him.

So, it's time to Make Garm Great Again!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Interview with 2017 World Champion Norm Weir

Congratulations again on winning the 2017 World Championship for Armada, and thank you for taking the time out for this interview.

Thank you! You are welcome and it is a pleasure, and thank you, Biggs, for all the work you put into Steel Squadron, Armada, and the FFG community.

Norm's well painted Gallant Haven was painted by his girlfriend, Rosa.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Wave 5 - Ranking the Commanders

Back near the end of Wave 4, we ranked the Commanders.  Today we're going to smash them together into Tiers again!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Wave 5 Upgrades - Fleet Command Upgrades

On to "the reason you took a Pelta".  It is the Fleet Command Upgrades; support upgrades that you put on a slightly over-costed ship that make the rest of your fleet better.  The upgrades that make Imperials irrationally angry over Wave 5.

Please note that with the most recent FAQ, if the ship that this upgrade on is destroyed, all ships still gain the benefit of the upgrade until the end of the round.

Without further ado...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

Wave 5 Upgrades - Rapid Launch Bay

Oh god, this thing is a beast of an upgrade card.  It does strange things and required a FAQ from pretty much the moment it was announced, and even after the FAQ it isn't 100% clear exactly how it should work, though I will describe the basic consensus.  Anyways, here it is!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Wave 5 Commanders - Moff Jerjerrod & Commander Sato

It has come to my attention that I have been very much slacking on writing upgrade articles.  This has to change!  How can I write about Wave 6 when I haven't even finished up Wave 5?  And I haven't even touched on the Commanders for the wave.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Truth(iness) vs. Logic: 500 point tournaments

One of the beauties of having multiple writers on a blog is being able to present different points of view on the same topic. With that in mind, Steel Squadron brings you our first joint blog post in what we hope will be an ongoing segment: Truth(iness) vs. Logic. Our topic today: 500 point tournaments! Some people (you know, people who like to have fun) would like to see the tournament standard increase to 500 points. Other people (booooooo!) think it's somehow not the greatest idea since the invention of the X-Wing. First up, is the righteous guardian of all things that feels right: your friendly neighborhood Truthiness.

Feels Like Star Wars
In just about tabletop game I've ever played, I always love going big. It's why I play Armada instead of X-Wing. Fleet command is always way cooler than some lame little skirmish. If you don't immediately think of the Battle of Endor when someone says "Star Wars fleet battle," you need to get the hell off this blog right now. The more spaceships on the table, the better. Right now, even if you're not running the "2+3" style builds, you only tend to see 2-3 medium or large ships on the table. That's not an armada. That's barely deserving of the term "fleet". We need MOAR SHIPS!

Activation and Flotilla Scaling

More points means more activations. Real activations that can cause real pain, not pansy flotillas. While the cost of activation padding is likely to scale linearly, it will be harder to maintain. There will be more tools on the table to kill the flotillas. The reward for activation padding also won't be as high because...

Alpha Strikes Won't Matter As Much

Demolisher removing a ship with a brutal triple tap wouldn't be quite as devastating when there are more ships on the table. The same goes for the coming Avenger/Boarding Troopers combo. That also means they'll have more returning fire to worry about if they put themselves in a bad position to get said kill shot. This is the true problem with activation padding. The numbers don't matter so much as the quality activation they're trying to delay. If fleets are able to recover better from losses, you'll have less games that hinge on activations.

Commander Scaling

Vader, Tarkin, Konstantine, Garm, and soon to be Leia (consider this a prediction) are considered either too pricey or hard to maximize at 400 points to be commonly used in tournaments. Many of these commanders are finding new life in Corellian Conflict games. They all get significantly better when their abilities are applied to another 100 points of ships. This would increase list diversity, which can only be considered a positive.

No, Squadrons Won't Be an Issue

One of the most common refrains against raising the tournament standard is that squadrons, which already slow down the game, will be completely unmanageable. First, if squadrons are the reason you're having slow games, it's because of analysis paralysis. Biggs and I played the Martinsburg Regional last year with near max squadrons. We were done with 45 minutes to spare. Second, we're talking about 33 more points of squadrons. That's not exactly a lot. That's two of most squadrons. At most it's four Z-95s or TIE Fighters. That's not going to break the game or slow it down in any significant way.

Taking the opposing viewpoint is our very own data-driven kill buzz: Shmitty!

As the unofficial voice-of-reason for the Armada community and apparently the only sane blogger on this site (at least until Biggs' chemo addled brain gets back to normal) I am happy to storm in and rain logic all over this parade of frivolity.

Unlike Truthiness, I have the benefit of having played in a 500 point tournament.  Local players really enjoyed the 500 point format in the Corellian Conflict and we felt like trying it in a tournament would be more fun than a jar-Jar themed whack-a-mole game.  It was fun, but not it any way that was different from a 400 point tournament.  It was fun for being a day of Armada and the extra points allowed players to sneak a few more fun upgrades into their fleets.  The trouble was:

It's not that different...

Really, a 500 point game just didn't feel all that different from a 400 point game.  Like Truthiness, I tend towards big games.  It's fun to play with all the toys.  I had expected with the Corellian Conflict to have all this extra freedom in fleet building at 500 points....I was mistaken.  Points are just as tight at 500 as they are 400.  I felt like I should be able to do so much more, but that wasn't really the case.  So, while I do want big fleets of multiple Star Destroyers and MC-80s recreating the Battle of Endor, that isn't any more likely at 500 points than it was a 400 points. So, the benefits of moving to 500 points weren't nearly what I expected, but there are significant risks that go along with it.

Max Time Already Happens

We just saw the World Championship final go to time at 400 points.  Do we really need the risk of going to 500.  I play quick and almost never have a game go to time, but it is frustrating for all involved when it does happen.  And I do mean all, not just the players of that game, but the TO and the rest of the participants. 

More Points = MOAR SKEW!

This is the big risk though in increasing to 500 points.  If there was some sort of system that forced people into balanced fleets it might be fine (like an activation cap), but there isn't and any kind of skew fleet that exists at 400 points will be that much more amplified at 500.  Do we really need a fleet with 9 ramming CR-90b's?  The potential for abusive, un-fun lists only grows with the point totals.

The Logical Conclusion

Given that there are minimum benefits in fleet building, I am not sure it worth that risk of raising tournaments to 500.  400 points is a great total for Armada tournaments. However, tournaments are not the end goal of Armada.  Go and play the Corellian Conflict and have some amazing 500 point games.  Especially the 1500 point monstrosity at the end. Then you should realize that 500 isn't enough for a the truly huge game that you desire.  Play some 800 or 1000 point games and re-live your favorite on screen battles. It's not all about tournaments, but those should stay at 400 points.  Keep the big games for less competitive or time-constrained events.   

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Summer Vassal Pre-Action Report - "Boring Conversation Fleet"

Faction: Rebel Alliance
Points: 397/400
Commander: Garm Bel Iblis

Like all the best ideas, it started in a committee.  "Biggs is a really good squadron" it was said.  "He keeps fighters alive a long time by spreading the damage around between them."

"Can we do the same thing for ships?"

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Imperial players should be gratfeul for the existence of Rebels (The show, not the enemy)

If you at all followed my writing on my old blog you know that I am a fan of Rebels, the Star Wars series shown on Disney XD.  If you haven't watched it yet, you really should.  While some have complained about the heroes impregnable plot armor or the incompetence of the Stormtroopers on the show I find that the show is a lot of fun and tonally fits in really well with the space opera themes of the rest of the Star Wars Universe.  Most importantly though, Rebels has been a tremendous source of new content for Armada.  

So, I thought I'd take a look at what the show has given to Armada and what it might add in the future.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Summer Vassal Tournament Pre-Action Report: Team Ramrod

Unlike Biggs, I opted to stay close to what I've been running for the last month. That's right everyone, Team Ramrod is reborn and ready to get up close and personal in the worst way possible. I'll dive into the key changes since my outing at the Stele Open, but first let's start with the list itself.

Team Ramrod 
Author: Truthiness
Faction: Rebel Alliance
Points: 382/400
Commander: General Madine
[ flagship ] CR90 Corvette A (44 points)
-  General Madine  ( 30  points)
-  Jainas Light  ( 2  points)
-  Turbolaser Reroute Circuits  ( 7  points)
83 total ship cost
GR-75 Medium Transports (18 points)
18 total ship cost
GR-75 Medium Transports (18 points)
-  Bright Hope  ( 2  points)
-  Toryn Farr  ( 7  points)
27 total ship cost
CR90 Corvette B (39 points)
-  Engine Techs  ( 8  points)
-  Reinforced Blast Doors  ( 5  points)
52 total ship cost
CR90 Corvette B (39 points)
-  Engine Techs  ( 8  points)
-  Reinforced Blast Doors  ( 5  points)
52 total ship cost
MC30c Torpedo Frigate (63 points)
-  Admonition  ( 8  points)
-  Major Derlin  ( 7  points)
-  Ordnance Experts  ( 4  points)
-  H9 Turbolasers  ( 8  points)
-  Assault Proton Torpedoes  ( 5  points)
95 total ship cost
Tycho Celchu ( 16 points) 
Shara Bey ( 17 points) 
A-Wing Squadrons ( 22 points) 

First and foremost is the replacement of the Liberty-class with Admonition. Throughout Stele, it felt like a giant weight around my neck. It had a good moment in the last game, but otherwise kept getting itself into trouble. That large base is hard to protect, even with Madine helping it out. It only survived one game, so it was hard to justify such a large points sink into something going down that often. The tooled up Admonition offers a similar amount of firepower, albeit at closer range. Normally I'm an advocate of using Mon Mothma with MC30s, but after a couple games, it became clear that where as Admo normally has to do one drive by and be done, Madine helped adapt the nav chart to make additional passes.

Even tooled out with H9s, APTs, and Ordnance Experts, Admonition still came in well under the points of the Liberty-class. That left me room to pack in a few extra. With H9s in tow, I didn't feel the need for an Intel Officer. Instead I've opted for Derlin to make the frustratingly hard to kill Admonition even harder to kill. I was also able to upgrade the list's blue dice, of which there are plenty, by grabbing Toryn Farr. I placed her on a flotilla and grabbed Bright Hope as well. It should make the A-Wings all the more frustrating in the squadron fight as well as help out the CR90Bs.

Finally, I had to find a new home for Madine. I wasn't comfortable putting him on Admonition as it is often in dangerous positions. No, I'm not putting him on a flotilla. Stop ruining the game with your anti-thematic power gaming. More importantly, however, I use my flotillas as direct support to the squadron fight. They are intended to get stuck in and use their black anti-squad batteries to support the A-Wings. The last thing I want to do is put a lifeboat in that position. The rammers are obviously a poor choice. That left me with the TRC90. Luckily it seems to be pretty low on target priority in the games I've played. It did not get killed during any of my games at Stele. So I added the Jaina's Light title to give it a little more flexibility in positioning and put Madine on that. It's able to contribute at distance, keeping Madine away from the bulk of the fighting while still throwing damage into the fight.

This list is explicitly designed to go after the flotilla spam that's pervasive in the meta. With Admo and the Rambos, I can reliably remove at least 2 flotillas very quickly, giving myself a large activation advantage. The A-Wings have consistently punched above their weight class, so I'm not really scared of squadron swarms. I also don't give up points easily. I have the speed, maneuverability, and activation count to disengage and choose my fights with near impunity. As Brendon as Stele put it, it's very good at bleeding points out of an opponent. With Liberty gone, that gets even easier. Oddly enough, I think I'm weakest against a list like the one Biggs is bringing. I can bring down a single large ship by consistently whittling it down over the course of the game and finishing it with Admo, but I have no idea if I can manage two large ships with repairing spam. I guess we'll see.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Will FFG get out its Nerf bat?

One of the reasons that I started tracking the Regionals data back in Wave 2 was to see if the Demolisher title would get nerfed.  FFG had recently used the nerf bat for the first time in Imperial Assault.  A particular build and its obvious counter had completely flooded the tables at the world championships and FFG felt it was necessary to make a change for the health of the game.  I wanted to know if Demo was anywhere near that threshold.  Turns out that it wasn't, so FFG instead addressed it through some counters.

Well, the reports coming back from Worlds appear to indicate that a certain build may have crossed that threshold, which has me wondering if something in Armada is about to get nerfed.

Armada is Near Perfection. Why Are We Unhappy?

Hello everyone.  Worlds is over, we just watched Norm Weir and his highly tuned Rieekan Aces list take top place and give us a brand new World Champion.  And for some reason, I can't sleep, so why not do something productive and write a nice hot take on what I think, having not been at or playing in Worlds.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Steel Squadron's Unofficial Armada Achievements

Everyone likes achievements, right?  Give yourself some new goals to shoot for, or just a reward for doing the barest minimum within the game.  Did you ever wish Armada had some?

Well good news, we here at Steel Squadron HQ have come up with an unofficial list of achievements that YOU can accomplish!  Or at least try to accomplish.  Win the World Championship is in there after all.  Link to a PDF download after the break.