Well, I know why I am unhappy. I am stuck here at home, thinking about tactics and strategy, while other players went and played 5 to 7 games of Armada without me. I went and re-read my World's Pre-Action Report from last year, man I put a lot of thought into that. I didn't get to do that this year. But enough about me, and not playing. Store Champion Season is upon us, and there's plenty of games out there to play.
No, we need to talk about the elephant in the room, and that is that there are a lot of people unhappy with the World results, specifically the list compositions for the Top 2 / Top 4 / Top 8, etc.
There's a lot of squadrons, a lot of Rieekan, and everything kinda looks similarish. And is that a bad thing?
The bogyman of Demolisher was gone!
Going into Worlds 2016, on the other hand, we had no idea what to think. What was good? The Clonisher was a known threat from back in Wave 2, but it had already been solved by the time regionals rolled out thanks to Rieekan. And we weren't in Wave 2, we were on Wave 4! Hell, we hadn't really seen any tournaments with Wave 4 ships in them to make any real predictions on what we would even see.
And for that, well we saw Josiah Burkhardsmeier pop out into the top spot with Dodonna as his commander, defeating two Rieekan Ace builds in the elimination rounds to secure himself the World Championship. We admired his list for how well it was put together. We admired the skill of play that got each player there: "there was some impressive squadron play in that game!" And we really didn't see anything more out of the Y-Wing swarm from JJ. He retired it and began to chase the next big thing in his next tournament.
And that brings us to today.
Again, we had an excellent player, with a well put together list win a close game. Hell, this game was probably the best game played on an FFG stream to date, as it wasn't readily apparent who would win until near the end of the final round.
But it was Rieekan vs Rieekan.
Squadrons were placed and moved with utmost care. An overlapping Gallant Haven paid the price when it allowed enemy fighters unmolested access to its rear arc. Ten Numb splashed damage across entire squadrons.
But it was Yavaris vs Yavaris.
Dramatic maneuvers were made to save or doom ships. Some were intentionally crashed into others to get them into just the right spot to keep them safe from worse fates. Admonition found itself trying desperately to get into position, hampered by Second Player activations, and a flagship it just couldn't quite kill.
But it was 3 flotillas vs 3 flotillas.
Were these lists really one and the same? No, certainly not, though they did share some similarities. Yes the Commander was Rieekan in both cases, and I'd have to watch the stream again to confirm, but it didn't feel like Rieekan's ability really did too much in either of their favor. The objective being played, Superior Positions, is actually not the best objective for Rieekan, as dead ships can be farmed for more points. The squadrons being used, and the support for those squadrons, were significantly different. Yes, Ten Numb was in attendance for both, but one side had Biggs Darkligher and the other Gallant Haven for defense. One side had Luke Skywalker and VCX-100's to mess with strategic objectives and let Yavaris fly free, while the other had Intel available to avoid getting bogged down in a big furball, and not be able to bomb ships or reposition. One side had Admonition, a close quarters brawler, while the other side had Gallant Haven, a long range squadron pusher.
We had been given a game that was everything I had always seen as the best parts of Armada. A slow, deliberate thinking game. With each decision, each flow in the game being important to the final result. Excellent squadron play. Inspired flying. People going into the game with a plan and a strategy that was the culmination of 2 days and 6 matchups there at FFG, and countless hours prior perfecting their craft.
Was it exciting to watch? Maybe not the most exciting match, no. I was actually disappointed it went to time, I would have liked to see what Round 6 would have brought, and a little perk up in speed could have helped. But it was exactly what Armada is. Exactly what I was hoping it would be when I was watching the 2015 finals worrying that Demolisher was going to destroy squadron combat and objective based play forever.
So am I unhappy?
I am unhappy that I am not there. To share in the breakfast the morning before. To play in the tournament itself and write my own treatise on what I think my horribly cobbled together fleet will do. To only be able to enjoy the brotherhood that our little slice of gaming provides us from the wrong side of a computer screen for this go-around at least.
And to be honest I'm a little unhappy that something out of left field didn't pop out and win the whole thing.
But that's okay, because Armada is pretty much what I always wanted it to be. And we've got a new Demolisher to hate. We've got to find Rieekan's Rieekan, as it were. And think of how cool it'll be if you're the one to do it.