Thursday 15 April 2021

Fire When Ready: Star Wars Armada Round-Up #3

Hello, once again, and welcome to Fire When Ready: Adventures in Star Wars Tabletop Gaming. Sort of.

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you’ll be aware of that whole ‘pandemic’ thing that’s going on at the moment, so it’s not actually possible for me - your host as always, Brad Harmer-Barnes - and my constant compatriots Ian and Dave to get together to make an episode of your favourite Star Wars themed tabletop gaming show. It’s a sad time, but the time when we can get back together gets closer every day.

However, that’s not stopping Fantasy Flight Games, Atomic Mass Games, Hasbro and the producers of all the other wonderful games we play from releasing all sorts of wonderful new stuff for us to play with. So, we’ve decided that the best thing to do it let you guys know all about it, here, and then get them on the table for a test drive and a gameplay video as soon as government guidelines allow. So, here we go.

Star Wars – Armada: Separatist Alliance Fleet Starter

The Clone Wars have finally arrived in the Armada world, and the best way to jump in is to grab yourself one of the Fleet Starters. It contains all the cards and chits and rulebooks you need to get playing, with enough ships and squadrons to give you around about 200 points worth of fleet. That’s about half the size of a full game, but perfect if you just want to start playing, and there will be expansions aplenty down the line, don’t worry about that.

What do you get included? Well, identically to the Republic Fleet Starter Set, you get a damage deck, the dice, rulers, counters and necessary components for play that you got in the original core set. You will have no problem getting and up running. If anything, as most veteran Armada players will attest, you’ll end up with too much of some stuff, but hey, coming up with storage solutions and reasons for not throwing stuff away is half the fun of tabletop gaming, right?

In terms of ships the Separatist Alliance are given a Munificent-Class Frigate, which is a reasonable strength battleship which can, interestingly, engage the enemy ships from further away than the counterpart in the Republic Fleet Starter Set. It’s very nimble for a ship of its size and can lay down a reasonable amount of anti-squadron fire. In support, you get two Hardcell which are much lighter and speedier than the Munificent, although interestingly not as fast as the Consular Cruisers the Republic begins with. They don’t have much to write home about in the frame of weaponry, but they are relatively speedy and also have pretty punchy anti-squadron capabilities.

On the squadron front, you get enough plastic to be able to field four squadrons of the iconic Vulture Droids. These introduce AI rules to Armada, which have been fun to use in Legion, so I’m keen to see if they make waves in the depths of space. I know you can’t because that isn’t how space works, but I’m using a metaphor here, alright? In terms of upgrades, you get a choice of two Admirals, the awesome Count Dooku and…um…Kraken. You know, Kraken? He’s a robot who…ugh, okay, even Admiral Trench would have been cooler than Kraken.

Dooku has a lot of potential to really sow havoc amongst the Republic Fleets, with his ability to drop a raid token onto every enemy ship in their fleet. Timed right, the ability to deny your opponent the chance to use Repair or Concentrate Fire could turn the tide of the game. Plus, you get to talk in Christopher Lee’s voice while you’re playing. Separatist characters Rune Hako and Wat Tambor make appearances as captains, which is pretty cool, but there’s nothing really exciting about them besides the chrome that they offer.

This is a great starter set and carries enough theme and chrome that it really feels like you’re playing as the Separatist Alliance. There are also some interesting new mechanics regarding upgrades, which took me a little by surprise. It will be interesting to see if any of those make it into the Galactic Civil War sets, too.

That’s all for now. Hopefully we’ll be able to resume our usual schedule in the very near future!

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Brad Harmer-Barnes is a writer and comedian who has been into tabletop gaming since he was eight years old. He is the host of Fire When Ready and Bring On The Bad Guys on, co-host of Talk Star Wars, and a frequent guest on The E14 GameCast. His latest novel Fog of War is available now in paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @RealBradHB using the buttons below!

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