Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Armada: Intiative and objectives

What objectives work best for your fleet?

One of the less common things players talk about in Armada are the objectives.  More specifically, the objectives that they take with their fleet to compliment their overall strategy.  I guess the best way to describe this is by giving you an example using my own fleet.

Let's just say I'm taking this list out to play:
MC80 Command, Ackbar, Intel, Engine Techs, ECM, XI7
Assault MKIIB, Intel, Gunnery Team, ECM, XI7
Assault MKIIB, Intel, Gunnery Team, ECM XI7
2x A-Wings

When I design my fleet, the first thing that I do is give it a purpose.  Once I gave it a purpose, I give it the necessary admiral, ships and upgrades to make sure that I have all the tools for the job.  After that's done, and I'm ready to set sail to face-off against the other lists out there, I look at the missions available to me and which ones will either be most beneficial to me, or least detrimental.  This is where Initiative comes into play:  Determining who will be the first player and who will be the second player, and ultimately, who picks the mission.

Being the first player comes with many benefits:  You get to activate first for the rest of the game and this can be a huge boon for offensive-minded players who like to seize opportunities.  This is the biggest draw for being the first player in my opinion.  In a ship vs. ship game where the dice pools are getting larger, being able to activate first to get in a kill or get out of trouble is absolutely game-changing.  Aside from this, you also get to choose from the second player's objectives, which can potentially benefit your list even further.

The player who goes second is naturally more defensive and more reactionary.  Since they are always going to go second, they will have to accept the brunt of the damage but will also see exactly what their opponents are doing in a clearer picture.  This can potentially mean being able to activate on your turn in a more decisive manner as opposed to being more predictive if you were the first player.  Since the opponent will also move first, this can potentially force them into kill opportunities for ships with longer range.

While being able to react to the opponent is good, the true strength of being the second player comes from the raw benefit of objectives.  All of the objectives in the game give a straight benefit to the second player either in terms of placement, points advantage, or raw damage.

Let's examine the current objectives suite that I have with my fleet:

Rebels Premium Package.

Keep in mind that like the upgrades and squadrons you pick for your fleet, the objectives should benefit your fleet as well.  My fleet is designed for attacking capital ships, from range pprpefably, but my firepower also increases as I get closer.  I do not have a list that can fight off unlimited amounts of squadrons, and the capital ships need to be close to Home One to fully control my opponent's defensive options.  Due to the damage my MC80 can put out, Advanced Gunnery can be really good on this ship because he can't take Gunnery Teams.  If I am the second player by my opponent's choosing (because 399 has a low initiative bid), there's no way in hell he's going to want the MC80 to shoot twice into the same hull.  This means that he'll have to choose between Fire Lanes and Intel Sweep, both of which will want the opposing player to move and contest areas for victory tokens, while subjecting him to my long-ranged firepower.

The train of thought here is that you're mentally preparing to have lost the initiative and that you're going to be the second player.  However, the missions should also be prepared in a way that even if you are the first player, you should still feel comfortable seeing these missions across the table from you because you're going to be choosing one for battle.

Really quick, let's look at what I would take with my double ISD Motti, Raider and TIEs.

Imperial Grade A.

Advanced Gunnery should be self-explanatory because of the overall damage potential that it can provide for a ISD player going second.  While no one in the right mind will provide this objective to their opponent, it's still a card that players playing big dice capital ships will want to see in the mission pool.  Contested Outpost for a bully list like double ISD pretty much says it all:  Come and meet me head on or lose victory tokens.  Minefields is one of those missions that Imperial players love because it robs the Rebel player of their movement opportunities and could severely hamper their maneuverability.  What if you have to drive through the mines?  Good thing I'm packing 14 hull per ship that matters.  Same thing goes for something like Superior Positions.  If I'm putting two front-facing monsters on the battlefield, I can probably care a lot less about my deployment.

The biggest change that Wave2 has over the meta is well, the ISD.  I keep saying this over and over again, but if you look at the way the objectives are designed, it's pretty clear that some favor the Rebel's speed, maneuverability and tendency to play the ranged game.  Imperials are typically slower, hit harder and do better in more static missions where the opponent comes to them.  This all changes in Wave2 because of the speed and firepower of the ISD, and the raw firepower that Ackbar can call upon in his fleet.  Can you risk standing still while being pelted by serious firepower and not just a few bee stings?  Likewise, can you risk dancing around the victory tokens when the ISD can just rush forward and destroy your ships with ease?  Best of all, how will these objective packages come into play in blue vs. blue?  For me, it's better safe than sorry.  I think my objectives choices are pretty safe in that regard.

PS - HERO's Gaming Channel is up and running!  Come check out some Squadron Battles gameplay from Star Wars Battlefront.

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