Saturday, November 21, 2015

Armada: Ackbar Control vs. Vader ISD, double VSD

This is what Vassal looks like for Armada!

So I played a game last night on Vassal where I took a screenshot of the end result using paint, but forgot to save it and my computer decided to restart by itself in the middle of the night.  Whatever ghost is messing with me right now did not want to share the results of last night's battle.  Either way, I'll try and describe it the best I can and share with you my learning experiences.  I think you'll get a lot out of this despite the lack of pictures.  Sorry again admirals!

My list was:
MC80 Command, Home One, Ackbar, Intel, Engine Techs, ECM, XI7s
2x Whales with Intel, Gunnery, ECM and XI7s
2x A-Wings

His list was:
Vader, Relentless, ISD, Intel, Gunnery, XI7s, no ECM (more on this later)
2x VSD-II, Intel, Gunnery Teams
1x IG-88

He gives me initiative and I pick Superior Positions.  The other option was Advanced Gunnery (LOL yeah right) and Fleet Ambush (yeah hard pass).  At least with Superior Positions I know its going to be a straight up capital ship brawl, and I might have a good shot at winning that.  Can you believe it?  Rebels willing to throw dice in a headlong match with the Empire?

The battle:
  • I deploy all my ships pointing diagonal towards the left side of the map because there's a repair station there.  My order is Whale-1, Home One, Whale-2, with the A-Wings not blocking any of the ships but in a position to fly up and intercept his IG-88.  His deploy was as predicted, pointing all of ships at my Home One, but not tight enough where it would mess up his slower and more predictable VSDs.
  • OK so off the ships go, I'm sailing NW of the map at speed-2 but I moved everyone up to 3 with Navigate commands on all.  My order for this battle is Nav, Nav, Concentrate Fire, as I'm trying to to get maximum fire solution while playing keep away with my ships since I have initiative.  He comes straight at me on his turn which is no big surprise.
  • The initial exchange here caught me off guard.  So I'm trying to sail NW but my Home One is angled in just a slight way that his ISD is able to see the ass of my Home One by literally a fraction of a hair.  OK, that kinda sucks, but he fires and rolls blanks.  Nice I thought, until he Vaders and rolls a double hit, 2 hits and a accuracy on the Brace.  All shields gone after I redir to left shields.  Bad start.  My exchanges into him with my whales sees him lose all his shields on the ISD's front, while my Home One rolls absolute garbage with 2 accuracys and no damage at all.  His right most VSD on the flank of the ISD is too eager to join the battle and runs into an asteroid field, but his crit didn't really matter.  I queue up repairs knowing that we're going to be swinging pretty hard at each other really soon.
  • My A-Wings engage the IG-88 with my initiative and he puts one to 1 HP while I do one damage to him in return.  Not too good for the A-Wings.
  • So here is where I misplay somewhat.  Keep in mind that my ships are swimming up NW to the repair station and my ships are pretty damn close to each other.  I get super greedy here and activate my Home One first on his ISD who is now in prime firing range.  I thought I would be able to clear my AF in front of me but end up rolling like complete garbage, and then not being able to clear the whale, ramming into it from the back.  So now I'm stuck in exactly the same place as I was before, took a damage on a misplay, but in an arguably worse location because his ISD is in blue range and I'm literally going to eat it all this round.
  • That's exactly what happens, and he fires with an absolute monstrous roll, Inteling my Contain, while shutting down Brace and letting my meager XI7s work with the redirect.  I burn the contain token to minimize the crit, but end up taking 4 points of damage on that exchange.  His Gunnery Team on my lead MKII was also vicious, stripping down side shields by 2 since he's only in reds.  My Home One literally couldn't be in a worse place, stuck between two whales that haven't moved yet, already activated, and now his rightmost VSD is coming in for that ass with reds.
  • I let my tail MKII shoot into the front of the ISD who's now closing in for the killing blow and I put heavy damage and a crit on him.  My other shots strip shields off the right VSD and I fish myself further away to the port side of Home One for obstruction.
  • Now, his right VSD fires into Home One's ass and even with an asteroid in the way, I take 2 more damage for 6 points out of 8 total hull.  I'm literally sweating right now because the next VSD hasn't gone yet and Home One is a breath away from dying.  My lead MKII activates and puts more damage into his ISD while stripping shields from the left flank VSD.  After I shoot, I finally move the lead whale and he's no longer blocking Home One any more, which is something I probably should have done this turn.  I just got super greedy and that's the reason my flagship is at 2 right now.  Anyways, I sail north onto the repair station and heal off the ram damage.
  • His VSD shoots, but rolls poorly with reds despite the Concentrate Fire.  He re-rolls some with Vader but ends up rolling blanks and accuracys, so I transfer the damage onto frontal shields and call it a day.  Phew, the big fish lives.
  • The IG-88 kills both A-Wings through Counter 2 and rolling 4 straight hits on the other one with full HP.  RIP A-Wings, you did your job.
  • Next round is going to be make or break because his ISD is right in my face and my Home One is hanging on by a thread.  Repairs bring back 2 shields on my side and I rip into the ISD with 5 reds and 3 blues.  Looks like the dice gods came back in my favor because I rolled like a beast and lock down both Brace and Contain while letting the XI7s do its work.  I scored 8 damage with a crit and Vader's ISD freaking explodes.  My Home One hits it hard at speed-2, angle ticks on the right and boosts with Engine Techs into red range again from all targets again.  Primary target destroyed and now I'm feeling a little better about my chances.
  • My opponent is not liking what he sees and after the next couple of exchanges, failing to kill the now 3-repair queued Home One, and losing a VSD through concentrated fire from the Whale, my opponent calls it a day.

  • I don't think triple Intel Officer is needed because Home One's accuracy bonus was able to lock down Brace every time while letting the XI7s do its work.  I can definitely see the Intel Officer on Home One, but I wouldn't say it's entirely needed on the other ships.  Maybe 2x will be the better number because Intel is still good in conjunction with accuracy dice on the fact that ECM exists as a card.  If ECM blocks the accuracy on brace, you can still Intel the Brace so he'll burn both the ECM and the Brace.
  • Speaking of ECM, the fact that my opponent didn't have it on his ISD is what might have caused him the game.  He was in prime position to shoot, but I was able to lock down his tokens and go to town on him.  I think in the new meta where people are throwing 8+ dice on an exchange, you absolutely need ECM and Brace.  Even if he burned his Brace after I intel'd him, he still would have survived which is the important thing.  Cutting down 8 damage to 4 and then redirecting 1 is better than just exploding into space dust.
  • That IG-88 surprised the hell out of me with his speed-5 and Rogue.
  • I think in terms of damage, Vader is really good with anything that throws plenty of dice.  The ISD especially benefits from Vader because of raw consistency.  His ISD, despite drawing a lucky shot on the Home One's rear, was able to consistently throw out dice that mattered because Vader guaranteed it.  No other admirals could have done that, and for burning out Contain, which is pretty useless if you still have shields and generally don't care about crits.  Is Vader better than Screed?  Or Motti?  I'm not sure.  In a list like this one where he wanted to chuck dice and do damage, I think Vader did him pretty good.
  • The speed of the ISDs is out of control for a ship that can shoot so well, is so heavily armored, and have so many shields.  I would seriously consider going two ISDs and maybe a Glad or something.  If you want pressure, I think this can apply it a lot faster, and with much better speed and handling than VSD escorts.
  • Don't get greedy:  Shooting with Home One didn't really get me anywhere, the only thing that it did was get the ship stuck between the space whales and almost got it killed because it allowed the VSD to get closer.  If I moved with the lead MKII first, I would have given the Home One room to move and Engine Tech out of the rightmost VSD's range, while keeping the other VSD at reds, and still being able to shoot the ISD with full effect next turn.  I just really wanted that ISD to die, but for some reason I lost touch with the rest of the ships on the board and where they will be next turn.
  • The damage potential of reds with Ackbar is good when it's good, but seriously bad when it's bad.  When you're chucking reds the majority of the time and not blues or blacks, there's a good chance you might roll like complete garbage like my first exchange with the ISD.  The free Home One accuracies more than make up for that one the whales, but not so much on the Home One itself.  Just something to keep in mind.

I hope you guys enjoyed it!  I look forward to playing some more in the near future.  I think I'll try my Independence list next, take it out for a spin and see where it goes.

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