Monday, July 25, 2016

Armada: Wave 3/4 Impressions

Double Brace face-roll.

Yes, I am back from the land of non-stop video gaming and getting back into Armada.  The Spring tournament season has been very kind to me and now I'm back fiending for more capital ship combat.  While I couldn't make it out to the SoCal Regionals, I did have some friends that went and I heard it was a pretty good showing with 21 total players.  Not the most boastful of numbers, but still good none the less.

OK, so the crux of this article will be to talk about some of the new stuff we'll be getting in Waves 3/4.  I'm actually just going to mentally treat this as Wave 3 because 2 "ships" per Wave is pretty damn sad.  I'd rather put them all together and lube my mind with the idea that we realistically got 4 products this year, and hopefully by the end of August they'll be soundly in my hand and ready for battlefield tests.  While some folks have been playing with some of the new transports on Vassal, I haven't gotten myself out there yet and played any games.  Why?  Probably because overall, I don't think I need battlefield testing for the flotillas.

Here's why:  To me, the flotillas are cheap little activators that help push the age-old concept of getting more activations on the table.  More drops, more activations, a good solid bid and your chances to win will increase because of the interaction between being last the move and first to fire.  This obviously means that you'll have a greater capacity to telegraph your opponent's movement so you can fine-tune your movement an capitalize on his mistakes.  This is the only solid purpose of flotillas IMO, and that's to push the bare minimal amount of points into a list to give you extra activations.  Nevermind the crap you see on the forums about slicer beams or other crazy ass shit; this defeats the entire purpose of having cheap activations in the first place.  If you want to have a little tiny ship, however obscured get blown away because he's carrying 40 odd points of specialization, then I think that's a huge loss.  Those extra points are much better spent on feeding other ships for upgrades, taking more squadrons, or just getting a better bid.  Think about it realistically for a second; for a couple of more points, you can buy yourself a Raider or TRC90.

When it comes to upgrades for the flotillas, the upgrades you should be looking should be the dirt cheap ones.  These ships are designed to be support vessels and cheap activators, so don't overbloat them.  Upgrades like Bomber Command (8) and Slicer Tools (7) means that your list will only want these if you have a specific purpose in mind, and that your fleet is designed to put out a heavy, heavy bomber compliment or have Tractors up the ying-yang on your other ships.  The upgrades I'm supporting are the 2-4 pointers; with Comms Net (2) being a great way to spread some token love early on, Jamming Field (2) being the poor man's Gallant Haven, and Repair Crews (4) might be worth it on bigger ships so they don't need to queue Engineering.  The most important thing to remember for the flotillas is to keep them cheap.  I do, however, like a lot of the upgrade cards that came with them like Agent Kallus (die Rhymer) and most of the titles are excellent for their price.

Now that that's said, let's talk about the Wave 4 big boys:  The Interdictor and the MC80 Liberty.  I will keep this a little more brief because I'll probably end up talking about these guys in greater detail down the line.  For now, I like what this does to the meta.  If we're going to start talking about the Interdictor, I think that it definitely shakes up a meta a little bit because of the amount of control it can have over the battlefield with specific upgrades.  Mind you, the very idea that this thing exists in the meta is enough to decrease the amount of Demolishers on the field, but it's also very important to note that the Inderdictor is not a very sturdy ship.  Sure, it has awesome control effects if you take the Suppression variant, but you're also not going to do a lot of damage so the damage capacity to power ratio will be lower with this ship in the mix.  I'll tell you one thing's for sure, the retrofit that I'm most excited about is Targeting Scrambler with the Interdictor title.  I really think that the amount of damage you can negate from messing up your opponent's firepower is game-changing.  It's pretty much a reverse Leading Shots, and it can basically screw your opponent's plans up entirely if you turn a killing blow into a complete whiff.  Overall, interesting ship, with big bold plans to change the meta, but I wouldn't bring it in too many battles:  I'll explain in just a sec.

When you take a look at the Liberty, you basically see a mix of the Victory-II and the ISD-II.  It's somewhere in the middle in terms of damage, and its shield capacity is frontal-focused.  The most interesting thing I found about the Liberty-class ships is that it has double Brace for defense tokens and double Turbolasers.  Now, before anyone gets a hard-on for double TL slots, I will say that this is borderline luxury upgrade territory.  Most of the time, you do not need to have more than XI7s, but if you really want to pile the damage in, XI7s and XX-9s are probably the way to go.  The Weapons Team also allows you to take the vaulted Gunnery Team to melt down multiple targets in front of you, and this will be possible as long as you spam nothing but navs because your movement isn't the greatest in the world.  You're actually less maneuverable than a MC80 Home One variant starship with Engine Techs, but that's probably why they gave Rebels Madine as a commander choice.

OK, with that said, I'm a little on the fence about these two big ships.  I think in terms of changing the meta, the Interdictor will pose a greater change to the meta specifically in terms of the Demolisher.  The MC80 Liberty-class ships are good, but their full frontal and 2 shields worry me as well.  My biggest worry about the two ships and the main reason why I wouldn't bring it into too many battles is this:  Neither capital ship have a Defensive Retrofit slot for ECMs.  In terms of the Interdictor, accuracies rolled naturally from long-range are going to be very sad days for that ship.  The same thing can be said to a lesser degree for the MC80 Liberty, except that it has the speed to get in close without paying for Engine Techs, and with Engine Techs it's literally going to cross the board and shoot you to death in one turn.  However, it is definitely susceptible to the likes of Intel/XI7s as well because of the missing ECM.  For example, if you IO a Brace and accuracy the other, chances are he will burn the Brace if the damage is meaningful enough.  In the chance that you roll double accuracies, you basically just throw your hands up in the air.  This means that unless the Liberty has to get into combat quick, or it's going to be a bad day.  Either way, I think the Liberty has a little bit more legs simply because it has double Brace.  This is huge.

Well, that's all I have for now for my first article back in a while.  This is a high-level overview of my impressions with Wave 3 and 4 and over the next couple of days, I'll be breaking it down even further.  See you guys soon!

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