By: John Mills
Star Wars: Armada, developed and published by Fantasy Flight Games, is a table top fleet combat game.
A spiritual successor to FFG’s earlier X-Wing tabletop game, Armada trades the individual star fighters for the big ships of the Star Wars universe.
The core game comes with a single Victory-class Star Destroyer for the Imperial side, and a Corellian CR-90 corvette and Nebulon B frigate for the rebels. The core module is priced at $75-$100 depending on the retailer.
Where X-Wing has each player control small starfighters to light corvettes, Armada has the player taking the Admiral’s position and ordering the heavy ships into the fight.
For comparison, the biggest Epic class ships in X-Wing are the smallest available ships in Armada. The game can be played on any decent-sized table, but a playing surface of at least 2 ft by 2 ft is recommended.
The whole of the game is broken up into individual rounds, which in turn have varying phases.
Unlike the nimble star fighters, big ships take a while to react to situations, and this is represented in the game by command dials that have to be set in advance.
The bigger the ship, the more command dials, meaning players have to plan ahead more.
The various phases of each turn go as follows: command phase, ship phase, squadron phase, and finally status phase. After each of these phases, the round is concluded.
According to the official rules, the game is played through six rounds, though there’s no reason to stop before one side runs out of ships.
Star Wars: Armada is going to appeal first and foremost to those who enjoy tabletop war-gaming.
As a tabletop game, it is well designed and plays fluidly, and really benefits from Fantasy Flight Games’ long pedigree in the genre.
Star Wars fans are, naturally, the other primary demographic for this game. Like most tabletop games, critical actions are decided by dice. Shooting is totally dependent upon the roll.
A full set of hits can wipe out a smaller ship in a single phase, or every single gunner can seem to go blind simultaneously, with predictably frustrating results.
Armada has its own set of dice unique to the game, so unfortunately the only way to get more is to buy official.
The upfront cost is prohibitive for a lot of people, and there’s no way around that. Sitting at $75 on Amazon, the core set with only three ships is not going to be a price that everyone who’s interested can afford.
This is unfortunately combined with the fact that each additional ship costs between $20-$50, depending on size and capabilities.
There are, at the moment, twenty-four additional ships—called expansions—available for sale. None of them are necessary for play, but they add a new dynamic to games.
Writing as I am from a student-on-a-budget perspective, if you decide this game is worth the investment, ensure that you have other people to play with and split the cost among the group.
Star Wars: Armada is not going to be for everyone, cost aside. But for those that like to play tabletop games as well as video games, Armada can provide all the excitement and tension of a game like Battlefleet Gothic Armada or of the many Star Wars mods for other fleet combat games.