Saturday, June 24, 2017

Wave 6 Upgrades - General Leia Organa: Commander

Two new commanders join in Wave 6, one for each side.  Let's take a look at one of them today and see what they each add to the mix.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bold Predictions for the Wave 6 Meta

Wave 6 is upon us! I'll let Biggs dig down into the nitty gritty of all the new upgrades (he's really good at it). Instead, I'm pulling out my crystal ball to see where this wave will take the meta. It's time for some bold predictions!


Rieekan Isn't Going Anywhere
The Rieekan nerf is harsh. The fact that you only get one ship or squadron in a turn likely means ships will be prioritized for zombificaiton, taking a lot of Rieekan's punch out of the squadron game. But you know what? It's deserved. Since the inclusion of Biggs, the combined resiliency is just too much. Even with the nerf, he's still a very good commander that isn't going anywhere. Good Rieekan players will only require a slight adjustment to keep flying the Ace Holes. Ships are not usually at risk of death in turn 2, meaning that you can make a Rieekan zombie out of a squadron without worrying about needing it for a ship in the same turn. I think ramspam is likely to take a big hit and see less use (thank God), but the Ace Holes aren't going anywhere. It's a good thing, then, that wave 6 brings us the best Ace Hole counter yet.


Sloane will Flood Store Championships
Sloane's swarms are set to rip apart Ace Hole lists. Defense tokens will start getting thrown out very quickly and Rieekan can't keep all those zombie escorts around anymore. As with all things, though, people will figure out how to fight against Sloane. Her best squadrons, Phantoms and TIEs, are all quite fragile. Anti-squadron batteries will take a large toll, as will squadrons with counter. Shara in particular has "FUCK YO TIES" tattooed on her forehead. That's why I think that while Sloane will flood this latter part of Store Championships, she'll start to fade as we get toward Regionals season. That's not to say she won't be viable. We'll just see her use scaled back to sane levels, as opposed to the utterly insane levels I expect during Store Championships.


Flotilla Activations?
I'm torn on whether or not this wave will see any shift in the ubiquity of flotillas. We'll all heard the complaints about the game devolving into 2 regular ships and 3 flotillas (or worse, 1 big ship and tons of flotillas). The lifeboat nerf will help to a degree since it will force players to either get their commander into the fray or pay significantly more points to tuck them away in a corner. Sloane's ability will also be very good at pecking away at flotillas. 48 points of TIE Fighter attacks are enough to all but guarantee a flotilla kill. Other counters already in the game might also swing back into favor, such as Jonus or Home One. For the life of me, I don't understand how I'm not seeing more of Jonus. Still, the root causes of flotilla spam are still there: cheap activations. Until we have something that allows bigger ships to compete with 18-23 points for an activation, I'm not sure we'll see the meta break out of the flotilla funk we're in.


Leia will be a Force Ghost
Leia has the same problem as Tarkin: her ability is great, but she's far too pricey. If the tournament standard were 500 points, she'd be worth every penny in a well conceived and built list. As it stands, though, she's going to be very limited in her use. You might see the occasional fringe build made just for the express purpose of getting her on the table. The best build JJ and I were able to conceive is a Hammerhead Scout spam with DTTs. In theory you do a lot of concentrate fire spam. The question at that point, though, is why bother? You could take Cracken and TRC90s, pay around the same points, put out almost identical (and more consistent) firepower, and be more durable on top of it. It's sad to say that this version of Leia will be making the table just as much as the Grand Moff.



The Quasar will be Underappreciated
We've already seen the grumblings on the forums. Some are already calling the Quasar dead on arrival. The logic is you can command just as many squadrons with two Gozantis for less points and get an extra activation in the process. This ignores the fact that the Quasar can grab Flight Controllers and Expanded Hangars, adding a blue anti-squadron die to five squadrons (six with a token) at once. The value of that kind of alpha strike with squadrons cannot be understated. Imagine if those were six TIE Defenders. Yikes. This goes back to the quantity vs. quality of activation argument. The meta is obsessed with quantity right now, even though the quality of a Quasar squadron activation is absolutely worth the points and activation trade off. Excuse me while I go polish off some four activation lists with no flotillas...


The Hammerhead will Struggle to Find a Role
Don't get me wrong, I like the Hammerhead. At 39 points, the Torpedo Corvette with External Racks can dump a lot of firepower for very cheap. But at the end of the day, the Hammerhead is going to be rather niche. You might see a wolfpack of Task Force Organa Torpedo variants with External Racks prowling around for 40 points a pop, but I think that's about it. The Scout Corvette is little better than a downgrade from the CR90A that isn't cheap enough to warrant inclusion in all but the most carefully crafted builds.


Raider Renaissance
I think the Raider might be the quiet winner of this wave in the long term. External Racks are tailored made for the Raider I. They don't often get more than one good shot on a target, so External Racks give them a Clonisher-level front arc for a dirt cheap 51 points (including Ordnance Experts). The Raider II likewise gets another lease on life with Disposable Capacitors. While most of the attention has, rightfully, been focused on what this does for the VSD II, the Raider II's 3 blue dice pushed out to long range should not be underestimated. And once again, this Raider loadout only costs 51 points with Disposable Capacitors. If that's not enough for you, Ion Batteries could be an intriguing prospect that ups the damage a little bit more. We'll have to keep an eye out for future Ion upgrades that increase blue die damage. The Raider II could get really nasty.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Setting Things Up: Phases of a Fleet Engagement

Today we're going to stop looking at fleet builds and new cards and start a serious look at the different parts of a game of Armada.  Specifically, over several posts we will be looking at the different phases, what we see in each, and how each phase leads into the next.  Our goal today is to identify the phases and briefly describe each one, so that we have a background to go into greater detail in later articles.




Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Commander's Guide - Quasar Fire Class Carrier

Since Wave 1 we have had expensive battleships that could double as a carrier, and Wave 3 gave us the flotilla, a support ship that had the primary role of a pocket carrier, but never have we had an actual dedicated carrier ship.  Wave 6 fixes this for the Empire, but adding the Quasar Fire Class Cruiser-Carrier.


Monday, June 12, 2017

When The Pew-Pew Just Isn't Enough - The Fleet That Makes Biggs Shudder In Revulsion

<A Note from the Editor - Please imagine it read by Patrick Warburton

Dear Reader of the Steel Squadron Blog,

It is my sincere displeasure to request that you not under any circumstances read the following blog post.  The contents of this post are so vile as to turn the most optimistic Armada player into a sniveling wreck of a troll.  Troll in this case is a word referring to an individual who sows discord throughout internet communities.  Frankly, the servers which contain this work will likely need to be erased, pulverized, and scattered in to a deep ocean trench for the safety of the Armada community.

If you believe in the existence of the mortal soul I encourage you to turn back before yours is forever corrupted.  If my imploring is not enough to dissuade you, please consider this song as your final warning.


Look away, look away...>


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Bonus Store Championship - Garm 3: Corellian drift

I am fortunate to live in a area with a great Armada community.  Which means lots of chances to play in Store Championships.  I am actually TO'ing the tournament next weekend in town, but some bad weather canceled my camping plans for this weekend so I am going to head down to Salem, OR for the Borderlands Games tournament.

I wanted to play another Garm based fleet, but didn't want to use the same fleet that I had the last time.  So, I asked Biggs and he suggested the fleet he is planning on taking to his first Store Championships.  I liked it, but didn't have the right squadrons to pull it off.  Still a couple of quick changes were enough to make it my own.  So, let's take a look at Garm 3: Corellian Drift!


Drawbridge Games Store Championship - Garm 2: 2 Garm, 2 Iblis

Biggs checking in for Store Championship Season!  Here's what I'm going to be taking my local gaming store's Store Championship.  In attendance will be Chris Jantzi (Top 32 Worlds, 2017), Angelo Butera (Top 8 Worlds, 2016), Daniel "DabDarklighter", and Q (2 time US Nationals Champion, coming from out of town).  Gonna have to bring my A game to win big here.



Video - Activation Advantage

One of the reasons I switched to blogging on Biggs' site rather than my own was so I would have more time to work on tactics videos.  Well, that didn't work out as planned since I haven't made one since switching over.  That changes today!  My first tactics video since January looking at the uses of and counters to Activation Advantage.  Check it out here: 



That is a truly ridiculous look on my face...

Cardboard Games Store Championship


After a dozen or so games with Ramrod, I'm ready to take the next step in the evolution of the list. The main weakness of the list has been large ships. The CRambo, as good as it is at hunting flotillas and small ships, just can't​ put out the firepower I often find myself needing to take down more than one large ship. Furthermore, with the addition of Admonition to the list, I haven't needed the CRambos to concentrate as heavily on going after flotillas. I have, however, fallen completely in love with CR90s with Madine and Engine Techs.

So I went back to the basics. The goal was to get TRC90s back in the mix, but slap on Engine Techs. RBDs went out the door, the logic being I wouldn't need to inflict ram damage on normal ships as often if I was pumping TRCs into them. If the opportunity presents itself, such as an exposed MC30, I can still double ram in a pinch. I also skimped on other luxury upgrades, such as Derlin and Toryn. The result is a list that is still absurdly fast and maneuverable, can still ram flotillas into paste, but can pump out significantly more long range firepower at consistent rates.

The final change was the name. Ramrod doesn't really work since I'm no longer looking to ram so heavily. Instead, I have speed and red dice. I only know of one thing that likes red and speed together. Itz tyeem ta get da WAAAGH! goin'!!!

Da Red Unz Go Fasta!
Author: Truthiness
Faction: Rebel Alliance
Points: 389/400  
Commander: General Madine
MC30c Torpedo Frigate (63 points) "Lotz O' Dakka"
-  Admonition  ( 8  points) 
-  Skilled First Officer  ( 1  points) 
-  Ordnance Experts  ( 4  points) 
-  H9 Turbolasers  ( 8  points) 
-  Assault Proton Torpedoes  ( 5  points) 
89 total ship cost
CR90 Corvette A (44 points) "Dis Wun Iz Fasta!"
-  Engine Techs  ( 8  points)
-  Turbolaser Reroute Circuits  ( 7  points)
59 total ship cost
CR90 Corvette A (44 points) "No, Dis Wun Iz Fasta!"
-  Engine Techs  ( 8  points)
-  Turbolaser Reroute Circuits  ( 7  points)
59 total ship cost
[ flagship ] CR90 Corvette A (44 points) "Da Boss Is 'Ere"
-  General Madine  ( 30  points)
-  Jainas Light  ( 2  points)
-  Engine Techs  ( 8  points)
-  Turbolaser Reroute Circuits  ( 7  points)
91 total ship cost
GR-75 Medium Transports (18 points) "Grot Stink"
18 total ship cost
GR-75 Medium Transports (18 points) "Snotling Wagon"
18 total ship cost
Shara Bey ( 17 points) 
A-Wing Squadrons ( 22 points) 
Tycho Celchu ( 16 points) 

The only major downside is that I haven't gotten to test this version of the list. I usually don't like to go to a tournament without at least one casual game to shake out the kinks. Still, it's close enough to Ramrod that I'm comfortable enough to go ahead with the changes and let the chips fall where they may. There are a lot of good players set to come, so this is going to be a fun day!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Zugzwang

Today, we're going to talk about a subject that you may already have put into play in your own games, but haven't put a name to.  That is the concept of Zugzwang.  In other, non-German words, the concept of being forced to move when you are better off not moving.  This article is concerned mostly with teaching you to identify this situation, rather than setting it up or defusing it.

The Assault Frigate would rather not move.  If it had a pair of transports, it could go last instead!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Wave 5 Upgrades - Ordnance

Only two cards left from Wave 5 for us to go over.  Let's get the Ordnance Upgrade out of the way.