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Turning a Trap - Round 1

This article is a sequel to Turning a Trap - Prologue. It is recommended to read the prologue first in order to understand the nature and the context of this article. Todays part covers the battle from ship deployment to right before the start of the ship phase of the second game round.

"We are supposed not jump with the rest of the fleet, Sir?", the incredulous voice of the captain sounded from the comms mudule . "In deed, captain! Jump the Chimaera to a point in safe distance of the nebula gate", Thrawn explained patiently a second time.

"But, Sir...", the officer tried to reply.

"Captian! We want to know where and how the enemy fleet is located, before we field our flagship, don't we?", Thrawn interrupted, this time with a not so patient voice.

"Hence, I have sent the quasar as a Vanguard with the two decimators. And hence, the Chimaera will enter the battle field by a second hyperspace jump after we have proper intelligence of the situation. Is this understood, captain?"

"Yes, Sir!", the captain replied, this time without hesitation. Thrawn knew how dangerous a pack of hammerhead corvettes could be even for an imperial star destroyer, if they managed to approach the bigger ship idealy. It was not his plan to give them the opportunity.

Again he turned to the space hologram of the Nebula Gate. Again and again he considered the vectors of the squadrons and the ideal dog fight locations. He logged the simulation into the coordination framework of the Chimaera. He knew that the squadron fights of this battle would be decisive - supposed Solo's trap was not more dangerous than expected.

My opponent Visovics decided to deploy one quasar (and later 2 decimator squadrons) first in the center of his deployment zone right across the Nebula Gate. Because he had way mor squadrons for the initial deployment than me (22 to 12) he was more than able to even out my higher number of ships and thereby delaying the deployment of the Chimaera to a point where I had already deployed a major part of my fleet.

"There they are! Merely one star destroyer!", Hera's voice sounded from the speaker. Han laughed in relief and replied:

"And you have been right, General Syndulla. Maneuvering our units offside the Nebula Gate resulted in deed in a scattered imperial fleet. At least the quasar is nothing we need to worry about soon. Congratulations!"

Everything seemed to go according to the plan. But then Chewie howeld.

"What? Another star destroyer is approaching from hyperspace? What? It wasn't part of the fleet? Damn!"

Han called the Ghost again.

"Already seen, General Solo", Hera's voice sounded, "that is Thrawn's flagship, the Chimaera."

"Yes, directly heading to the Phonix Home and the Yavaris!", Han replied.

"What...Chewie? That still isn't all? Another fleet is approaching?", Han shouted as the Wookie continued to howl. Again the comms module established a link to the Ghost:

"General Solo, the approaching second fleet contains at least a third star destroyer. We need to stick to our plan. Now it is in your hands. May the force be with you!"

"Yes, Chewie", Han yelled hastily as the comms module went silent, "I have a bad feeling as well."

He looked at the hammerhead corvettes. The falcon was in some distance of the other squadrons - right at the other end of the rebel fleet. On his own he was supposed to circumvent the enemy squadrons and hot wire the enemy hyperspace entry points. Would his plan succeed to divert the attention of the enemy squadrons from the Falcon due to the swarms of X-Wings on the other side of the fleet?

The basic idea of my deployment was to get my fleet as far as possible from the center and therby from the enemy hyperspace tokens. Because of my four wider distributed hyperspace points I could still attack the rear of the opposing fleet, whereas Vicovics' could merely with one exception deploy his reinforcements far from the main battle.  And this one hyperspace token I wanted to move as far from my fleet as possible with the Falcon.

It went nicely for me that the quasar (the very first deployment of the game) was deployed in the center. Because I deployed as far to the left as possible (first the Yavaris, then all my Squads except of the Falcon and the Ghost) I could lure Visovics in deploying his remaining units more to the left as well - which resulted in his quasar to be far from the battle. Both star destroyers of his main fleet had been deployed on the far left as well - especially the Chimaera, which was thanks to this in safe distance from my hyperspace points and thereby from my Mon Calamari big cannons.

The following image shows the state of the game after deployment (click to enlarge):

Thrawn knew that his positioning was not ideal. The quasar was to far from the battle - and the enemy reinforcements could arrive directly in their rear.

"Grand admiral, four enemy ships are approaching from hyperspace", his first officer reported.

Four ships. Even the strongest ships the rebels commanded at the moment were merely assault frigates mark II. Even four of them could pose no threat to his fleet - even if they arrived in their rear.

"Bring in the quasar as fast as possible. All other units approach the enemy slowly; all other ships - apart from the Chimaera! Full speed to the Phoenix Home, captain!", Thrawn commanded.

"But, Sir!", the captain spluttered.

"Catpain, proceed as commanded!", Thrawn hissed, "or do you want the Chimaere being ripped apart by those hammerhead corvettes?"

"Aye, aye, Sir!", the captain replied.

During the first round nothing spectacular happened for some time. All ships were slowly approaching each other. The hammerheads turned a bit in order to get into close combat with the star destroyers. Suprisingly, the Chimaera charged with speed 3 - what made possible that she circumvented the hammerhead attacks completelly. After all imperial ships had been moved, I still had 3 ships to activate - which allowed me to pull off the following:

"General Solo, here is Captain Tallon fron the Phoenix Home. It is time for your mission!", it sounded from the Falcon's speakers.

"Go, Chewie!", Han yelled. They were forced into their seats as a loud drumming noise sounded and the engines of the Falcon went to maximum power. Chewie giggled, which sounded like a cackle, as they left the hammerhead corvettes behind.


Following the command, Chewie rose and skeltered to the cargo area in order to activate the hot wiring device.

"General Solo, Yavaris here. It works! But this is still not far enough from our fleet!"

Han turned the Falcon a bit, but did not decrease speed. Chewie roared from the cargo area.

"Done? Great!", Han replied. He murmered to himself: "Let's find some cover behind these asteroids over there."

Via a squadron command first the Phonix Home activated the Falcon. Han moved the hyperspace token of the imperial fleet for the first time. Adar Tallon toggled the activation slider back.

Now, Yavaris activated the Falcon a second time in order to move the token even further away - see the picture to the right (click to enlarge).


After that, during the first activations of the squadron phase not much happened - until the following scene took place:

"Wedge, this is the Ghost. I think Saber Squadron is approaching. Its trajectory seems to imply that they want to hunt down the Moldy Crow. We cannot accept losing our intelligence computers there. Try to intercept!"

"Aye, Sir, we will deal with them", Wedge replied. Intercepting an enemy squadron on its way to work - probably no one in the entire Galaxy was experienced as Wedge for such a job .

"Red Squadron, follow me!", he commanded as trained so often before. He brought his squadron relative to the approaching Tie interceptors to a high ground. Now they were right between Saber Squadron and the Yavaris and therefor more difficult to spot. Wedge detected the red ribbon on the Ties. It really was Saber Squadron!

"Now!", he shouted in the comms module. His squadron increased speed, turned a bit und started to fire by simulatneously approaching Saber Squadron from above. Half a looping and Wedge was right behind the enemy squadron leader. With a bright explosion the Tie in front of him was gone for good. Merely a few seconds had passed and the entire Saber Squadron was annihilated.

"All to easy!", Wedge laughed.

"Red leader, I am hi...aaargh", he heared from the comms module. Wedge turned his head. A YV-666 transport approached them and had started to fire. Bossk - that headhunter scum!

After my opponent moved Saber Squadron close to my squadrons during the squadron phase, I was able to activate Wedge. Due to the Ghost he had the 'rogue' keyword. Hence, he could move and fire. Because the enemy squadron had already been activated, Wedge had 6 dice. Three of them were hits - enough to destroy Saber Squadron within one activation. However, Wedge had to face Bossk's retaliation, which resulted in Wedge losing 1 hull point. Both can be seen on the following pictures (click to enlarge):

"Ghost, this is the Falcon! Behind me the third star destroyer has appeared out of Hyperspace!"

Han started hastily a turn.

"We have seen it. It flies directly into the side of our hammerhead formation!", Hera responded. Han saw the catastrophe. The star destroyer could target the hammerheads in point blank range from his front firing arc.

In addition even more squadrons appeared...and close to the Nebula Gate another Arquittens light cruiser left hyperspace. With even more squadrons!

"That is too much. We can not deal with that fire power! All units, prepare for retreat!", Han heared Hera's voice saying.

"We won't get another chance for this", Han responded with gritted teeth, "we got to give our reinforcments more time."

But then, with a loud boom four ships came out of hyperspce. A comms channel opened up: "This is Admiral Raddus of the Rebel Alliance. All units report in!"

After Visovics deployed the Avenger right in the side of my hammerheads and another Arquittens offside, it was my turn to bring in my reinforcements. I decided to deploy all of them at once. Defiance, Home One (which's belly festered with 4 B-Wing squadrons due to Rapid Launch Bays), and Endeavor I deployed in the rear of the enemy fleet. Liberty and 2 B-Wings left next to the Quasar hyperspace in order to take the carrier immediatelly out of the game. The following image presents the state of the game right after reinforcements had been deployed at the beginning of round 2 (click to enlarge):

In one of my next articles you will be able to read, how the battle went on. Stay tuned!


To be continued...

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Turning a Trap - Prologue

This article is a battle report of a different kind. That it is one of a different kind is due to the fact that the game itself was anything but ordinary.  It was not a standard game of Star Wars: Armada where two fleets of 400 points would fight against each other according to the well known rules. In this game two fleets of a size of 1500 (!) points per side faced each other on VASSAL.

But what is special about this battle report? I want to tell it in form of a story, but again a story of a different kind. The point of this story will be that it will be interrupted for explanations and pictures of what happened on the virtual gaming table. I want to interpose the rules and decisions the players made in the game .

And with that enough has been said. The prologue can start. It covers fleet design and the part of the game setup before fleets are deployed.

Thrawn was in his private rooms of his flagship, the Imperial Star Destryoer Chimaera. He pondered the imminating conflict. General Solo was a gambler. Of course Solo knew that he knew it: Solo was preparing a trap. The rebel led a major part of the rebel alliance fleet to the Nebula Gate – a strange space anomaly between two space trade stations. Solo had taken some care that Thrawn discovered its strength: 13 capital ships and close to 10 squadrons of starfighters.

Grand Admiral Thrawn considered it to be an insult how stupidly scrambled the rebel communication was and how obviously prepared the trap. Of course Solo knew that a major part of the 7th Fleet was in the sector. The imperial spy droids even reported that the scrambled figures about the strength of the rebel fleet were correct. Mostly retrofitted transports, some even from the clone wars era: Pelta class, Hammerhead class, a Nebulon B, and even some GR75 transports.

What bothered Thrawn were the rebel reinforcements. The also intentionally stupidly scrambled call for help mentioned two Assault Frigates. But even with them, the rebel fleet was no match for the 7th Fleet. It was a trap. And like every good trap, it was not obvious what the trap did consist in.

But nothing is as satisfactory like turning a trap, Thrawn mused. He pulled some strings within the imperial navy. Old friends, the Blood Crow Gozanti class and the Thunder Wasp Arquittens class were on their way to accompany his fleet. Thrawn managed to get in addition another Star Destroyer, the Avenger, and a second Quasar to his help. He even had a special surprise for Solo up his sleeve: The bounty hunter Boba Fett could be allured to settle his score with that rascal smuggler wanna be general. Even if the rebels would bring in twice the number of Assault Frigates, they would be severely outnumbered.

But Thrawn had bigger troubles than the rebel reinforcements arriving. Unpleasant imperial help was on the way: Darth Vader heeded the call as well. The incalculable dark lord could make a mess out of Thrawn's well developed plans. Most likely he would take over the command and sacrifice everything in order to get this Luke Skywalker in his hands.

Thrawn had to act immediately. If the battle was already raging before his reinforcements arrived – before Vader arrived – the dark lord would have less time to ruin everything. The Grand Admiral gave the order to jump to the Nebula Gate. The battle would start right when the rebel fleet tried to pass the gate.

"So, General Solo," Thrawn thought, "let us see, how often this trap will be turned!"


Han liked a good game. And he liked it especially, if it was rigged. But he was not sure, who rigged this one. Chewie was growling next to him. “Yes, I know! Our new friends need to be good. Really good. In fact, to be better than our entire fleet!” Hopefully, Mon Mothma's estimation that this new alliance might turn the tables was correct. He looked out of the window of the Falcon. Stupid transports! 6 Hammerhead transports with hastily on the external hull attached ordonance racks; 4 unarmed transports grouped into two flotillas; two clone wars era medical pelta ships retrofitted for fleet commanding, but not – not at all! - ready to face several Imperial Star Destroyers. And a lonely Nebulon B frigate. This was suicide. Hopefully, farmer boy and his starfighters would work some wonders!

“Chewie, check those flashy hyperspace hot wiring devices Madame Syndulla came up with! We really need them to work.” He was a gambler. Hera was not. Did this mean that if she trusted those devices, they would work? Everything depended on hot wiring the hyperspace points were the imperial big guns would appear – and even more where their own 'new friends' would arrive. Their 'new friends' – ha! So, when they appear their 'skilled' Admiral would take over command. Four ships! Merely four ships their help did consist in! He couldn't see how that would help against several Imperial Star Destroyers. Solo had already 13 ships in his fleet – and they had no chance against the imperial fleet this Thrawn guy was commanding. How could four ships make a difference? Hopefully, not the entire 7th Fleet would arrive. Of course Thrawn expected a trap. Hence, Han ordered to bluff by scrambling some talk about two Assault Frigates. With so little forces expected, would Thrawn merely send a vanguard to the battle? On the other hand, even with four more ships a vanguard still meant a serious battle. Han laughed bitterly to himself. At least their 'new friends' had some flashy names for their ships: Defiance, Home One, Endeavor, and Liberty. Soon the rebels would see what the Mon Calamari, their 'new friends', would bring to the table!

The rules used were nearly identical to those of the all out offensive of the Correlian Conflict campaign. The most important difference was that merely two fleets of a strength of 1500 points each participated here, not 3 per side of 500 points each. In addition there was merely one fleet commander per side (namely Thrwan and Raddus, who had been declared to be part of the rebel reinforcements during the game setup). Everything else was similar, namely:

  1. No objectives.
  2. Seven game rounds.
  3. Each side had to keep parts of its fleet in reinforcments (they were the 'contacts' Thrawn thought about as well as the the 'new friends' of the rebel alliance).
  4. Hyperspace points have been placed on the board. There the reinforcements would arrive.
  5. The first player advantage is the same as in a normal game (however mitigated by the fact that in a case of so many ships the first activation is not as important as in a standard game). In addiation the first player has to deploy his 3 hyperspace points first and he can deny specific areas for the hyperspace points of the second player (because all hyperspace points have to be further away from each other than distance 5.
  6. The second player has the advantage that he declares his reinforcements after the first player declared his. In addition he deploys his reinforcements after the first player and is thereby able to adjust his tactics.

My opponent (forum name Visovics in the FFG forum) chose the imperial side, I played the rebel alliance. At the point the prologue ended, merely fleets had been composed, obstacles deployed, hyperspace points placed, and reinforcements declared.

For fleet composition we worked with some additional rules:

  • There had to be at least 1 ISD and 1 MC80 in game. They had to be the flagships.
  • The following squadrons had to be in game: Darht Vader, Boba Fett, Luke, Wedge, Biggs, Han Solo, and Hera Syndulla.
  • The following generic squadrons could not be chosen: Firesprays, Aggressors, Jumpmasters, YV-666, YT2400, YT1300, Lancer, HWK, VCX.
  • Because this meant that the rebels had no way to get the key words Strategic and Relay, the Millenium Falcon and the Ghost got each of them (which were  the hot wiring devices Solo mentioned in the prologue).

The fleet of the empire (without reinforcements) consisted in the following units (for a more detailed list click here; one simply has to add the title Chimaere to the flagship as well as the Fleet Command Intensify Fire):

  • 2 ISD
  • 1 Quasar
  • 2 Arquittens
  • 3 Gozanti
  • 22 squadrons

The imperial reinforcments consisted in (for a more detailed list click here):

  • 1 ISD
  • 1 Quasar
  • 1 Arquitens
  • 1 Gozanti
  • 11 squadrons (among them Darth Vader and Boba Fett)

The fleet of the rebel alliance (without reinforcements) consisted in the following units (for a more detailed list click here):

  • 2 Pelta
  • Yavaris
  • 6 Hammerheads
  • 2 GR75
  • 12 squadrons (among them the Millenium Falcon and the Ghost)

The rebel reinforcments consisted in (for a more detailed list click here):

  • Defiance (with Admiral Raddus as Fleet Commander)
  • Home One
  • Endeavor
  • Liberty
  • 8 B-Wing Squadrons

The following image presents the state of the game after placing obstacles and hyperspace points:

In the center there is the Nebula Gate, which is mentioned in the story several times: the passage that is formed by the two nebula obstacles. The player edge of my opponent is on the top whereas mine is on the bottom.

The entire point of my fleet is that a major part (nearly half of its fleet points) is still in hyperspace. Because I have chosen Admiral Raddus as fleet commander, it was possible to move four large base Mon Calamari ships into the reinforcements (including Raddus). Because of that the story mentions Han Solo as commander (allthough he is not according to the rules) - and it is said that the arriving Admiral will take command.

In der Mitte befindet sich das Nebeltor, von der in der Erzählung die Rede war: nämlich die Passage zwischen den beiden Nebel-Hindernissen. Der Startzone meines Gegners ist oben, meine Rebellenschiffe werden unten platziert werden.

My basic strategy is simple: I want to deploy my four big guns in the rear of my opponent - resulting his ships being nearly unable to defend themselves. Hera and Han have to move the hyperspace points of my opponent out of reach that his reinforcements will not cross my plans.

Will it work? Read the next article! Until then I will chew some dark side carrots.


To be continued

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Armada: Why to start at all?

After I wrote some time ago two articles (in German) about the question which expansions are a cost-efficient way to get into the game, it dawned on me that I had taken the second step before the first. Foremost, it is necessary to explain why one should start with Armada at all. It is necessary to rouse the people. The spark needs to be ignited!


Immediately, I knew that this is not an easy task. To elate people - this is a challenge where overpaid ad writers and professional speakers shipwreck. It was clear to me: I need to squeeze all that there is of rhetoric force out of language and to sound the deepest semantic nuances of expressivity.


So, I sat down. I wrote. The first draft I tore to pieces. I continued to write. Deep into the night I sat with candlelight at my old wooden desk. And no sound could be heard except of the quill scraping the paper. Again and again I changed the text, improved it - never completely satisfied with the result. However, as morning dawned, I recognized: I had reached my goal. I had composed a work that danced on the borders of human expressivity and even achieved to set them off to regions before unknown. I knew that I would never again write an article of such strength, an article - it is almost tawdry to say - that radiates such beauty!


I had discovered that the entire subject, the entire problem why people should start playing Armada could be reduced to exactly three reasons. There are other games played. Good games! And many people are by nature sceptics. However, these three reasons will silence all and force them to devoutly nod in agreement. Here they are - the three striking reasons for giving up one's way of living and starting to play Armada:


The First Reason

The Second Reason

The Third Reason


Now, that I have published these reasons I have to confess that I might have been over enthusiastic - that a creator's pride might have taken me away and clouded my judgement. Are these really the best three reasons for Armada one can give? No, I do not think so. To many doubts remain, simply to many questions are not answered. Are really by these reasons people convinced who have lost all their fortune and who have no money left to spend for gaming? Are really people convinced who have to care for spouse and child and have to spend all their time self-sacrificingly for their family? Finally, are really people convinced who consider board games to be boring and prefer all the ecstatic moments of life - extreme sports, drugs, sex?


I cannot believe that. The three reasons are simply not good enough. What are three simple images depicting a single Star Destroyer? We need better arguments! And we need not to be at loss for them. Here they are! The three irrefutable, the three unquestionable arguments for Armada that will convince every, really every human being on this planet:



The First Irrefutable Reason

The Second Irrefutable Reason

The Third Irrefutable Reason

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The Vanishing of Stars, Part III: Admiral Darth Veggie Interviews PT106

Note: Because of the fact that this article is an interview with an english speaking Armada veteran, it is as an exception also provided in English. Please excuse my terrible English.


Last week we discovered that the mightiest weapon of the Empire, the Imperial Star Destroyer, has a dangerously vulnerable Achilles heel. As Sith Lord of carrots this fact disturbs Darth Veggie quite a lot. Hence, he searched the internet for a solution. And it seems he has found one and is even willing to share it with you: In the last big online Star Wars: Armada tournament (played via Vassal) 40 players met in 4 preliminary and 3 elimination rounds. No player commanding a fleet containing an ISD managed to score enough tournament points to get to elimination round - no player apart from one: PT106 (FFG forum nickname) and his Admiral Motti and his Flying ISD Circus fleet. (Sidenote: Another player managed to get with an ISD fleet into the elimination rounds, but this happened thanks to a special wild card rule not due to tournament points).

PT106 won the first three preliminary round games, two with a 10-0 and one with a 9-1 score. The 9-1 was against Ginkapo who later won the entire tournament. PT106 lost the fourth preliminary round (but only by a margin of victory of 79 points and this was against Matt and his notorious Rogue Madness fleet, which has merely been beaten twice in 44 games).

PT106 entered the elimination rounds with 32 tournament points (33 achieved the top player of the preliminary rounds). Allthough he lost his first elimination match against Gowtah (who faced Ginkapo in the final match), this happened by the smallest possible Margin of Victory, namely 0 (!).

If we switch our attention to a real gaming table, PT106 and his ISD based fleet has also conquered many gaming tables: He has won two US regional tournaments and he was among the top 8 players of the North American Championship (not to confuse with the smaller US national championship).

It seems that this PT106 might solve Darth Veggie's problem of the ISD 2 Achilles heel! Hence, we are glad that he consented to give us an interview. Before we start with the interview we want to have a quick look at his fleet.


Admiral Motti and his ISD Flying circus (Wave 4 version)
Faction: Galactic Empire
Points: 393/400
Commander: Admiral Motti

Imperial I-Class Star Destroyer (110 points)
- Intel Officer ( 7 points)
- Ordnance Experts ( 4 points)
- H9 Turbolasers ( 8 points)
= 129 total ship cost

Imperial II-Class Star Destroyer (120 points)
- Agent Kallus ( 3 points)
- Gunnery Team ( 7 points)
- Quad Laser Turrets ( 5 points)
- Electronic Countermeasures ( 7 points)
- X17 Turbolasers ( 6 points)
= 148 total ship cost

Raider-I Class Corvette (44 points)
= 44 total ship cost

Gozanti-class Cruisers (23 points)
- Comms Net ( 2 points)
= 25 total ship cost

[ flagship ] Gozanti-class Cruisers (23 points)
- Admiral Motti ( 24 points)
= 47 total ship cost


I am pretty sure we all have seen double ISD builds, however, this list is quite unusual: First, it has five activations which is quite difficult to achieve with two ISDs in a fleet. On top of that there is even a serious bid for initiative included (7 points). This has of course its price: There are no squadrons, not a single one! Oh, and none of the two notorious must-be-in-any-Imperial-fleet-included-cards (Major Rhymer and Demolisher) are part of the flying ISD circus. How can such an ISD fleet be successful? Let us ask PT106 (real name Paul).


Admiral Darth Veggie: Hi Paul, thanks for giving this interview. During the last big Vassal tournament I discovered that you maneuver a double ISD fleet, one of them a ISD 2- and you did so quite successfully. What do you consider the most interesting, important, or characteristic aspect of the ISD 2 in Star Wars: Armada?

Paul: I think that ISD2 is a universal ship that can fit a lot of roles (flagship/carrier/brawler/control) with the only
caveat of being expensive no matter the role being chosen. For me it's an ultimate area control/area denial ship as
ending up in a front arc is a death sentence for a lot of small ships (even flotillas) at medium range and can
hurt even at long range (especially with Concentrate Fire/Spinal Armament). Also ISD2 is the only Imperial ship that can equip Electronic Countermeasures which is more important in this wave as lot of builds will be accuracy-heavy to deal with the Scatter on flotillas.

Admiral Darth Veggie: Speaking of upgrades, two weeks ago, we had here an article about ISD 2 upgrades. There are many that seem to be mandatory like Electronic Countermeasures or Gunnery Team. But is there one where you think it deserves more attention? What do you consider the most unrightfully neglected upgrade for the ISD (if there is one)?

Paul: First of all, I would say that while many ISD2 upgrades seem to be mandatory, none of them really are. While the default ISD2 loadout is Gunnery Team, Electronic Countermeasures, XI7 Turbolasers  I can see ISD2 that is opting for Ion Cannon Batteries instead of Leading Shots (to help against double-brace ships, Yavaris in particular) or Spinal Armament instead of XI7 Turbolasers. In some fleets it may even be sensible to drop Electronic Countermeasures to save on points. However, if I need to choose one underutilized upgrade for ISD2, I would go with Quad Laser Turrets. From my experience the damage from Quad Laser Turrets (especially against Yavaris-powered attacks) can allow one to start dropping opponents bombers one round earlier which makes a huge difference in ships survivability. (And yes, Major Rhymer is a hard counter against Quad Laser Turrets, however I think that with the rise of Rebel bombers and YT2400 swarms, Quad Laser Turrets is a solid investment and I expect to see it more nowadays).

Admiral Darth Veggie: How do Ion Cannon Batteries help against double-brace ships?

Paul: Ion Cannon Battery critical forces defender to lose a command token or a shield. This shield loss is not affected by Brace, so essentially it translates into 2 damage before brace.
And in the case of Yavaris the critical will force it to discard squadron command token OR lose a shield, so its a bad deal either way.

Admiral Darth Veggie: Is there a nemesis for the ISD 2? A certain ship or fleet configuration that really gives you the creeps when commanding an ISD 2 into the field?

Paul: I don't think there is a single answer to this, as it depends on the composition of my fleet as well, but if I have to choose main threats, it'll be a tie between Cracken Turbolaser Reroute Circuits corvettes and Yavaris B-wings.

Admiral Darth Veggie: Speaking of Yavaris powered B-wing horror, your fleet has no squads in it. How can those two ISDs survive bomber heavy lists without any squadron screen against them?

Paul: It is one of the hardest matchups for this list, so the answer will heavily depend on the particular list composition and deployment. It can be "kill the carriers" strategy. It may be "kill B-wings before they kill you" strategy.
Usually I expect to lose one of the ISDs in the exchange so it's really a question of getting it's points worth back.

Admiral Darth Veggie:  Then let us talk about a specific game. The images below (click to enlarge) are taken from your first preliminary round of the last big Vassal tournament. It was the game against Irokenics you have won 10-0 with a MoV of 400 (the old tournament regulations were in place at that time). The first image presents the situation at the beginning of round 1. The second one is taken during round two, after you have moved one of your ISDs right in the middle of all these bombers and fighters. What was your tactic there?

Paul: Before I answer, I'll add some important context here: in this game I was fortunate enough to get first player (my opponent had no bid at all) and we were playing Fire Lanes (one of my favorite missions to select with a double-ISD fleet as it negates my deployment disadvantage). Once the deployment was done, I knew that I should be able to table his fleet, and it was only a question of the amount of my losses. His bomber force wasn't particularly frightening with only 4 bombers (and less than 7 damage per round average). So my tactic was to throw in my ISDs hard and fast as I knew I would be able to outmaneuver him (as I had last-first activation and both my ISDs would move after all his fleet) and I was severely outgunning him in a direct confrontation. My only worry was his Demolisher speeding up and escaping so I tried to set up my ISD to block most of his possible moves. As it happened my opponent underestimated the speed of my ISDs and kept his Victory Class Star Destroyer at speed 0 during round 2 (which allowed me a full front arc ISD shot into defenseless VSD next round).

Admiral Darth Veggie: That means in such a situation you completelly ignore the enemy squads and simply gun for the capital ships? Or did you took some effort to also attack the bombers?

Paul: Yes, as long as I can realistically table my opponent's fleet (or don't expect much damage from the squadrons or to damage them enough).

Admiral Darth Veggie: Let us examine a second game against a squadron heavy fleet - the one against Gowtah that you had barely lost by the smallest possible MoV, namely zero, and which was the end for ISDs in the last tournament. Although, there are no Yavaris powered B-wings in your opponents fleet, there is something as bad as it: Yavaris powered Scurrg bombers.

In the six images below we can see the state of the game at the beginning of each game round. You were first player and chose Hyperspace Assault as objective (Admonition was chosen as objective ship). We can see that at the beginning of the game the fleets were quite apart from each other. What was your tactical approach for setup and the first rounds?

Paul: In this game I was severely outdeployed, so I decided to deploy in the corner and sweep across the board. This also would allow me to keep potential hyperspace locations under fire and to delay Admonition return from hyperspace (which would skew my activation disadvantage even further). Essentially the game was about either me getting to Gowtah's transports and blowing them up (to get first/last activation with ISD) or him bombing my ISD's with Yavaris/Admonition before I could achieve that goal.

Admiral Darth Veggie: At the beginning of round 4, all enemy ships and squadrons were still on the board. How did you adjust your tactics against the enemy squadron superiority?

Paul: I would say that at the beginning of turn 4 the strategic situation was more or less decided: I already lost one Gozanti, my ISD1 was going to die this turn (with 2 hp left and flying into a bomber cloud), Admonition was going to survive as I didn't do enough damage and ISD2 was out of position to threaten her, Yavaris was going to die that turn or in the worst case was guaranteed to die on next turn (I needed to get 7 damage or double accuracy from the front shot to finish her off), so squadrons were no longer a threat (as they wouldn't be able to finish a second ISD in the 3 rounds remaining and were out of position/activations to get gozantis) but points wise my only chance of winning was to get all the remaining transports with ISD2 shots (which was hard but not impossible). I think that summarizes my thinking at the beginning of that round.

Admiral Darth Veggie: Let us switch the topic and talk about the main reason for this interview: last week's article, the Achilles heel of the ISD 2. How do you keep your opponent within the front firing arcs of your ISDs?

Paul: The two main contributors are navigation, activation advantage and an almost fanatical devotion to the Emperor ;) . As long as you can delay activating your ISD until after the intended target, you can navigate into a position in which the next move will force the target to fly into a front arc - or in the attempt to dodge it, to fly into a range of a second ship (preferably also an ISD).

For example if the corvette in your test would start just outside on red range of ISD2 straight across and moves first it has no chance to avoid front arc in either next turn or the turn after next.

Admiral Darth Veggie: Activation advantage and ISD seems a bit close to be mutally exclusive: Even your ISD fleet that has no squadron screening has (merely?) five ships. I can see, how during Wave II times that was close to a guaranteed activation advantage. However, nowadays having at least five ships is quite common, not necessarily the majority of lists, but quite common. How can an ISD based list cope with so many nimble rebel ships?

Paul: Well, you need to look not only at absolute numbers but at a bigger picture as well - how long the opponent can delay activating a ship (or ships - and ISD2 with its range can threaten multiple ships at once) under threat? And having 4 or 5 activations helps a lot here (even against 6 ship lists - and in Wave IV 6 activations is the new 5, I believe).

Admiral Darth Veggie: So, let us take this approach to a real game: the one you played against Dorrin. He commanded a five ship fleet with Ackbar. It consisted of an Assault Frigate, Home One, and three Corellian Corvettes with Turbolaser Reroute Circuts. As in your fleet, there were no squadrons present. This time, you were first player and picked Intel Sweep as objective. Again we can see the map at the beginning of each round. The game ended at the beginning of round 5, when your ISD 2 took the last remaining enemy ship, the Assault Frigate with Ackbar, out of the game, resulting in a 475 point Margin of Victory in your favour. What were here the tactics you considered during game setup?

Paul: In this case I was a first player and we played Intel sweep, so I needed to protect my raider for at least 2 rounds to pick up the tokens and to kill his Intel sweep corvette before it has a chance to pick up a third token. I was going to try to kill corvettes first as once they'll navigate around front arc they'll be impossible to catch (even with tractor beams that this fleet had) and multiple corvettes with Turbolaser Reroute Circuts and Ackbar shots can be a real problem for an ISD. Therefore I deployed my ISD2 right across the corvettes with the intention of doing a last-first activation to catch at least one corvette in a front arc and to make it impossible for the objective corvette to be in the range of a second token without getting a front arc ISD shot next round.

Admiral Darth Veggie: Was deployment here everything? I like to give the issue at hand a wider scope. The ISD seems to be the strongest ship in the game, however thanks to Ackbar (or the super maneuverable and damage intense Corvettes with Turbolaser Reroute Circuts) it is easily outgunned at red range. Your fleet can hit with a maximum of 13 red dice in one game round (not counting concentrate fire commands). Your opponent had 21 in contrast. And a triple of Ackbar powered Assault Frigates comes to 30 red dice in one single game round. How can ISD based fleets cope with that – in this specific game and in general? Is it merely thanks to deployment?

Paul: I think it is mainly about navigation and understanding where your ships and opponent ships are likely to be next round and a round after next, so initial deployment also matters a lot. If you're facing Ackbar fleet, you don't want to fight at long range and you want to be in the front arc, so you try to navigate accordingly, while your opponent tries to prevent you from doing that. For example, in this game I was able to outnavigate my opponent and my ISDs ended up being in the medium range round 2. Also I think that Ackbar shots were done only once or twice for the whole game as my damaged ISD2 ended up in a front arc of both Home One and the Assault Frigate.

Admiral Darth Veggie: Maybe this is related to the issue at hand: I normally fly my ISDs with speed 1 to be in close formation with supporting ships (Repair Crews flottilas and Targeting Scrambler Interdictors) - but especially in order to use my front firing arc as long as possible. However, if I watch your games that seems to be the totally wrong approach. What is your opinon on speed and ISDs?

Paul: While sometimes flying at speed 1 is a right choice, it makes your future movement predictable and makes ISD easier to avoid. I usually use speed 2 to keep things unpredictable, as with a Navigation order or token the ship can be anywhere between speed 1 and speed 3 (it also allows slower speed 2 ships to stay close enough, although I recommend using Comms Net instead of the Repair crew as the range is much higher and the ability to pass different tokens is more flexible). I also don't expect to get more than one full front-arc shot against a ship (unless it is set up to be in a forever ram situation) as after the shot and ISD movement the ship in question should be able to navigate around front arc (as long as it is still alive).

Admiral Darth Veggie: Let us go to the most interesting game: the one against Ginkapo. He won the last big Vassal tournament. However, you did meet him during the preliminary rounds and beat him by a Margin of Victory of 221. First, I want to provide some background to the game, starting with some words about his fleet. In its center are two MC30 Torpedo Frigates. What makes them special is that they are equipped with Enhanced Armament which enables them to get the full Ackbar benefit. One of their broadsides fires 3 red dice, 2 blue, and three black. This is as much punch as the front firing arc of an ISD 1 has. The fleet is rounded up by a MC30 Scout Frigate with Ackbar on it, a Corellian Corvette, and a transporter flotilla. Hence, Ginkapo also had five ships. No activation advantage for you.

In this game Ginkapo was first player and chose Most Wanted as objective. You decided that one of his torpedo frigates and your Comms Net Gozanti are objective ships.

If we take a look at the image that shows the game setup at the beginning of round 1, one cannot stop by being baffled about your deployment. That Motti's Gozanti sneaks along the map's borders does not surprise very much. However, that your ISD 1 is following its trail seems insane. The ISD 1 was the fourth deployment of your fleet (the ISD 2 was last). What had you in mind doing this move?

Paul: I won't lie, I prepared this deployment beforehand. Let me give you some context - we both played against each other fleet before so we knew what these fleets were capable of and were preparing for this game. At that time my usual tactic was to deploy straight across opponent's fleet and joust so I was sure that Ginkapo was prepared against it (as you can see even from obstacle deployment) and I needed something new. I expected him to try to hunt Motti with Sensor Team equipped Admonition as she could kill Motti even from a medium range, so I decided to do 1-2 punch tactic that is usually used by MC30 fleets. In this game I had some deployment advantage (as everything in Ginkapo's fleet except one MC30 would need to be on the table before I would deploy my ISD's) and activation parity (which meant that he wouldn't be able to first-last my ISD as long as the second ISD was out of range). So I decided to deploy ISD 1 in a way that gave me a flexibility to decide where it'll do a turn and start flying across a board as well as to threaten anyone trying to attack Motti.

As a result I would say that the first part of the game was a hunt for Admonition (with her advantage being negated by Most Wanted)  that was very skillfully flown by Ginkapo and avoided front arcs the whole game.

Admiral Darth Veggie: During round 2 and 3, you were not able to get any enemy ship in the front firing arcs of your ISDs. However, you turned your ISD 1 and it was obvious from that point that it would soon enter the game. At the beginning of round 4 you destroyed Admonition with the side firing arc of the ISD 1 and the second MC30 Torpedo Frigate with its front firing arc. After two rounds without any major hits from your ISDs, you effectively crippled his fleet. How could that happen? Was there a long term plan finally bearing fruits in round 4?

Paul: I would say so. Keep in mind that while Admonition was successful in avoiding ISD 2 front arc, it forced her to navigate in a predictable way and denied her own shots while she was slowly crippled by multiple attacks (those Most Wanted dice did add up). As a result ISD1 in a third round denied Admonition a possibility to attack Motti and after it moved at the end on round, it was able to threaten 2 MC30s with a close range front arc shot (which more or less guaranteed that one of them will die next round). I expected Admonition to navigate to speed 4 after the shot and fly away (and was planning to try to intercept her with ISD 2 later in the game), however Ginkapo decided to go all in and kept Concentrate Fire on Admonition, resulting in her death that round.

Essentially, the usual MC30 tactic is to do an attack run relying on Admonition/Lando to survive one attack and on their speed to be out of the kill zone afterwards. By delaying my second ISD 1 tried to counter this tactic by creating a second kill zone for MC30s trying to speed up away from combat.

Admiral Darth Veggie: When I initially asked you about the most important aspect of the ISD 2, you mentioned that you consider it to be the ultimate area control/denial ship. At that time it seemed to me to be an empty phrase. Now, after we discussed the game against Dorrin where your ISD maneuvering denied your opponent to get the valuable Intel Sweep tokens and after we discussed the the game against Ginkapo where we saw how Admonition was unable to attack Motti and was driven into the arms of the ISD 1, I think I have understood your approach.

Now, the polite thing to do would be to offer you some dark side carrots in exchange for this tactical enlightment. However, because Darth Veggie is a selfish Sith Lord, he will be impolite and combines the tactical insights taken from you with his superior darks side carrots to sweep across the galaxy with invincible ISDs! Thank you very much for this interesting interview and hopefully we will meet sometime in the future at a gaming table (even if it will be a virtual one)!

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The Vanishing of Stars, Part II: The Achilles Heel of the ISD 2

Note: Because of the fact that this article forms the context of an interview with an english speaking Armada veteran next week, this article is as an exception also provided in English. Please excuse my terrible English.


Great and Mighty the Imperial Star Destroyer is - and easily robbed of its enormous punch! I remember quite well my first - and only - game where I commanded three Imperial Star Destroyers in the field: Assured of their mighty striking force I went to the (virtual) gaming table. Utterly destructed and forlorn I left it. I had in horror laid my eyes upon it: the Achilles heel of the ISD.


Granted, my tournament experience is limited: I have never been to a store, regional or national championship. My experience is based on online tournaments and a vast amount of online games I have played via Vassal against players all around the world. However, one cannot deny that the Vassal community has not a small number of enormously experienced players of exceptional fleet commanding capabilities. As local scenes have their predominant strategies of fleet building (called meta in the Armada sociolect), so have they. My experience with the Vassal meta is that the ISD 2 is on the retreat for competitive gaming. The ISD 1 has found its niche as as a carrier for activating squadrons. However, the ISD as a battleship has to yield to other ships. In the last big Vassal tournament (40 players, 4 preliminary rounds, 3 knockout rounds), merely one ISD fleet managed to get to the semi finals. How low the once so proud battleship has sunk!


But why? What is the weaknes that has robbed the ISD 2 his rightful position within the fleet? Let's take a closer look at the ship. It has a terrifying front firing arc consisting of 8 attack dice. But that's it. The sides, which do not form merely a small part of its hull, have merely half of the dice - that is just the same number as the fragile Raider in its front: and you can switch off the light in the rear of the ISD. Those 3 attack dice are the same meager number like the Corellian Corvette has. If one takes a look at the maneuverability of the ISD, it becomes clear what the problem does consist in: Although the ISD has a speed of 3, there is not one double click maneuver. By this the entire accursed situation becomes obvious: The rebel scum simply needs to escape the front firing arc with some agile ships and the ISD is as helpless as a R2 unit with an attached speck!


Let us demonstrate this with a simulation (simply click on the images to enlarge them): In it two naked CR90-A corvettes fight an ISD 2. The corvettes cost 88 points compared to 120 of the ISD 2 - that means almost merely two third of the points of the big fish. The simulation assumes that the rebel fleet has initivative (not unlikely considering the lower price of its ships). In addition, we assume that all ships (corvettes and ISD) only use navigate commands. Both corvettes start with speed 3, the ISD with speed 2. The first image shows the situation at the beginning of round 2. All ships are outside the firing distance of their enemies.






First, one of the corvettes moves and increases its speed to 4. However it remains outside the firing distance of the ISD.













The ISD turns hard.







The second corvette fires from two of its hull sections, also increases its speed to 4, and moves closer to the ISD. With this round 2 (i.e. the first we examine) ends.

Intermediate result: The rebels have fired 3 dice, the ISD not one.




The other corvette fires at the beginning of round 3 with one die from its side section, decreases its speed to 3, and flys out of the firing distance of the ISD.




The ISD has in return not more to offer than a lame rear salvo (three dice) and to turn hard again in order to get the corvette back into its front firing arc.


Meanwhile, the second corvette fires from two of its sections for a total of three dice. It maneuvers within the side firing arc of the ISD, but remains in long firing range.

Intermediate result after round 3:

Rebels: 7 dice fired

ISD: 3 dice fired





The ISD gets another volley (2 dice) from the first corvette, which thereafter immediately escapes out of the front firing arc.





The ISD is able to fire two boring dice from its side section (yes, there is a picture that proves that none of the corvettes is in blue range). Even if we grant the ISD a Gunnery Team it gets merely to four red dice - and has to deal with two evade tokens on each of the enemy ships.



Now, the second corvette fires 3 dice, but can only avoid the front firing arc of the ISD at the cost of comming quite close to its side section.

Intermediate result after round 4:

Rebels: 12 dice

ISD: 7 dice (and this includes the bonus Gunnery Team).



The other corvette fires two dice, increases speed and escapes again the front firing arc.



First time major hits for the ISD - however, not with its front firing arc: 4 dice at the closest corvete and - because it is obstructed - one at the second (and this again due to the bonus Gunnery Team).




At the end of round 5, it gets a two dice hit from the corvette.

Because the small ship does not like to drift of the map (and next game round is game over) it escapes with increased speed to safety.

Intermediate result: Thanks to the bonus Gunnery Team the ISD is able do decrease the gap:

Rebels: 16 dice

ISD: 12 dice




Last important turn: The other corvette fires one last die and also escapes to safety. The ISD has no chance of return fire. The game is over.

Final result of the simulation:

Rebels: 17 dice

ISD: 12 dice


Let us consider the simulation. The ISD costs (with Gunnery Team) nearly 150% of the price of the two corvettes, but does hit more rarely. Considering defense tokens, it has indeed one Brace and two Redirect tokens, but because nearly all of its shots were in red range, those shots were mainly eaten by the Evade tokens of the corvettes. And due to the fact that the ISD had an limited amount of attack dice, it could not block them with accuracy dice.

Of course, this was a simulation. For both sides, one could rightfully claim that cleverer maneuvering was possible. However, it should not been forgotten that both corvettes cost merely two third of the points of the ISD with Gunnery Team. Even if they had been equipped with Engine Techs and Turbolaser Reroute Circuts, they would have been cheaper than the ISD. But in this scenarion they would have flown around the ISD in circles due to the Engine Techs and would have prettily dissected it with the guaranteed double hits of their turbolasers.

The simulation shows: the Achilles heel of the ISD is that many small ships can easily evade its menacing front firing arc.

How can the ISD protect its Achilles heel? What can the Empire do to restore the terrifying punch of their most dangerous weapon?

As we have seen last week, one can augment the sides of the ISD. That attenuates the problem merely slightly. On the other side there is the option to trim down the mobility of the rebel scum. Phylon Q7 Tractor Beams could be used. This is not enough, if the rebel player makes excessive use of navigate commands. However, in addition to the Interdictor expansion this might work: Admiral Konstantine, Admiral Titus, an Interdictor with G8-Experimental Projector and the Interdictor titel cut down the rebel mobility pretty much. However, this reinforcement of our fleet has its price: 138 points (counting one tractor beam for the Interdictor and one for the ISD).

Does this mean that the ISD 2 can merely get of the ground with Admiral Konstantine and the Interdictor? No. There is another way! About this one we hopefully get to know next week, when we interview Paul (in the Vassal community also known as pt106). He is well feared for his ISD maneuvering capabilities and was the only player who got to the top eight in the last big Vassal tournament with a fleet containing an ISD (two to be more precise).

If even his wisdom cannot improve the situation, there is only one remedy in order to gain victory with an ISD 2: eating more dark side carrots!



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