What a box! No, I’m not talking about your mum, I’m talking about Fantasy Flight Game’s Star Wars Armada. It’s a beast. Once again, not your mum. There’s no hiding this on the bus home from your LGS, and why should you! You should proudly shout, at the top of your lungs “I’m king of this fucking bus!”
Enough with the silliness, what’s this game like? Well, once you’ve done with the new box smell, you can admire the beautiful components. A common ritual for me with FFG products. I challenge you not to rip the Star Destroyer straight out its plastic coffin and bask in its glory. The rebel ships deserve the same treatment. Then you see the squadrons…Oh. Ok, so on face value, the squadrons are a bit of a let down, but I’m quietly confident that after a lick of paint, they will be fine. They are basically just counters after all. Everything else is the standard, great quality that you pay for with FFG. The manoeuvre stick thingy is mental. It’s hard not to sit there just clicking and moving it like a steam punk snake.
The 2 rule books included are very well laid out and gets you playing very quickly, and like X-Wing, it’s very intuitive after a few turns. That’s right, I mentioned it. The big old elephant in the room. Ok, that time I was talking about your mum. I’ll talk about the 2 games similarities later.
The turns themselves are split over 4 phases. The 1st phase is the Command Phase, where players secretly choose their ships special actions. The bigger the ship, the further you have to plan with the larger ships planning 3 turns ahead! To represent the slow reactive nature of the big capital bastards. The 2nd phase is the ship phase, in which you alternately activate capital ships. The 3rd phase is where your squadrons move or shoot and lastly the 4th phase is a standard refresh stage. Then wash, rinse, repeat.
I found the most important thing to get right was the speed of your ships. Get that wrong and you’ll find your most important ships out the battle for long periods of time. Dealing with squadrons is also vital. Leaving X-Wings too long near your ships and you’ll find them with no shields rather quickly.
Is this just X-Wing, tarted up and given a new lease of life? No. Well I don’t think so. I found the skills you need to be a good X-Wing player, are similar to the skills you’ll need to master in Armada, but you go about it different ways, and you have new elements to think about. Armada is more refined, more intricate, dare I say it, more fun. This coming from a guy who really enjoys X-Wing. I find Armada more of a war game than X-Wing, which is maybe why I enjoy it more. And, possibly, why others won’t.
So, do you need both X-Wing and Armada? Of course not. Will you buy both X-Wing and Armada? Probably. I’m happy to say, both games are fantastic and deserve space on your shelves. Though you might need to extend it for Armada!
If you fancy picking up a copy, you can from Element Games