Recently my son and I decided to try playing a game of Armada with all of the ships we had. It’s small compared to some collections (one of each ship with one or two duplicates) but still enough to exceed the 400pt fleet limit. This…this took awhile to play. We only made it a few rounds before just giving up. But it did inspire some ideas for alternative game formats. Remember, we don’t play Armada on the competitive scene so this purely for casual fun play.
Free Rapid Launch Bays
From the beginning, I always thought ships should be able to carry fighters. What’s more iconic than a Star Destroyer spitting out TIE fighters? When Rapid Launch Bay was added as an upgrade card I thought it was pretty cool. But then I thought, why is this even an upgrade rather than an innate ability?
So we tried out a game with all ships having launch bays freely equipped, whether or not they had the slot, and all fighters starting docked. This added a fun dynamic to the game in that fighters were less a swarm of gnats and more a strategic resource. Your small ships, with only one squadron value, were free to get a squadron command token early in the game so they could launch their one fighter whenever they wanted. But the big ships still had to plan for when to deploy.
If we played this again I think we would modify it so that only ships that could equip rapid launch bays get it as a free slotless upgrade. Then maybe make the upgrade work that you can redock damaged fighters and launch them the next round fully repaired. Would probably have to limit that to generic fighters or it might become too powerful. But it’s worth trying out.
Borrowing from Imperial Assault
One of the rules I really like from Imperial Assault is the ability to pass if you have fewer deployment cards than your opponent. That keeps your opponent from having multiple unopposed activations at the end of every round. Armada could really use that. So we added that to the game and it’s worked great. No longer is a fleet loaded with a few heavy ships at the mercy of a fleet loaded with filler plus one strong ship.
For some reason, my son keeps asking to play Armada until all ships are blown up rather than just for six rounds. This can lead to games that will never end due to the ability to repair. So in order to compromise, I pulled another element from IA, play until 40 points (or 400pts in this case). Thanks to points coming from objectives as well as ships you can play most objectives this way with little modification. And we also usually play 500 pt fleets so there are more points on the board to destroy.
Ambush and Hyperspace Assault
A change we regularly like to make is to combine Hyperspace Assault or Ambush with another objective. The game can take awhile to get going so Ambush is a great way to get right to the action. Especially when you’re playing without a fixed number of rounds. This way helps ensure the game goes quickly.
Hyperspace Assault is another one of those things that feel kind of like something that should be an innate ability. Having ships drop out of hyperspace at a crucial moment adds a cool Star Wars dynamic. You never know when Imperial reinforcements are going to arrive and catch you in a trap.
It’s also fun to use all three together. Your initial ships start close to each other and you don’t have all ships on the board. This makes the first rounds go quickly. After that some ships have probably been destroyed and you can hyperspace in some more, keeping the pace of the game going.
Chain of Command
This is a rule that I haven’t tried yet. But it is the only rule variation that I think could work in a regular game. The idea is you are allowed to take more than one commander. You pay the points for them and you can only have one active at a time. But when the active one dies, much like a real military hierarchy, someone else takes over.
This could add some interesting dynamics to a game. Plop a commander who has questionable usefulness, like Garm Bel Iblis, in a fragile ship. Get his benefit and then charge him into the fray. Your opponent has to decide if they want to kill this sacrificial ship, giving you the effect of a new commander, or letting it live until round four to keep you from gaining a new effect.
It should be pretty well balanced because commanders aren’t cheap. So if you’re willing to pay the high cost of them you can see the benefit.