Tabletop Tuesday – Star Wars Armada

Copyright Fantasy Flight Games
Copyright Fantasy Flight Games

Through our Rogue Squadron series, d20 Radio has taken a good look at flying miniatures star fighters. But what about Fantasy Flight Games other miniature Star Wars space combat game? Today we’re going to take a quick look at Star Wars: Armada.

So what’s the difference between Armada and X-Wing? Both involve flying Star Wars space ships after all. Both involve dice. And both are made by Fantasy Flight Games.

On the surface level, the biggest difference is in scale. Armada is about capitalship fleet combat where X-wing is about small fighter combat. In Armada you take command of a fleet of big ships and squadrons starfighters that support them, where as in X-wing you are commanding a small number of individual fighter craft.

Related to the scale is also the price. The core set of X-wing is an affordable $40 while the core set for Armada is a daunting $100. This is entirely related to the scale of the models. The two TIE fighters and one X-wing you get from the X-wing game are a tiny fraction the size of the Victory class Star Destroyer you get in Armada, and there are two other ships and several fighter squadrons included as well.

Expansion packs are also similarly more expensive. Most X-wing expansions cost $15 with the big ships usually costing $30. For Armada the smaller ships and the fighter packs cost $20 and the big ships cost $30 or $40. It is unknown what the large ships coming Wave II (Imperial Star Destroyer and Mon Calamari cruiser) will cost but $50-60 would not be unexpected.

To summarize the difference in game play simply, I would say X-Wing is a Tactical game whereas Armada is a Strategic game. In X-wing, you build a squad with a specific strategy in mind but in the end, the games are won or lost based on how you move your ships and respond to your opponent more than anything. Positioning and turn by turn tactics decide the winner.

For those familiar with X-wing, this difference in play is revealed best in some of the game’s mechanics. In X-wing, everyone moves, then everyone shoots. In Armada, each ship takes it’s complete turn in sequence. And they shoot before moving. This is where a lot of the strategy comes in. You need to move on one turn so you are in a position to fire next turn. And because the order of what ships move when can change, you have to take into account who is going to get fired on and balance that with other objectives when deciding your turn order.

The other biggest immediate difference in game play is that there are no defense dice. You roll attack dice and ships have some defense abilities but these are limited. If a ship is taking fire from several sources, it will run out of defense tokens. Then it’s just eating any damage. Unlike X-wing where you throw attack dice, which could be awesome or whiff, your opponent then does the same. This can cause games to sometimes feel very much like a dice game, which can be less than satisfying. With Armada, you still are throwing dice but only one set and your best defense is your strategy.

Finally, with Armada, much more of the game comes down to having a strategy in mind when building your fleet and in how you try and achieve the objective for the game. Instead of the timed slugfest that X-wing often is, Armada is played in only 6 rounds and has objectives other than to just kill your opponent (though that certainly is always a big component). Denying your opponent objectives can be more important than destroying his ships.

So, should you get Armada? That, of course, depends. Budget is always a concern. Getting a full fleet of Armada ships will cost more than X-wing certainly. But you are getting more ship for your money. If you like more strategic games over tactical, than Armada would probably be the game for you.

For me personally, I like the strategic aspect but have already sunk a lot of money into X-wing and still enjoy it. I don’t have the time or budget to invest into both so Armada is only getting modest play. Certainly, once Wave II comes out I’ll be getting an Imperial Star Destroyer and a Mon Calamari cruiser just because they look awesome.

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Wayne Basta

Wayne Basta

Editor-in-Chief at d20 Radio
Wayne is the managing editor of d20 Radio's Gaming Blog. He also occasionally writes books.
Wayne Basta

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