CADETS! FALL IN!
Today we will discuss fleet building. With our latest reinforcements we can increase and bolster our fleets even more (to 400pts). These will be some of the general concepts behind building a well balanced fleet as well as some of the ways we can skew to risk it all in the name of victory.
First we will start with some general themes or ideas when it comes to fleet builds. A balanced fleet is one that has a good element of Ships, Squadrons, maneuverability, fire power, and durability. You do not focus on any one specialty and in general will have an answer for every question your opponent my present. The skew fleet is the opposite of balance. It generally focuses on one thing and attempts to do it very well. Often skew fleets in armada can do a few things at the same time to make them that much harder to deal with. Things like the VSD + 3xGSD is a ship, and firepower skew. The fleet being all ships, and the Gladiators natural firepower output with Assault Concussion Missiles makes it a skew. There is no squadron support. Another skew was the 5-6 C90 Vette spam with Mon Mothma. It is another ship skew with maneuverability and survive-ability due to Mon Mothma. These are just some examples and we will discuss how to build a skew later in the lesson. In general a well balanced fleet managed by a good Admiral will win out most of the time. The skew fleet asks some serious questions and if your opponent didn’t bring the answer or doesn’t figure it out in time you will win. Armada is a bit different than other games, but in my WM/H experiences the skew lists may get you through the first couple of rounds, but the well balanced lists win you events. Skews can require less critical thought since they are asking the question not trying to answer it and its why they are typically played more. They also stomp newer players initially as they don’t have the knowledge or depth of the game to beat it the first few times they face it.
Lets start with a balanced fleets. Things balanced lists are looking at are answers for known questions like the aforementioned skew fleets and also how to excel at all stages or phases of the game. I personally start with my squadron load out first. How deep do I want to go on points? How many do I want? My first wave 2 list I want to try has 10 squadrons. Why 10 you may ask? Simple! The 2 carriers will be ISDs with a squadron value of 4. So that covers 8 squadrons. Then the other 2 will be Firesprays who have the Rogue ability (letting them move and shoot in the same activation). This means every squadron I have acts as if they received the Activate Squadrons Command. Now what I spent on Firesprays keeps me under the 1/3 fleet cost restrictions but also means I do not have to take Expanded Hangar Bays saving me points and upgrade slots. Now, since I wont need Expanded Hangar Bays and Boosted Comms, I was able to upgrade to ISD2s for longer range batteries. So I have built my squadrons and used a few other things to decide how to approach my ships. I want to run 2 ISDs, and I feel like I need boosted Comms. Now fleet building is trial and error and takes a lot of point crunching to get it just right. I mention how the number 10 saves me on offensive retrofit upgrades but also means that I don’t have to take Tarkin as my admiral either. Now in that list I would take Motti. This leads to the next step, Admiral selection.
Admiral selection doesn’t always have to be locked in first, but you should have a firm understanding what they can do and what that means for your fleet. In the above mentioned list, I need my squadrons to do work. Also, its a 2 ship build and while yes those ships are the pinnacle of Imperial Might, they still have their limits. Now I could take Tarkin. He gives out a command token each turn to both ships, he lets me activate all 10 of my squadrons. What happens when they start to die? He sort of becomes redundant and being the most expensive Admiral in the Imperial Navy I will have take him out of selection. Now Ozzel can do some nifty things with maneuverability. Vader and Screed both augment the offensive firepower of my ships. While I have 10 stands for squadrons some would think that this puts my list as a squadron skew. They may be correct. Lets pretend that this is the norm and with the new Rogues and Villains it very well could become the norm. With so many squadrons being depending on my Carriers issuing orders, then the most logical and cost effective choice for my Admiral is Motti. Giving the ISDs 3 extra Hull Points could be the difference between losing a ship, or getting 1 more activation of squadrons and also itself giving it a chance to neutralize the threat to it. In the late game, in round 4-5 when the Fleets are fully engaged, losing a carrier is bad enough at that stage of the game, but losing it without also crippling an enemy ship for an easy clean up is worse. Motti may just give me that extra activation I need to survive that late game, last ditch effort, by my opponent and then counter and secure victory.
Now that I have my basic ships, my squadrons and my Admiral selected I go and look at the last of my points. What will synergize well? Lets see. Boosted Comms seem like a must. In my squadrons I am running TIES, Firesprays, Howlrunner, and Rhymer. Extending that threat range as far as I can is paramount to my battle plan. Not having many points left I now finalize the squadron skew with adding Flight Controllers to both Carriers. This shifts my Fleets focus into winning the squadron stages of the game and then using this advantage later in the game with Rhymer to enable ship kills. The fleet still has good maneuverability, good durability, good firepower, and squadrons so it still feels like a balanced fleet with an emphasis on squadrons. Though most would consider it a skew.
The last thing to consider is the objectives. We talked about those a few weeks back. You need to pick objectives that are conducive to what your fleet does. Once you pick your objectives really study them and think about how you will deploy and play those objectives should they be selected. Then go back and revisit your fleet. Is you fleet capable in all of these objectives? Does your fleet take full advantage of all your objectives? If not, how can you adjust your fleet to do so? Is there a better objective you should be taking?
Skew fleets are a bit more straight forward to build. Pick an ability and exploit it. Ackbar with Assault Frigates and Enhanced Armaments means you will have some nasty broadsides all game. So take Ackbar and subtract his points from the total. Now add up an Assault Frigate with Enhanced Armaments and divide the total points remain by that number. You can take 4 (guessing) Assault Frigates in this instance. Now you can use any left over points you have to maybe give Ackbar’s ship a defensive retrofit. Give out some officers to enable on the fly command dial adjustments and better fleet reaction. Follow the normal steps for objective selection and your good. This is the same for Mon Mothma and C90s, Motti and 3 ISDs or Ozzel and all his Raiders. These lists focus on abusing certain things like maneuverability (Ozzel/ Mothma), or survive-ability (Motti/Mothma), or fire power (Ackbar/Vader/Screed). Typically they are heavily influenced by your Admiral’s ability and look to fully exploit it. They are good lists but skew lists often can have a glaring weakness. Notice the above mentioned do not have squadrons? This can be there downfall. With the point increase however, one has to wonder is their a way to skew the ship portion of your fleet while still taking squadrons, and is that marriage of balance and skew the truly superior list. Only time will tell.
Fleet building is like a circle. You start at one point and then go through various steps that will lead you back to where you started. The best thing you can do is run a few laps on the circle. Fine tuning upgrades, adjusting objectives and just making sure you like all the choices you made. Here is a pretty solid exercise I like to do when it comes to the majority of fleet and list building in all the games I play. I make a Fleet/List and then wait one day or two. Then I look at it again. Do I still like my choices? Maybe I got to play it once or twice, how did each piece perform? Were there any unnecessary redundancies? Then reevaluate my list. After clearing your head you may take a look at your Fleet and realize an upgrade or 2 may not be the best thing in most cases.
This concludes our Fleet building Lesson. I hope it gave you all something to really think about, and more importantly something to do other than hang out on social media when you have a doosey of a twosey brewing.
CADETS! FALL OUT!
ps. If you noticed, the list I built in the balance section is sort of a Motti hull point skew with squadrons to try and balance it out. Other things like Tarkin’s pocket carriers with Raiders and 2-3 squadrons per have been mentioned. These are skew lists in their own right but take the extra 100pts that wave 2 affords you and lets you add squadrons to help balance out your list. This may be the way to go when it comes to list building. I have to think about it more and watch the FFG forums for a discussion on this topic.