30 September 2015 | Star Wars: Armada

A Few Surprises

A Preview of the Rogues and Villains Expansion Pack for Star Wars™: Armada

"This baby's got a few surprises left in her."
     –Han Solo

Over the last few weeks, we've examined the new starships and upgrades coming in the second wave of expansions for Star Wars™: Armada, and we've explored some of the ways that they're likely to change the nature of your Star Wars fleet battles.

  • We started with closer looks at the game's first large ships, the Empire's Imperial-class Star Destroyer and the Rebellion's MC80 star cruiser, and we discussed some of the possible ways you can take advantage of their tremendous firepower and resilience.
  • We then revealed a good portion of the Imperial Raider Expansion Pack, including the Impetuous and Instigator titles, and we ventured a guess at how this unique Imperial starship could play a valuable role, filling in the gap between the Empire's starfigher squadrons and its larger Star Destroyers.
  • Finally, last week, we looked at the two different designs of the Mon Calamari MC30c frigate and the different roles they might play within your Rebel fleet.

Now, as we look forward to getting these ships into players' hands for the first time this weekend at The Massing at Sullust, we turn our attention to the final Wave II expansion pack, the Rogues and Villains Expansion Pack, which introduces eight new squadrons that represent some of the Star Wars galaxy's most noble-hearted scoundrels and ruthless criminals. And as you might expect of these fringe-dwellers and rulebreakers, they introduce all-new Rogue tactics to your Armada battles.

Rogues

Star Wars: Armada is a game of massive, intergalactic space warfare. You assume the role of either fleet admiral, assemble your fleet, and engage your opponents in strategic battles, the outcomes of which may help shape the course of the Galactic Civil War and the fate of the galaxy. That means, among other things, that you want your fleet to remain orderly and reliable. There are chains of command that must be followed. You assign orders to the ships in your fleet, and their commanders and crew must then carry out those orders.

Starfighter squadrons, meanwhile, are invaluable tools, but as fleet admiral, you can't be bothered to communicate with every pilot in every fighter. Instead, you leave it to your ship commanders to assign orders to those squadrons at the appropriate times; whenever you want the most from your squadrons, you need your ship to reveal a squadron command within medium range of the squadron or squadrons you want to activate. At those times, they can both move and attack. Otherwise, your squadrons need to wait for the squadron phase and are limited to either moving or attacking; on their own, they can't do both.

That is, most squadrons can't do both. The Rogues and Villains Expansion Pack, however, introduces squadrons with the Rogue keyword, and these squadrons can both move and attack during the squadron phase, as though they had been activated by the squadron command. Accordingly, these Rogue squadrons, like Dash Rendar in his Outrider, effectively carve out a unique space within the game – fitting into the gap between your capital ships and your standard starfighter squadron.

To be clear, these Rogue squadrons are still bound by all the standard squadron rules, except for those that their keywords overwrite. They can still engage enemy squadrons and be engaged. They are still limited to combat at distance "1." They can still only attack once per round, they can fire in a 360-degree arc, and they only score damage against ships when they roll , unless they have the Bomber keyword.

However, because a Rogue smuggler like Dash Rendar doesn't need to be ordered around the battlefield in the same way as a Y-wing Squadron , you can use him to pursue new strategies and tactics. For starters, you don't need to worry about whether or not he's in range to receive his next squadron command. That frees you to pursue different tactics for your ships, even as you rely upon your Rogue squadrons to establish fighter superiority or contribute extra damage against enemy ships.

In fact, Rogue squadrons like the Firespray-31 or Boba Fett excel at damaging enemy ships, and the damage potential that they add to your fleet is only bolstered by the fact that they don't require you to build your fleet around your ships' squadron values and calculate the best timing for your squadron commands. Accordingly, even though their total hull points and speed would weigh in a little short versus a wing of TIE Bomber Squadrons , a wing of four or five Firespray-31s could pose a terrifying threat to any Rebel ship.

With his Rogue keyword and unique ability, Boba Fett can damage an enemy ship before activating himself in the squadron phase to engage and perform an attack against an enemy bomber wing.

Such threats only serve to highlight the importance of your fighter squadrons, and they give the Rebellion all the more reason to counter enemy fighters with their own Rogue ace, Han Solo. Aboard his Millennium Falcon, Han Solo boasts the Rogue keyword, as well as the new Grit keyword. Not only can he activate on his own each squadron phase, but he can fly away from engagements, so long as he's not engaged by more than a single squadron. That means that even if your opponent sends two squadrons to engage the Falcon, hoping to keep him from a wing of TIE Bomber Squadrons, Han Solo can still blast through one of those squadrons, ignore the other, and move to engage the bombers.

With his Rogue and Grit keywords Han Solo and his Millennium Falcon can lend your fleet an immediate edge in your squadron battles. Here, we see how easily Han can destroy one squadron, ignore another with Grit, and move to engage an enemy bomber wing, luring their fire away from your capital ships!

Finally, although Han Solo's unique ability may seem redundant when he already has the Rogue keyword, it's worth noting that the combination of the two gives Han Solo a tremendous measure of flexbility to act on his own. He can act first in the ship phase, activating to move and attack, before your opponent has a chance to activate a single ship, even if he has the initiative. In this way, with his four anti-squadron dice, Han's likely to take out enemy fighters long before they threaten your other ships or squadrons. In fact, the only way another vessel can activate before Han is if your opponent is running another Rebel fleet that utilizes Han, and he has the initiative. Alternatively, Han Solo can wait until the squadron phase to activate, allowing enemy ships and squadrons to move into range before he launches his attack. It all depends on what he deems is the largest threat, and because he has the Rogue keyword, he can respond to it immediately.

Villains

You'll find more than just Rogue squadrons in the Rogues and Villains Expansion Pack; you'll find plenty of villains, and more than just Boba Fett. The expansion's four Imperial squadrons account for the majority of the bounty hunters that Darth Vader called onto the deck of the Executor and ordered to hunt for Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon.

IG-88 enters Armada with a unique ability befitting his identity as an Assassin Droid. He can ignore the Escort and Counter keywords on enemy squadrons. This means that if he wants to eliminate a squadron, he doesn't have to bother with any other squadrons that might be flying as its Escorts, and he won't have to worry about that ship firing back at him with the Counter ability. Instead, he can just focus on blasting it with his lasers, and if enemy ships fire at him, he can process that response, as well, returning fire with his Counter 2 ability. Finally, IG-88 has the Rogue keyword so that he can hunt his prey through the stars, wherever they go, even if their travels take them far from the Empire's capital ships.

Meanwhile, the relentless Trandoshan bounty hunter Bossk also arrives to Armada in the Rogues and Villains Expansion Pack, and he heads to battle in his Hound's Tooth, a custom YV-666 squadron with four black anti-squadron dice, an anti-ship battery of one blue die and one black die, and seven hull points. In his Hound's Tooth, Bossk can both dish out and survive a beating, whether he's battling another squadron or a starship. Furthermore, his Grit keyword allows him to ignore lesser opponents who would keep him from his prey, and if he suffers any damage, he only becomes more lethally single-minded in his efforts. If he ever has fewer than six hull points remaining, Bossk adds a blue die to his attack total, permanently set to yield an accuracy result.

Finally, Imperial admirals looking to get the most of these new Rogue squadrons might consider partnering with Dengar , who doesn't boast the Rogue keyword himself, but instead features an array of valuable support abilities. First of all, with his Intel keyword, Dengar can assign the Heavy keyword to enemy squadrons within distance "1" so that those squadrons won't prevent your other fighters from flying straight toward their intended target. This also makes him an excellent addition to any bomber wing, as does his ability to grant the Counter ability to friendly ships within distance "1-2." With Dengar in their midst, your TIE Bomber Squadrons can better stand up to an enemy fighter screen, and a squadron that already has the Counter keyword, like IG-88, becomes even more lethal.

Dengar's Punishing One might not boast the stats of Boba Fett's Slave I or Han Solo's Millennium Falcon, but his inclusion in your fleet opens up a wide range of tactical possibilities. Here, by flying into position at Distance "1" of both Rebel squadrons, Dengar can give them both the Heavy keyword and free the Imperial bomber wing to move and fire against the Rebellion's MC30c frigate.

Catch Your Foes by Surprise

The Rogues and Villains Expansion Pack comes with eight miniature squadrons, four for the Rebellion and four for the Empire, all of which can be fielded as unique or non-unique squadrons. Taken all together, these irregular squadrons introduce a whole new arsenal of tricks, keywords, abilities, and possibilities, and learning how best to make use of them will play an important part in your future Armada fleet battles.

How will you make use of these new squadrons? Will you treat Rogue squadrons almost as though they were lesser ships? Will you rely on squadrons with the Intel keyword, like Dengar and Jan Ors , to see that your bomber wing delivers its payload on target? Or will you call upon only a few new squadrons like IG-88 and the YT-1300 to ensure the superiority of your fighter wing?

There's no better time than now to discuss your new takes on the game's squadron tactics. The Massing at Sullust is this weekend, and we'll see the first of these squadrons in action. Until then, head to our community forums to share your thoughts and learn how others plan to use the eight irregular squadrons from the Rogues and Villains Expansion Pack!

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