29 June 2016 | Star Wars: Armada

The Liberty

A Preview of the Liberty Expansion Pack for Star Wars™: Armada

Your chance has come to win a complete, 400-point fleet for Star Wars™: Armada!

Our Star Wars: Armada Fleet Commander Contest is now open for submissions and will remain open through Tuesday, July 5th at 10:00 AM Central. As outlined in our announcement of the contest, this special Wave III and Wave IV promotion challenges you to make excellent strategic and creative use of the new flotillas and larger ships. Impress the game's developers with your list, and you will win the Wave III and Wave IV ships. If you can also provide the developer running your list with a winning edge, you stand to win a copy of the Core Set, the Wave III and Wave IV expansions, and every other expansion necessary to build your fleet!

In fact, there is only one last thing standing between you and your chance at glory… You need information about the Liberty Expansion Pack. So here it is.

Fit for Battles Among the Stars

Whether outfitted as an MC80 Battle Cruiser or an MC80 Star Cruiser , your Liberty is a forward-facing, Rebel beast of war. This is a remarkable fact certain to be noticed by longtime Rebel admirals, and it leads directly toward a new Rebel play style.

Apart from the Nebulon-B frigate, the Rebel Alliance's ships have historically fought best while racing around the periphery of the battlefield and firing from their sides. This owes largely to the prominence of the Assault Frigate Mark II during the Wave I days, and it has only been reinforced by the addition of the Home One and Admiral Ackbar.

Right from the game's release, the Rebels have had to try to fly around their Imperial opponents lest they find themselves obliterated in coordinated barrages of retaliatory laser blasts. Neither the Nebulon-B frigate nor the CR-90 Corellian corvette could afford to fly straight at a Victory-class Star Destroyer. One good shot from the Star Destroyer's forward hull zone could simply cripple the Nebulon-B or outright destroy the corvette.

This led the Rebellion toward flanking strategies. Rebel admirals would start with ships at either side of the battlefield and hope to draw the Imperial ships in toward one cluster of ships, sending the other around to chase after the Star Destroyer's much less intimidating rear hull arc. If the Rebel admiral was particularly lucky or skilled, he might even find some way to save the ships that were utilized as bait.

In a typical strategy, the Rebel player splits his fleet so that he can get some of his ships into position behind the Empire's Star Destroyers.

The Assault Frigate Mark II and Home One added more shields and attack dice, but they still played more or less into this strategy. Both of these ships feature their strongest attacks on their left and right hull zones.

With its focus on black dice, the MC30c functions best in close range, but even this odd duck of the Rebel fleet functions best when on a course to fly around the enemy. Like the Assault Frigate Mark II and Home One, its strongest attacks are from its left and right hull zones.

What the introduction of the Liberty adds to the Rebel fleet, then, is a true forward-facing threat. This is the Rebel ship that the Imperials do not want to see headed straight toward them. It features seven attack dice from its front hull zone, which it pairs with five forward shields, two brace tokens, and a redirect. It can both dish out a beating and take one. When you anchor your fleet with the Liberty, you can still send your other ships around his flank, much like you would with earlier Rebel fleets, but because you add a forward-facing threat, your opponent can no longer choose to ignore your "bait." If left ignored, that bait is going to blast some holes through some hulls.

Again, the Rebel player splits his fleet in order to get ships into position behind the Empire's Star Destroyers. However, the extra threat presented by the Liberty almost guarantees that the Imperial player must turn to face it, thereby offering greater assurance to the Assault Frigate Mark II and CR90 Corellian corvette.

Alternatively, the Liberty may even allow the more creative Rebel admirals to meet Imperial fleets head-on and defeat them. For starters, you might flank it with a pair of Nebulon-B frigates. You might not expect your frigates to last more than a couple of rounds on their own in such head-to-head battles, but the Liberty forces your opponent to reprioritize his shots. If he ignores the Liberty, it will punish him. If he focuses on the Liberty, your Nebulon-B frigates remain in the fight and keep firing.

Where Is the Rebel Edge?

At this point, the skeptic may wonder how the Liberty could possibly allow the Rebels to stand toe-to-toe with an Imperial fleet. After all, the Imperial-class Star Destroyer features an additional attack die in its forward hull zone, and the Victory-class Star Destroyer only features one fewer die, at a reduction of as many as thirty fleet points.

Well, the first consideration is going to be the range of those dice. The Victory I-class Star Destroyer features six forward attack dice, but only three can fire at long or medium range. Once you bump yourself up to the Victory II and its six medium range dice—three red and three blue—you have also raised the ship's fleet point cost by twelve points, now only eleven below the cheaper MC80 Star Cruiser. And for those eleven points, you get two more shields on your front hull zone.

So what happens when you compare the Liberty to the Imperial-class Star Destroyer, then? For 120 fleet points, the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer can rain death with eight dice at medium range. As the MC80 Star Cruiser was only eleven points more expensive than the Victory II, the Imperial II is only seventeen points more expensive than the MC80 Battle Cruiser. And that is on a side of the Galactic Civil War that features such commanders as Darth Vader,   Admiral Screed,  and Grand Moff Tarkin.

Here, the answer is upgrades and squadrons. In Armada, you are always balancing the fleet points you invest in ships against the fleet points you invest in support for those ships. And the Rebels feature some of the best support in the game. Luke Skywalker,   Han Solo,  and a pair of B-wing Squadrons are not threats to be dismissed lightly. Nor are your Spinal Armament,   Quad Turbolaser Cannons,  or High-Capacity Ion Turbines.  Utilizing the right upgrades with the right ships is crucial, and the three different Title upgrades in the Liberty Expansion Pack reinforce this idea.

The Endeavor Title grants your MC80 a contain token and plays well with your ship when you intend to launch it into the thick of a protracted firefight. Given that this is a highly likely outcome for any list featuring an MC80 Battle Cruiser or MC80 Star Cruiser, you should expect to see a good number of appearances by the point-efficient Endeavor Title when Wave IV releases.

On the other hand, if you think you can reduce the length of the firefight by blasting right through your enemy's ships, you may lean toward the Mon Karren Title, which prevents your target from spending more than one defense token. Here, the Mon Karren presents a direct counter to the common brace-and-redirect tactic, even before you roll a single point of accuracy, and the fact that your Mon Karren Title reduces your need for accuracy results means that you can use your rerolls and upgrades to increase your raw damage, reassured by the knowledge that it's going to hit… hard.

Finally, the Liberty Title allows you to coordinate your squadrons more efficiently, taking advantage of the fact that your MC80 is bound to be in the thick of combat, serving the Rebel Alliance from positions that may be too dangerous for your smaller ships to approach. For example, the flotilla of Rebel transports you added to your fleet in order to coordinate your bombers may not be able to survive anywhere near the Imperial-class Star Destroyer that your bombers have engaged. Here, for just three fleet points, the Liberty Title allows you to activate up to two of those bombers without ever assigning a squadron command to your dial. Just use Garm Bel Iblis,   Leia Organa,  the Tantive IV,  or a Comms Net to assign a squadron token to your Liberty, and the Title doubles its value.

Clever Command

Not only will your Rebels need to make excellent use of their squadrons and upgrades in order to get the better of Imperial fleets, but they will also need to follow a carefully scripted battle plan—one that can bend, and not break, in the heat of an engagement. And the development of such a detailed and flexible plan demands a clever commander.

The Liberty Expansion Pack introduces such a commander in the form of General Madine.  His ability grants your ships extra maneuverability whenever they resolve navigation commands. When one of your ships resolves its navigation command from the dial, Madine allows it to increase one additional yaw value by one. When a ship resolves its navigation command from a token, Madine allows it to choose to adjust its speed or increase one yaw value by one. Madine's ability may appear, at first, to be yet another part of the Rebel flanking strategy—and it can be. But it also allows you to keep your Liberty on course for head-on combat.

If your Liberty is clearly going to win a head-on confrontation with one of your opponent's ships, your opponent is unlikely to aim that ship at the Liberty. Instead, your opponent may attempt the same sort of flanking strategies that the Rebels have long employed.

Given the massive threat that the Liberty represents, the Imperial player may borrow a page from the Rebel playbook and aim for the flank.

This, however, is where Madine and his extra maneuverability come into play. His ability allows you to adjust your yaw by as many as three clicks when you reveal a navigation command from the dial, and that sort of turning power may catch your opponent unaware… and squarely in range of your full forward battery armament.

When the Imperial player threatens to flank the Liberty, the Rebel player normally has to think far in advance, given the ship's limited maneuverability.

With Madine as your commander, however, you can gain as many as three clicks on the maneuver tool when you resolve Navigation commands from both a dial and a token. Timed correctly, this can get your Liberty into position to trap the opponents trying to flank you.

Meanwhile, a ship the size of the Liberty needs far more than just a commander to operate, and the Liberty Expansion Pack also introduces a handful of new officers and teams to help crew your MC80.

The Chart Officer plays into the expansion's theme of direct confrontation, allowing you to plow through asteroids and other obstacles without worry. With the Chart Officer aboard, asteroids will not concern you; you can race straight at your opponent's ship, wherever it tries to hide.

If you have ever wished you had assigned your engineering or navigation command just one dial sooner, the Skilled First Officer may be a tremendous bargain for you. He provides less flexibility than the Support Officer, but he also costs three points fewer. That may not seem like a big deal when you have 400 points to spend, but those three points may prove the difference between seizing the initiative as the first player or going second. Alternatively, they may prove the difference between flying an unnamed MC80 or the heading to battle aboard the Liberty.

A Medical Team can grant you relative immunity to nearly one-third of the critical hits you might suffer. Sixteen of the fifty-two damage cards bear the crew trait, meaning they can not only be ignored by your Medical Team, but completely discarded. When you consider how crippling it can be to suffer a Compartment Fire or total Life Support Failure, the Medical Team is a terrific bargain, especially considering it costs you only a single fleet point.

Finally, the Liberty Expansion Pack offers two more aggressive teams, in the form of the Veteran Gunners and Fire-Control Team. . While both increase your odds of crippling your opponent, they do so in different ways. On the one hand, the Veteran Gunners works against weak dice by allowing you to reroll below average results. On the other hand, the Fire-Control Team allows you to get the most from good dice results, kicking your opponent when he is already down by granting you the ability to resolve multiple critical effects.

Even though your Fire-Control Team will not allow you to resolve the same critical effect twice, you can potentially force an opponent to suffer as many as three faceup damage cards by equipping a Fire-Control Team on the same ship as your XX-9 Turbolasers.  It can take as many as fourteen damage to destroy an Imperial-class Star Destroyer supported by Admiral Motti,  but it may take only one good shot to leave it limping ineffectually in space.

Assemble Your Fleet!

You now have access to all the new information from all four Wave III and Wave IV expansion packs, so it's time to assemble and submit your fleet as part of our Star Wars: Armada Fleet Commander contest!

Be sure to review what the developers shared about their preferences in our announcement of the contest, and take some time to prepare a clear and concise strategy for how your fleet should fly. All submissions for the Star Wars: Armada Fleet Commander contest are due by Tuesday, July 5th at 10:00 AM Central.

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