Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mailbox/Q&A Post #1

I received some questions from someone going by firedogee on the Armada reddit forum that I'd be happy to answer. If anyone has any shorter questions, we'll be collecting them and responding on occasion and grouping them into a mailbox/Q&A index (off on the right, so many indices!). The question was:

any chance you can cover "worst case scenarios" that new players find themselves in such as: 1) all of my command dials are set to engineering yet all my ships are about to fly off the play area, 2) I have all bomber squadrons and they keep getting swarmed, 3) at setup my ships are setup too wide and now some of my ships don't get involved in the action, 4) My ships keep running into stuff (or each other), 5) I always seem to end up in the front arcs of ISDs (or side arcs of MC80/MC30), 6) I have no idea how to choose upgrades or objectives based on the commander I want to use, 7) Why can't I just ram my opponent into submission?

I'll do my best to answer those in order, but don't be surprised to find longer answers to these in their own articles in the future.


1) all of my command dials are set to engineering yet all my ships are about to fly off the play area
It's very important to prioritize getting navigate tokens on your ships whenever possible. My default first turn command is to have the whole fleet issue navigate commands usually for the tokens. When you have nothing better to do, navigate. Always. Being able to change your speed can be extremely useful in Armada and it allows you to avoid nasty enemy arcs or stay out of closer attack ranges, avoid flying off the table edge, line up your own attacks better, etc.

I'll also note that I frequently see newer players set their starting speeds too high. Without ample navigation command assistance, these ships usually get 1 to 2 turns of actually affecting the game followed by lots of "oh god I'm about to fly off the table" disaster prevention.

Assuming you're mid-game and it's too late for all that, your best options are inside turning and using your own ships as a speed brake.
Inside turning: you can, by leaving the last joint or two of your maneuver tool straight (only one joint required for small ships, you'll need two for medium and large ships), keep your ship movement on the inside of the maneuver tool, as your ship won't overlap the tool itself (it will sit comfortably inside of it). This can allow you to make a sharper turn than you'd think provided you can get some clicks on the first joint to angle it away from where you don't want to go.

Speed braking: Park ships in front of your about-to-move-disastrously ship. Overlap your own ship. The damage cards dealt to the overlapping ships are not great, but flying off the table is worse.

2) I have all bomber squadrons and they keep getting swarmed
I know John is going to be writing up an article on the functional pieces of/building a squadron component focused around bombers, so this will be answered in more detail eventually. For now, my shorter answer is that you need Intel squadrons and/or fighters of your own. I've seen people bring nothing but bombers for their squadrons and the result is always very sad as they get tied down by fighters and torn to pieces.

Intel squadrons let your bombers do their jobs by making enemy fighters Heavy. Your bombers can move right on past them and can attack ships even while engaged by fighters.

Your own fighters are a more permanent solution to this problem by simply wiping out enemy fighters. Intel squadrons cannot be everywhere and sooner or later they will usually be destroyed; eliminating the enemy fighters will give you a lot more freedom to bomb into the later game.

3) at setup my ships are setup too wide and now some of my ships don't get involved in the action
The snide answer is "don't do that." You want your ships close enough to one another to provide support. In general I like each ship to be at least at medium range of another one of my ships when I deploy them, often times closer (this will depend on your fleet, though).

If you set up a ship way too far away from the action, that ship needs to do nothing but navigate to crank up its speed and improve its turning so it can get into the fight as rapidly as possible. It may be worth slowing down the rest of your fleet (but not to speed 0!) to wait for it to catch up. No need to rush into battle with only part of your fleet!

4) My ships keep running into stuff (or each other)
Once again, navigate commands and tokens are your savior here. They can prevent a lot of problems.

It also helps to kind of eyeball obstacles early on and envision your first two-ish turns of movement. The better you can envision what your situation will be next turn, the less of a problem this will be (but it will never completely disappear, I still occasionally collide with things I would really rather not when circumstances get a bit crazy).

I would strongly recommend not deploying ships extremely close to one another (as in dials nearly touching) as it means as soon as one of them turns, it can start causing serious issues with fitting the others in. Similarly, I absolutely do not recommend deploying ships closely behind other ships unless you have a very good plan. That kind of setup is prone to disaster when/if the lead ship gets stuck on something (often an enemy ship) and a big pileup starts to occur.

It's not uncommon to collide with enemy ships if both of you are attacking each other with forward-facing ships (say, a VSD vs. a Nebulon-B), as your desired attack trajectory and your movement trajectories are very similar. When this kind of situation is about to occur, you need to strongly consider who is going to get the better of it and if it is not you (the Nebulon-B in this example), you need to take steps (navigate!) to avoid that.

5) I always seem to end up in the front arcs of ISDs (or side arcs of MC80/MC30)
It's important to remember that you can always premeasure using the range/distance ruler whenever you want and from whatever you want. You can always check the range on an enemy ship's nastiest arcs and then when it's time to maneuver, do your utmost to minimize the pain you're about to experience. Stay at long range of that ISD-Is front arc and you'll be fine, but get into close range and you're going to have a bad time.

Otherwise, it's very important to keep which arcs are best in mind and do your best to minimize the advantage they provide to your opponent. This is another area where navigate tokens and commands (noticing a trend yet? haha) are very helpful, as you can slow down or speed up to avoid those arcs by getting into the sides of an ISD or getting into the front of an Home One style MC80.

Another important thing to consider is activation order, which is a huge topic of its own that we'll get to sooner or later. Do your best to not help the enemy big bruiser by activating and then flying into its kill zone. Ideally it will need to activate first, will do some attacks at sub-optimal range, then fly into your more effective range where you can attack it and then scoot away.

6) I have no idea how to choose upgrades or objectives based on the commander I want to use
This is a huge topic that we'll be covering sooner or later when we do objective reviews and some kind of Armada 201 overall fleet building articles. The best short answer I can give is you need to keep your commander's ability in mind at all times to try to make that big expense (often the highest non-ship cost in your whole fleet) worth it. Admiral Screed wants upgrades that trigger on crits, for example. General Dodonna wants objectives and upgrades (like Assault Proton Torpedoes) that reward him for doing face up damage cards or provide means to get those. He also loves bombers for that reason.

I'm afraid that will need to do for now, but this is a very big concept when it comes to building your fleet and choosing objectives in Armada and we'll be covering it in the future.

7) Why can't I just ram my opponent into submission?
You can, actually 😀!  Using overlapping to get some extra damage into enemy ships is an absolutely legitimate tactic and it's particularly effective against flotillas, as they don't damage you back (unless you're also a flotilla). As a primary strategy it's generally not great but as a way to get that one extra damage you need to finish off a ship I absolutely recommend it.