Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Gear up for battle: Armada peripherals for the player looking to upgrade their game and storage

Okay so you are getting familiar with Armada but you're still carrying your stuff around in the core set box and and you figure it's time to upgrade your game components and storage. Well I'm here for you! Welcome to my armory...

I'm pretty sure at least one of these launches Nerf balls.

So what I'm going to do is lead you through all my stuff. I'll explain what it is and why I own it and why by extension maybe you should too. You'll even get a look at the carpet in my den (fancy fancy)! This article is going to be a lot more pictures and a lot less writing for me than usual.

Let's start with my carrying case.

Chibi Eagle Ordinary Junior Commissar sticker not included.
Fancy! One of the compartments can hold your speed and command dials!
The other can hold your damage cards and other small play aids.
The big toolbox portion can hold your larger ships. Here we see a triangular traffic jam.
The first of the two click-on organizer sections holds small ships very well.
The second holds a mess of squadrons!
This toolbox of wonder is the Stanley Click 'N Connect and you can get the base toolbox and one clip-on organizer at your local hardware store or on Amazon for about $25 to $30 nowadays (occasionally more when supplies are tight, look around for a good deal). It holds a ton of Armada minis (as you can see) and you can buy another organizer for around $10 or so. It's a great deal for storage and transportation and it's much cheaper than buying a foam bag. Lots of folks around me use this method and we all love it.

Hiding underneath my speed dials is my cherished laser line pen.

Small but powerful!
Cat on the right side included to prove this is in fact a laser pen and it will attract felines.
Okay so first of all my wife and I are still gradually sorting away things after moving into the new house so forgive the mess there. I wanted to demonstrate how extremely powerful that laser line is and you can clearly see a a strong laser line across 20+ feet of straight room so it's easily visible even on mostly-black starfield mats. Said super laser pen is the kind-of-expensive Broken Egg Games Straight Line Pro Laser. When the moon is in the Seventh House of Ra and Dread Cthulhu stirs in his slumber at R'lyeh they become available on the Broken Egg Games site for $27 but they're usually out of stock so I recommend keeping an eye on that page and/or emailing Broken Egg to see when they'll be in stock as they go very fast when they are back in stock! They're slightly larger than a ballpoint pen and you can replace their batteries by just unscrewing the cap and putting in two new AAA batteries and then screwing the cap back on. Easily the best laser line pen on the market.

If you don't want to wait for that pen to become available or you'd rather not spend nearly $30 on a funny laser pen, the Army Painter Target Lock laser line pen is less powerful and less reliable but much less expensive at around $6-$8 and it's 100% better than no laser line pen at all.

I highly recommend owning a laser line pen as it makes determining ship arcs and line of sight/obstruction extremely easy. You don't need to try to put a cardboard stick sideways the table and bump the other miniatures around and then argue about whether the cardboard-wielder is inadvertently tilting the cardboard a bit or not. Just line that laser pen right over the zone line and it projects out. Anything that makes it easier for both players to agree on the game state in otherwise-uncertain circumstances is worth its weight in gold in any miniatures game!

Next up is my document tube that I use to carry my play mat around.
So nondescript!
Fancy starmats fit inside!
I own a document tube because it makes carrying the playmat around much easier for me. I carry my storage case in one hand and sling my document tube and small backpack on my back and I still have a hand free for interacting with my surroundings, which means no uncomfortable juggling of all the stuff I bring into the store for Armada. You can find document tubes on Amazon or your local arts and craft store for around $15-$20.

Next up is my small string backpack and the stuff that's inside of it.
It's getting a little ratty at this point but I got it for free at Adepticon last year. It will likely get replaced soon by the Adepticon 2017 bag.
It holds a lot of things! A binder, a jewelry box, 2 velum bags, and a playmat bag.
Small string backpacks are really easy to find for free at many different events. If you can't get one or want something a little more durable, messenger bags or conventional backpacks are available in many locations for reasonable prices.
 
Above are two medium-sized velum drawstring bags I use to keep my dice and obstacles in. For a while I kept them in plastic bags and then cheaper cloth bags and slowly but surely I upgraded to nicer bags as the earlier bags wore out. No need to rush there, really.

Even more important is the plastic jewelry/bead organizer I keep all my tokens in. This small thing saves me a lot of time before, during, and after the game compared to the default method of "find it swimming in a plastic bag drowning in other tokens." Jewelry and bead organizers are God's gift to organizational nerds and I use them with lots of board games in addition to the one pictured above that I use for Armada. You can find it on Amazon for $9 but I would encourage you to instead go to your local hobby store (Michael's, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Hobby Lobby) with one of their usually-available 40% off one item online coupons and find one that meets your needs for even cheaper.

Such measurements!
Shown above are all my measurement tools. You don't need to get this far in too quickly. I strongly recommend getting a speed 2 maneuver tool ASAP but you can fill out to a 3 and a 1 as you feel the need (maybe even never!). The shorter-length distance and range tools have proven to be extremely useful in actual play, though, and I recommend picking some up when the desire takes you. I find I'm lending mine to opponents/other nearby players pretty frequently and they make measuring for squadron movement and medium- or close-ranged attacks much easier than trying to fit the long cardboard measurement ruler into more cramped areas.

There are a handful of different companies that produce smaller-length measurement tools for Armada. I recommend Recreator Studios, which is where I got my bottle green transparent rulers seen above. The measurements are extremely accurate and match the cardboard tool, the graphical design is strong but simple, and the option for transparency are all big selling points for me. You can get a full set of both distance and range tools for around $40 or you can save some money by only purchasing the "less than a full stick" measurement tools, given you've already got the full-length cardboard tool. Up to you.

I store the measurement tools in a playmat bag. Previously they were in a Ziploc gallon bag, but the pointy ends of the rulers and maneuver tools tore holes in the plastic. The playmat bag (designed for card game playmats) is the perfect size for storing these tools and is much more durable, but there's nothing wrong with using a succession of cheaper plastic bags to do the trick so long as you replace them when they're about to tear. I got my playmat bag at Inked Gaming.

The last backpack item is my trusty binder. The binder itself is nothing special, just a regular old 3 ring binder. It's 1.5" but if you're using only one faction you could probably get by with a 1" for at least a while. What's required are three different types of binder pages:
 Behold the majesty of the BCW 8-pocket pages for your ship cards and upgrade cards!
 It's basic regular old Magic/baseball card 3*3 pages from anywhere for your squadron cards!

And finally the super handy 4*4 BCW 16-pocket binder pages for your upgrade cards!

Putting all of your cards into a binder makes them much easier to sort through and put on the table in a game. The binder method saves me lots of time over the old "pile of small cards in a box" technique when I was a new player. If you want to save some costs on binder pages, go halvsies with a friend on a 20 pack! In general I would recommend side-loading pages if you have the option - it tends to result in less cards trying to sneak out of their binder pages.

Last but not least but definitely the last thing you should consider purchasing (so last but last!) is a tournament tray. I got hooked on using tournament trays back when I played Warmachine and these little things are a great way to minimize the hassle of carrying your stuff around at tournaments.
The slots securely hold the leg pegs of your ships and the circles are for squadrons to sit in.There's a lot of overlap in the middle so you can put ships or squadrons there. I've never had a problem with it running out of space and I like to bring lots of stuff!
The interior has lots of space for cards and dials and the laser pen and other things.
Basically, a tournament tray makes it easy for you to put all/most of your stuff in one container, pick it up, and then move it from game to game. I only ever use it at tournaments but when I'm at a tournament, it minimizes logistical hassles. Simply set up your stuff for a game by taking it out of/off the tray, slide the empty tray under the table during the game, then pull it back out after the game and load it up again to move to the next table and do it all over again until the event is over.

I got my tray from Miniduels when it was Kickstarted and it now sells for $50. Be aware that assembly is required, so you'll need some wood glue and I'd also recommend some sandpaper and a table covering of some kind (baking sheets, aluminum foil, a standard low-end tablecloth) to protect your table surface from wood glue and to make cleaning up the wood dust easy at the end. I thought it was fun putting it together but I'm aware not everyone enjoys arts and crafts projects.

Final thoughts
Please don't take the above as a list of things you need to buy in their entirety right now. I've played Armada since it was released and I've worked my way up to my extra accessories over time. The priority purchases I would recommend would be the toolbox+organizer for storage and transportation, the cheap jewelry/bead box for token storage, and a laser line pen. Everything else can get added when you feel it's necessary or you can use a cheaper substitute (like Ziploc bags) in the meantime.