Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Armada objectives: red objectives, wave one

Let's start our 3-part wave one objective reviews with the red (assault) objectives. These are a good starting point, as they're often more straightforward than their blue and yellow cousins.

Advanced Gunnery
  • Remember that the objective ships are chosen after fleet deployment is complete, starting with the first player. If you have 2+ decent recipients for Advanced Gunnery, this can be quite helpful for giving you the option to choose the better-positioned ship to benefit from this objective.
    • You must choose a ship for this objective, which means if the first player would rather not, he's still stuck appointing an Advanced Gunnery ship.
  • The benefits for the chosen ships vary between the two different players just slightly. Each objective ship can make both of its attacks from the same hull zone. The first player's objective ship is limited to not being able to attack squadrons twice from the same hull zone or attack the same enemy hull zone twice from its same hull zone. The second player's objective ship doesn't have the same restrictions and can attack exactly the same target(s) twice from the same hull zone.
    • Do keep in mind that the first player's objective ship can use its two attacks from the same hull zone to shoot two different hull zones on the same enemy ship provided it can draw line of sight to two different hull zones from its double-tapping single hull zone. It's frequently misunderstood that this effect for the first player is the same as the Gunnery Team upgrade, but Gunnery Team doesn't allow you to attack the same ship twice from the same hull zone and Advanced Gunnery First Player Mode doesn't allow you to attack the same hull zone twice, which is an important distinction.
  • Speaking of Gunnery Team, it should be noted that the "cannot" on Gunnery Team has been FAQ clarified to override the "can" on Advanced Gunnery (this is consistent with the basic Armada rules, it just wasn't clear precisely how to handle the interaction previously). Therefore, do not choose a ship with a Gunnery Team upgrade to be your Advanced Gunnery ship, because you will get no benefit.
  • Players sometimes forget the "End of Game" section on this card: each Advanced Gunnery ship is worth double its base points cost (plus the upgrade card points as normal) if it's destroyed. Be careful with your Advanced Gunnery ship and try to knock out the enemy objective ship!
What kind of fleets go well with Advanced Gunnery?
Any fleet that has one or more ships with a strong arc that would love to attack the same target twice but lack a weapon team slot for Gunnery Team or generally doesn't get a lot of mileage out of Gunnery Team because its attacks at longer ranges aren't potent enough to really spread damage between two different ships well is a good candidate for this objective. Some examples of the types of ships that like Advanced Gunnery would be:
  • Nebulon-B with the Salvation title hits above its weight class out of the front arc but often finds its second attack is wasted or at the very least mediocre. Being able to attack twice from its front arc is quite strong and if it is destroyed, it doesn't provide a game-ruining number of points to your opponent.
  • Imperial Arquitens Light Cruisers, especially with Enhanced Armament, can throw two volleys of 4 red dice (prior to any additional dice from concentrate fire or rerolls with Vader, etc.) out the side arcs, making them into effectively discount extremely angry Rebel Assault Frigates. These are similar to the Salvation in that they're not a tremendous number of points if destroyed, either.
  • Home-One MC80s (HMC80s) have tremendous side arcs - 6 medium+long range dice, tons of table coverage, and very easy to use. The HMC80's main downside is it can't equip Gunnery Teams so it's usually getting in its side arc and maybe one mediocre attack from the front arc. HMC80s therefore love Advanced Gunnery because it lets them get substantially more use from their large side arcs. As first player, you need to have a very good plan for getting use from Advanced Gunnery yourself if you allow a second player with an HMC80 to get full use of it - it's that good.
  • ISD-Is. ISD-Is aren't normally packing enough long-ranged dice to benefit much from Gunnery Teams, but with Advanced Gunnery they can lob two front arc shots at one unfortunate target. If you're at short range and you can pound the same hull zone with back-to-back 8 dice volleys, you're living it up.
One thing I want to mention before proceeding to the next section: never leave Gunnery Teams off of a ship that wants them in the hopes that your opponent will pick your Advanced Gunnery. Ever. I've seen Liberty MC80s and ISD-IIs without Gunnery Teams that would have really loved to have them but their fleet creator was hoping for the Advanced Gunnery Hail Mary pass. Yes, those ships would be swell with Advanced Gunnery. Your odds of getting it selected rely on both you being second player and the first player choosing it over your other objectives. That's nowhere close to reliable and it's much better to simply always have a Gunnery Team on a ship that benefits a lot from them than to very rarely have Advanced Gunnery because your opponent let you.

What kind of first player enemy fleets are disadvantaged by Advanced Gunnery?

Any enemy fleet that doesn't have good recipients for Advanced Gunnery is going to try to avoid it. In particular, this can be true of fleets where all ships either have Gunnery Teams already and/or are light combat vessels like flotillas. Shorter-ranged ships like Raiders generally struggle to get much use from it, but heavier black-dice ships like Gladiators and MC30s can sometimes benefit from using a wide side arc to attack twice against two different hull zones as they make a fly-by, but this comes with increased risk of them getting swatted down by a beefier objective ship on the other side of the table.

Carrier fleets as an archetype generally use undergunned carrier ships in support of their squadrons and can't make great use of Advanced Gunnery as they won't usually have a big beefcake ship to exploit the benefit. As second player do be careful against carrier fleets, though, as they can always focus their bombers to destroy  a recklessly-used Advanced Gunnery ship for the extra points, even if their own Advanced Gunnery recipient doesn't really benefit much from the double-tap capability.

Swarm (multiple small unit) fleets as an archetype generally also use a host of lighter and frequently shorter-ranged ships and so they won't get as much benefit from Advanced Gunnery as second player. Furthermore, swarm fleets are often looking to dodge the worst of enemy attacks by avoiding good arcs at medium to short range and so limiting the amount of serious firepower coming at them. Your objective ship can put a lot more firepower into them than they're counting on, either by double-attacking from a good arc at long range or by double-attacking from a "meh" arc at medium to short range, which will usually overheat their defense tokens. In general when I'm using a swarm fleet I try to avoid choosing Advanced Gunnery because of this.

Most Wanted
  • This is another objective where the choosing of objective ships happens after dfleet eployment. In this case, the second player makes both of the decisions.
  • Note that the FAQ clarified that the bonus die only gets added when ships are attacking objective ships. Squadrons don't benefit.
    • Because this is an "add" effect, you can use it at any point during the "resolve attack effects" step. This has several repercussions:
      • Like all "add" effects, the extra die is added after the initial attack roll, so you can see how the first roll worked out before deciding on what color die to add (if there are multiple colors of dice in the pool to copy).
      • It can be used at any point during the resolve attack effects step, so you can use other effects first. For example, supposing you had an HMC80 with the Defiance title attacking an already-activated Most Wanted Ship. You could add a black die due to Defiance and then resolve Most Wanted to add another black die to the pool (as the black die added by Defiance was in the pool at that point and therefore a valid target for "copying" even though HMC80s don't naturally roll black dice against ships).
  • The Most Wanted die is added on every attack from a ship against a Most Wanted ship, so if you double-arc a Most Wanted ship, you'll add one die to both attacks.
  • Just like Advanced Gunnery, at the end of the game, any destroyed objective ship has its base ship cost doubled for victory points purposes, so keep that in mind!
What kind of fleets go well with Most Wanted?
You generally want two things in a fleet to get the most from Most Wanted:
1) An expendable cheap ship. Preferably a flotilla with minimal upgrades that isn't going to be giving up too many points if/when it is destroyed.
2) Enough combat ships that are suitable for double-arcing and/or long-ranged attacks so you're able to get in several attacks against the enemy Most Wanted ship, milking the benefit repeatedly until the points piñata bursts open.

If you have those two things, it's a great objective. Designate your cheapo garbage ship as the friendly target and the largest enemy ship you feel capable of destroying as the enemy target and go out hunting down that huge pile of points. There are few things more rewarding than double-arcing a Most Wanted Ship while issuing a concentrate fire command - the amount of damage you can produce from even a light ship used this way can be remarkable.

What kind of first player enemy fleets are disadvantaged by Most Wanted?
Fleets with expensive, usually large, ships (particularly so if the commander is on one) can struggle against Most Wanted as the points disparity even if both objective ships are destroyed can be enormous and the additional fragility of such a large portion of one's fleet is troublesome and difficult to adequately play around without being too timid (if the Most Wanted ship avoids combat and doesn't impact the game, it's likely to result in a first player loss) or too reckless (the Most Wanted ship gets destroyed earlier and is worth oodles of points).

Carrier fleets can also struggle a bit in that they can't take large advantage of the counter-benefit as they frequently won't have many combat ships that can meaningfully attack the second player's Most Wanted ship. Carrier fleets will usually have their biggest carrier (HMC80, Pelta, Yavaris Nebulon-B, ISD, Quasar, etc.) selected as the Most Wanted target and losing the biggest chunk of your squadron support apparatus earlier than usual and for extra points can cause fatal complications for your fleet.

Opening Salvo
  • Spending the tokens is non-optional and will always happen during the first attack an Opening Salvo token ship makes against an enemy ship. This can on occasion mean it's best to wait on making an attack to spend the token under better circumstances later.
  • The token is an add effect so it triggers during the same window the Most Wanted extra die triggers in.
    • This means you can resolve the Opening Salvo effect prior to a concentrate fire dial to add an extra die of the type added by Opening Salvo.
    • Because add effects aren't used during your initial roll, this means you need to be able to make the initial attack prior to adding the Opening Salvo dice later. You can't claim Opening Salvo will add red dice and then use that to make a long-ranged attack when your anti-ship dice battery doesn't include red dice.
  • The 2 Opening Salvo dice for the second player can be of different colors if you wish.
  • Remember that the only dice that are linked to the range of your attack are your basic anti-ship battery dice. With add effects like Opening Salvo with no limitation on dice colors, you can add dice of whatever color you like once you've made your initial attack. This can allow the second player to attack at long range (red dice only) and then use Opening Salvo to add black dice after the initial roll, which are rerollable through an upgrade like Ordnance Experts and can trigger black critical effects normally.
  • Regarding the extra points scoring "End of Game" section: it can be worthwhile to overlap healthy enemy ships on the last turn just to score points from them but be careful about the same thing being done back to you!
What kind of fleets go well with Opening Salvo?
Fleets with numerous smaller ships capable of making longer-ranged attacks (like a fleet with numerous CR90s, Hammerheads, and Nebulon-Bs, for example) can usually get more of a net benefit from Opening Salvo than opposing fleets. Ships with larger amounts of hull spend more time in the "damaged but alive" state than smaller ships, which usually vanish shortly after they start taking hull damage, so the End of Game element is also less likely to hurt a fleet of small ships as much as a more generic fleet. Assault Carrier Gozantis are particularly fun with Opening Salvo as they can concentrate fire on the Salvo-spend turn for 1 red dice + 3 dice of any color, which is particularly potent for a 28 point ship.

Opening Salvo is also very appealing for a fleet of mixed red+black dice ships relying on black critical upgrades (Scout MC30s, Gladiators, VSD-Is set up the right way), as it can allow you to start triggering those black critical effects early from long range by adding black dice to your first attack. With the right types of builds, Screed and Dodonna are certainly happy to start triggering black critical effects early, particularly Assault Proton Torpedoes, which have double-synergy in that they like being triggered at long range as well as they do damage straight to the hull which makes you more likely to get the End of Game scoring condition should the ship escape but not be able to completely repair all its hull damage.

Fleets with reliable accuracy generation upgrades (like the Rebel Home One title or an Imperial fleet with Captain Jonus, etc.) or defense token lockdown like Intel Officers can make better use of the extra dice by making it harder to mitigate the damage of initial sucker punch. Commanders like Darth Vader or Admiral Ackbar can allow for these super-strong first punches to become even stronger due to their aggression-promoting commander bonuses.

What kind of first player enemy fleets are disadvantaged by Opening Salvo?
Opening Salvo is a bit weird on this front and it's fairly dependent on how your fleet is intending to leverage it. For example, assume that I am first player and your fleet of lots of smaller ships presents Opening Salvo and I'm running a heavier Motti-style "angry triangles with lots of hull" fleet. I don't want Opening Salvo because the odds of you being able to cripple one of my extra-durable heavier ships and thus at least score half points from it is pretty high. You also likely have more ships than I do, so you'll get more total dice (and better dice) from the objective than I will. I do want Opening Salvo because it may be the least damaging choice and the 2 extra red dice added to my big dice pool ships might be enough to preemptively swat down one or two of your smaller ships.

Opening Salvo is also useful against carrier fleets for many of the same reasons as Most Wanted - if you're using more combat ships you get more of a benefit than the carrier fleet does, and if it's a Rebel carrier fleet with unarmed GR75s, they can't use the Opening Salvo tokens at all (as they can't make anti-ship attacks). Speaking of which, Opening Salvo is helpful for handling flotillas - adding 2 blue dice to an attack roll gives you a 44% chance of producing 1+ accuracy result, which can be the crucial difference between one-shotting a flotilla and doing nothing at all. In this way it's stronger than Most Wanted specifically when facing numerous flotillas.

Be careful overall with Opening Salvo - it's one of the easier objectives for the first player to take advantage of and shouldn't be included in a fleet without careful consideration. That's not to say "never take it" but moreso I find Most Wanted fulfills a similar role in most fleets without exposing the second player to the same amount of danger.

Precision Strike
  • Don't forget to give the second player's ships concentrate fire tokens!
  • Dice that are spent are removed from the attack pool, which means they won't contribute any damage. This effect is used during the resolve attack effects step (which has made numerous appearances in this article), which means it happens prior to your opponent spending his defense tokens. So you can spend a hit icon die to flip a damage card to score an objective token prior to an enemy flotilla scattering away your remaining attack dice, for example.
    • Remember that only Bomber squadrons and ships can spend dice this way, not non-Bomber squadrons.
    • You can spend black hit+crit dice to trigger this effect, but it spends the entire die, so be extra-sure that's what you want to do!
  • The effect also triggers just from dealing face-up damage cards normally during a Bomber or ship attack (so not when your opponent lands on asteroids). This means each normal attack can produce up to two tokens - one from spending a hit icon die to flip a face-down damage card and one from dealing a face-up damage card through the generic critical effect.
    • Assault Proton Torpedoes also works for this, and XX-9 Turbolasers can apply two face-up damage cards, making them superior for token generation using Precision Strike (although they're still not great overall).
  • Each objective token is worth 15 points at the end of the game (hence the "15" in the bottom right corner).
What kind of fleets go well with Precision Strike?
We finally found a red objective that carrier fleets like to use! Being able to get several bombers on a shieldless hull zone with Precision Strike as your objective can produce an awful lot of objective tokens, particularly for 2-dice bombers like B-Wings and Firesprays that are capable of both the "spend" and "crit" means of flipping cards in a single attack.

Precision Strike is also helpful in fleets that use Assault Proton Torpedoes on enough ships, as it allows you to start applying face-up cards to enemy hulls early and often. Enough critical effects trigger and then flip themselves back face-down that you can usually set yourself up to trigger the "spend a hit to flip" condition on an enemy ship or two early on as well to help enable the points train.

To a lesser extent, any kind of "death by one thousand cuts" swarm approach will usually get in several opportunities to pile up tokens before the finishing blow finally lands on an enemy ship.

What kind of first player enemy fleets are disadvantaged by Precision Strike?
Rieekan fleets hate having Precision Strike used against their zombie ship, as if you can't meaningfully attack anything else, chances are pretty good you can beat on the undead points piñata floating near you to rack up some freebie tokens. You can gain more points for beating objective tokens out of an undead CR90B than you gain by destroying it! Just be careful against Rieekan as if he's running squadron-heavy he's likely trying to do the same thing to you with a zombie squadron!

Precision Strike is generally most threatening for fleets with fewer but larger ships. Medium and large ships have enough hull to live through several attacks that get past their shields and so the opportunities to gain objective tokens from them with Precision Strike are much greater than the opportunities to gain objective tokens from small ships, which usually won't live through more than one or two "serious" attacks once their shields are down.

Final thoughts
We've reached the end of the wave one red objectives review, and hopefully I've helped clarify why you might want one of these objectives over the others when it comes to building your fleet. We'll be moving on to the yellow and blue objectives later this week. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know!


  1. Several often overlooked points about red objectives, if you don't mind:
    1. Advanced Gunnery sometimes can be selected by first player running MSU just for the benefit of getting double points for the target ship.
    2. As you mentioned Most Wanted is bad for expensive ships however it can be used to negate survivability advantage of some ships, the best example is Admonition.
    3. Opening Salvo is a good choice for DeMSU forced to take a second player as Clonisher with Opening Salvo can threaten to one-shot a lot of ships with a single attack. It also has a good synergy with RBD.

    1. 1) I don't disagree and I've on occasion done this. The amount of aggro the objective ship can pump out can really cause some early-game attrition that MSUs aren't comfortable with, but the doubled points on something meaty like an ISD or MC80 can be worth it for sure.
      2) That's true!
      3) If I'm running MSU I'm often happy to take Opening Salvo if it's offered for that reason. Even though I'm only getting the extra 2 red dice, it's often the "least bad" option and it can help when jumping a single enemy ship with multiple smaller ships. With MSU I'm often either alive (because the ship was ignored in favor of focusing on bigger threats) or destroyed with only a few rare ships being crippled (and at half-points, that's still not much). It's also great fun to run a Raider into something like a completely healthy Assault Frigate or VSD on the final activation to "trade up" on points from the End of Game points scoring.

      In all honesty, I find Opening Salvo one of the trickier objectives to get consistent use out of as a "silver bullet" but it does have some niche uses in a red+black ordnance upgrade fleet. I normally prefer Most Wanted for fleets where I'd consider Opening Salvo.