Friday, December 18, 2020

Imperial commander review: Admiral Konstantine

Let's finish off wave 4 by discussing the commander that comes bundled with the Interdictor, Admiral Konstantine.

Or "Pouty-lips Frown-stache" as he may be known (he's not).

"They updated my card but I'm still stuck with the window seat?"

Quickly, to the bullet points!

  • Konstantine's ability triggers at the start of each Status Phase, which is the final phase of each round after the Ship and Squadron Phases (it is basically the "ready exhausted things and get ready for next round" phase).
    • This also means that enemy Command 1 ships will be able to assign a navigate command dial next round after seeing their new speed if they don't like it.
  • The ability checks every enemy ship to see if its at distance 5 of at least two of your ships, one of which needs to be medium or larger. Hypothetically if you had a VSD and Raider at distance 1-5 of the entire enemy fleet, then you'd get to mess around with the speed of every single enemy ship.
  • You either discard a navigate token from each ship or change its speed up or down by 1.
    • You generally should change the speed instead of removing the navigate token, but there are some cases where removing the token is the better move. Examples would include:
      •  The enemy ship has been raided for navigate and you don't want them to easily remove the raid token.
      • The enemy ship has an upgrade that's triggered by a navigate command - I'm specifically thinking of Engine Techs.
  • You can't make a ship go higher than its maximum speed. You can't make it go to speed 0 with Konstantine either.
Konstantine was regularly, and fairly, derided as one of the worst commanders in the game back in Armada 1.0. What to make of his 1.5 overhaul? Well, it's a bit hard to tell at this point. He's both easier to use (of the 2 ships, only one needs to be medium or larger and he works with SSDs now) and his effect gives the option of sniping a nav token. That's not necessarily huge, but there's nothing wrong with more options. His fleet-building options have mercifully opened up substantially, so that's worth celebrating.

The perennial issue with Konstantine is he clearly messes with opponent ship speed but how do you turn that into something that helps you win the game? I've seen a number of players focus on all the speed control shenanigans they can with Konstantine (Phylon Q7 Tractor Beams, Interdictor experimental retrofits, raid for navigate, Slicer Tools, etc.) and it produces a kind of "underpants gnomes" fleet where you sure are good at messing with speed, but how does that actually win the game? An opposing fleet that spent its points on killing you will likely do better than your fleet that spent its points on setting a number on a dial to 1 and keeping it there.

Phase 1: Mess with enemy speed!
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Win!

With Konstantine you need to thread the needle just so: under-commit to speed shenanigans and you're better off with another commander; over-commit and you're putting a lot of effort into a gimmick and not enough effort into actually winning. When in doubt, I'd go with a light touch. We'll talk about that a bit in Fleetbuilding later on.

Don't forget you can use Konstantine to speed ships up. Slowing some ships down while speeding others up can cause disruption for the opposing fleet where some ships get to the fight faster than they'd like (or sail away from the fight if they're going perpendicular to you) and others lag behind.

Obviously, you'll want one, preferably more (in 400 points I wouldn't go above two, though), medium or larger ships. With only one, you're banking hard on that ship staying alive to be your Konstantine Master Node. Your commander going completely blank after one ship is destroyed is a precarious position to be in, so if you can get more than one, please do. If you can't, then you need your Master Node to be as tanky as possible to make removing it difficult. A quick summation of your options here:

Imperial-class Star Destroyer. Probably the most well-rounded option and capable of being made quite tanky. Doesn't mind being at distance 1-5 of enemy ships (...most of the time). Easy to equip a Phylon Q7 Tractor Beam on for extra shenanigans for cheap. Expensive enough that bringing a second node can be tough.

Interdictor Cruiser. Capable of bringing the widest array of speed shenanigans toys with two experimental retrofit slots and one offensive retrofit slot, the speed-screwage angle here is pretty clear. Unfortunately, Interdictors tend to be rather expensive once you've piled on all the near-mandatory upgrades and they're not nearly as durable as an ISD. In general, I'd counsel against an Interdictor even though Konstantine comes packed with one. If you do want to bring one, you'll definitely need another medium+ sized ship to keep Konstantine's ability ticking as the Interdictor becomes a huge target with Konstantine and it's not especially durable against longer-ranged attacks..

Onager-class Star Destroyer. Onagers synergize very well with speed reduction shenanigans, making them harder to get to quickly while they keep throwing artillery shells downrange. That said, Onagers are more fragile than ISDs, they can't bring any speed screwage tech of their own, and they're less comfortable being at distance 1-5 of multiple enemy ships, making Konstantine's ability a bit harder to use. If you're going to bring an Onager with Konstantine, I'd strongly recommend finding a way to bring a second medium+ sized ship.

Quasar Fire Cruiser-Carrier. Carriers love running away from enemy ships and the Quasar-I even has two offensive retrofit slots so it's not too tough giving up one of them for a tractor beam if you like. In a Konstantine fleet going with a moderate to heavy squad investment, the Quasar can actually be pretty handy as Konstantine helps slow down ships chasing after you. That said, Quasars are very fragile and I strongly discourage you from bringing the Quasar as your only medium+ ship.

Super Star Destroyer. This is one weird fleet you're building, buddy. Just make sure you're bringing at least two other small ships, as the standard "only one medium+ sized ship" vulnerability is flipped with an SSD: chiseling you down to only the SSD isn't too tough, and then Konstantine no longer does anything. Try to get two small ships in here if you can.

Victory-class Star Destroyer. As a budget ISD, the VSD is at a price point where it's not too tough to fit another medium+ ship in your fleet provided you're good with keeping the upgrades under control and it has an offensive retrofit slot for tractor beams. VSD-Is enjoy enemies being stuck at speed 1 in their front arcs, potentially getting multiple full-dice front arc attacks against foes during a game if you play your cards right.

Once you've made the important decision of what medium-sized+ ship(s) you're bringing, you'll need to fill in the rest of your fleet. Your fleet should look to its bigger ships for how it's going to behave - if, for example, one of your bigger ships is a Quasar, you're likely going to be using Konstantine's effect to slow down enemies trying to catch it. It would be a good idea to add an Arquitens or two as they're also happy to orbit the battle and don't like being caught - they can act as helper nodes for the Quasar and the group as a whole appreciates slowing down things in their vicinity. Conversely, if one of your ships is a Kuat ISD, you may want to pick up some Raiders or Gladiators to accompany it.

Otherwise, sprinkle in Phylon Q7 Tractor Beams where you can, prioritizing them on larger ships before smaller ships. Even on small ships you can use them to zap off nav tokens or slow down other small ships when you need to. It's not a bad idea to bring a Slicer Tools Gozanti to slice away from navigate commands and for general-purpose help but be careful to use it when you most need to lock down an opposing ship as it won't live long in many cases.

The Empire does not have good access to raid (shut up Mandalorian Gauntlets, you're not a real squadron) but I'd definitely give Surprise Attack some serious consideration for an objective as it synergizes very well with Konstantine's shenanigans and gives you easy access to fleetwide raid against your opponent for the first three rounds. Otherwise, objectives should focus on defensive points-farming objectives where messing with enemy speed can make it hard for them to contest you for points quickly. Objectives with the grav rift or other mobile obstacles (like Infested Fields) can also be a blast as you can use speed control to encourage your opponent's ships to overlap harmful obstacles.


  1. Gozanti dont count for this right? It's always non flotilla ships required for the effect.

  2. It feels like konstatines only real shot at a viable build is making a huge bid for second and taking purely camping/turtling objectives. Like he just lacks so much utility that other commanders for the impa usually bring.