Friday, September 29, 2017

Gearing Up for Battle 2: Armada Fix Squadron Plates

Little bit lighthearted today, no major strategy to cover in this article.  Way back in April (halfway back in this blog's lifetime, haha!) Eric wrote a post about enhancing your Armada peripherals.  Carrying case, laser pen, Recreator Studios fancy distance X rulers, etc.  Well today is a continuation of that, with regards to squadron play, specifically, Armada Fix's Squadron Command Plates
Oh, 1995, when ska and Reel Big Fish were things. "The record company's gonna give me lots of money...."
Squadron plates are a way of having your cake and eating it too; allowing you to easily access your squadron's health and damage without having to pick them up in any way.  They separate the health and activated slider from the squadron itself.  The squadron and its corresponding numbered and colored base remain in the field of play while you adjust the health and if it has been activated or not off on the side of play, away from the squadron blob of action.
See the tiny arrow above the 3 on Howlrunner? That's how you know what her health is.
Before we go any further with my thoughts and feelings, a few upfront statements to clarify.  Eric and I were NOT paid to endorse these (or any Armada peripheral, for that matter).  Joshua asked us to try them out, I was willing to try anything for free (the best price point!) and write up my thoughts on them (side note: if anyone else has Armada fancy pants stuff they're willing to ask us to review, drop Eric or I an email and we'll consider it.).  I DID end up purchasing some of these, but let me explain why (and it's not because I get a part of the sales, much as I wish I did, haha!).  Furthermore, these aren't technically tournament legal, but I highly doubt your local T.O. is going to kick you out if you wanted to use them (offer not binding at FFG HQ).

Before I begin, let me explain the plates the store offers.  There's a singleton plate in Black or White*, numbered 1-8 (your choice), generally for your Uniques.  He also offers a dual plate (so, 2 numbers) in various colors (Red 1 and 2, Grey 1 and 2, Blue 1 and 2, etc), and there's a 4-on (Grey 1-4, Blue 1-4, etc).  The various lists I tried either had me trying out the 2-on plates (or using 4-ons as 2-ons) or the singletons (I had one game with the 4-on).  Eric tried out the 4-on several times, and he generally agreed with my thoughts on the 2-ons.  I've attached a few pictures of my games with the 2-ons below.

First, the nice thing about these is that it makes it VERY easy to see your squadrons on the mat/table.  The usual mat I use is a riot of colors, but all of these bases stand out very well.
Yes, that IS a Yavaris, why do you ask?
The black singletons I tried out POP, even on the regular black Armada mat background, and the other colors are very vibrant.  That grey looks a little wonky, but I assure you that it's my cell phone camera more than anything, combined with the grey squadrons I haven't painted.  The numbers are easy to read from a distance (you can read those above, right?) and the squadrons don't lose their ability to hold a token on the back if you're in a civil war game (Rebel v Rebel, Imp v Imp).

This DOES remove the ability to see on the base which X-wing is Luke and which are regulars, which B-wing is Ten Numb versus the 2 generics, etc.  With the right color plate choice and distinguishments, that really wasn't a problem.  Luke is Black 5 above, and my regular X-wings are in green.  Ten Numb is Blue 1 (because he wants those blue crits....) and the regular B-wings were Grey 1 and 2.  Norra and Jan in Black and Purple, respectively, filled out my list and the rest of the above picture.  So long as you keep your Aces different from your generics, it'll all work out fine.
Alt arts are best arts.  And yes, that is one of those fancy laser pens Eric linked to in the last article.
You can see on the Ten Numb card (on the left there) that you can fit up to 4 on the Blue plate. It seems to me that it might get a bit cumbersome past 4, trying to have your opponent keep up with what's activated and what hasn't, which is why the max offered is 4.  At that point I might switch to 2 different plates, with 3-4 on each (if you're bringing 8 TIEs, for example).  I tried to stick with 2 of a color max on my plates just to ensure that I was being extra helpful to my opponents (and I only bought sets of 2, just to make it extra easy).

From my experience with it, keeping 1-2 squadrons per plate was really easy to track damage and see who had activated or not.  Joshua, the guy behind the store, had advised me to move the plates closer to the battle when the inevitable scrum broke out.  That DEFINITELY helped when I was taking damage and moving squadrons around.
That's right, move in CLOSER to that Star Destroyer!
As for squadron fiddliness and bumping? That really isn't something that has concerned me before (I live in a squadron light meta.  All you people tired of playing against Rieekan Aces are welcome in Chicago any time), but knowing that I didn't have to worry was a bit freeing, yes.  It's more of a "perk" than a "feature" in my case, but again, millimeters out hasn't wrecked my squadrons game in a long, long time.  Your mileage may vary on that point.

What the plates DID do for me though was make things very easy to explain on my squadron/turn activation.  "Green 1 is going to go, attack that A-wing.  Green 2 is going to follow him in, same thing."  Because they're so easy to pick out, they're also very easy to indicate EXACTLY what is happening where.
Pic borrowed from Joshua in order to see examples.
In a scrum like the one seen above, it is a LOT easier not having to fiddle and move everything every way you can in order to get pieces where they need to go.  There IS a lot going on in that picture, but that's the point of his example, haha.

Is it a bit weird having to jump back and forth between squadron and damage plate? Yeah, the first game or two, and I will fully admit that I had been hesitant about buying some of these because of that worry.  After like 2 or 3 games, you get used to it, though, and it's really not bad.  I had seen them before as mainly useful for people who were really specific about where squadrons were placed and everything had to be put back down to the MICROMETER.  They're not that; they're a tool to make your activations faster and easier by indicating who's going after what when.

But why did I pick up a set? Because they just feel cool.
Man do I miss this strip.
I can say all sorts of words about how it's easier to activate and move them in sequence and attacking, but at the end of the day, I'm basically a 10 year old.  And getting to say "Black 5 moves in for the attack, followed by Green 1." just sounds SO FREAKING COOL.  You ever wanted to put Gold Squadron on a real yellow base and then call them Gold 1? Ever wanted to put B-wings as Black 1 and Black 2, knowing they're part of your squad sent to wipe out the Imperial menace and bring freedom to the galaxy? Ever wanted to put Luke on an actual Red 5 base so you can have "Red 5 standing by" whenever you need him (And way above I had an asterisk* - I got Josh to make me a special singleton Red 5 one, so yeah, I CAN field this)?

Because I did, and that's a large part of the reason that I put some of my own money down on a set of these.  The plates made me enjoy squadron play again, and they made me want to put more time back into re-learning how best to squadron.  That was worth my money.

If you're interested in getting a set or trying some out, Josh has an Etsy:

1 comment:

  1. Picked up a set of the original versions and I absolutely agree with your points. Not required in anyway, but it is very simple to track squadron heavy rounds and is a nice QoL help. --Flare