Monday, August 31, 2015

Out On Maneuvers - The Battle Line Pt 1

I don't think there was a single thing more influential on the pre-Disney Star Wars EU than the old West End RPG books.  Characters, ships, and locations that showed up all over the EU comics, novels, and video games were often first found in the pages of those RPG source books.  When I first started playing Armada I remembered some of the information on capital ship combat in those books and applied it to my fleets.  And ya know what?  It worked!  So, I thought I'd pull out one of the old books and take a look out how we can apply what's in there to our games of Armada.

The book that really stands out is The Rebel Alliance Sourcebook and its chapter on capital ship combat.  It starts with a general purpose for the Alliance fleet, but then gets into the roles of each ship in the fleet and the structure of a battle line. This is where we can really start to see some application for our Armada games for both Imperial and Alliance fleets.  

Now, much of this section was obviously lifted from a basic naval combat book, but the Star Wars flavor makes it fun.  

The Battle Line

According to the book the primary fleet organization was around the Battle Line.  The battle line was made of 2-10 cruisers who packed the majority of the fleets firepower.  Corvettes and frigates provided close support to the line.  Fighters were grouped into those that defended the fleet and those that served an attack purpose.  There was even mention of the types of small craft coming in the Rogues and Villains pack.   

So, what purpose does battle line serve in Armada?  Concentration of firepower.  Maneuvering your ships in a line keeps them close together and keeps their fire arcs overlapping each other.  This concentration of firepower allows you to bring all of your guns against a part of your opponents fleet.   At Nationals, by running my 2 Assault Frigates as a line, I was able to out shoot other fleets that had more firepower than me on paper as my firepower was better concentrated.  While Assault Frigates and MC-80s lend themselves to the traditional battle line, Star Destroyers can make this work using a line abreast or an Echelon formation.  

In the book's terms ships would break down like this:

Cruisers - Ships of the line with the primary fleet firepower.  They can dish out damage and be expected to survive return fire.  
  • Assault Frigate Mk II
  • MC-80
  • Victory Star Destroyer 
  • Imperial Star Destroyer 
Frigates - Ships that provide close support and protect the flanks of the main battle line.  They have enough firepower to threaten a cruiser, but lack the same staying power.  Can also provide anti-fighter defenses.  
  • Gladiator Star Destroyer
  • Nebulon-B
  • MC-30
Corvettes - Lighter ships that use maneuverability to attack the flanks of the opposing battleline.  They engage the other fleets support ships, but aren't a direct threat to the cruisers unless attacking en masse.  
  • CR-90
  • Raider
At Nationals, my line was made of 2 Assault Frigates.  I also had a CR-90a along for the extra activation.  I mostly kept it out of the main fight, leaving the heavy lifting to my battle line.  I used it to grab objectives and harass my opponents or otherwise be a distraction.  The one game I lost was by restricting my maneuvering options when I got too close to my own battle line.  

I can see some great options for forming battle lines as Wave 2 comes out and games move to 400 points.   In part 2 of this post I will show what some sample battle lines could look like in Armada.


  1. I like it - this does feel like it fits with Armada! I have been looking for some good naval combat doctrines to help with my game.

    When I have been too aggressive with the support ships e.g. Gladiator, they just can't go toe-to-toe with the enemy unlike a Victory class.

  2. Agreed. I have had some sucess running a heavily tooled AFII supported by smaller ships working at the flanks. Where i have had problems was plugging ships like CR90s or NebBs into the main battle line.