Sunday, September 13, 2015

Out on Maneuvers - The Battle Line Pt 3

In my first article in this series, I looked at the ships that make up the battle line, while the second looked at how you can arrange them.  In my third installment on using battle lines and other formations in Armada I am heading back to the Rebel Alliance Sourcebook from West End Games to take a look at some of the battle line maneuvers outlined there. 

The first order of business as an admiral is to choose the ships in your fleet.  Then you need to decide on the formation you will be flying in.  But what about when you hit the table?  Here are some simple battle line maneuvers with comments on how they might fit into Star Wars: Armada.

The Exchange

In a classic exchange the opposing battle lines would simply line up and trade shots as they sailed past each other.  It wasn't particularly creative and heavily favored the fleet with the greater firepower and durability.

In Armada, the Exchange often plays out when 2 fleets move directly towards each other, sometimes due to an objective like Contested Outpost.  This is really the ideal situation for Star Destroyers in a line abreast who love to fly slowly towards their enemy exchanging heavy blows.  I don't know that I have seen a broadsides exchange like pictured here in Armada, but if the right 2 Rebel fleets clashed it could happen.

 Capping the "T"

Capping the "T" was the classic objective of any historical battle line engagement.  Early naval ships were aligned so that most of the firepower was broadsides, much like the Rebels in Armada.  This maneuver allowed one battle line to bring the bulk of its firepower against a part of the opposing line while limiting the return fire.

You might look at this picture and think it doesn't look too bad for the Imperials.  After all, the Rebels are directly in front of those Star Destroyers.  Still, the lead destroyer is obstructing the ships behind it and weakening their return fire, while all 3 Rebel ships should quickly kill the lead destroyer.

In Armada, I feel like I have successfully Capped the "T" whenever I have maneuvered my fleet so that one ship is close to me and in overlapping fire arcs, while the rest of the opposing fleet is trapped behind the closest enemy.  It can be a flanking maneuver or a more traditional scenario, but if you can get most of your fleet against part of your opponents you are on your way to a win.  Look for opportunities to maneuver your opponent so that one of their ships is trapped between you and the rest of their fleet.

 The Ackbar Slash

This somewhat mythical maneuver is based on something Lord Admiral Nelson did to the Spanish.  It was as dangerous historically as it is in Armada.

This is really a move that may start to see some play at 400 points, but even then it's not very practical.  The hope of driving through the heart of the opposing fleet is the same as Capping the "T".  You are trying to bring your best guns against a part of the fleet while isolating sections of the opposing fleet.  If you can slash through fast enough, you can get plenty of shots off while isolating the ships on the outside of the opposing formation.

Where I think this could work is if your opponent has spread out for fear of being flanked.  You could then potentially slash between his middle ships with the hope of taking them out before the outside ships can help.  Still, probably not a great plan.

The Brawl

In a Brawl, formations are thrown to the wind and it is every ship for himself.  Historically this was considered a desperation maneuver.  By abandoning your battle lines you have given up the ability to concentrate fire and support each other. 

In Armada, the Brawl is what I most often see on the table.  This type of game really favors ships like the Gladiator that can kill or cripple a ship in one salvo.  If you are playing against a battle line, you can try to break up the line and go for a Brawl by driving a ship into the middle of you opponent's formation and taking away their maneuvering options.

The Fake

I've managed to do this once in a game.  My opponent had played against my battle line a couple of times and I had managed to cap his T by getting around his flank.  When he saw me doing that in a later game, he rushed hard to get in front of my line.  Well, with a well timed Navigate command I was able to change heading and ended up getting behind his ships for an easy win.

Essentially, I would say the Fake in Armada is anytime you can use your line to get your opponent moving one way and then switch course to gain an advantageous position.

What's Next?

I've got a new formation or two brewing in my head that I think will work out nicely in games of Armada.  My plan is to practice with them over the next couple of weeks and see how they do at the Massing of Sullust events.  Expect some battle and tournament reports when that happens.

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