Here's my best understanding of how the campaign will work:
The campaign is played until one side reaches a specific number of Campaign Points needed to win. If one side is behind, there is some kind of final battle mechanic.
The campaign will always be Rebel vs Imperial. It is designed to accommodate 2-6 players. In order to do this each side establishes 3 fleets no matter how many players are playing. Each fleet is initially built to 400 points although that point level can change throughout the campaign. Unique squadrons and upgrades cannot be duplicated between fleets. The fleets are not assigned to specific players, but can be played by anyone on that side. This helps out when a player is missing when the campaign is played. The box appears to include campaign sheets that track the fleets for each side as well as the status of unique squadrons and upgrades.
The position of fleets are not tracked on the board. Thanks to the wonders of hyperspace any fleet can attack or defend any location at any time. Based on my previous experience with map campaigns, this is a good thing.
Each Campaign Turn begins with a Strategy Phase. The side with fewer Campaign Points has the initiative and declares the first assault. It appears that the Rebels have the initiative in case of a tie in Campaign Points. To declare an assault the side with initiative picks a fleet and target and assaults there. The other side then chooses a fleet to defend with. It is unclear if the defenders get to know what fleet is assaulting when they choose the defender, but I suspect that they do.
Then the other side selects one of its fleets and declares an assault on a system of their choice. The side with initiative then has to assign a fleet to defend this new assault. It is not clear, but it appears at this point that the side with initiative can then declare a final assault with its third fleet which would be defended by the last remaining fleet.
So, it looks like there would be 3 assault declared in each campaign turn. It is possible that this number might be lower with fewer than 6 players, but I doubt it.
One of the assaults declared by a side in the Strategy Phase can be a Special Assault. These can only be declared in certain locations. These assaults won't earn campaign points, but do potentially earn a lot of resources quickly.
After the assaults have been chosen, you play the games of Armada. The location of the assault can impact the game of Armada. The side that declares the assault automatically has the initiative for the game. If the assaulted location has a base or outpost, the objectives are chosen from a specific set by the second player. If the game is a Special Assault then a specific objective is used. If neither of those is true then then board may still offer some special objective options.
So, there are a few small tweaks to the basic rules, where a more expensive fleet can end up with initiative. Point bids will not be a thing in the campaign.
Once the game is going, you have to track which ships or squadrons are destroyed. These ships are then marked as being 'scarred'. If a 'scarred' ship or squadron plays another game, it loses either a defense token if it's a ship or an HP if it's a squadron. A 'scarred' ship that is destroyed in a game is lost from the campaign permanently. ouch!
I think the 'scarred' rules will make players quite a bit more cautious. You will want to win, but also while making sure to preserve your own ships as much as possible.
After the Battle Phase is over you move into the Management Phase. This is where you look at the results of the battles and update the various record sheets.
Winning a battle at a location with an opposing base/outpost allows you to destroy that base/outpost.
There appear to be 3 kinds of points that you can accrue:
- Campaign Points - The defender gains 1 Campaign Point if they win an assault against their base. Otherwise, it appears that only the attacker can gain Campaign Points by winning. Each system has a different Campaign Point value, with the examples from FFG showing from 0 - 2 points available. Campaign Points appear to only be used for winning and determining initiative in the Strategy Phase.
- Resource Points - Each system also has a Resource Point value. Based on the examples provided by FFG this can run from 5 - 20 points. A side only gains these resources if they have a base at that system in the Management Phase. Resource Points can also be gained from the Special Assault Objectives. These seem to provide a significant boost to the assaulting side with more available to the winner. 15 Resource Points can be used to build a base at a system that was successfully assaulted that turn. Resources can also be used to Refit or expand your fleet although we don't know the specific mechanics on that.
- Refit Points - Each round a side gains 30 Refit Points, plus an additional 5 points for each Repair Yard you control. These points can be used to remove the scarred status of a ship spending half the value of the ship plus its upgrades. If you run out of Refit Points you can apparently use Resource Points to do the same thing.
Once everything is tracked during the Management Phase and all the various rosters updated, the round is over and it is time for the next campaign turn. It is estimated that a campaign could take 8-9 turns for a longer campaign.
Overall I think that the campaign system looks great and should provide for some really interesting choices. Which fleets do you send out on assaults? Do you risk a 'scarred' ship? How do you allocate you points? It should provide some nice variety to the games of Armada that you play during the campaign.
There should be a couple of more previews for the Corellian Conflict. I expect one for the new squadrons and another for the new objectives. Hopefully we will see those over the next 3 weeks. Which would allow for the campaign to be released at the World Championships! So, maybe we will see it soon.
What do you think? Let me know.