Some List Archetypes - Tactical Guide
Updated Pre Wave 5.
The idea for a graphic occurred to me yesterday and I thought I'd use it as an instructional tool here for another Tactical guide!
This article is laid out as some list suggestions to start with. Unfortunately I don't play enough armada daily to get a real look at the world state on Armada, so this is just how I would approach listbuilding. I should also note that I'm in the SF Bay area meta, which seems to be a separate meta from the rest of the country..
The Gencon special is so-named for the first Gencon win in Armada, created by user IceQube (his thoughts are [url="https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/183984-gencon-2015-thoughts-from-the-top-table/"]here[/url]). This list type would be defeated by Johnathan Reinig a while later at Worlds, giving attention to massed squadrons. However, Gencon specials are still an interesting basis for a list with minor tweaks for upgrades or small fighters.
Advantages: Simply having more activations gives you a lot of flexibility as either player. On either side, you can activate ships that are not likely to be fired upon when they start or finish movement, forcing your opponent to act first and move into range (something Rebels have an advantage with by operating the cheapest ship in the game- GR75s at 18 points).
Having so many ships with few upgrades makes a ships' loss be not felt so hard when it goes down. Since you have more ships, you're losing close to only the base cost of the vessel you paid for.
Weaknesses: What ultimately took the Gencon special down (in it's neo-form) was a list with two A/Fs, a corvette, and 8 A-Wings. Johnathan's CR-90 was placed first, and by finding out where the Gencon special was going for the objective, he dropped A-Wings into the paths of oncoming ships while he flew away. Because the Gencon special is usually running upgrade light it loses the flexibility to deal with challenges like fighter swarms. Typically to get around this you need to power through the fighters and focus on destroying the capital ships almost to the exclusion of everything else.
Construction: The purpose of a Gencon special list is relying on the inherent strengths of your units, so most of your points are going into plain ships. The original Gencon special bought a VSD and three Gladiators with only one upgrade apiece (two for Demolisher on one GSD).
Modern takes on the Gencon special might consider Flotillas, but there's a reason FFG mandated these things do no damage when they collide. Moreover Flotillas don't do a lot of damage when they engage... I'd recommend a limit between Large ships (ISD/MC-80) and just above the corvettes (stopping at GSDs/MC30s).
Upgrades: You'll typically want to go upgrade-light, since the idea is to cram as many ship-activations into your list as possible while still having some effectiveness. You'll also be leaning on your commander a lot with this list, since his/her one ability covers the entire fleet, in addition to being a mandatory card.
For reference the original Gencon special leaned on Screed, powering every ship's Assault Concussion Missile card, to guarantee maximum damage. This was in the era before things like Ordnance Experts and Assault Proton Torpedoes, the latter of which would certainly be in place for a modern Gencon special version.
The best Commanders for Gencon specials in the very least are Rieekan and Motti, which increase the resilience of your ships that you field to the table. Both commanders make those activations last longer and the ships fight beyond their normal limits.
Permutations: The notion of all-hull-few-upgrades has a few permutations available. One of them is simply three ISDs with Motti and a few mixed upgrades, relying on the sheer mass of the best ship in the game. Another is an entire squadron of Ordnance Expert + Assault Proton Torpedo carriers under Rieekan.
I was really dismissive of Raiders until I examined this list type and read up on what Clon was doing. This is a specific permutation of the Gencon special worth mentioning because of how well it works.
Construction: Your key piece in this list is a GSD-I Demolisher. On it, you take Engine Techs, your favorite torpedo (Assault Proton Torpedoes are vogue now), and an Intel officer. This is your bludgeon, and what your opponent is most likely to fear.
The rest of the list is made up of Raiders. Under Screed you can dispense with Ordnance Experts for critical control, and instead take only massed Assault Proton Torpedoes.
It is essential to have enough points in your list to bid for initiative as well, since you want to go first.
Advantages: This list works like gencon by having a high number of activations. Remote Raiders can toggle until your prey is in position to unleash Demolisher. When the Raiders do attack, Screed gurantees that they are landing at least one critical hit on their target. That is the power behind APTs, which in my view are becoming one of the hottest cards in the game for this ability.
The other advantage to this list is Demolisher's ability to "tripple-tap". To do this Demolisher races into range at speed 3-4 (with engine techs) to deliver the first volley as the last activation of the turn. If you have initiative, on your next turn Demolisher activates once more... either attacking twice from its current position or splitting the attacks with a move... all on a single target. Combining APTs with the massed damage available out of black damage is not a pretty sight for whatever Demolisher has chosen to attack. To borrow a phrase, it is Super Effective.
Weaknesses: Demolisher was dictating the meta for a time and the Rebels have had a hard time trying to counter it, but there are a few options to defeat Demolisher. One is massed fighters, which don't have much to fear from Demolisher except trying to catch and destroy it. The rest of the list is made up of very flimsy Raiders which crumple under massed fire that say, a horde of B-Wings can dish out. Rieekan's ascendance owes very much to Demolisher's presence.
In a Wave 5 world we're having new squadrons, the Pelta, and the stand-off range Arquitens joining the universe to try to put a halt on Demolisher. Demo and friends also face problems with the Interdictor. Savvy Demolisher Drivers can find ways to activate outside of the Interdictor's G-8 range... but there may be a ruling affecting Engine Techs, which inhibits' Demolisher's speed 4 run that made it so deadly.
Upgrades: I doubt you can get by without Screed being in this list, yoked to his favorite missile (ACM/APT). Ordnance Experts are optional so as to control the rest of your damage output.
Permutations: You can juggle the mix of Raiders to Gladiators some. Where a pure clonisher list runs four RDRs I think, I run three with a couple of GSD-Is and had the same table-wiping experience against my unfortunate opponent when I tried it.
Fighters have seen a strong resurgence in the past few waves, likely to make up for how lackluster they seemed in Wave 1. As a result, this space which used to hold my space patrol list is replaced with one of my attempts at finding a satisfactory capital ship build. I think with some tweaking it could work. The list combines the heavy firepower out of VSDs with an Interdictor.
Advantages: The high hull of this list, combined with the board flexibility of the Interdictor, in theory allows multiple activations with high hull and good firepower. Moreover, by having access to Grav Shift Re-route, you can tow a contested outpost to your side of the board.
I alternate the VSD configurations between I and IIs. In my I configurations I pump them with Expanded Launchers backed with Ordnance Experts to, on a good day, deal a whopping 16 damage if all dice perform to maximum firepower... 14 if the Gods smile and I get an accuracy with all doubles. I've made a fresh GSD disappear before with a similar VSD-I in the wave 1 days, I long for that potential again.
Initial versions of this list also took three Gozanti squadrons... two with comms nets and another with repair team. The Comms net passing gave the list a lot of flexibility that could help it adapt to a lot of different situations... so long as the GZs didn't need their command dials for anything.
Weaknesses: VSDs have the almost crippling problems of speed and (ironically) protection. Specifically, they cannot close the distance fast enough to use their second line of dice before they take too many hits at range. VSDs also lack the protection against fighters.
To refine the list, I'd like to experiment dropping the GZs for decent fighter cover. Until I've had some better practice with fighters, this remains a weakness of the list.
Construction: The center of the list is three medium ships, the Support Interdictor and two VSDs of either configuration. VSD-Is can take Expanded Launchers or Assault Proton Torpedoes, VSD-IIs can take SW-7s for maximized damage or Overload Pulse to blow away defense tokens.
Two VSDs and an INT can be augmented by a few ships of your choice. While I did Gozantis, you may want to take a better fighter cover.
Upgrades: The two areas key to this list are your VSD's capabilities and which experimental upgrades are on your Interdictor. I already went a little over what to do with your VSDs, and part of that depends on whom your Commander is. Screed, for instance, enables all your critical effects like missiles and ions (put on your Interdictors) to trigger reliably.
Permutations: The swing in this list is pretty much which VSDs you want to take and what secondary ships augment your big three. My initial list was three Gz, but you may want to consider beefing up the fighter complement, or perhaps investing in a Raider.
I get very few games of Armada a week... and my opponent runs a list like this. With the fighter meta in so much ascendance now this kind of list is only going to get stronger with so many fighters to choose from.
The core of this list is Yavaris with a couple of Flotillas (carrying Bomber command Centers) on support, partnered with a ton of fighters (usually X-Wings and B-Wings). Primarily defensive, it is nevertheless a powerful opponent.
Advantages: The core of your fighting list is really in your fighters, with Yavaris squeezing the most firepower out of as few squadrons as possible. With B-Wings especially this can be particularly deadly against slow-moving capital ships. B-Wings with multiple BCCs (and Toryn Farr) can help Bombers maximize their damage potential to increase damage to 2-3 hits per attack on a capital ship. Combined with a lot of small attacks, I find it as effective as Demolisher when it comes to wrecking ships.
Weaknesses: I still struggle against this list, though it will find a match in an equal squadron that brings a lot of fighters specifically to kill it. I haven't tried facing it with objectives to force the Yavaris out of a defensive position yet.
Rebel lists as a whole though suffer from being very allergic to APT blasts. Demolisher crashing through those fighters can one-shot the Yavaris pretty well, and start to take out the escorts pretty quick if Yavaris' fighters can turn around and destroy the Demolisher quick enough. If Demo is running in with Instigator that may happen later rather than sooner.
Construction: An Escort Frigate Yavaris is at the core of your list, along with a healthy mix of good fighters. I would recommend starting with X-Wings and B-Wings and alternating from there. Flotillas are also a good option.
Upgrades: Yavaris most certainly. Your Commander could be anyone... Dodonna makes the best out of your bombers to kill ships quickly, Mon Mothma with Flotillas allows the evade tokens to be used into close range, Rieekan aces are even tougher to kill. The only Admiral not really recommended is Ackbar, for obvious reasons.
Permutations: Your alternations are mostly going to either be in your fighter selections or which ships complement your BCC-carrying Flotillas and Yavaris. You can do things between souped-up MC30s to Liberties to Assault Frigates, or the new Pelta.
Star Hammer was the name I had for this list, though it goes by other names. "Ackbar Whaling fleet" is one of them. The premise is taking all broadside attack ships and laying down a wall of fire out of the left and right arcs against ships that try to approach. This list, proxied, killed my favorite Space Patrol list I had been using at the dawn of Wave 2. It's appearance touched off what I call the Ackbar arms race, which is what happened to meta developments over Wave 2. With Ackbar on the field, Demolisher and Rhymer (Small assault ships and fighters) came into the fray to stop it, forcing the Rebels to adopt to other tactics to overcome the new things that guided the meta.
As a result the Starhammer build has been largely superceded by Fighters and smallships. I leave it here though, since someday it may come back in ascendance.
Advantages: Starhammer puts out an extraordinary amount of dice downrange at targets (You can max ~19 red dice on a single target through concentrate fire). This can even outgun ISDs and VSDs, which throgh lack of evade had little in the way of response to it. Gunnery teams also allow those Assault Frigates to engage different targets as well. Loading up XI7s on every ship, with intel officers, allows you to start crushing things at a distance.
The biggest advantage of Ackbar is just weight in firepower. Even if you cannot guarantee the best roll out of all those red dice, the potential for maximum damage at engagement range is just absurd. It was the beginning for the end for big ships.
Weaknesses: With Ackbar outgunning everyone easily the meta shifted to two things Ackbar couldn't crush well: fighters and MSUs. They remain the weakness of this list.
In the case of the former Ackbar does little to stop massed fighters on the approach, except for what AA fire is available on the ships he is taking. You could start to claw points away from your broadsiders to take more fighters as a compromise, but with Intel now an item in the meta, you may need more fighters to claw through a dedicated bomber list with intel support than you would like.
MSUs on the other hand are much trickier. On one hand they can out-activate your big ships and wait until you're in optimal range for something like a Demolisher rush. On the other, crowding a single firing arc with too many targets to engage means those small ships (like the Clonisher list above) are going to get in close and start dealing APT blasts to your ships.
- Last edited Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:49 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Feb 29, 2016 8:50 pm
We've done some test runs against the ClonTroper style swarm to figure out strengths and weaknesses. It is a ridiculous risk/reward fleet and bases it's entire strategy on winning the bid.
The one we tested was actually a GSD/ISD/Raider/Raider version against the 'Star Hammer' AF/AF/MC80 setup. The Demolisher is right at the threshold of wiping out an Assault Frigate reliably and well within reason to wipe out an MC80 with a lucky roll the way he built it. This is assuming a Demolisher added front arc shot followed by a double tap as first activation.
The 'Star Hammer' (we need a better name) worked well(ish) when I didn't maneuver it normally. I ended up putting a three ships together and facing my opponent. With the bases being close, he couldn't reliably hit one ship without then exposing himself after the activation to at least one major broadside and maybe 2 from Ackbar ships.
As a brand new Armada player I wanted to thank you for this list and graphical presentation along with the explanations for each build. Will give me a lot to think about before my first game.
1GG to you sir!
Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
If you are looking for an article to attack, Michael, then this one could really go for an update. It would be fun to see new updates on this article to reflect waves 3-5.