Ten Thousand Systems – “My lord, is that… legal?”
The Separatist Alliance – or as they prefer to be called, the Confederacy of Independent Systems – was a breakaway secessionist movement that dragged the Galactic Republic to its demise. They were introduced in Attack of the Clones, and their tale more-or-less ended at the hands of Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith. They feature prominently in the animations, novels, and comics of the greater Star Wars canon. Wherever they are, you can expect a rogue’s gallery of cackling weirdos and their expendable droid armies.
Liberty Unchained – “There is a fine line between neutral and amoral.”
In Star Wars: Armada, the Separatists are a disruption-oriented faction built on expendable squadrons and powerful warships. Their ships are intensely cost-effective and benefit from a range of characters who debuff the opposition while supporting friendly action. Their innumerable droid squadrons are a liability without support, and a terror when commanded. The Separatist warfleet fares well in chaos of its own making, before decapitating an opponent and departing at speed.
The characteristics of the Separatist Alliance in Armada are:
- Good manoeuvrability and top speed
- Well-balanced defences
- Balanced ship batteries with an emphasis on double-arc attacks
- Small and cost-effective ship roster
- Cheap and expendable droid squadrons
- Droid squadrons require commands for effect
Commanding the Separatists – “I am programmed to resist intimidation.”
The bread-and-butter of the Separatist Alliance is disruption and attack. Their ships are strong, but each has obvious weaknesses. They deploy a range of obnoxious abilities that do little damage on their own, but set the opponent up for prolonged suffering. Meanwhile, the quality of their command tokens generation and manipulation is second-to-none. Facing a competent Separatist player feels like making steady progress against the odds… until a withering assault ends your game.
Separatist ships are cost-effective and benefit from over half a decade of game design and balancing experience. They are among the most recent releases and bring well-rounded (if inflexible) defences and forgiving firing arcs. Efficiency is the name of the game, and there are no duds in the roster. Manoeuvrability and top speed are good, but their ships share the Republic’s lack of duplicate defence tokens.
Their ship roster skews large, and is led by the Providence and Recusant. The Providence is a sturdy battleship and fleet carrier that can slot into most battle strategies. The Recusant is Armada’s finest glass cannon assault ship. It manoeuvres like a ship two sizes smaller, hits like a sledgehammer and is made of craft paper. The medium Munificent is widely considered best in its class, and is a star in the ranged support role. This whole formation is rounded out by rugged Hardcells flying in support or attack roles, and the specialized Gozanti from Rapid Reinforcements I.
Separatist commanders are… aesthetically deficient, and share a clear emphasis on debuffs and ruthless offence. Count Dooku and General Grievous screw with the enemy’s offensive plans. Admiral Trench pushes the faction’s token generation and command efficiency into the stratosphere. Kraken and Mar Tuuk bring a characteristically Separatist brand of offence to the faction: overwhelming numbers of enhanced ship attacks. Meanwhile, TF-1726 turns clever raiding into brutal firepower. This Alliance is fleet-focused and tends to use squadrons in an expendable support role. The standard playstyle is less about finessing squadrons and favours pinning the enemy under lethal gunfire.
Befitting their support role, Separatist squadrons are fast and cheap. Their droid aces are paper-thin, but have abundant Scatter + Brace token setups that keep them on the table. An adequately supported droid fighter screen will happily pin down a superior foe and club them to death. Droid squadrons suffer/benefit from the AI keyword, which leaves them ineffective without fleet commands and disproportionately powerful when commanded. Star Wars fans will be familiar with the droids’ dependence on central control.
The Separatists’ capabilities are not immediately intuitive, like Imperial brutality. It builds up in small doses before flipping the situation on its head. Like lead poisoning. The interplay of balanced warships and expendable squadrons is well-represented on the tabletop. That alone could get you far, but the Dark Side is about scheming and debilitation, after all. This faction is best appreciated in the arena of manoeuvre, assault, and disruption.
Key requirements for playing the Separatist Alliance to its full potential are:
- Knowing exactly when to stop upgrading your ships
- Screening ships with squadron escorts
- Disrupting enemy plans and creating opportunities
- Coordinating assaults at key moments in the battle
- Maintaining pressure
The Munificent is one of the best medium ships in Armada due to its cost-effectiveness. Generous shields, an adequate hull and useful defence tokens give it a waste-free defensive profile. Its main batteries are well-balanced and suited to a turning battle at range. Top speed? Mediocre. Manoeuvrability? Sublime. It turns like a small ship and shoddy top speed is the only thing stopping it from being totally broken. Its variants lean toward useful roles, rather than being two shades of one ship. The more affordable Comms Frigate is an efficient carrier. The Star Frigate is even more durable (with a Defensive Retrofit), and fills the ranged support role perfectly. This ship is equally comfortable with piles of upgrades and titles or just the essentials. And it comes in the Separatist Fleet Starter.
This is the Separatist’s catch-all flagship. Enjoy it. It’s a chunky block of points designed to fill a pivotal role in your fleet. The strong side batteries are incredibly easy to place on target, but suffer from poor shielding. The ship is well-rounded and flies best with a steady hand. The Providence’s variants are curiously inverted in their roles. The alleged Carrier is a superior frontline ship with its Defensive Retrofit and heavier anti-squadron fire. Meanwhile, the Dreadnought’s Weapon Team slot opens up squadron support possibilities in Flight Controllers and Ruthless Strategists. Get used to this quirk, and you’ll have a superb ship. Just remember to bring an escort and consider its spread of titles (defence, fire, squadrons) to further specialise. Invincible rocks.
Fast ship knocks out teeth. Fast ship leaves/dies. That’s the definitive Recusant experience and we love it. The most fragile and manoeuvrable large ship in Armada is positively built on focused aggression. Its front arc is so large it goes into the sides, making it the easiest double-arc attack in Armada. It turns like a small ship at top speed. Oh God it’s barely tougher than a medium and it’s a big target. Here’s how you Recusant: Pick a variant. The Light Destroyer is for kicking holes in enemy ships and the Support Destroyer is for giving your squadrons a nudge, and kicking smaller holes in enemy ships. Install Linked Turbolaser Towers. Build the Light Destroyer for assault with Boarding Troopers, External Racks and season to taste. Support Destroyers are more… nuanced. Consult my article on squadron setup and remember that building a carrier Recusant compromises on its main role. It’s longer ranged, but still an assault ship. Consider upgrades that benefit squadrons without having to command them. Like Reserve Hangar Deck and Hyperwave Signal Boost. Above all, remember Horatio Nelson’s words: No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.
General Grievous (Belbullab-22 Starfighter Squadron)
I’ve long felt a kinship with General Grievous. We both have a lung disability, bad posture, and mood regulation challenges. Grievous’ Belbullab-22 is expensive, really tough (Screen + two Braces) and a flying sledgehammer. His special ability opportunistically piledrives enemies that are bereft of readied (green) defence tokens. That can mean ships and aces who were weakened by his allies. But more importantly, generic squadrons have no defence tokens, so he massacres them while hiding behind his droid underlings. The most fun you can have with an otherwise questionably named fighter.
DIS-T81 (Droid Tri-Fighter Squadron)
This squadron eliminates all the issues of Interceptors by refusing to die. Its Scatter + Brace tokens are normally the best combination for an ace, but the real kicker is Snipe 3. DIS-T81 engages most enemy squadrons from outside of their range, and its attacks ignore obstruction. Optimal use for this bastard involves parking them in an obstruction (so you gain the benefit) and chipping at enemy squadrons with impunity. Your Scatter + Brace can address piecemeal ship flak, and the occasional straggler. A first choice in Separatist fleets.
Phlac-Arphocc-Prototypes (Droid Tri-Fighter Squadron)
Phlac-Arphoccs are the droid contribution to risk vs. reward gameplay. They ping an enemy squadron for one damage anytime it ends an activation within its engagement range. That includes those that activated and did nothing. One damage is a lot to fighters. It’s one-third of an A-Wing squadron, and one-sixth of Darth Vader (TIE Defender). The damage is not an attack and can’t be stopped by defence tokens, either. Naturally, this makes your Phlac-Arphoccs a priority target. Using them by carefully managing the number of squadrons you engage so that you don’t’ get focused down. Even when things aren’t going well, it’s still a really nasty interceptor, so it’s an easy win. Tri-Fighter aces rock.
DFS-311 (Vulture-class Droid Fighter Squadron)
This Vulture squadron joins DIS-T81 in obstruction play by forcing the opponent to reroll a die if this squadron is obstructed during an attack. This nearly negates ship-based flak and dramatically cuts down any squadron fire even before you usd its formidable Scatter + Brace. DFS-311 is also notable for being the Separatist’s only way to access Intel. It’s helpful when you remember it, but I don’t see a reason to build around the keyword. It’s a solid enough squadron on its own.
Shu Mai is a Separatist trade mogul who somehow moonlights as the Separatist Alliance’s best gunnery officer. She gives her ship two (non-consecutive rounds) of awesome anti-ship rerolls. You only select her activation rounds after deployment, which aids your decision-making. She is normally used on rounds 2 and 4 (aggressive deployment), or 3 and 5 (conservative deployment). My recommendation is to put her on ships with an abundance of red and black dice that are swingy and need rerolls. Red dice are particularly good for round 2 use, because they may be the only dice in range at the time. A prime candidate for your Recusant.
Wat Tambor (Officer)
Shield manipulation officer with a mechanical speech impairment. He converts ship shields (his ship, or nearby ships) into options. Burning two friendly shields lets him move four shields around. He can yoink two shields from a friendly to shore up his ship. He can use the engineering points to discard a painful face-up damage card. That friendly ship can deal with it using the Separatists’ amazing token generation. Wat Tambor is an excellent defensive pick for large ships at the centre of attention. Even better if you keep support ships close by to supply the shields he eats. That means a Parts Resupply + Tikkes Support Hardcell, or similar. Your strongest ships will be well-rewarded for supporting him.
An expensive upgrade for a competitive slot. B2s are used to deliver a once-per-round raid token, but also contribute some extra anti-squadron damage. They’re a prerequisite in TF-1726 fleets who get big damage from raiding, and can add to Dooku’s pressure play. In Dooku’s fleet, they add value to Asajj Ventress’ token heists. Although their usefulness is limited in fleets that don’t benefit from raiding, B2s do tilt the Separatist faction identity into disruptive gameplay.
Reserve Hangar Decks are cheap for what they do: respawning a non-unique Swarm squadron that died within ruler-range. The respawns arrive with 2 HP, and are activated (can’t use them this round). Separatists love them. Vultures and Tri-Fighters are your primary screening squadrons, die fast, and respawn at 66% HP. They’re awesome in fleets that use fighters for screening, rather than bombing and want respawns to further delay the enemy. Also excellent in General Grievous fleets to fuel his ability.
Conclusion – “A future where there are no Jedi!”
It took me a long time to appreciate the strengths of this faction: mobility, impact, and shenanigans. What does that experience bring? A well-rounded faction that deals in stress and command manipulation like no other, then follows it up with excellent firepower. The Separatist Alliance presents a worthy foe to the forces of justice and stability, and I’m sure they’ll remain beloved/appropriately despised for a long while.
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