This is probably the biggest content release for Star Wars: Armada players for the year, so let’s do something about it. Hi, it’s Summer. I paid for the whole seat, but I only need the edge.
Rapid What? – “You haven’t forgotten our ways. That has earned my respect.”
For the unfamiliar, Star Wars: Armada was transferred from its Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) to its current publisher, Atomic Mass Games (AMG). You may know AMG as the crew behind the acclaimed Marvel Crisis Protocol and the upcoming Star Wars: Shatterpoint. They’re also the current publisher of every Star Wars tabletop game released by FFG. This includes Star Wars: Legion, the X-Wing Miniatures Game, and Star Wars: Armada.
For Armada players, the license transfer didn’t go as smoothly as we’d hoped. Upon receiving these product lines, AMG put Armada on a development hiatus and focused its efforts on its other games.
Rapid Reinforcements is basically all the widely available content we’ve gotten for the last few years. It’s Armada’s print-and-play content expansion range that will hopefully keep the game alive long enough for support to resume. We’re talking support in the form of new releases and rules revisions.
Rapid Reinforcements packs are released as free, printable cards for player use. Do it yourself, or get a print service to do it for you. Rapid Reinforcements content is treated as valid in standard gameplay. You can bring them to tournaments and they’re part of the Armada rules canon. They just came from your inkjet.
The bad news is that Armada has a passionate fanbase and we’re salivating for support. This content drought has been really difficult for the fanbase. The good news is that Rapid Reinforcements is cool and free. That alone is enough to get us excited.
Rapid Reinforcements II – “Yeah, not even you can see into hyperspace, Sev.”
Rapid Reinforcements II was announced on 26 March at Adepticon. It landed in our laps on April 19, 2023. A perfect ambush.
Rapid Reinforcements II arrives with one new ace per faction. There are also two commanders and two officers spread equally between factions. So basically, one squadron and one upgrade card per faction. This is a fairer spread than Rapid Reinforcements I, in which the Separatists were stiffed out of a squadron.
So what do we think?
Governor Pryce gives the Empire an expensive and powerful dice control officer. 7 points puts her into the deep end of the officer price tag, and the Imperial officer slot is notoriously stuffed with excellent options. To compete, she gets an eye-popping ability.
Pryce damages her ship’s shields in exchange for the superb ability to set a die to the result of your choice. Our thoughts naturally drift to the brutal hit + crit result on black dice, or the double hit on red dice. She can also dig up a vital accuracy result from red and blue dice. She works on Salvo attacks, too. You can’t add dice to Salvo attacks, but you can modify them otherwise. That use case doesn’t even count against her once-per-activation rule because it triggered during an enemy activation.
Pryce’s announcement was met with glee by Imperial players who saw their devastatingly powerful Onagers buffed again. She’s made for the Onager. Her self-inflicted damage means very little to a backfield sniper. She benefits any other Imperial ship with a large shield pool, too. The Super Star Destroyer, four flavours of Imperial-class Star Destroyer, and the Venator all await her posting.
Her disadvantages are basically cost and self-damage. The self-damage rule defines her counterplay: if her damage-dealing arcs are stripped of shields, she’s useless. Unlike officers who provide continuous benefit, Pryce deteriorates as the battle progresses. Another reason to use her in the backfield camping Onager.
Strong pick. Very good.
Vult Skerris is a TIE Interceptor ace. He gets a deadly Scatter + Evade defence token suite, and his Counter attack hits as hard as a TIE Interceptor’s standard attack. His standard attack is also buffed, with two black dice replacing two blue dice. The TIE Interceptor’s base attack averages 2 damage against squadrons (before modifiers). Skerris’ base attack averages 2.5 damage against squadrons (before modifiers). That’s a flat 25% damage increase, and you still have Swarm for re-rolling for one of those dice.
The catch? He’s tied for the most expensive TIE Interceptor Ace with Soontir Fel and his special ability is actually disadvantageous. He can’t make non-Counter attacks during the Squadron phase. If he’s not backed by a Squadron Command, his standard attack is ruled out.
That makes him a tough call for me, because the Imperial ace roster is filled with phenomenal options. Imperial aces have to be excellent to get picked in competitive settings. Skerris wants to be an attacker and counter-fighter, but he needs a lot of setup. I like the idea, but I don’t see him reaching the top tables while Darth Vader (TIE Defender) still terrorises us.
Oh, and if you have quality taste, you can spend a fabulous number of points on Dengar, Howlrunner, and Instructor Goran to get Skerris up to Counter 7. This is a bad idea, but very funny. Which makes it a good idea.
General Draven hails from Rogue One, which automatically makes me like him. His rules break away from Rebel convention by disrupting the enemy. That’s a very Separatist gameplay style. Rebels commanders usually make your fleet better at killing, surviving, or running away.
His shtick is disruption. He denies an opponent their most powerful commands for two rounds of your choice. That’s ruinous for fleets who rely on executing specific commands at crucial points. Draven is almost a hard counter to squadron fleets. Their carrier was going to use a Squadron dial to command five squadrons? No. It now commands one squadron. Their Imperial-class Star Destroyer needed a Navigate dial to get its guns on target? No guns on target for you.
Squadron fleets hate Draven, but he’s useful against other opposition too. Disrupting two rounds worth of Navigate commands against a swarm fleet is still a massive advantage. He just won’t dumpster them.
An interesting card that makes squadron players cry. If you were sick of Admiral Sloane’s dominance in your local meta, bring this guy. His laser-like focus on disruption also makes him a very flexible commander for fleet-building. He’s not locked to specific ship classes or fleet archetypes. He just demands a force that can leverage the opportunity he opens up.
We’ll need an FAQ for how he interacts with commanders like Admiral Piett, though.
Fenn Rau is the Rebellion’s new team play ace. As long as you activate him via a Squadron Command, he commands another two nearby allied squadrons. 7 HP with Escort is sturdy, too. You can ignore that Assault keyword. That was always the worst part of Gauntlets.
The arithmetic here is brutal. Hitting him with a squadron command adds another two squadron commands to the activation. That’s an entire flotilla’s value in squadron boosting. He can extend a ship’s command range with his range, or daisy-chain a VCX-100’s Relay ability to take it further. Rau joins Hera and Jan Ors in a long tradition of support excellence. You just have to be mindful of his terrible anti-squadron firepower (for the cost) and fairly high cost.
He’s really cool. And not just because I just finished binging The Mandalorian Season 3, where the Gauntlet makes some incredible appearances.
Remember that Rebels have very powerful Squadron commands due to their high value fighters, and struggle with their lack of dedicated carriers. He’s a natural fit for the faction. I see him being central to a small fighter group, where your GR-75’s Squadron 2 converts into 5 commands. 2 from a dial, 1 from a token, and 2 from Fenn Rau.
Now this is force multiplication.
Anakin Skywalker’s can be interpreted in several ways. No matter how you interpret his rules, he’s busted. He is now the game’s premier Salvo commander (sorry Luminara), and one of the best offensive commanders.
He definitely allows your ships to perform a Salvo attack after making a regular attack against enemy ships. The ‘once per activation’ wording also implies that he can be used during enemy activations, or else it would refer to ‘your activation’. His purpose is aggression at the risk of recklessness, which lines up perfectly with the character.
Where it all comes apart is how many questions go unanswered. Can Anakin break the two-attacks-per-round core rule by adding a third Salvo attack onto his ships’ activation after double-arcing an opponent? Seems to be the case. Can he effectively Salvo twice in response to an enemy attack by spending one Salvo normally, then using his ability? This would bypass the rule of only spending one defence token per attack because he is initiating a fresh Salvo attack. This would also let his Venators nut 8 dice in return-fire during an enemy’s turn. That’s the Imperial-class Star Destroyer’s weight in firepower in return-fire.
As long as he can manage his aggression, he can rack up an outrageous amount of bonus firepower. Make your opponents suffer for their crime of playing the game.
I love Anakin and I love Salvo gameplay. But I’m going to have a hard time playing him until we get an FAQ to clarify exactly how broken he is. Luminara – the Republic’s previous Salvo commander – is already halfway into the grave. Just one more kick to finish the job.
Matchstick is the Republic’s bomber group leader. He only costs 4 points more than the generic BTL-B Y-Wing for a double-Brace and great area buff ability.
As long as he’s not engaged, nearby allied bombers radius gain Rogue. Rogue is a premium keyword, so dishing it out as an aura is awesome. He is also a friendly bomber to himself, so he gets the bonus too.
The play is straightforward. Matchstick reduces your bomber group’s reliance on carriers by giving them Rogue. Your Y-Wings and ARC-170s deployed via Hyperspace Rings or Fighter Ambush don’t need to wait for carriers to catch up. They can actually use their favourable positioning to launch the first strike. Of course, attacking without the rest of the fleet can leave you dangerously open to the enemy’s fighter screen. I love the whole package.
His counterplay is also obvious. If an enemy fighter even gets close to him, his ability just switches off. Consider bringing Kit Fisto for Intel keyword so that a single enemy squadron can’t lock Matchstick down.
Matchstick also gives the ARC-170 a new purpose. But, it has horrendous mobility and forward deploying them with something like Hyperspace Rings is basically mandatory. That can leave them badly positioned for actual bombing. With Matchstick flying with ARC-170s, you have a wonderful symbiosis where Matchstick buffs them while they provide protection to the bomber group. That kind of cooperation is the heart of Republic gameplay. I love ARCs. I just think they’re beautiful.
I think that this is an excellent case of a support squadron that opens up new possibilities. This is also the first time Republic players can access Rogue, so that’s great.
Asajj Ventress is a Separatist officer and I see one use for her: Count Dooku fleets. Fitting for Dooku’s apprentice.
She’s used to disrupt enemy ships that have Raid tokens. Twice the disruption, double the… something. Remove the enemy’s Raid token, but steal a command token! Dooku’s whole thing is dishing out Raid tokens to the entire enemy fleet. They belong together.
Her usage is super specific, though. She wants lots of Raid Tokens, which means Jedi Hostage and B2 Rocket Troopers. She wants to be on a ship that attacks often and has a high Command value to store your stolen tokens. You’re likely to put her on a Providence or Recusant for these requirements. The list of needs and her reliance on Dooku limit her usage to one niche.
Dooku and Raid tokens have gotten a bad rap in Armada for a long time. I’m glad that such a maligned mechanic is getting a buff, but Raid needs a lot of work before it’s really good. I would have liked a more versatile officer, but I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
Wat Tambor is an ace without a special ability. He’s more of a super-squadron than a traditional ace. For 5 points over the terribly named Belbullab-22, he gets a Brace + Evade token suite, upgrades his anti-ship die to black, and gains Escort.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: he’s a meat shield.
He has good defence tokens. He’s the first Separatist Escort, so he draws a lot of fire. He’ll always be surrounded by cheap Vulture and Tri-Fighters to trigger Screen and improve his defences. Under ideal conditions, an enemy squadron attacking him suffers up to four rerolls of your choice (1 from Evade, 3 from Screen). If the attacker somehow squeezed 2 points of damage through, Wat Tambor Braces it to 1.
With 5 HP, I don’t actually see a one-cyborg army for fighter escort. He will die from cumulative chip damage. He’s a delaying tool. A taunt Paladin. He makes the enemy attack him and then grinds those attacks down into frustrating chip damage. He buys time for the rest of your squadrons to do their jobs.
I like the concept. If you’re taking a Belbulab-22, I think he’s the best way to do it. Bring General Grievous to replenish his defence tokens.
It’s Good News – “On and on until we win… or the chances are spent.”
Armada players are a resilient lot, considering how long it’s been since we saw a product release. If and when a physical release hits us, we’re going to make restocking an absolute nightmare. Rapid Reinforcements keeps the dream alive, but it also reflects the quality of Armada’s game design. Rapid Reinforcements I was just 7 pieces of print-at-home cardboard that shook up competitive play for multiple factions. Now we’ve got whole new commanders and support squadrons par excellence.
I hope this is the springboard for more Armada releases. I want more ships. I want to flatten those Legion grunts with the awesome power of my Star Destroyers.
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