Friday, December 30, 2016

Star Wars Armada: Dodonna's grudge against Vader

The last time Jason played Armada was long, long ago.... But he rocked around with 400pts of Imperials a couple of nights ago. The centrepiece of the Imperial task force was the an Imperial Star Destroyer commanded by Vader himeself. As we have all seen recently on the big screen,  (Mild spoiler) the  Dark lord commands those lumbering beasts like an aggressive badass. He had a pair of raider class corvettes as anti-fighter support as well as a half-dozen TIEs to try and fend off Rebel bombers. Most notably, he'd also pulled the incredibly rare Gladiator (p) out of mothballs. Rebel spies state they've never before observed a lone example of a Gladiator class without the Demolisher pattern engine refit. Dodonna had command of a Mon-Cal Mc80 Cruiser and a pair of Assault frigate Bs. The Mon Cal's hangers had two flights each of the latest A-Wings and B-Wings, with Tycho in command. They also had a pair of Y-Wing flights from Gold squadron, aging but almost like a talisman for the Alliance. The Imperials had initiative and chose 'Most Wanted', opting to avoid either tipping their hand via Superior Positions or letting through the dreaded Assault Frigate + Bombers Hyperspace assault. Dodonna has been itching for a personal bout with Vader since the battle of Yavin, how'd he go?

The first part of the Rebel battle plan was to throw their heavier squadrons into Vader's Star Destroyer early. They had sowed false Intel that an imperial defector was still on board the old style dreadnought pattern Assault frigate deployed to their left. Screening that ship was a second Asault Frigate with Dodonna on board, and in the Centre of the table, the Mon Cal and squadrons. The Imperials had just set up the Star Destroyer in front of Dodonnas Assault Frigate and a Raider corvette on either side with the TIEs. Then that Gladiator was on the Rebel's right, ready to hook into the Mon Cal's flank. So the Green flight and Tycho's Blue flight of A-wings raced in early, ostensibly to duel the Ties immediately to the right of the ISD, while the two lines of cap ships closed...

With it's longer range Comms, that Mon Cal kept precise control over all fighter flights. At just the right moment, Tycho pulled a series of skilled manoeuvres and slipped his engagement with the Ties. He cut hard left at maximum burn and engaged the other two Tie Flights screening that flank. This created an open door that two flights of B-Wings and Gold Squadron immediately exploited, getting some solid proton torpedo salvos on Vader's ISD. 

As the two big ships closed, their massive main gun volleys pummelled each other. With the Mon Cal poised to to deliver a broadside to both the ISD to its left, and the Gladiator to it's right, the ISD's fusillade penetrated it's shields and caused a power failure on it's main gun batteries. This restricted the big Rebel ship to targeting one ship each turn. However, with the early damage on it's shields due to the bomber strikes, Vader's ship quickly began to suffer hull damage when another bombing run was followed up by a Salvo from the Mon Cal's enhanced armaments. The Rebel squadrons were beginning to give ground though. Green flight's last A-Wing spiralled into an asteroid after taking a stabiliser hit, while a pair of Tie Flights used the cover of those asteroids to snipe Dagger flight's B-Wings, causing significant damage. 

Then Dodonna dropped the hammer, his Assault Frigate cut right, directly across the path of Vader's ISD, as maximum flank speed. Vader responded by ordering it take all forward batteries at close range, but the only minimal hull damage was sustained. This then necessitated emergency evasive action by both ships, causing yet more stress on their damaged hulls. Then Dodonna replied with red lances of heavy turbolaser fire from it's broadsides, which raked the nose of the massive Imperial flagship. It went down with all hands... bar whoever was piloting that small agile Tie that spiralled away from it's burning hanger bay, seconds before it exploded. 

As the battle entered it's second phase, things looked grim for the Imperials. One of the Raider Corvettes found itself sandwiched between both Assault Frigates and overwhelmed by their combined broadsides. It broke in two and exploded. The other Corvette was forced into rapid evasive manoeuvres by the closing jaws of Dodonna's Assault Frigate and the Mon Cal. Could a stunning Rebel victory be in the offing? 

That hope died quickly as a second volley of Assault concussion missiles savaged the Mon Cal at close range. It's shield capacitors were blown and the hull... well the hull is after all only that of a converted cruise liner. That big ship went down too. One tragedy was quickly followed by another as the Gladiator increased thrust and delivered another concussion missiles strike on Dodonna's flagship, also overwhelming its shields. Then the second Imperial Corvette came about and delivered the coup de grace at point blank range. 

With it unlikely that the Assault Frigate with the alleged Imperial defector could be eliminated in time, the fleets began to pull away from each other. Between the parting ships, the smaller scale drama of the fighter duel was also coming to a close. All B-Wings were destroyed but Tycho had managed to lead all of Gold Squadron's Y-Wings clear of the Imperial fighter net. The aging clone-wars era museum pieces had proved their sheer durability once more. 

That was a blast, cheers for the crazy slugfest Jason. I lost over half my fleet but getting double the points on the ISD was enough of a buffer to save me. I haven't played Armada in a while but am obviously on a Star Wars stint as Rogue one just came out. I saw that last night, and now I think I really need flotillas - seriously, what's with taking transports even to suicide missions? They must do something amazing yet hidden! Also, obviously, a hammerhead cruiser, when they release this. In the meantime, there is Phoenix Home, Rogues, and the new campaign system to get. Roll on Disney/FFG consumerism. 

Thanks for reading.

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