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Game review: Armada, Imperial Assault packs deliver Star Wars excitement
Star Wars: Armada, from Fantasy Flight Games, re-creates the epic space battles form the Star Wars movies and features fun spaceship miniatures. - photo by Cody K. Carlson
Star Wars: Armada

Star Wars: Armada is the newest Star Wars themed tabletop game from Fantasy Flight Games. In Armada, players take on the roles of fleet admirals as they command fleets of imperial or rebel capital ships in space combat.

Armada's core set comes with one Imperial Victory Class Star Destroyer, one Rebel Corellian Corvette and one Rebel Nebulon B Frigate. The game also features six Imperial TIE Fighter squadrons and four Rebel X-Wing Fighter squadrons. Additionally, the core set boasts tokens, rangefinders, a maneuver tool and mountains of ship and upgrade cards.

Players begin by building their fleets (something that becomes more important with a second core set and future expansions) by spending 300 deployment points on ships, squadrons and upgrades. The game takes place over the course of six rounds in which players maneuver and battle for dominance.

Each round is divided into four phases. During the command phase each player secretly selects a command for each of his ships. The larger the ship, the more command dials it has, though only one is resolved per round, meaning some players will have to plan in advance. Players can change their ship's speed, concentrate fire for more dice in combat, activate squadrons to use their fighters out of the regular sequence, or initiate repairs.

During the ship phase each capital ship can attack enemy ships in range, firing twice from any of its four firing arcs. Damaged ships must lower shields on the hit sides before taking damage, though different defense tokens can be spent to mitigate damage. Next, ships may maneuver around the play area using a clever maneuver tool that simulates the slow, clunky movement of heavy capital ships.

During the squadron phase, players alternate moving two squadrons, which can move in any direction but can only attack when within close range of targets. When a squadron comes within close range of an enemy squadron, the two are engaged and may not move away or attack anything else until unengaged. During the status phase, players take care of housekeeping for the next round.

The game ends when one side's capital ships are all destroyed or at the end of the sixth game round. In that case, the player who destroyed more of the enemy ships and squadrons wins the game.

Though Star Wars: Armada looks an awful lot like Fantasy Flight Games' earlier Star Wars title, the popular X-Wing Miniatures, the two are really very different games. Where X-Wing is about the quick maneuvering and dog fighting of fighters, Armada re-creates the grand space battles from the Star Wars movies. Armada gives players a lot of options, like spending defense tokens to mitigate an enemy's attack and secretly planning your command tactics, often several moves ahead. For these reasons, Armada is a much more strategic game than X-Wing.

With Star Wars: Armada, Fantasy Flight Games proves once again that the Star Wars franchise is in good hands for tabletop gaming. Fans of Star Wars will have a field day with Armada, and with the newest film in the series, "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" only a few months away, this is the perfect time to jump into Stars Wars games.

Ages: 14+

Time: 2 Hours

MSRP: $99 (The game can be found online in the $60-$70 range).

Star Wars: Imperial Assault: Ally & Villain Packs

Though Star Wars: Imperial Assault was only released last December, it has quickly become one of Fantasy Flight Games' biggest sellers of all time. The core game, a Star Wars-themed dungeon crawl, features a grand campaign game for two to five players, as well as a two-player skirmish game. Though the core game featured many beautiful miniatures, several key characters from the Star Wars universe like Han Solo, Chewbacca and others were represented only by cardboard tokens.

Now, Fantasy Flight Games has released a number of ally and villain packs that feature miniatures, as well as new scenarios and cards to expand both the campaign game and skirmish games.

The new releases feature the aforementioned Han Solo and Chewbacca, as well as the treacherous bounty hunter IG-88, the Imperial Royal Guard Champion, a pack of three Rebel Troopers and a pack of two Rebel saboteurs. The Imperial General Weiss villain pack also contains a special version of the AT-ST, the immense, two-legged imperial walker that brings some really heavy fire power to the table.

While the miniatures are very cool, and build upon the toy factor that this game brings, the expanded scenarios for the skirmish game and campaign game really add a lot to the Imperial Assault experience. For instance, Chewbacca's skirmish scenarios feature a daring rescue from an imperial prison, while Han Solo's feature adventures trying to make contacts in the Corellian underground. General Weiss' skirmishes offer scenarios set in an imperial weapons lab. All the packs also feature command cards, which give players more options in the skirmish game.

Are the ally and villain packs necessary? Not at all. The Imperial Assault core game contains hours and hours of Star Wars adventures, so expansions probably won't really be necessary for most players for a long time to come. Still, the ally and villain packs are a whole lot of fun, and do bring some exciting new adventures to both modes of play. And again, the miniatures are just fantastic to play with.

Ages: 14+

Time: 1-2 hours/per scenario

MSRP: Between $10 and $20/per pack