This last weekend was a crazy one for me. About once a month when I have a get together with my buddy Ken and we go nuts on a game called Star Wars X-wing, a game that focuses on fighter sized ship-to-ship combat. Well, this last weekend Ken and I both did something a little different. Ken had managed to pick up a copy of Star Wars Armada and I managed to pick up a copy of Star Wars Imperial Assault. Excluding the new card game that has been released for Star Wars, we managed to cover all the Star Wars card game, and we managed to definitely hit all the tabletop games. I am so impressed and made completely broke by FFG and their commitment to these board games and the quality that they demand in the game material. So today we are getting a three for one about these exceptional games and how they are played.
Every time someone asks me about X-wing they almost always ask me “yeah it looks cool, but how much did it cost?” My answer is always “not that much if you just want to play the game” honestly if you want to enter competitive play for X-wing it will cost you money. You will have to buy ships that you won’t use for cards that are essential for the metagame and you will have to invest in multiple factions. That being said if you just love star wars and want to play with your buddies and you want to recreate some cool fights (Slave One versus Millennium Falcon) then you are looking at a 100 dollar investment and if you have a buddy that wants to go half then you can each get a core set and the “classic” ships for about 60 dollars each and that’s the price of a video game.
Now as for Armada and Imperial Assault each core set starts at 100 dollars so that initial buy-in is a little harder. On top of that, of course, you have to take in if you are playing competitively or just for fun. The core sets for all three games do have most of your iconic Star Wars characters and vehicles from the original trilogy. Imperial Assault has the stats for Chewbacca and Han but they are tokens.
In my opinion, you get the most important face off in the whole series though and that is, of course Luke vs Darth Vader in beautifully detailed minis. In Armada, you get a nebula class frigate, the Corvette, a star destroyer, and both X-wing squads and tie fighter squads. All of this comes with the multitude of tokens and dice that you need. Honestly, with these core sets, we didn’t need to get any extra pieces or dice so that’s the buy-in for me. Again if you have a friend willing to half the price with you, you’re looking at less than the price of a video game.
The second hesitation I hear from a lot of people about tabletop games is the rules. All three of these games had two base rulebooks and there are other things you need to know. X-wing has just two rulebooks that explain the general rules and has quick reference guides that are important to have around for your first couple of games. There is an FAQ that updates the rules but if you are just doing this for fun you probably won’t have the ships that needed to be balanced. With X-wing you have a winner takes all, fight to the death that uses rulers and firing arcs to create a situation where you don’t know where your opponent is going and you are constantly trying to outsmart them.
Armada was very fun with a whopping three rulebooks. Which again includes a pretty nifty quick reference guide. The other two rulebooks came with the epic play and rules as well. The game was easily explained to me in about 15 minutes and we went through the whole game without too many breaks for rules checks.
Armada was different from X-wing because the game focused on objectives. The movement and perk planning are much more strategic and deliberate. Things like speed are set and actually known to the other player, but taking out capital ships is hard and you only get 6 turns. This forces Armada into a careful strategy game where completing objectives is the main focus in order to get victory points. The player with the highest number of victory points at round 6 wins the game.
Now Imperial Assault comes out with a grand total of 4 rulebooks but there is a good reason for this. Imperial Assault has two different ways to play and one of those ways actually includes more than 2 players. So you have a basic rulebook and the quick guide. Also, you have a skirmish guide and a campaign guide. The campaign guide in Imperial Assault covers a campaign guide that is partially from story campaign in the book itself and bonus missions that incorporate pieces that all of the players choose. There are 4 rebel characters who pick their “character” and their side missions. The single Imperial player (who usually has the most experience) picks his technology tree and his side missions and they play through the missions like an adventure book. What I mean by adventure book is that there are always two options with either an imperial win or a rebel win and the next mission is based on who wins that. Each mission has a little tie in the hook so that it is themed but I find it best to just let that part go and simply play the game.
Imperial Assault also comes with a 2-person mode called “skirmish” where two players have it out. There are two main ways to win a skirmish but there is definitely a strategic element in that as well. Players can win by completely eliminating the opposition or completing objective that equal victory points. The first player to 40 victory points wins so if you ignore the objective the other player can rack those points up before you kill him.
Honestly out of the whole weekend I enjoyed playing Imperial Assault the most. The maps are always different because each extra piece has its own mission and map. I will admit that putting together and organizing the tiles was a real pain, but it was worth it. The gameplay was fast and fluid, the turns were figure to figure so you almost always had a hand in what was going on, the maps were cool and the objectives fun, and it’s always fun to put all of these iconic characters on the board like Luke, Obi-Wan, and Darth Vader. Every map that was played had a different feel to it and made for completely different experiences. For instance, my wife had bought me the Boba Fett expansion for my birthday so of course, I was using that mini. Unfortunately, I used him wrong every time I played, but what got me was that I used him wrong in a unique way every time.
Armada was a brilliant game and I always enjoy the game itself. It is well built and also flows well. Sometimes I had that annoying waiting-for-my-turn-to-start feeling every now and then but overall it was good. I had the feeling like I was controlling these massive capital ships that kind of bumped around and my favorite part was that the game makes sense from a cannon perspective. I had managed to get my ships around the back end of the star destroyer and since they have basically no power from the rear I had a hay day. On that note, I was still unable to kill the destroyer in the game.
X-wing of course is my first love and by far the game I have the most money and experience in. It is a fast paced snub fighter death combat and I play to win. On that note, I did not win… multiple times. That ok though because X-wing is a fluid game that has you constantly asking “what is my opponent about to do” every move is planned for every ship before anyone starts to move so you sit there and watch, trying to guess the next move or intention. Every round for me is a nail biter and any problem can be fixed by cool piloting and a good ship build. Nothing is more satisfying to me when you line up that shot by literal millimeters.
All of these games have a completely unique feel to them and offer their own flavor. No matter what you choose to play you can enjoy a vibrant community, beautifully detailed models (that are not painted in Imperial Assault and Armada ship squadrons), and a game that has replay value like no other.
Got a friend who might want to go half with you on a core set or just someone you’re trying to get into the game? Then give this article a share and leave a comment about which game you are the most excited about playing. If you like this article and want to see more be sure to hit us up on Twitter and Facebook @nblogcollective using the links below. Any requests for topics you’d like us to tackle? Be sure to use our ‘contact us’ page and send us a message! New articles up every week!