Category: Miniature Gaming

Armada Reborn: The Vindicator-class Heavy Cruiser

Armada Reborn: The Vindicator-class Heavy Cruiser

A continuation of the Star Wars: Armada Reborn series.

To see how I convert a lore ship into a card, see the conversion post.

Today, we talk about the Vindicator-class Heavy Cruiser. I gave some information in the Immobilizer 418 article, but for context:

Tied very closely in lore to the Immobilizer 418 (even from its single appearance), the Vindicator-class Heavy Cruiser is essentially the warfare variant of its gravity-well projecting brother. For about the same points we can create a drastically different ship with a different role – I think this time we’ll go for something like a picket ship that could bring a bit more utility than the Arquitens without stepping on the Victory‘s toes.

Role in Lore

The Vindicator line was meant to replace the aging Dreadnaught-class heavy cruisers from the days of the Galactic Republic – specifically, it was supposed to be a standard multi-role cruiser, capable of escorting other ships or operating alone.

It seems that after the fall of the Empire, a few of these were operated by pirate outfits, so we know it has to be able to stand on its own… The trick is if we can make it do so while complimenting other ships.

The Vision

We need a Swiss Army knife of a ship that can slot in wherever there are spare points (there are never spare points). We can do that relatively easily, but we need it to stand out as a true utility ship AND it needs to have the same basic chassis as the Immobilizer 418… Which means it’s time to buckle in, everybody – we’re going to have some variants.

Vindicator-class Heavy Cruiser

The default, off-the-line loadout of the ship. This is going to be geared towards the key to Imperial success – overwhelming firepower with very little regard to loss-of-life. We’re going to make a glass cannon, capable of laying down enough fire to keep Rebel heads down while the cavalry comes.

Hull: 5
Command: 2
Squadron: 1
Engineering: 3
Anti-Starfighter: 2 blue
Shields (Front, Side, Back): 3/2/1
Defense Tokens: Brace, Redirect, Contain
Movement Chart

Speed 1Speed 2Speed 3Speed 4
xxxx
xxIx
xIIx
IIx
x = can’t do it, | = one click on the navigation tool, – = straight on the navigation tool

Weapon Batteries:

ArcRed DiceBlue DiceBlack Dice
Front320
Sides310
Rear210
Anti-Starfighter020

Upgrade Slots: Captain, Weapons Team, Turbolasers, Ion Cannon, Title
Point Cost: 65 points

The concept behind this ship is a clear “shoot first, ask questions later” policy. With three red dice and blue dice on its three attack arcs and both a Turbolaser and Ion Cannon slot, you could outfit it for sniping (like a CR90 on steroids):

Vindicator-class Heavy Cruiser (65 pts)

  • Gunnery Teams (7 pts)
  • Linked Turbolaser Towers (7 pts)
  • Leading Shots (6 pts)

For 85 points (excluding a commander and title), by spending a Concentrate Fire token you can get two shots out of your front or a front and side arc, throwing 6 red dice and 3 to 4 blue dice, with a reroll on the entire pool or a single red dice reroll. If we look at the average dice performance including rerolls (removing a blue for the reroll), two shots out the front look like:

((.92 x 3) + .87) x 2

That’s 3.66 damage per attack, 7.32 damage output per round. Let’s compare that to a Victory II without upgrades for the same cost that somehow managed to double-arc.

(.75 x 3) + (.75 x 3) = 4.5 (Front Attack)
(.75 x 2) + (.75 x 1) = 2.25 (Side Attack)

For a grand total of 6.75 average damage per round. While we’ve got a ship with minimal defenses, the fact it can outpunch a (naked) VSDII says a lot. For the finishing touch, it’s faster and more nimble, which might help it stay in the fight a little longer.

Vindicator-class Light Carrier

Now that we’ve switched it to a carrier, it’s not so heavy anymore. In the lore these could pack up to 72 starfighters, so let’s turn this variant into a squadron pusher.

Hull: 5
Command: 2
Squadron: 4
Engineering: 3
Anti-Starfighter: 1 blue
Shields (Front, Side, Back): 3/2/1
Defense Tokens: Brace, Redirect, Contain
Movement Chart

Speed 1Speed 2Speed 3Speed 4
xxxx
xxIx
xIIx
IIx
x = can’t do it, | = one click on the navigation tool, – = straight on the navigation tool

Weapon Batteries:

ArcRed DiceBlue DiceBlack Dice
Front210
Sides020
Rear010
Anti-Starfighter010

Upgrade Slots: Captain, Gunnery Team, Offensive Retrofit 1, Offensive Retrofit 2, Fleet Command, Title
Point Cost: 70 points

What we’ve got is essentially a bigger, slightly different Quasar. Comparing the two, for 16 points more we’ve added a shield point and swapped two blue die for reds in the front – now the mothership can get a helpful shot off, too. It’s a little less maneuverable at Speed 1, but does have the extra Contain token. In place of one hull point we’ve increased Squadron to 4 and brought Engineering to 3 (to compensate for less armor). Finally its gained a Fleet Command, which is a natural slot for All Fighters, Follow Me!.

All in all, some tradeoffs which make it less resilient and a bit more expensive, but a great addition to a Sloane Swarm fleet. If you play it right, this ship can push five squadrons and even speed them up a little, getting your TIEs in range earlier. It’s also a cheaper way to bring a Fleet Command, since the next step up is a 112 point Cymoon.

Bases!

I’m finally getting around to adding bases you can print and put under the ship – download links are at the bottom of the page.

Download & Play

Here are the image packs that include the front and back of each build, as well as the design for the medium ship base. Print and play it well – I want to hear how it fares.

Armada Reborn: The Immobilizer 418 (and Friends)

Armada Reborn: The Immobilizer 418 (and Friends)

Part 2 of the Star Wars: Armada Reborn series.

Today we’ve got a bit of a doozy – we’ll start talking about the other winner of the Onil Creations first painting contest and their ship. The ship that they chose was the Vindicator-class Heavy Cruiser. This one is going to need a bit of explanation.

First and foremost, if they submitted the Vindicator, why are we covering the Immobilizer 418 Cruiser? For that, we have to get into the nerd lore again.

Within Star Wars (Legends) lore, the Vindicator-class and the Immobilizer 418 cruisers shared the same basic frame. This is similar to how the Imperial-class Star Destroyer shared the same frame with the Interdictor-class Star Destroyer. This second fact isn’t reflected in Star Wars: Armada, as the Interdictor in the game is a medium-based ship vs. the large-based ship ISD. It’s also severely under-gunned for what it is, but we can forgive that for game design – after all, the Interdictors are kind of odd in Armada, and don’t function the way they would in-universe.

So, if we want to accurately scale to the Vindicator, we should first take the Armada-official Interdictor and scale it down to its 418 sibling. This is the step in-between the start and the end goal, but it’s where I start throwing a bunch of fun numbers around. Let’s dive in.

Comparing the Interdictor-class Star Destroyer and the Immobilizer 418

The first thing we can do is a good old fashioned table.

SpecificationInterdictor SDImmobilizer 418
Length1600 meters600 meters
Acceleration2300 G1210 G
Shielding4800 SBD2240 SBD
Hull2272 RU960 RU
Heavy Turbolasers150
Quad Laser Cannons020 (10 fore, 5 each side)
Ion Cannons150
Tractor Beams20
Gravity Well Projectors44
Starfighters1624
Crew370852807

As I mentioned before, the Interdictor-class Star Destroyer was built from an Imperial I-class Star Destroyer. Thus, acceleration and shielding has been taken from that where available, using information from the very comprehensive Star Wars D6 ship listings, the Saga Edition d20 listings, and other sources such as game data.

Now, we need to translate those changes into an Armada ship. We’ll go with the only useful Interdictor – the Interdictor Suppression Refit. (Go ahead, argue with me. The only reason to bring an Interdictor is the Experimental Retrofit slot, so otherwise you’re paying for a crappy ISD.

How I plan to convert stats

Originally I was going to put a big long section here – instead, I’ve decided to make the conversion guide its own post. See how I approach a lore-heavy ship into an Armada-friendly ship here.

The Baseline Ship

Alright, if you went through the conversion document then you have a fantastic attention span, and I commend you. If you’re still with me, then let’s talk about the Interdictor Suppresion Refit, an official card.

Hull: 9
Command: 2
Squadron: 2
Engineering: 5
Anti-Starfighter: 1 blue
Shields (Front, Side, Back): 3/2/2
Defense Tokens: Brace, Redirect, Contain, Contain
Movement Chart

Speed 1Speed 2Speed 3Speed 4
xxxx
xxxx
xIxx
IIxx
If it has an X, the ship can’t do it. Each I is one click of the navigation tool at that speed.

Weapon Batteries:

ArcRed DiceBlue DiceBlack Dice
Front130
Sides130
Rear120
Anti-Starfighter010

Upgrade Slots: Captain, Support Team, Offensive Retrofit, Experimental Retrofit 1, Experimental Retrofit 2, Ion Cannons, Title
Point Cost: 90

Examining the Stats

So, with all of that in mind you get… Kind of a weird ship. If you consider each component individually then on paper you absolutely get your money’s worth out of it. With a consistent (if not too exciting) attack pool, it doesn’t matter as much which arc you’re shooting from, you’ve got standard maneuverability, and your Engineering (the least used of the three stats) is the best in the game. You have a thick hull but weak shields, and a defense token pool to reflect that.

What makes this ship shine is, of course, its upgrade slots. As the only ship able to use the Experimental Retrofit cards (there’s only four, and you don’t see two of them played much) it has the edge there, and the Support Team/Offensive Retrofit/Ion Cannons allow for some nice combos.

However, this will never be a ship killer. The average damage for its three main arcs is a total of 3, before the defender uses any redirect tokens. It can do a number on shields if it has an Ion Cannon upgrade, but you need to be within blue range of your target for that, which is less than ideal. This will lose vs. a Rebel Providence-class Carrier (at 95 points) or even an Assault Frigate Mark II B (at 72 points), because it will be taking fire before it can even get within range, and its shields are easy to crack. Fighters can get through it, and despite its appearance, its lack of good defense tokens means it can be an easy target.

How is it used? In interesting and really clever ways. I’ve seen Interdictors loaded to be a damage sponge, using the engineering value to constantly move around and regenerate shields. I’ve seen it as a force multiplier for Imperial Star Destroyers, and I’ve even seen it used as a fighter pusher (I know, I was impressed). It’s clear it has more utility than meets the eye, and that mentality is what I want to bring down to the 418 and the Vindicator.

Converting the Interdictor

Size, Speed, & Maneuverability

By the official numbers, the Interdictor-class Star Destroyer should be a large base ship, so ignoring that oversight we will need to make the Immobilizer 418 a medium base. This feels right, as small ships are consistently 400 meters or less, but looks odd since it’s going to be the same size as its big brother.

It’s got a standard navigation chart, only really hurt by topping out at Speed 2. You can put an Engine Tech on there to make it essentially speed 3, but it’s not too sustainable to keep it full throttle because you’ll need your tokens elsewhere. Since this is a much smaller ship, I think we can say its engines will do some work for us – I would add a Speed 3, with the first notch straight but the second and third allowing a click.

Command, Squadron, and Engineering

The Immobilizer 418 is just a smaller version of its big brother, so not much would change. A medium ship should have a Command value of 2, so we’ll keep that. It actually has more starfighters than the Interdictor Star Destroyer, so I guess we’ll keep Squadrons at 2 as well. It simply can’t have the same lineup, though, so Engineering we will bring back to the more reasonable-for-its-size value of 3.

Defenses

It’s honestly hard to bring the shields down further – however, since this ship isn’t supposed to be fighting on its own, I think a reasonable case can be made for 3 front, 2 sides, and 1 rear. I was considering a 2 all-around, but with a lower Engineering value it’s not going to be manipulated quite as much.

As for tokens, I think all we need to do here is drop one of the existing Contains so we’re still left with a Brace, Redirect, and Contain. That feels good for a medium ship, so moving on.

The hull is going to take a significant downgrade – I would bring it to a 5. That’s not much, but any more feels wrong for what boils down to a support ship. Honestly, I would have wanted to bring it to a 4, but with a CR90 having the same hull we would have an issue.

Armament

For its main battery, we have an interesting choice. Per the lore, the 418 doesn’t have any Ion Cannons or missiles, just some quad laser cannons. We could cut its dice in half to make it just a really bad shooter, or we could convert those to fewer red dice since they’re weaker turbolasers. I think I would land somewhere along this:

ArcRed DiceBlue DiceBlack Dice
Front030
Sides020
Rear020
Anti-Starfighter020

We’ve reduced its utility since it can’t reach out and fire with a red dice, and we’ve lowered the dice count significantly. However, we’ve given it blue dice, which are the most consistent. 24 quad laser cannons are going to hit, so it felt right there.

Note that I actually upped its Anti-Starfighter dice. The same principle applies – since these are quad laser cannons and not turbolaser cannons, they’re smaller and faster guns, so they will hit more consistently.

Upgrades

This one is easier. We need to reduce the main reason you would bring an Interdictor at all – cut one of the Experimental Retrofits. The ship also seems small enough to not need a Support team and there are no ion cannons, so what we’re left with is: Captain, Offensive Retrofit, Experimental Retrofit, Title. It’s sparse, but you’re bringing this for the Experimental Retrofit. Anything else is trying to use a screwdriver to pull nails – there are better tools for the job.

So, what do we get for all that cutting?

The Immobilizer 418 Cruiser

Hull: 5
Command: 2
Squadron: 2
Engineering: 3
Anti-Starfighter: 2 blue
Shields (Front, Side, Back): 3/2/1
Defense Tokens: Brace, Redirect, Contain
Movement Chart

Speed 1Speed 2Speed 3Speed 4
xxxx
xxIx
xIIx
IIx
x = can’t do it, each | is one click on the navigation tool, each – is a straight on the navigation tool.

Weapon Batteries

ArcRed DiceBlue DiceBlack Dice
Front030
Sides020
Rear020
Anti-Starfighter020

Upgrade Slots: Captain, Offensive Retrofit, Experimental Retrofit, Title
Point Cost: 65 points

Overall, I think this is a decent utility ship. You aren’t going to get much firepower out of it, but you could certainly take advantage of the Experimental Retrofit slot and the Offensive Retrofit together – pushing three squadrons is a solid benefit while you’re acting as a force multiplier for an Imperial-class escort.

This is a ship where I could use some suggestions – first as feedback on the utility of the chassis from other player’s perspectives and second as to a fair price for it. We know it would need to be under 90 so it doesn’t cost more than its better version, and the sorta-close-in-a-different-way Quasar Fire I is 54 points, so we have that range to play with.

Eventually it would be nice to come up with some sort of formula to roughly calculate what cost should be, but with the existing prices (particularly with starfighters) I don’t think such a thing exists.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so share them below, and buckle in for the Vindicator.

Converting Star Wars Ships into Star Wars: Armada

This was originally going to go into the Immobilizer 418 article, but considering it’s long and number heavy, I decided it needed to stand on its own.

Below, we will see my criteria for converting a ship from Star Wars lore into one that can play with Star Wars: Armada. Keep in mind that some of these ships might suck and some of them might beat out official ships on efficiency – that’s just the way it works, and balancing a ship with the dozens that are out now is a whole lot for one person. The good news is we can change point values and stats if you’re helping with the “Armada Reborn” effort, right?


Since the numbers aren’t very easily converted (at all), there’s going to have to be a lot of ballpark guesses and approximations. Ships can go through different rounds and have values changed, so anyone who gets the chance to do some testing on this would be greatly appreciated.

Speed and Maneuverability

The two main contributing factors to this will be Length and Acceleration. Acceleration would be the bigger contributor, but length will have a heavier impact on turning radius (hi, Super Star Destroyer!).

Command, Squadron, and Engineering

Command

Command will be impacted by the required crew as well as the ship base size. Numbers are truly all over the place with required crew, but in general, a Large base would max out at 4, a Medium max out at 3, and a small max out at 2. There can be exceptions, but we need a rough baseline.

Squadron

Squadrons are a little easier – we can look at that ship’s possible starfighter complement. The numbers vary here too, but in the Star Wars lore a fighter squadron was about twelve fighters. While I would like to say we take in-lore fighters/12 = Squadron, that doesn’t work once we get to larger ships. It does work for a lot of other ships, though, with examples below:

  • CR-90 – Had no fighters. 1 is the minimum we can put here, so 1 Squadron value it is.
  • Nebulon-B – Small ship that held two squadrons. 2 Squadron value.
  • Quasar Fire – Had 48 starfighters, plus some transports. 4 Squadron value.

Things get weird when we start to hit large ships. A Victory I only carried 24 fighters plus a ground force, but they have 3 Squadron. An Imperial I carried 72 fighters, which would be a value of 6 Squadron. So, unless we have a large, dedicated carrier like a Venator, we will max out at 4 Squadron points.

What about flotillas, you say? What about ships with no starfighter complement? Those get a maximum of 2 on the card. In rare occasions we see a 1 printed on the card (such as the Onager-class Testbed, Arquitens-class Light Cruiser, CR90’s and Hammerheads, etc.), but unless it’s an exceptionally small ship, a ship geared towards a single purpose (like a superlaser), or would have no ships in lore, we can leave it at two.

The Long Story Short: We need to mostly guess based off of lore here. These values are the values printed on the card, not the maximum with upgrades.

  • 1 Squadron = Ships that wouldn’t have a fighter escort or wouldn’t be designed to coordinate with fighters. This is the baseline for most small ships.
  • 2 Squadron = Ships that could or would have a light escort force. While the fighters could pose a threat, they would be more of a deterrent than the main offensive attack. This is the baseline for medium ships.
  • 3 Squadron = Ships that would certainly have a fighter complement. The fighters would be enough to be a notable threat, providing around 40-50% of the damage output from the fighters and ship itself. This is the baseline for large ships.
  • 4 Squadron = Ships that use their fighters as standard procedure. The fighters are deadly on their own, and work well with the laser fire from the carrier. This is the baseline for Huge ships.
  • 5 Squadron = Ships that really do one thing well – deploy swarms of fighters to take down large opponents.
  • 6 Squadron = Well now you’re just getting ridiculous. You know one thing and one thing only – droppin’ fighters. That or you have a 19 kilometer monster ship and can carry whatever you want.

Engineering

Generally, most ships have a 2 or 3 Engineering. We need to think about the ship’s role when working this in – if the ship is highly technical in nature (like the Interdictor), then it makes sense they would have more engineers. If it has a lot of systems like a large-base MC80, they would also have more.
Roughly:

  • 2 Engineering = Small Base
  • 3 Engineering = Medium Base/Large Base
  • 4 Engineering = Large Base
  • 5+ Engineering = A really good reason why you have so many engineers.

The rulebreaker here is the Interdictor, which is a medium ship with 5 Engineering points. Really, it should have been a large base.

Defenses

Shields

This will be primarily pulled from other sources and compared to ships around its same point cost or use. I truly hate how some ships have a great front shield then garbage sides (MC80 Liberty-classes, I’m looking at you), so I usually won’t make a three point shield difference unless there is a lore reason, like terrible game design engineering.
Roughly:

  • A small base ship will very rarely have a shield value above 4 – they will stay comfortably in the 2s with the occasional 3 to help out. Some ships will see 1s, depending on their use and original role.
  • A medium base ship will see 3s more often, and occasionally a 4. In weak arcs (like the back of any big Imperial ship) it can drop down to 1.
  • A large base ship should almost always have a 4 front shield and 3 side shields as a minimum. There will be exceptions, as usual, but an arc shouldn’t really go below 2 unless it’s an Onager, because I don’t think the Imperial Design Department ever planned on showing the Rebellion the tail end of one of those monsters.
  • A huge base ship should never have less than a 2 printed, and only on the rear arc. We only have one ship to go off of, but for a ship that can fit in a standard 400 point game, 3 is the average with a 6 front. For a ship priced to 600+ games, 5 is your standard and 6 is your front, with a 3 rear minimum.

Defense Tokens

We know a pretty regular set of tokens from the ships we’ve seen.

  • Small ships will almost always have an Evade and Redirect. The third token slot could be anything from a Brace for the slower ships to a second Evade for the nimble ones – this is flexible.
    • Floatillas are a special kind of small ship, representing a group of small ships like transports. They are the only ship that should have Scatter, and should probably have an Evade as well.
  • Medium ships are in the same boat (hah), but with a more standard set of an Evade, a Brade, and a Redirect. A few are different – it’s situational, and I think lore comes into play here.
  • Large ships should always have a Brace and Redirect, and usually have a Contain. The newer ships have a Salvo token and those mean ISDs have two redirects, so again, it’s very much situational.
  • Huge ships should have a bit of everything except Evade and Scatter. They can do what they want.

Giving value to each token is hard, because it depends on what ship it’s on. If I had to rank them, it would probably be something like:

  1. Brace – You cut the incoming damage in half, regardless of range. That’s hard to downplay.
  2. Evade – Made a little more useful in Armada 1.5, Evade can get you out of a bit of damage. It’s much less useful on a large ship, but still a nice-to-have.
  3. Redirect – You don’t get to reduce the damage, but you can spread it to other shield areas. Usually you only get a couple of redirects off per big ship, and if you’re taking fire from a lot of smaller ships you’ll be in trouble.
  4. Salvo – You get a free shot back if you have the right range. Your shot may not be too impressive, but it might make your opponent burn a defense token or even take a critical hit if you’re lucky. The only reason it’s lower is because it’s rare, and most return fire is a small dice pool you can’t do much with.
  5. Contain – You can ignore critical effects. It’s nice and all, but I don’t really feel these have ever “saved” me much at all, just helped a ship limp along a bit further.
  6. Scatter – It’s only on fighters and flotillas. If it could go on anything then this is going up to the very top of the list – flat out ignoring an attack is awesome. Unfortunately, most ships can’t disassemble to let a missile pass by then re-assemble without spacing the crew, and that’s a lot of paperwork for HR.

Armament

Before We Begin: Let’s talk about dice colors.

A ship can have red, blue, or black dice. I’ve heard often that they (approximately) represent turbolasers, ion cannons, and missiles (respectively), which usually tracks in terms of blue dice crits activating Ion Cannons and black dice crits activating Ordinance. This isn’t always a hard and fast rule, though, because if we hold a ship up next to its lore it rarely aligns. I’ll certainly keep this in mind, but won’t be held to it – I’ll be looking at the ship’s role in battle instead. We also want to keep in mind consistency and what the intended weapons were – for example, laser cannons are lighter versions of turbolasers, so wouldn’t necessarily go out to red range. Additionally, a black dice ship might have torpedoes, OR it might have a bunch of Rebels firing shotguns out of the window. We never know.

Dice Averages

Thanks to the fine people at SteelStrategy.com and their math which I really don’t want to double check, we have averages to expect for each dice in our nice chart below. All averages are for a single roll unless otherwise stated. We won’t re-roll fighters, because don’t do that.

Metric (vs. a ship)Red DieBlue DieBlack Die
Average Damage.75.751
Odds to Hit62.5%75%75%
Maximum Damage212
Average Damage (with a re-roll).92.871.25
Metric (vs. a squadron)Red DieBlue DieBlack Die
Average Damage.5.5.75
Odds to Hit37.5%50%75%
Maximum Damage212

We will keep those values in mind and try to find the average damage for each arc, keeping that as a guide for the number and type of dice.

For more regarding dice colors and strategy (and just some good Armada content), check out their blog:

Anti-Starfighter

The standard for this is 1 blue for anything smaller than a large, and then two dice with either a mix of blue or black for large. Occasionally you have a ship with red dice, which should definitely be occasional – imagine how fast a two-dice red flak monster could rip through TIE fighters, and at range.
To determine this, we need to look at what weapons and role the ship had in lore then go from there.

Firing Arcs

There’s a whole lot of guessing here, too. Luckily we do have some great source books from the Saga Edition tabletop RPG (D20) and the D6 predecessor, so if all else fails we can take a look at that. Additionally, we’ll need to think about how the ship was supposed to be fielded (Imperials liked superior firepower out of the front arc, but the Arquitens is a definite broadsider) and some common sense.
Since this is such a wildcard I can’t even really summarize it. This is going to be a bigger experiment, and we’ll probably need to pull in average damage.


I’m always open to suggestions, so any feedback is welcome and I’ll modify accordingly.

Armada Reborn: The Liberator-class Cruiser

Armada Reborn: The Liberator-class Cruiser

As the first post for the Star Wars: Armada – Reborn effort, we’ll keep it relatively short. I don’t want to scare everyone off with tables and statistics just yet. 🙂

One of the winners of the first Onil Creations painting contest chose to paint a Liberator-class Cruiser. For the ones who spent their time remembering math and practical things, here’s a brief summary of the ship using the old, pre-Disney lore where it comes from.

Read about the Liberator-class cruiser on Wookieepedia

The Liberator-class Cruiser

Making its Star Wars debut in the 1998 PC game Star Wars: Rebellion (which was a weird one), the Liberator was produced during the Galactic Civil War as seen in the Original Trilogy, with the Empire against the Rebellion. It was built by SoroSuub Corporation to defend Sullust, the home planet of the Sullustians.

You know, this guy.

Since the Sullustians pitched in with the Rebellion against the Empire, a number of the Liberator-class Cruisers ended up in Rebel hands.

In the lore (and expanded on through a few game manuals and RPG supplements), the Liberator had a massive set of cannons compared to its size. While I couldn’t find a measurement (it’s out there), if memory serves it was around the same as an Imperial Star Destroyer, so relatively big. Let’s compare what the two would bring to battle:

CategoryImperial I-class Star DestroyerLiberator-class Cruiser
Armament60 Heavy Turbolaser Batteries
60 Ion Cannons
6 Dual Heavy Turbolaser Turrets
2 Dual Heavy Ion Cannon Turrets
2 Quad Heavy Turbolasers
3 Triple Medium Turbolasers
2 Medium Turbolasers
40 Point-Defense Laser Cannons
10 Tractor Beam Projectors
240 Heavy Turbolasers
200 Ion Cannons
Complement(Varies, standard below)
48 TIE Fighters
12 TIE Bombers
12 TIE Boarding Craft
9000 Stormtroopers
Whatever walkers they wanted
6 Starfighter Squadrons (12 fighters each)
3 Troop Regiments
No, I didn’t know these offhand. I Googled it just like everybody else.

So, let’s summarize – it has more guns than the angry death triangles that everyone was afraid of. It also had more starfighters. It had less of a variety of weapons, which I guess would be a problem if they couldn’t shoot you with a total of 440 guns anyway.

I should note that there’s some discrepancies about how much the Liberator had in terms of guns. The D6 Star Wars RPG (which was the coolest version for ships) listed it at a more reasonable but still ridiculous:

  • 160 Heavy Turbolaser Batteries
  • 50 Ion Cannons
  • 6 Tractor Beam Projectors
  • 5 Concussion Missile Tubes
  • The same number of troops and fighters

All said and done, it can easily go up against an Imperial Star Destroyer… As long as the Empire didn’t bring any friends, which they had the money to do.

So, how do we represent this much firepower? Like this:

Stats provided by Bondsman, who is also the painter of the model used.

Taking other things into account, we can compare it against the Imperial I from the official game. The card differences better represent their capabilities than simple numbers could, with the Imperial Star Destroyer throwing out a huge variety of ordinance, having a bunch of upgrade room, and more. However, while the ISD wants to come in head on, the Liberator wants to show its broadside. It might not be able to throw out as much damage as the front of a Star Destroyer, but when it’s strafing, it’s got the meaner ship outgunned and at a longer range.

Playing the Liberator

While I haven’t gone in and created upgrades, and I haven’t had time to put it on a table and play around with it, let’s see what kind of nastiness we can make with a first pass.

First off, it needs to be said that this ship screams Admiral Ackbar. It’s almost an auto-include if you’re running our favorite fishy commander – so much so that for the rest of this post I’m just going to assume you brought him. I’m certain someone can make a case for other commanders (and I’d love to hear it if so), but it seems like open/shut case.

If you brought Cracken… Well, then you’ve already made a mistake.

You’re never going to fly your single ship in between two of the opponent’s bigger ships in the same way you don’t go kick a bear – you’re going to get torn to shreds. Instead, with this you’re going to cruise along at top speed (which admittedly is only 2), pick the side with the biggest target, and throw out five red dice and three blue dice. That’s a whole lot of damage, and that’s before we put any upgrades on it.

Let’s go through each upgrade and pick some good cards.

Captain

There are so many options, I’m not going to go into this one. Just pick your favorite, they’ll do fine.

Support Team

This slot is always a bit empty, and you’ll almost always see Engine Techs or Fighter Coordination Team in it. They’re both good in the slot, so it depends on if you’re using this ship for its guns or if you’re using it to push a sizeable fighter escort.

For me, there are better ships to push fighters around, so Engine Techs is going to win this round. Although it’s expensive at 8 points, you essentially get a free speed boost (after using a Navigation token or command, which you should have banked anyway). This can either get your ship into range and line up for a nice shot or get it out of trouble if that ISD turns your way. It’s extra insurance that you’ll get at least one good arc firing on the enemy.

Defensive Retrofit

There are a few cards that come up here, but in most cases it’s between the three below (I’ve omitted Reactive Gunnery because I don’t think a two-dice Salvo is worth the trouble):

I’ve always had a soft spot for Early Warning System, but Electronic Countermeasures is usually the more useful option (even with the nerf from the 1.5 errata). Reinforced Blast Doors is an interesting option that I’ve always liked – you get to basically heal three damage, no questions asked. It’s a toss up between ECM and Blast Doors, and generally it’s better to take no damage than to take it and heal it, but I think in this situation I would go with the Reinforced Blast Doors. Unless I have a flotilla feeding this ship Engineering tokens, I’m not going to take away a few critical shots with Concentrate Fire. With some strong shields, a brace, and a redirect, unless if I get caught in a big crossfire I think I’ll be able to survive a couple of hits.

Ion Cannons

There isn’t an option for this in my opinion. In almost every case that you have a blue dice with other colors in there, I’m going to take Leading Shots.

SW-7 Ion Batteries do stand out, but the opportunity to reroll missed shots is too good to pass up.

Turbolaser

The slot with some of the most options (and some of the most opinions). This depends on how you want to play the ship. The ones that come to mind are Linked Turbolaser Towers, Quad Battery Turrets, Slaved Turrets, XI7 Turbolasers, and XX-9 Turbolasers. A lot of options, right?

By process of elimination, I’d reluctantly put Quad Battery Turrets back. While an extra blue die to your attack on faster ships is nice, speed 2 is pretty common and it won’t do us much against large ships.

Slaved Turrets are the next to go. Although it would help lean into the Ackbar build of a broadside, it would force you to broadside. If you had an opportunity to double-arc or even shoot a fleeing ship with your opposite side, it’s lost there, so back to the box.

Now, we’ve got the big three.

Better players than I have said Linked Turbolaser Towers are usually the way to go, but it just seems so underwhelming here. While you do get to reroll a red dice, I’ve already got Leading Shots to handle re-rolls. That means I can either punch through shields or deal some nasty critical damage. If I had Dodonna or a fighter-heavy fleet, then I’d go with the XX-9. As it stands making a lone gunship, I’ll pick the XI7 Turbolasers.

Title

I haven’t made any yet, so we’ll have to come back to this some day.

The End Result

All said and done, here’s the final tally:

Liberator-class Cruiser (96 points)
Lando Calrissian (4 points)
Engine Techs (8 points)
Reinforced Blast Doors (5 points)
Leading Shots (6 points)
XI7 Turbolasers (6 points)
Grand Total: 125 Points

For just under a third of my fleet cost, I’ve got a sturdy, heavy hitter. The main weakness of this ship are its defense tokens – a second Redirect would have been preferred over Contain, but nothing can be perfect. Pairing two of these with Ackbar and bidding for the right objectives can make for a really mean side swipe – it all depends on how carefully you position, which is almost always the case.

Stay tuned – coming up next is a double-header for the other paint contest winner.

Downloads:

I still need to finish the ship base (coming soon), but attached are the files if you want to print your own card. Let me know how it goes and how it plays!

Front
Back

Customizing & Expanding Star Wars: Armada

Customizing & Expanding Star Wars: Armada

Hi everyone,

This is probably going to be the first “long-ish form” post I’ve put here, and the first post on any blog for a while. Before we dig in, some background:

There’s a wonderful game called Star Wars: Armada, formerly by Fantasy Flight Games and then handed off to Atomic Mass Games. It’s part of a three-game Star Wars Miniatures set:

  • Armada is the fleet-wide battle system where you command capital ships and fighters
  • X-Wing is the squadron/fighter based system where you control a few pilots in a dogfight
  • Legion is the ground-based fighting where you command troops, walkers, and vehicles

I’ve gone a little bit into X-Wing (which came out before the other two), but haven’t spent time with Legion (the newest of the three). I’ve got the Middle Earth mini game to sink my money on, thank you.

The AMG Fiasco

Shortly after Atomic Mass Games took over the Star Wars franchise games, they announced that they had nothing in the works for Star Wars Armada for at least the next year and a half, and they’ll revisit it then. It… didn’t go over well with players, and has gone a long way towards damaging the game.

This is where my hobby for 3D printing comes in. I started printing minis for an ongoing D&D campaign, which then escalated into Lord of the Rings miniatures, and now has invaded Armada. Printing my own ships and squadrons? Limited only by the resin I can buy on Amazon? We’re in trouble heaven.

Finding good models was the difficult part. Eventually, I came across a designer who publishes his from-scratch 3D models under Onil Creations (Thingiverse Link). I then found his Patreon, which is where I hit the gold mine. I highly recommend supporting him if you want to print some neat Star Wars ships.

ANYWAY. I’m on a personal printing hiatus while I get through all of the paint backlog. However, in his Discord I got to see some really beautiful paint jobs as part of a painting contest. Being a volunteer moderator, as the prize I offered to create ship cards in the style of Star Wars Armada cards. These cards could be printed at home (or through a professional printer) and played in friendly games. A few examples are below.

I have to say… It was pretty fun. While the artwork at the top could use some improvement (my main computer with all of the graphics software is old and tired), the potential for new Armada ships is exciting. After designing some cards and getting really into the weeds on Star Wars lore and figuring out game stats, I decided I might as well publish something about the stupid amount of work that went into them.

Star Wars: Armada – Reborn

Like many games before it, the players will have to come together and save this game, too. The best example is NISEI, a non-profit fan-created set of expansions for Android: Netrunner, a great card game if you ever get into it. If Netrunner fans can create something, then Star Wars fans can almost certainly create it too – after all, if we’re still around after the last trilogy, we must be dedicated.

This post is more or less my letter of intent. Other posts will be published soon that showcase some of the work so far. I would love for any Armada players to comment on the threads with their input. If we get enough activity around the idea then we can make it more formal and all become great game developers one day.

Since I don’t have a post ready as of publication (but they are on the way), you can check out some 3D printed ships for my custom Star Wars: Armada task force – The Hapan Fleet. No stats yet, but we’ll get there. 🙂

The Hapan Fleet

The Hapan Fleet

Today I present an oldie but a goodie (and notable as one of my first miniature paint jobs, excluding the rough Lord of the Rings minis I did when I was twelve). Finished April 19th, 2019.

For Star Wars Armada, I bring you the Hapan Royal Navy. (see Hapes Consortium)

The Hapan Royal Navy
The flagship Hapan Battle Dragon…
… With a pair of Nova-class Battle Cruisers…
… Led by Prince Isolder with his Miy’til fighter wing.
Flying back to the Queen Mother after a successful raid.

It’s not my best painting by far, but at the time I was using the budget Shapeways printed option and Wal-Mart paint. Maybe one day I’ll make some reinforcements.

The Rock People

The Rock People

Long posts suck – it’s like looking for a cooking recipe and having to get through the author’s whole life story before seeing the ingredients list. With that in mind I’ll keep this post short.

I own a few 3D printers, and love them oh so much. One benefit is I get to print little minis, and below I’ll share a quirky set that I printed, painted, and am looking for a chance to use them in something, maybe as my own little version of Ewoks in a D&D campaign.

I didn’t create the models, though 3D modeling is something I’d like to get into. All of these were printed with my heavily modified workhorse, an Ender 3. You can see layer lines from this printer which is mostly inevitable unless I wanted to sand all of the little nooks and crannies (I didn’t).

All of the paint is the cheap kind you can find at Target or Walmart, with the exception of three Games Workshop paints you can see for the gemstones. Those technical paints are just really fun to use, and certainly help things stand out.

Enjoy!

The Search for the Blackest Black Acrylic Paint

The Search for the Blackest Black Acrylic Paint

Recently (over the past almost two years) I’ve been getting into painting miniatures. The miniatures are almost always game pieces – be it figures from the Fallout board game, ships in Star Wars: Armada, or World War II Bolt Action platoons. I’ll probably be writing more about my learning curve so not everybody has to make the same mistakes and silly purchases that I did, but for now, I want to talk about something that people take for granted: black.

Yep, black – you know, the shade that we see everywhere. My phone is back, my shirt is black, my notebook, some of the two cats I have, black is a color that fits on any model or painting. It can help add texture and depth, give a cool look on a starship, or just make a nice black belt for a soldier to really bring the outfit together. However, those things aren’t ACTUALLY black – they’re very dark shades of grey. There’s a distinction to make here, and that is that black is the absence of light. It’s a void. It’s something that is incredibly difficult to replicate, especially in paint or media… And that may be why when I came across an article on Vantablack, I was intrigued. Vantablack is the darkest material people can create (as of writing it may have been recently dethroned, I don’t know). Using Vantablack creates a void-like appearance because barely any light is reflected back to the viewer – it truly is the absence of light.

The problem with Vantablack is twofold – first, it’s something that pretty much needs to be applied in a specialized lab, and second, the exclusive use of it for artistic purposes is owned by some dude, who is pretty smug about it. Like the rest of miniature painters everywhere, I just used my regular blacks and got along just fine, until I came across an ad promoting a paint that was the darkest on the market. That’s where I first saw Culture Hustle’s Black 2.0 (I’m not an affiliate, I’m not getting paid, or getting free stuff, or anything like that). I had a few projects in mind for scenery and miniatures where a true void effect would look pretty neat, so I bought a bottle, waited a bit, and then painted something up.

The results were… Okay. The pictures that are used on the site show Black 2.0 in its absolute best scenarios – to the eye, though, it looked not much different than my regular black. I will say that it was much easier to get a solid black with 2.0, but was it worth it over my Citadel paints? Not so much.

Then, of course, came Black 3.0. It was marketed as being even darker, and if you used 2.0 as a base layer then coated 3.0 on top, you’d have the blackest black that black has ever been! (It sounded fishy, I know). Again, I decided “What the hell?” and bought a bottle. This time, we’re on to something.

Black 3.0 truly is the blackest paint I own (still not getting paid). One of the models I wanted to paint was a TIE Phantom from X-Wing, the miniature game from Fantasy Flight. TIE Phantoms are supposed to be able to cloak themselves to be invisible to the naked eye, and since they’d be deployed in space… Well, a black void paint just fits. Here is the current Work-in-Progress model, where I have only painted black.

 

 

The effect is the ship going into the void (cloaking). This model is the factory paint, then the black is a base coat of Black 2.0 and a single layer of Black 3.0. The eye is better than a camera, so while it’s not a complete void, it’s an effect that’s hard to describe – if it were over a black background, it would blend seamlessly. Only by holding a bright light next to it can you start to see the texturing on the wings, and under no play circumstance would that happen.

So, being happy with my choice so far, I was curious about how this new Black 2.0+3.0 combination stacked up to the other blacks in my box(es) of paint. For that, I made a little sample swatch for everyone!

comparison-original

In the swatch, you can see:

  • Liquitex Basics Mars Black
  • Citadel Abbadon Black base
  • Black 2.0
  • Black 3.0
  • Black 2.0 for the first coat, 3.0 for the second

None of the paints have been thinned, and they had dried for about 10 minutes when the picture was taken. It was on white cardstock, and it was lit by a very bright daylight-balanced source about a foot away.

Again, this is something that is hard to capture with a camera, but here are some observations:

  • On its own, the cheap Liquitex Basics Mars Black would have been pretty darn black. There is a bit of shine and gloss to it, though, so keep that in mind.
  • Citadel’s Abbadon Black is going to be great for most uses. Really, this is the realistic black that you see day-to-day, like a non-gloss phone case or a black outfit.
  • Black 2.0 was very matte. Of course, it was darker than Liquitex and Citadel, and I’d have thought it would be as black as black can be.
  • Black 3.0 on its own shows very little difference between 2.0. It seemed like maybe it was darker, but if I had to pick it out from its predecessor I would probably fail.
  • Black 2.0 undercoat with 3.0 topcoat truly is like a void. It’s bizarre. You hold it up to a lamp, three inches away, and it’s STILL BLACK. It’s like a borderline optical illusion.

I wanted to see what I could do here, so I loaded up Photoshop and added some exposure filters to the chart. See the results below (and click on it for a larger version).

comparison-lightened

With exposure pretty much blown out, now we can definitely see some differences.

tl;dr – How do I get the blackest black acrylic paint?

In my testing, you would want to use the Culture Hustle Black 2.0 as your base coat (after primer), let it dry for a good day, then put 3.0 overtop. You’ll get an extremely unique effect that will draw attention and trick the eye. I would not suggest this replace your usual black since it looks almost unnaturally dark, but it sure is something to see.

Hopefully, this helps fellow miniature painters in their shopping – what we have is a truly dark acrylic, so while the marketing is strong with 2.0/3.0, there is actually some value to it.

Paints used: