The latest wargaming craze going through my social circle is Star Wars: Armada. Produced by Fantasy Flight Games (the same company that does the X-Wing miniatures games), Armada is an extremely polished game; high production values in the game components, pre-painted ship models, and excellent game design.
On Saturday afternoon I went around to Ben's place for a 400 point game. At this point we both had a couple of games under our belt, so we were starting to get the hang of at least the capital ship aspects. But until now we had only used the X-Wings and TIEs that came with the basic box. Since then Ben had acquired the Rebel and Imperial fighter boxes, so we could now play with the full range of fighter types available to us. Ben had gone for a fighter-centered strategy, taking the Assault Frigate Gallant Haven as his flagship, with 2 A-Wings, 2 Y-Wings (one of which was Dutch Vander), 3 X-Wings, and a B-Wing (Keyan Farlander), Supporting this carrier force he also had two Nebulon B's and a Corvette. Against this I had a Victory II star destroyer with Tarkin, two Gladiator II star destroyers (both with expanded launchers, one being Dominator), 8 basic TIES (one being Howlrunner), Sontir Fel in his TIE Interceptor, and two TIE Bombers (one being Rhymer).
With 2 less points in my fleet I had the initiative. I opted to be first player, and selected Precision Strike as the mission. I deployed my VSD in the center, flanked by the two GSDs. Ben deployed his Assault Frigate facing my VSD, flanked by his two Nebulon's and with the Corvette further out to my left.
For the first couple of turns the fleets slowly closed. Ben's A-wings charged forward and inflicted a point of damage each before one was swarmed by a pair of TIEs and the other was dispatched by Sontir Fel. Long range fire from Ben's fleet chipped away at the shields of my GSDs.
By turn three a massive dogfight had emerged in the middle. Ben had been slowly advancing Gallant Home up the middle, with most of his fighters clustered around it to take advantage of it's "ignore first point of damage from each attack" rule. My TIEs had charged in regardless, and the combination of Howlrunner, Sontir Fel, and sheer numbers managed (initiatlly at least) hold their own despite the rebel's defensive advantage.
Also on turn three, the Gladiator's were finally in range to strike. With both having Expanded Launchers they had a brutal four black and two red dice attack at close range. On the left the unnamed GSD reduced a Nebulon-B to one hull point left, while Demolisher smashed down the full-strength shields of Gallant Home and inflicted a point of damage.
In turn four the game had become a brawl. My entire fleet, Gallant Home, and one of Ben's Nebulon's were all crowded in the center, surrounded by the ongoing fighter clash. This should have been perfect conditions for the GSDs. But sadly they had been too badly battered during the approach, with both having virtually no shields remaining. Neither survived the turn.
At the start of turn five I was left with my virtually undamaged Victory against all of Ben's fleet. While I managed to finish off the crippled Nebulon-B it was still three to one, and by the end of the turn the VSD was destroyed.
So a very fun game. Having the full range of fighter types available makes the fight battle vastly more interesting. Ben used Gallant Home very well, shepharding his fighters until they were within striking distance of my ships. My TIE counterattack worked reasonably well (Ben's fighters only got about 3-4 attacks against me all game) but I largely wasted my Bombers, holding them back all game instead of moving up to attack.