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Posted on Oct 16, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Begun, these Clone Wars have.” Jedi Master Yoda -Star Wars Armada Clone Wars Table Top Game

“Begun, these Clone Wars have.” Jedi Master Yoda -Star Wars Armada Clone Wars Table Top Game

Rick Martin

“Star Wars Armada Clone Wars”  Table Top Game Review.  Publisher: Fantasy Flight  Games   Designer:  Michael Gernes and Brooks Flugaur-Leavitt Price $99.00 (Starter Sets) and $25 Fighter Booster Packs

Passed Inspection:   perfectly captures the Star Wars feel, great looking miniatures and components, easy to learn, fast playing

Failed Basic star fighter stands come apart during play, very expensive, no built in solo system, boxes don’t hold up as storage for the game, rules reference is not included and must be downloaded and printed

The two Hardcell transports took up positions in the asteroid field as Count Dooku paced the bridge on one of the armed transports.  “Captain, when will we be in position to launch the prototype Tri Fighters?” he asked exasperated.  The human commander nervously turned from speaking with the comm officer and looked at the Count.  “We are a ready  to launch now, my lord.  But we just received a parameter alert.  Two Republic Consular cruisers just jumped in to the system.  Passive scans seem to indicate that they are launching fighters and heading directly towards our position.”  “Good,” said Dooku giving the man an icy look.  “This will be the perfect test for our new fighters.”

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I am a huge Star Wars fan having cut my teeth on the original film released in 1977.  I remember seeing Star Wars in 1977 (at the perfect age of 11) at the Dayton Mall’s glorious Cinema 1 70mm screen which, sadly, is no longer in existence.  Over the years, I’ve thrilled to the prequels and sequels as well as the spin off movies and television shows such as The Clone Wars, Rebels and the Mandalorian. Not that I’m exclusively a Star Wars fan, my science fiction passions aren’t limited as I also enjoy Babylon 5, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Space 1999, UFO, Space Cruiser Yamato and countless other science fiction movies, tv shows and books..

Five years ago, I reviewed Fantasy Flight’s original Star Wars Armada release which focused on the war between the Empire and the Rebellion. (https://armchairgeneral.com//?s=star+wars+armada&x=0&y=0 )

Now, Fantasy Flight has turned their Armada system to the 3 year Clone War which led to the fall of the Galactic Republic at the hands of the Sith Lord Palpatine and while the expansion is very exciting and includes beautiful miniatures and compelling game play, the game is tainted by the Dark Side of faulty components and high prices.

Sep Starter
Republic Starter

Unlike the original Empire/Rebellion Era Armada game, Armada Clone Wars features one starter set for the Republic and one starter set for the Separatists.  Each set gives the players three ships (two escort sized ships and one frigate sized ship) along with star fighters, counters, cards, terrain such as asteroids and space stations and beautifully designed and laid out rules.  The Republic set includes the proto-star destroyer Acclamator Class Assault Ship and two Consular Class Cruisers as well as a few squadrons of star fighters and the Separatist set includes the Munificent Class Frigate and 2 Hardcell Class Armored Transports as well as a few squadrons of star fighters.

Each game includes a plethora of components jammed into the box including stands for the capital ships and star fighters, attack dice, command dials, speed dials, a range ruler, a movement tool, tons of cards and counters plus terrain tiles for asteroid fields, debris fields and a space station.  Each game also comes with a 28 page rule booklet.

While the boxes have beautiful artwork, they are far too fragile and don’t hold up well.  Both of my starter boxes developed tears in their corners after the second time I unpacked them.  For $100 each, you’d think Fantasy Flight would give you stronger boxes to store your ships.

There are a lot of components to put together as can be seen from the following scans of the rule book.

The full color rule book is very well laid out and contains tons of examples and a quick reference to the turn sequence on the back cover. A learning scenario is included to get newbies into the game quickly.  Additional Rules and Expanded Rules are included and cover such topics as asteroid fields, lines of sight, fleet building and upgrades.  Unlike the previous starter sets, a complete reference book is only available by going on-line and downloading and printing it.  That felt rather cheap to me especially since, as I previously stated, each starter set is almost $100!

There are a lot of cards in the game.  While the game isn’t card driven, cards are used for marking internal structural hits on the capital ships, critical hits, adding special commanders from the movies and TV shows, upgrading or modifying ship weapons and adding “named” ships from the movies and TV shows.  Scenarios are included on special cards called “Objective Cards”.

 Each capital ship has a stand and a base.  The base has little wheels for each of the four shield arcs.  Each capital ship has two different versions on cards which fit on the ship’s base.  When your ship gets hit, turn the shield wheels to reflect damage to your shields.

The fighters have stands and bases too.  There is a dial which shows how many fighters are left in the squadron after combat.  When you turn the dial down from 1 to zero, the fighters are removed from the play area.  Also each fighter has a marker to show if it has activated or not.  Unfortunately, the star fighter stands tend to fall apart usually at the most inopportune times.  Fantasy Flight has known about this for years as they had the same issue with the Rebel/Empire games but have never bothered to fix this.

Each Starfighter pack also includes cards for heroes and villains such as General Grievous as well as alternative versions of the fighters and extra load outs such as hyperspace rings for the Jedi Fighters.  The Separatist Starfighter packs include Vulture Droids, Hyena Bombers, Droid Tri-Fighters and Belbullab-22s.  The Republic Starfighters include Delta-7 Jedi Fighters, Y Wings, Arc-170s and V—19s.

Grievous Takes on Jedi Fighters

So now that we’ve looked at the components of the starter sets and the starfighter sets, let’s look at how the game plays.

The turn sequence is pretty straight forward.

  1. The Command Phase – each capital ship has a command rating that tells you how many commands you can preset with the Command Dial.  These dials keep your commands hidden from the other players until the dials are revealed.  This is an ingenious way to avoid having to write commands down on a command log which can really drag out a game.  Commands include Navigate (change speed), Activate Squadrons (move or attack with your starfighters prior to the Squadron Phase), Repair (repair ships systems, shields or hull damage) and Concentrate Fire (try and do more damage to the enemy when you attack).  If you don’t use the Command Dial during the turn, you can take a Command Token and use it later to a lesser affect.
  • Capital Ships Attack – each ship is rated for how many special attack dice they can roll based upon their weapons arcs.  The color coded dice are specially marked with things like hits, double hits, misses and critical hits.  Range from the attacking ship to the target is measured using the Range Rulers.  The greater the range, the less your chance of hitting.
  • Capital Ships Move – movement is so easy using the Movement Tool which is rather like a bendable ruler.  Each ship is rated for its ability to turn based upon its current speed.  The Movement Tool is just a wonderful way of aiding in the movement of the capital ships.
  • Squadron Phase – starfighters move or attack and take damage.
  • Status Phase – remove or reset exhausted status tokens, ready upgrades, reset initiate tokens, etc.

Wash, rinse and repeat until one side wins or retreats or until the victory conditions in a scenario are achieved.

How well does the game capture the “Star Wars feel?”  I would say perfectly.  The synergy between the capital ships and the starfighters makes the fighters a great addition to the standoff capability of the different types of capital ships.  You’ll find yourself using the same tactics as seen in the movies as you use some fighters to screen the vulnerable arcs of your ships while you send some fighters to hopefully score a critical hit to the enemy’s ships.

Sep Strike Force

The fighters feel much more instrumental to the overall combat as opposed to the fighters in the Rebel/Empire sets.  For the Republic, the Delta-7 Jedi Fighters are simply amazing and the ARC 170s are true beasties.  It’s really fun to play with the new, hot off the factory floor Y Wings!  For the Separatists, the Droid Tri-Fighters are simply deadly as are their experimental upgrade, the Phlac Arphocc which wiped out two squadrons of ARC 170s!  I also really like the Vulture Droids which are deadly but not as deadly as the Tri-Fighters.

As for capital ships, I have found the Grand Army of the Republics’ Acclamator to be a very capable combat ship.  Not only does it  dish out a decent amount of damage, its damage control capability means that usually can take a good hit and then repair the damage quickly.

Sep Ship is Destroyed

For the Separatists, the Munificent is a frigate which fights like a heavy cruiser. It really mirrors the capability of the ship in the Clone Wars TV series.

I really love Star Wars Armada but find the price of the Clone Wars starters to be prohibitively expensive.  I realize that the licensing was also probably very expensive but, for the price, Fantasy Flight should have corrected some of the flaws from the Rebels/Empire release and included a full rule reference booklet instead of making it a downloadable PDF.  In addition, Fantasy Flight should have included solo rules especially in this time of the Pandemic.  There is a fine solo system available and I put in a link to it at the end of this review.

As it stands, it’s a good game and tons of fun even with its few flaws.  So put on the John Williams Star Wars soundtrack and get those ships in to the battle soldier!

Republic Starfighters

Armchair General Rating:  90% (1% is bad, 100% is perfect)

Solitaire Rating: 5 with the aftermarket solo system found at  

http://www.crabbok.com/custom-content/armada-ai/

(1 is not suitable, 5 is excellent solo play)

About the Author

A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer. He designed the games Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Expansion and Sherman Leader for DVG and has designed the solo system for Forsage Games’ Age of Dogfights.  Currently Rick is designing T34 Leader for DVG.  In addition, Rick can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

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