Interview with Canada’s 2015 Armada Champion

Today we interview our National Champion in Armada, Travis – nice guy and good gamer all around. He was also kind enough to do a battle report which you can check out here.

How did you get interested in Armada? Did you play X-Wing?

I never got into X-Wing. I’m more of a board and card game player than a miniatures gamer. The pre-painted miniatures and the Star Wars theme did tempt me from time to time, but eventually there was so much product already out there that it seemed too late to get into the game. When I heard rumours that a large scale fleet combat game was on the horizon, I was determined to get in at the ground floor. I bought my core set the week of release, but it was a bit awkward to arrange for sufficient play space. I got in a couple demo games with a good friend, but that’s been it aside from a couple tournaments. I was intimidated by the game at first, particularly given my lack of miniatures experience, but it has been enormously fun and I’m consistently astonished by how quickly a 2 hour match can fly by. Of course, with the new core for X-Wing, I’m tempted again, but I think I have too many games on my plate.

Who was your favorite character in Star Wars? Are you a big Star Wars fan?

I used to be an enormous Star Wars fan, but like many people, the prequels put a huge dent in my fandom. Recently I’ve started catching up on The Clone Wars and reading some of the new novels. I’m very excited by the new movie. As for favourite character… that’s a tough one… I’d probably have to go with Luke. When I was a kid, he just resonated with me.

I noticed that you play LCG games. Which ones are you most passionate about?

Right now I’m most in to the Warhammer 40,000: Conquest LCG. I made top 8 in the Canadian nationals on Friday, but got knocked out in the first round of elimination. I help run the website and write some articles for The Tactical Squad podcast (http://thetacticalsquad.com). I also really enjoy Netrunner and have played in a number of competitive events. I have tickets for both events at worlds.

You won with the best Rebel list name I’ve heard to date, Use the Force, Luke. Do you stick with Rebels or do you play Imperials from time to time?

  • Assault Frigate Mark II B – General Dodonna,  Adar Tallon (102)
  • CR90 Corellian Corvette B – Jaina’s Light, Leia Organa (44)
  • Nebulon-B Support Refit – Salvation, Intel Officer (65)
  • Nebulon-B Support Refit (51)
  • Luke Skywalker X-wing Squadron (20)
  • X-wing Squadron (13)
  • Objectives:  Advanced Gunnery – Hyperspace Assault – Dangerous Territory

I’m actually always jealous about the cool deck and fleet names that other people come up with, so I was quite happy that name occurred to me while I was writing up my deck list at the event. Luke and Adar are an effective little surprise and I felt it was a bit of a differentiating factor in my fleet. So far I’ve only bought any additional ships for Rebels. I wanted to make sure I was playing enough of the game before spending another $100 on the Imperial ships. At this point I’m going to wait until after I buy some of the wave 2 ships and if I really want to play Imperial, I’ll pick some up then.

Your list had 2 squadrons. How would you have dealt with a heavy squadron list or a heavy bomber list?

I would have tried to focus on burning down the enemy ships as quickly as possible, using the 2 squadrons to tie up the opposing squadrons if they were a big threat to my ships. There just aren’t a lot of squadron heavy lists out there right now, so it seemed likely that I’d be able to use them for their primary purpose against enemy ships.

You didn’t play against any Imperials or Fighter Heavy lists. Were there any Imperials or fighter heavy lists at the tourney?

I think there were only two Imperial players at the event.  I think one of them was running the Gencon winning fleet list.  Though I think Yik was confused.  He was wearing an Imperial uniform while piloting a Rebel fleet.

Yik (pictured left) wearing his black Imperial Uniform while flying a CR-90 swarm.
Yik (pictured left) wearing his black Imperial Uniform while flying a CR-90 swarm.

I think Yik may actually have been running a decent number of squadrons, but after winning the first game by a fair margin I became a bit tunnel-visioned and didn’t see much of the other games.

Ha, good on Yik wearing his Imperial Uniform. Yes, he had a fair amount of fighters in his list. He was trying to make them work and had a good day coming in 3rd place.

It seems that our Canadian Nationals Meta was quite different from the “Gencon Special” list which won the US National. Were you expecting to see more Gladiators?

I think the Rebel heavy field was a bit of reaction to that list.  I know the Toronto players spent a lot of time trying to put together fleets they thought would be strong against that list.  I was still expecting to see a lot more Gladiators in the field.

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Armada 2015 Canadian Nationals

How would you have dealt with the “Gencon Special” list or a Gladiator heavy fleet?

Well, the Adar + Luke combo was intended to be some “safe” damage on approaching Gladiators, which can be tough to focus fire on when they are moving at speed.  I’d hope to tangle them up with my own ships, if possible, to make sure they can’t disengage cleanly.  It may mean losing ships of my own, but I was hoping that I could at least come out ahead in the trade.

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Armada Fleet at Nationals 2015

I noticed you took Leia Organa. How did you end up using her the most? What did she bring to your list?

I like having Leia as insurance in case I desperately need to swap a command dial.  I think I only ended up using it once or twice, but it’s definitely come in handy at other events.  She may be more of a security blanket than an effective way to spend points.

The Nebulons got some love from you. Many people criticize the ships weak sides. How do you like to fly them so that you get your points out of them?

I come out at speed 3 and slow to speed 1 in turn 2 when they are just getting into range of enemy ships. I generally have the assault frigate on one flank, making it tough to get in on that side.  The corvette is usually making trouble of the other side, which can distract opponents from closing on that side.  The 3 dice that you can employ from range before an enemy can even fire on you can put you enough ahead that the weak sides don’t matter as much.  Particularly when you have multiple nebs providing that firepower.

There was a lot of griping about the cost and barriers to entry for Nationals at Fan Expo. As a player who went, what was it like? Were there hassles besides the expense of the ticket? Did you manage to see any of the Convention?

Well, I already had a weekend pass for Fan Expo, so the financial aspect didn’t really come up for me.  Paying $40-60 for a day pass for a con that you won’t even get to see very much of while playing in a full day event is a bit ridiculous.  So I can understand the frustrations from others.  And I don’t think Fan Expo has enough of a reputation as a gamer’s convention to be a destination for travelling fans, which would be one argument for holding it at the event.

Getting in to the venue was pretty easy and there was plenty of space in the board gaming area where the tournaments took place, so from that perspective, Fan Expo was a good venue.  Also, no problems with the A/C or gamer funk that sometimes is a bother at busy events. It could be a challenge at different times of the day to go buy food or a water, so when you may not have much time between rounds that is not ideal.

Since I had a 4-day pass I was able to spend as much time as I wanted at the rest of the event.  My favourite part is Artist’s Alley and I did manage to pick up a few pieces of merch.

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Nationals 2015 Armada

So, hosting it at Fan Expo did not impact my enjoyment of the event. Except that it meant a smaller turnout, which was demoralizing given all the players we know who would have attended if it weren’t for the higher price tag.

How do you mentally approach the game of Armada? What do you think a good player should always keep in mind?

I’ll be honest.  I haven’t really figured out a good mental approach for Armada.  I find the possibility space of the game is already pretty large, so I have trouble having a specific battle plan in place coming in to a game.

On the other hand, I think that might be a bit of a boon. Players with a very specific strategy can be thrown off if things don’t build up as they anticipated.  I think I roll with the punches pretty well and adapt to the changing state of an individual battle.

Also, don’t split your ships.  I’ve made this mistake over and over and I’ve seen a lot of other players do it as well.  It’s always going to take your secondary force much longer to engage than you think it will.

And finally, the most important question of them all… Do you think Episode 7 will be a good movie?

Absolutely.  There are plenty of fair criticisms, but I don’t think JJ Abrams has made a bad movie yet.  I think JJ recognizes some of the key ingredients that made Star Wars a classic.  And I think Disney has learned a lot from the Marvel movies in terms of letting passionate creators develop their own vision and channel it effectively commercially.

Let’s hope you’re right on that count Travis! Thanks for the interview and congrats on winning the trophy.

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