There is one aspect of void combat that is far more important than any other. It is not your gun batteries, nor is it your shields and hull. A savvy opponent can dance around the most powerful of weapons, and the sluggard can see the same parts of their ship targeted again and again. No, the most important part of void combat is being in the right place at the right time. Maneuvering is also the most difficult aspect of the game to teach and to learn.
Consider, for a moment, that the MC80 Cruiser, the least maneuverable ship to date, can end its movement at Speed Two in three different locations. Even on this most unwieldy of vessels, a Navigate command increases this to sixteen. Engine Techs adds another three options. Ultimately, a ship this size will find it hard to avoid the enemy entirely. But by carefully considering your position and the enemy's firing arcs, it is possible to avoid taking serious fire, or a double-arc, or to move a shield-less facing away from the enemy.
Now consider that an Imperial Raider at Speed Two without any commands can make nineteen different maneuvers. More maneuverable ships have an incredible array of options that they can use to provide their own double-arc shots, avoid enemy double-arcs or even avoid enemies entirely. Here's an example:
Here we have an Imperial Raider activating last, trying to strafe an MC80 that has already moved. The Imperial player will also go first, so they have a chance to throw black dice into the MC80 and attempt an escape. The Raider is at Speed Two, and wants to attack with both of its arcs and avoid flying into the MC80's opposite broadside, because it likely won't survive.
Turning to the left would lead to overlapping, and is out of the question. Here's what would happen if out intrepid Raider flew straight, then performed a hard right turn:
Not a great situation for a ship that can suffer six unbraced damage before dying. But making a slight right turn isn't an option either:
It can certainly make an escape into the MC80's weaker front arc, but one black die and one blue die won't do much damage. Here's where we want to use the S-Turn. One thing that confuses a lot of players is how and where you're allowed to place the maneuver template. The two rules regarding this are A) you must start and end on the same side of the tool, and B) you cannot overlap the tool. As far as overlapping, only the end point of the ship matters, meaning you can turn the tool one way, then back the other. Here's what an S-Turn looks like:
The tool is bent two clicks to the right, then two clicks to the left. We can place the tool on the left side and move the Raider without overlapping. And here's what our arcs look like:
Perfect. Both the front and side can see the front of the MC80. But can we escape doom on the far side of the ship?
Blammo. Now we can double-arc the MC80 and remain in front of it, suffering a measly two red dice one blue die shot in response.
Also important to note is how an S-Turn allows you to maintain your speed, but reduces the distance you travel forward. This can be great for avoiding obstacles or ships, especially on your nimble vessels with little hull.
So the purpose of this session isn't to teach you all about maneuvering in Armada. That would be impossible. The main idea here is to try and consider all of the myriad ways you can manipulate the maneuver template before you commit to a course of action. The best way to learn about maneuvering? Play lots of games with many different classes of ship. Flying all Victory-class Star Destroyers will teach you about anticipation and how to compensate for poor maneuverability. Flying all CR90s will teach you the importance of speed control and exploring exactly what the maneuver tool can do.
This is also why you tend to see a lot of Star Destroyers, MC80s and Assault Frigates in beginner lists. You don't have to play game after game to understand their movement abilities and limitations. They also rely on shields, firepower and hull to see them through, whereas Raiders, Gladiators, and CR90s need proper maneuvering, or they will die. The only way to learn those ships is to play them. So to start, maybe try including one or two of the faster ships supported by some heavy hitters. You can make mistakes with the little ships but still not give the game away, because you have some powerful friends to compensate for their losses.
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