For those just tuning in, our “Star Wars: Echoes of the Sith” campaign was conducted at Hurricon 2015 by The Just Dice League and The Lakeland Roleplaying Guild. It went extremely well and we got several requests for re-caps of the games, the story and to have the scenarios posted. The following write-up is for Session 1, the first miniatures game in the campaign.
Lothal, Two Weeks After The Battle of Endor…
Captain Lo’Pu sipped her drink as she skimmed through her holo-newsfeed on the bridge of the Nebulan B Frigate, Justice. The beverage was from her home world, Ry’loth; one of the few comforts she allowed herself. She preferred an austere lifestyle, one of discipline and dedication to a singular goal. A goal that had not changed for years, but now seemed closer than ever – defeating the Galactic Empire. Even the one small treat she allowed herself served that goal. It was a reminder of what lay at the center of her resolve: her home and the suffering Ry’loth endured under the boot of the Empire. Each sip she took from the hand-crafted pottery kept the memories alive and honed her focus.
And focus was exactly what she needed. The mission she had been given was as routine as they come. Escort duty. Not just escort duty, but escort duty over junk and low-level prisoners plucked from the hulks around Endor, the remains of the Imperial ships unable to escape the death throes of the second Death Star that the Alliance had recently put down. In actuality the assignment was a mixed blessing. While it gave them a welcome respite from the intensity of the past few weeks it also tempted them to relax drop their guard, something that was dangerous in a galaxy thrown into chaos.
But it was worth the risk. The strain of the recovery operations in the battle’s aftermath broke some of her comrades and drove the rest to the brink, including herself. The destruction and loss of life was catastrophic to both sides of the battle and, to her, dealing with the screams of the wounded and disposing of the dead were even more traumatizing than the combat that caused the casualties. In the heat of battle she was in control and her actions saved lives. She could still summon the exhilaration from when her ship took the kill shot on an Imp-star deuce moving to intercept Home One. It was…
A warning alarm sounded. Incoming ships. Several and large.
Snapped from her reverie, Lo’Pu stood and stepped closer to the viewport. In a matter of seconds the space before her was filled with a massive Imperial fleet, a mix of star destroyers and dreadnaughts. Her hands went numb, allowing her cup to slip from her fingers and smash onto the deck, the hot, viscous liquid spreading out like the blood she knew would soon be spilt.
“Open a channel to all ships,” she commanded. Steeling her voice she issued her commands, “We don’t have a chance against those ships, but we need to do as much damage as possible. All warships form on the Justice. We will isolate and destroy one of those Victory Star Destroyers. Freighter captains, if you are boarded you are clear to abandon ship, the cargo is not worth the risk. I say again, abandon your cargo if necessary. May the Force be with us all!”
Vice Admiral Emmett’s teeth ground together as his fleet dropped out of hyperspace. Their deployment was not at all what he had ordered. His subordinates had each taken it upon themselves to jockey for a closer position to the objective. Whether due to arrogance, over eagerness or desire to prove themselves was irrelevant, the result was the star destroyers far too close together and with virtually no room to maneuver. Luckily he expected this mission to have some rough patches. After all, his ships and their crews were pulled from all over the galaxy and thrown together, the only commonality being their devout loyalty to Lord Vader. He didn’t know them and they didn’t know him. It appeared he would need to forge them into a cohesive unit in the fire of combat. Not ideal, but doable.
The admiral first dispatched orders to his dreadnaughts. They were to give the destroyers some space and close on the rebel convoy that was strung out from the station like a string of pearls, their hulls glittering in the light of the system’s sun. They were also told to fire at will on the combat vessels pulling away from the unarmed freighters. The rebels’ abandonment of their cargo was a good sign because it indicated they had not discerned how important their cargo was.
Next he orchestrated the movements of the destroyers, at times having them pass close enough to have set off proximity warnings had he not ordered them disabled. The whole time his voice was calm, yet firm. In short order the ships had righted their courses and were bearing down on the insurgent vessels. Better still, the voices of his captains had transitioned from strained to confident. Clasping his hands behind his back, Admiral Emmett walked to the main viewport and issued a final, simple order, “To all captains,” he said. “No quarter to the enemy and secure all transports.”
Armada is part of FFG’s family of Star Wars miniatures games that delves into the area of capital ship battle. The game currently focuses on ships of the Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance. Ships are modeled on stands that have dials and cards. The dials denote shields, which decrease as hit are taken, while cards on the stand give the firing arcs and dice the ship may fire. Like X-Wing, each ship has cards with more detailed information and two other decks of card with upgrades available (at a points cost) and damage as hits finally deplete the shields and hit the hull.
Following X-Wing and Imperial Assault’s examples, FFG will be offering successive waves that will enhance the game. The miniatures are made on a sliding scale, meaning that they are not truly in scale with each other as you may remember them in the movies. Fortunately for those interested in a constant scale, there are alternatives. More information on that will be at the end of the article.
While normally a two player game, Armada can easily be adjusted to allow for more. At Hurricon ’15, we had a total of eight players, each with two ships. The break down was as follows:
- Four Victory Star Destroyers
- Four Dreadnoughts (Using stats from FFG’s Gladiator)
- Fighter Support
- Two stands DX-9 trooper transports
- 2 Nebulan B Escort Frigates
- 2 Bulk Cruisers (Using stats for Nebulan B Escort Frigates)
- Four flights of Corellian Corvettes
- Fighter Support
- Five stands of Rebel transports
The Imperial fleet’s objective is to recue Admiral Montferrat who is aboard one of several transports. The admiral is vital to leading the Imperials in the rest of the “Echoes of the Sith” campaign. Meanwhile, the Rebels must simply make it out alive, after destroying as many Imperial ships as possible. Neither side knows the objective of the other.
The Rebel fleet was set up at the narrow end of a 8×5 foot gaming table. The fleet was set up with the transports in the center and escorted by Nebulan Bs and Corellian Corvettes on the right and left. Each player had a Neb-B and Corellian Corvette flight stand.
The Imperial fleet was set up at the opposite end, with two players on each side. Each player had one Victory Destroyer and one Dreadnought. Both sides were also given modest fighter escorts, while the Imperials had special stands with custom fan made DX-9 Stormtrooper carriers.
The game played out pretty much as the fan fiction above outlined. The Victory Star Destroyers are slow and not very maneuverable. As they turned in to move towards the enemy fleet, chaos ensued with several near collisions. The Rebels, on the other hand, aside from the GM controlled transports, were fast and flew circles around most of the Imperial fleet. While they were generally weaker and more fragile, their maneuverability allowed them to damage several Imperial ships before being forced to leave the table. The Imperial were able to capture two sets of transports, recuing the Admiral and the winning the scenario.
First, the miniatures. By using custom made, as well as FFG, miniatures, the game was vey cinematic. Aside from the fighter stands, capital ships were in a nearly consistent 1/7000 scale. The custom ships included DX-9s and Nebulan-Bs from Mel Miniatures on Shapeways. Resin Dreadnoughts and transports were made by Utar of Task Force 4222. He also has a Shapeways store, Space Supply Depot, that offers Corellian corvettes and several corvette variations. And he offers stand adaptors, so that “flights” of three corvettes can be on one stand. If you want to make your table look more like the opening scene of A New Hop. Mel and Utar’s models are the way to go.
Secondly, game setup. Given the length of the table and how far each fleet was placed, the opposing fleets should probably start out closer than the 4 feet they began at. Also, with the Imperial fleet having two lines turning inward from the sides of the table, the game had a real chance of ending before it started. Had the Imperial fleet collided, severe damage could have taken out all four of the Empire’s heaviest ships. If the scenario were run again, we would deploy the Imperials across the table and two feet closer.
Another issue was the fact that, when the game was played, Wave 2 of Armada had not yet been released. At the time of writing, they are on the ship transiting the Pacific Ocean. That would have changed the composition of both fleets. Rather than four Victories and four Gladiator proxies, the Imperial would most likely have had one Imperial Star Destroyer, two Victory Destroyers and four Gladiator proxies (Dreadnoughts) and two Imperial Raiders (with proxy Lancer models supplied by Utar Ships). The Rebels would have remained the same, but gained one MC80. The Rebel players would have more investment being potentially able to engage and defeat one or more of the larger Imperial ships before escaping to hyperspace. However, the Imperials still need to be overwhelming in order to give the scenario the correct feel for the rest of the campaign.
Admiral Montferrat sat alone on the floor and leaned against the bulkhead with his eyes closed in hopes to dissuade conversation. The rebels had converted a Class-A cargo container into a field expedient prisoner conveyance and all around him junior officers from an array of branches filled the cavernous hold with the hum of conversation, coughing and snoring. Luckily none of the others had indicated they recognized him as anything other than the lieutenant his rank board proclaimed. While he had no way of knowing if a fellow captive had revealed him to the insurgents it seemed unlikely that, if his cover had been compromised, he would still be among the rabble and not undergoing strenuous interrogation. So he waited, knowing that his future was rescue or obscurity. Fifty-fifty chance at best.
It had been at least a couple days since he was herded into the container, though exactly how long he couldn’t be sure. He was working through estimates based on sleep and meals when a shutter passed through the ship that caused his eyes to snap open. It was a familiar sensation, but hours of doubt and tedium made him question his first instinct until it happened again and he was sure. The freighter was taking fire. And a lot of it. The admiral was willing to bet much of it was coming from turbolasers. All around him his fellow captives began to shuffle and chatter in nervous confusion. Those who were asleep were now waking up and looking about as if they could see through the metal hull and discern what was happening.
The admiral simply waited. He closed his eyes again and visualized the scene playing out just a short distance away.
The Imperial ships would use their larger guns to bring down the shields first. They would avoid using the full battery for fear of over-penetration. The DX-9’s will have already launched, the Storm troopers aboard doing a final equipment check and getting last minute intelligence from the sensor sweeps of their target. When they got the word the shields were down the DX’s would unleash a devastating salvo of ion cannon fire….
Almost on cue the dim lights inside the container failed and cast the prisoners into darkness, which elicited a few shouts from those with less fortitude. The lack of emergency lighting was yet another sign of the rebels’ lack of resources and their fragility even while basking in a great victory. It caused the admiral to grin for the first time in weeks.
With the ship disabled the assault craft would mag-lock onto the hull, most likely near the freighter’s central walkway. The troopers would set shape charges, blast a hole in the ceiling, then use the smoke for cover as they dropped in and spread through the ship to eliminate any crew that had failed to make it to an escape pod. Once the craft was secure the specialists would move to the cargo container access port knowing it would be locked and require forceful entry. This time they would forgo the shape charge and use a more delicate approach.
Admiral Montferrat stood up in the darkness, smoothed out his uniform and straightened his hat. After a few minutes the darkness was shattered by the bead of plasma torch beginning to slice through the center of the main cargo hatch. It casted odd shadows around the hold and across the huddled officers who inexplicably shied away from what was clearly the first indication of salvation. The admiral walked against the tide toward the ever growing hole to freedom and waited patiently until the uneven oval crashed inwards landing a meter in front of his boots that, while dulled somewhat from his captivity, still managed to shine in the brilliant light stabbing through the breach. On the other side a handful of soldiers in white armor snapped to attention and saluted, no doubt updating the fleet commander through their helmets that their target had been located.
Stepping carefully through the still smoldering opening the Admiral said “You have my gratitude gentlemen. Now, please get me off this hulk so that I may assume command.”