Liberty Expansion Pack, Star Wars Armada

7.3 Overall Score
Utility: 8/10
Dollar Value: 6/10
Point Value: 8/10

Blazing amounts of forward firepower.

Somewhat fragile, low squadron rating, high dollar cost.

Liberty Expansion Pack, Star Wars Armada
Fantasy Flight Games
2016

The Liberty Expansion Pack puts two new large-base Mon Calamari cruiser variants at the disposal of the Alliance to Restore the Republic in Fantasy Flight’s game of capitol ship battles, Star Wars Armada. These are some strange new fish.

Unlike the other Alliance ships, these new cruisers are designed to fly up the middle. They have their most powerful anti-ship armament and most powerful shields in the forward arc. And although Fantasy Flight Games makes a lot out of their five forward shields and eight hull points, neither of them can mount Defensive Retrofit upgrades. They also lack a contain defense token. This is made up for to a degree by their having two brace defense tokens, unlike any other ship in Armada, but for a design intended to play chicken with Imperial Star Destroyers, that might not be enough.

They are serious about the cannons, though. They both have seven dice in their front arc, four red and three blue for the Battle Cruiser, three red and four blue for the Star Cruiser. And they can each mount two Turbolasers Upgrade Cards, making them unique among ships in that galaxy far, far away. That firepower is reinforced by the expansion’s new upgrade cards – ones like Veteran Gunners, Spinal Armament, and High Capacity Ion Turbines.

If there was any doubt that these new cruisers are gunships, they have the smallest squadron value, 2, of any large-base model in the game. This ain’t your boat if you’re looking for a carrier.

General Madine is the new Commander Upgrade Card in the Liberty Expansion Pack. He is notable because he can be deployed just as effectively in almost any fleet build, in contrast to, for example, Mon Mothma or General Cracken, who obviously fit best with a limited number of fleets.

This expansion brings the number of large-base ships available to Alliance player to four, in addition to the annoyingly and confusingly named MC80 Assault Cruiser and MC80 Command Cruiser from the Home One Expansion. And therein lies a problem of theme.

In the films, the Alliance, and then the Resistance, are always guerrilla forces, outnumbered and outgunned. But Armada always pits two fleets of equal point value against each other, and destroying enemy units is always one of the surest paths to victory. To date, Armada has no objective cards with scenarios where the Alliance has fewer fleet points, or gains victory points by getting ships off the board, or any other situation that isn’t a punch-out between equally weighted opponents.

With the Liberty Expansion Pack, the Alliance now has four large-base ships to choose from, while the Empire has only two; the Imperial Star Destroyer variants. ISDs are so expensive that they dominate any fleet list, and it is impractical to have more than one. But the less expensive Mon Cal cruisers can be more easily deployed in pairs. So Armada contradicts the Alliance’s image as a guerilla force by loading up its fleets with huge MC cruisers, while giving the Empire a shortage of ships capable of contesting them one on one.

The Mon Cal cruisers also make the Victory Star Destroyer, until now the backbone of the Empire’s forces, all but obsolete. Carrying fewer guns than all the Mon Cals, and slower than the Star and Battle cruisers and their own friendly ISDs, VSDs are hard to justify. This forces the Imperial player to rely ever more heavily on Imperial Star Destroyers.

All of this leads me to predict the Executor. Fantasy Flight Games has remodeled the battlespace with each new expansion wave, and I don’t believe that they are going to leave Armada in a place where the Alliance has the big ships. Although Wave V has already been announced, and does not contain the Executor, the Super Star Destroyer lies somewhere in the future. It will be hideously expensive, and you’ll need a crane to get it on the table, but…

That said, the Liberty Expansion pack is optional; the new variants do add new tactical and strategic options, but the $40 price tag my discourage players who already own a number of other Alliance expansions, especially the Home One.

 

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Brian Downes
Author: Brian Downes View all posts by

Brian Downes is a writer who lives in Orlando, Florida. His novel, The Berlin Fraternity, about a man who hunts vampires for the Third Reich, is available on the Kindle and through Amazon.com. He enjoys pen and paper roleplaying games and geek culture. He clearly remembers waiting for The Empire Strikes Back to hit theaters, and vindicate his opinion that of course Vader was not Luke’s father. You can’t trust Vader’s word!

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