Star Wars Armada – Rebel Fighter Squadrons II Expansion Pack

9.6 Overall Score
Utility: 10/10
Dollar Value: 9/10
Point Value: 10/10

Many new options for squadron commanders.

Some of these options are duds.

Star Wars Armada
Rebel Fighter Squadrons II Expansion Pack
Fantasy Flight Games
2017

Star Wars Armada pivots on the squadron game. It’s tempting to look at the size of the guns on a Mon Calamari Assault Cruiser and imagine that squadrons are trivial. That is how you lose.

Rebel Fighter Squadrons II Expansion Pack brings four new squadron types into the battlespace, making the fighter fight more sophisticated and nuanced than ever. This review ranks the four new squadron types in this expansion from worst to best.

In last place is the VCX-100 Freighter. It might seem sexy with its Hull of 8 and the new keywords Relay X and Strategic, but Strategic isn’t much good. You have to invest 15 valuable fleet points in this undergunned squadron, in the hope of using its unexceptional Speed 3 to get it close enough to an objective token to move that token to a spot that better serves your strategy.

As it is impossible to predict what Objective card you will be using in play, you could wind up with one of these in a game where there are no objective tokens at all. And the Strategic keyword will make this expensive squadron a high-priority target for engagement by fast-moving TIEs.

The VCX-100 Freighter Ace is Hera Syndulla, in the Ghost. She loses both Strategic and Relay X, but gains Grit and Rogue. She’s heavily armed in both anti-squadron and anti-ship categories, although lacks the Bomber keyword. Her special ability to grant two other squadrons the Rogue keyword until the end of the round is powerful, and creates opportunities for fleets that are less reliant on carriers, but all of this is offset by her hefty 28 point cost; fully 21% of the maximum fleet points one may spend on squadrons. Syndulla keeps the VCX-100 from being a complete bust.

Coming in at third after a bad beat for second is the Lancer-class Pursuit Class. With keywords Grit, Rogue, and Bomber, the Lancer can be kept in reserve into the bottom of the round, in the squadron phase, and then sent forward with Speed 4 to score bombing hits on ships. The question is, will it come through the enemy’s squadron commands in the ship phase both alive and unengaged? If not, then its fifteen points have been badly spent.

The Lancer Ace is Ketsu Onyo in the Shadow Caster. She retains all of the Lancer’s keywords, but also gains defense tokens, including the powerful Scatter defense token, and a special ability designed to counter the Intel keyword. This special ability is worthless. It doesn’t cancel Intel, it just reduces its advantage, and only comes into play if a.) the enemy fleet has a squadron with Intel and b.) you can get the Shadow Caster within range of that enemy squadron. So a lot of the time, a player is effectively paying seven more points to just add defense tokens to the Lancer.

The venerable Z-95 Headhunter Squadron takes second place. The Z-95 has the lowest hull points of any Alliance squadron and a moderate Speed of 3, but that’s enough to keep pace with X-wings and Y-Wings. What makes this squadron shine is its point cost of 7. When you’re spending your 133 fleet points on squadrons, any stray points left over can be invested in a Z-95. It can also make sense to trade out one X-Wing squadron, 13 points, for two Z-95s, 14 points. This replaces one squadron activation with two, four blue anti-squadron dice with six red, and five hull points with six.

Of course, that trade loses the Escort and Bomber keywords, but gains Swarm, adding a significant firepower boost versus squadrons. And it should be noted that the red dice in the Z-95’s anti-squadron armament each have one face with a double hit, which creates the chance of some spectacular damage with a lucky roll.

Sadly, the Z-95 Headhunter Ace is a failure. Lieutenant Blount Z-95 Headhunter Squadron gains a brace and a scatter defense token, retains the Swarm keyword, and gains a special ability that allows a squadron with Swarm to reroll an additional anti-squadron die. Blount costs 14 points, twice the standard Z-95.

The Z-95 is the only Alliance squadron with Swarm. Two Z-95 Headhunter squadron models come in this expansion. If you use one of them for Blount, that leaves you with one more. So you’re plowing 7 extra fleet points into Blount to give a bump in firepower to one other squadron, which is the most fragile squadron in your fleet.

Of course, you could spend $20 a pop to buy more copies of this expansion, get more Z-95s, and have a huge swarm of them. If you don’t mind burning money, go for it.

Winning first place by the length of a Rebel transport is the E-Wing Squadron. At 15 points, it is only 2 points more expensive than an X-Wing, has the same Hull of 5, the same four blue anti-squadron dice, the same Bomber keyword, although it rolls a red anti-ship die instead of a black, for a loss of firepower compared to the X-Wing.

What the E-Wing gains in exchange is a Speed of 4 and the new keyword Snipe X. Snipe allows a squadron to fire on enemy squadrons that are at distance 2. Snipe X is one of the biggest changes in gameplay in the history of Armada.

Armada tends to produce squadron furballs, where large numbers of fighters pile in on each other in the decisive battle for squadron superiority. The Snipe keyword allows an unprecedented degree of control in the furball; it significantly increases range, allows the squadron to attack without being engaged itself, and ignores the Counter keyword. Activate the E-Wings last, send them where you want them with their Speed 4, and choose your targets at will. E-Wings have Snipe 3, so they roll three blue dice.

It’s important to note that Snipe is almost exclusively an Alliance advantage. The E-Wing and the E-Wing Ace get it. In contrast, the only Imperial squadron with Snipe is the unique Saber Squadron TIE Interceptor.

And let’s talk about that E-Wing Ace, Corran Horn. Horn gains two brace defense tokens, has his Snipe upgraded from 3 to 4, and gains the Rogue keyword. He’s a great buy at 22 points. He’s an incredible clean-up crew. Activate him last and send him in with Rogue against the most vulnerable enemy squadrons that are already pinned in place by other Alliance squadrons.

For $20, the Rebel Fighter Squadrons II Expansion Pack brings a huge amount of new options to the fighter battle in your Armada games. It is highly recommended.

 

 

 

Comments:

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!

Leave A Response