Star Wars Armada – Hammerhead Corvettes Expansion Pack

5 Overall Score
Utility: 5/10
Dollar Value: 4/10
Point Value: 6/10

The new Alliance commander, Leia Organa.

A pair of sluggish, fragile corvettes inferior to other ships you already own.

The Hammerhead Corvettes Expansion Pack brings two new corvette variants into the Alliance fleet. Why? Mostly for the cards.

The Hammerhead Corvette is best known in the Star Wars canon for the heroic self-sacrifice of the Lightmaker at the Battle of Scarif in the recent film Rogue One. With a sequence that crucial and that spectacular, Armada just had to have Hammerheads on the table. Unfortunately, one needs more reason than a few minutes of film to buy and deploy a pair of models.

The first variant is the Hammerhead Torpedo Corvette, at 36 fleet points. But the well-known CR90 Corvette B is only three points more expensive; is faster at Speed 4 instead of the Hammerhead’s 3; is more survivable with seven shields and Hull 4, compared to five shields and Hull 5. The CR90 Corvette B also has greater range with its blue battery dice, and single blue anti-squadron die. The CR90 B also gets a single blue die in its rear arc; the Hammerhead has no dice in its rear arc at all.

The HH Torpedo’s upgrade bar includes Officer, Weapons Team, Offensive Retrofit, and Ordnance slots. No Weapons Team or Offensive Retrofit card makes a particularly good fit on a small ship firing so few dice, and a player would hesitate to commit expensive Ordnance upgrades like Expanded Launchers to such a fragile craft.

The second variant is the Hammerhead Scout Corvette, costing 41 fleet points. It has significantly improved range and firepower over the HH Torpedo, with two red and one blue dice forward, and one blue port and starboard. But compare it to the CR90 Corvette A, which is only 3 fleet points more, is faster, a bit tougher, and has significantly more firepower, adding a red die port, starboard, and stern over the HH Scout. Obviously, the CR90 Corvette A becomes especially effective serving under Admiral Ackbar; the HH Scout much less so. And with red dice in three of its arcs, and two evade defense tokens, the CR90 Corvette B is the go-to home in the Alliance fleet for Turbolaser Reroute Circuits. The HH Scout is much less well suited to them.

Finally, both CR90 variants can equip Engine Techs, making them extremely maneuverable. The Hammerheads cannot. The Hammerhead Corvettes are simply inferior to the CR90s in so many ways that their slight fleet point savings cannot justify them.

Hammerheads can be upgraded with the Task Force Antilles title, three fleet points, or Task Force Organa, 1 fleet point. These create synergy between and among Hammerheads, but they are tricky to manage, and they also require at least two, ideally more, of these ships to deploy together. Each of the Hammerheads must have its own copy of the title card. Three HH Scouts with Task Force Antilles titles and no other upgrades require a fat investment of 132 fleet points, or 33% of the total.

A player would also have to buy two of this expansion to put three of these corvettes on the table, as each box contains two ship models and two copies of each Task Force title. At $40 a box, many players will balk at the cost of making Hammerheads such a big part of their fleet.

The best role of the Hammerhead is to equip the Torpedo variant with the new External Racks, an inexpensive one-use Ordnance upgrade available only in this expansion; then try to ram Victory and Imperial Star Destroyers with it, blasting away with the black dice as it closes. The Garel’s Honor title makes this a more effective tactic—assuming the little corvette can survive approaching the angry giant long enough to ram it. Ramming is almost certain to spell the end of the Hammerhead, however, and a player must hope that the damage done will be worth the loss in fleet points.

Hondo Ohnaka is the only Officer upgrade included in this expansion. He’s a cheap discard-to-use with a gimmick never before seen in Armada; one’s opponent is involved in the decisions he triggers, and stands to benefit from them, too. Every other card in the game is designed to improve its player’s control; Ohnaka creates a struggle for control.

This expansion includes two of the new category of Boarding Teams cards. Boarding Teams take up both the Weapons Team and Offensive Retrofit upgrade slots. The first is Cham Syndulla, who can be added to great effect to the HH Torpedo rammer described above. He can cause a great deal of havoc aboard VSDs and ISDs, with their Command 3; assuming, again, that the corvette survives long enough to use him.

The second Boarding Team included in this expansion is the absolutely puzzling Boarding Engineers. Like all Boarding Teams, it takes up the Weapons Team and Offensive Retrofit slot, and is discard-to-use. It allows one to look at the facedown damage cards on the target, and flip a number of them equal to the Engineering value of the attacking ship to faceup. This sounds spectacular. But it requires there to already be facedown damage cards on the target, and for the attacking ship to maneuver into short range with the right token or dial at the ready. It’s odd that this card is included in this expansion, because the Hammerheads have a modest Engineering 2, and are unlikely to survive close encounters. The only other ships in the Alliance fleet capable of equipping Boarding Engineers are the venerable Assault Frigate Mark IIs, which have the shields to survive a close pass with a Star Destroyer, and the Engineering 4 to cry havoc on the triangle.

In short, at two fleet points, Boarding Engineers have the potential to do the most rending of any card in the game. But lining it up in the chaos of battle is a very difficult trick.

This expansion includes the new Quad Battery Turrets upgrade, which seems odd for the Hammerhead Scout. It’s clearly a card best suited for the Empire’s Star Destroyers, although it’s not a bad fit on an MC80 Assault or Command Cruiser.

Obvious questions raised here are, why isn’t there a Lightmaker title? It’s the most famous Hammerhead in the canon, but it isn’t in this box. And with this expansion so inspired by Rogue One, why isn’t there a Darth Vader Boarding Team card? Because this is an Alliance expansion? Then why wasn’t there one in the Imperial ship included in this wave? I think we will see one in the future.

The real royalty in the new upgrade cards included in this box is Leia Organa, the new Alliance commander. You’ll pay for your Princess; at 38 fleet points, she ties Admiral Ackbar for the most expensive Alliance commander. But her ability is very impressive. If a ship does not spend any tokens this round, it may resolve its command dial as if it had also spent a token of the same type. This means that Concentrate Fire adds a die, and reroll. Repair produces 1.5 times the Engineering value in engineering points. Navigate gives you the ability to either change the ship’s speed by two, or change the ship’s speed by one, and add one click of yaw. Squadron commands under Leia activate Squadron value plus one squadrons.

Obviously, this has a tremendous effect on multiple small unit fleets made up of Command 1 ships. But Commander Organa also adds a good kick to larger, less flexible ships, as well. She transforms any fleet she heads.

In the end, Leia Organa is an awesome commander, but this expansion forces one to spend $40 on two ships that are notably inferior to the CR90 Corvettes one already owns in order to get her and Cham Syndulla. The Hammerhead Expansion pack is much less exciting and useful than the Imperial Light Carrier Expansion Pack that made up the other half of this wave.

 

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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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