Star Wars Armada: Imperial Fighter Squadrons II Expansion Pack
Fantasy Flight Games
As the Sith Lord once said, “We’ll have to destroy them ship to ship. Get the crews to their fighters.” In Star Wars Armada, nothing kills squadrons like squadrons. If you don’t have squadrons, your opponent will; it’s a costly error to ignore these little units.
Imperial Fighter Squadron II Expansion Pack puts four new squadron types at the disposal of the Galactic Empire, each type with its own Ace. This review will rank them from the worst to the best.
Coming in last is the Lambda-Class Shuttle. Costing 15 points, the Lambda has a sturdy Hull 6, and the keyword Heavy, as well as the new Relay 2 and Strategic. Relay has a lot of potential utility, but the Lambda is hobbled by its Speed 3. It will be difficult to get it into position to support other Imperial squadrons when it is one of the slowest in the fleet. Its keywords will also make it a priority target for engagement by rebel interceptors, although Relay will certain help shoot those squadrons off its back.
The new Strategic keyword is the next thing to useless. One has to be in a scenario where there are objective tokens, and able to maneuver both a squadron with Strategic and a ship together to pick one up, without the squadron being pinned down in engagement. Too many things have to go just right in the chaos of battle. And the Lambda’s Speed 3 works against it here, too. The Lambda-Class Shuttle is a bust.
In sharp contrast, though, the Lambda Ace is amazing. Colonel Jendon, retains Heavy and Relay X, and gains a special ability that allows him, instead of attacking, to grant an attack to one nearby friendly squadron, even if that squadron has already activated.
So Colonel Jendon can Relay squadron commands from a distant ship to activate both Bossk and Major Rhymer, for example. Then, on his own activation, he can give either one a second attack. This Ace is so strong that it’s hard to imagine why a player wouldn’t want him in his fleet. Jendon’s only downside is that his Speed 3 makes it difficult to keep him in position among squadrons that are faster than he is.
The TIE Phantom Squadron takes third place. The TIE Phantom is nearly twice as expensive as a TIE Fighter Squadron, but it has four blue anti-squadron dice instead of three, an extra hull point, and more anti-ship firepower, too. But the big news is the new keyword, Cloak. The TIE Phantom is the only squadron in the game to possess it, and it reads, “(At the end of the Squadron Phase, you may move up to distance 1, even if you are engaged.)”
This makes the TIE Phantom the fastest squadron in the game. It can move at Speed 4, then move again at Speed 1. As the distance between Speed 0 and 1 is greater than the distance between Speed 4 and 5, this makes the Phantom even faster than a TIE Interceptor.
This also gives Phantom squadrons an unparalleled ability to remake the furball at the end of every turn, moving in and out of engagement to choose targets with great flexibility. But this comes with a significant trade-off. Will your Phantoms survive to the end of the squadron phase? Cloak will make them priority targets. They can always be escorted by TIE Advanced Squadrons, but that requires the investment of more fleet points. And when the Phantom slips away with Cloak, they will be outside the Escort range, and the now-outnumbered TIE Advanced will be doomed.
Also, this is the only effect in the game that happens at the end of the squadron phase, so it will be extremely easy to forget to do it.
The TIE Phantom Ace is “Whisper”, who retains Cloak, gains a Brace and Scatter defense token, and a special ability that allows him to move up to distance one after spending one of those tokens, even if engaged. With a fleet cost of 20 points, this makes “Whisper” extremely fast, maneuverable, and formidable, and a competitive buy compared to the cost of other Aces.
2nd place goes to the VT-Decimator. This crushing nightmare of a squadron is worth its 22 points. It has Hull 8, three black anti-squadron dice, and three blue anti-ship. Buttressing its incredible Hull is Counter 1. It has all that, and Rogue as well, meaning it functions best as a clean-up crew, sent in at the bottom of the squadron phase to smash damaged enemy squadrons, and Aces who have spent their defense tokens.
The Decimator Ace is Morna Kee, who weighs in at an expensive 27 fleet points. She is identical to the standard VT-49, with the addition of one Brace defense token, and a special ability which reads, “While attacking, you may spend 1 defense token to reroll any number of dice in your attack pool. When you activate, you may recover 1 of your discarded defense tokens.” This increases her already formidable firepower, and makes the tough VT-49 an even harder nut to crack. But is she really worth enough fleet points to buy two TIE Fighters and a TIE Interceptor?
Taking 1st place without debate is the TIE Defender Squadron. It costs twice as much as a TIE Fighter, but it is twice as tough, with Hull 6; faster, with Speed 5; and carries lots more firepower, with two blue and two black dice for anti-squadron, and one blue for anti-ship. The TIE Fighter has the same anti-ship armament of one blue die, but the TIE Defender also has the Bomber keyword.
This makes the Defender incredibly versatile. It can be used as an interceptor; it’s the fastest squadron with the Bomber keyword in the game with the sole exception of the Alliance’s unique Green Squadron; it can be used to protect Major Rhymer and TIE Bombers, while also being a Bomber, itself; it’s a ferocious and resilient dogfighter.
The TIE Defender Ace is most impressive. For 21 points, Maarek Stele gains two Brace defense tokens, the Grit keyword, two blue anti-ship dice instead of one, and a special ability which reads, “While attacking, you may change 1 die to a face with a critical icon.” Combined with the Defender’s Speed 5, this makes Stele the single most dangerous Bomber squadron in Armada.
Imperial Fighter Squadron II Expansion Pack brings an extremely versatile array of new squadrons to Star Wars Armada, and is highly recommend for any Imperial player.