Star Wars Armada – Imperial Light Carrier Expansion Pack

8.6 Overall Score
Utility: 9/10
Dollar Value: 8/10
Point Value: 9/10

An excellent light carrier for pushing TIEs all over the Rebels' faces.

It's fragile. And Boarding Teams are less awesome than you think.

The Imperial Light Carrier Expansion Pack introduces the Quasar Fire Cruiser-Carriers to Star Wars Armada, and now your howling TIEs will swarm through your opponent’s nightmares.

The first variant is the ponderously named Quasar Fire I-Class Cruiser-Carrier. It is an incredible addition to any Imperial fleet looking to use its squadrons with heavy effect. It is very affordable at 54 fleet points; has the responsiveness of Command 2; a competitive Speed 3; and a Squadron that is unmatched in the Imperial fleet with the sole exception of the Imperial Star Destroyers, which cost more than twice as many fleet points.

The Quasar Fire I upgrade bar includes Officer, Weapons Team, and an unprecedented two Offensive Retrofit slots. It can equip Boosted Comms and Expanded Hangar Bay simultaneously, while also being assigned Admiral Chiraneau and Flight Controllers. This combination will let it control more squadrons, at greater range, with more firepower, than any other ship in the battlespace. It is simply the best, most cost-efficient carrier in the game. It is the carrier that the Pelta failed to be for the Alliance.

By comparison, the Quasar Fire II-Class Cruiser Carrier is the flak boat. At 61 fleet points, with two Weapons Team slots and one long-range red anti-squadron die—the first such in the game—this variant can be equipped simultaneously with Ruthless Strategists, Agent Kallus, and Flight Controllers. The Quasar Fire I is designed to stand back and command squadrons. The Quasar Fire II is designed to go straight into the fight with them.

This expansion includes three impressive ship titles. Squall, the King of Alpha Strikes that in effect lets a player add two to the speed of three squadrons they select when they activate the ship. Pursuant, which costs only two points, and which may be discarded to resolve a squadron command in a turn where a different command has also been resolved from the dial. And Stronghold, obviously designed for the II variant to keep its squadrons safe in close dogfights.

The only factor that keeps these new ships from being overpowered is their Hull 6, seven total shields, and sharply limited defense tokens; one brace, and one redirect. A wise opponent will try to crack this egg early, to win victory points and throw his enemy’s squadrons into disarray.

If all this weren’t enough, the expansion comes with some intriguing new upgrade cards. The first two belongs to the new category of Boarding Team, which is the disappointment in this expansion.

Boarding Teams take up both the Weapons Team and Offensive Retrofit upgrade slots. When at close range to an enemy ship, you may discard either a squadron dial or token to cause an effect on the target ship. In the case of Boarding Troopers, included in this expansion, the effect is to spend a number of its defense tokens equal to your Squadron value.

At three and two points Boarding Troopers are inexpensive. But are they worth it? In the imperial fleet, they may be equipped on Raiders, Quasars, Victories, and Imperials. Raiders have a low Squadron value, limiting their impact. Both Raiders and Quasars are unlikely to survive close-range encounters. Victories are too slow to reliably close with targets. And on the Victory and Imperial Star Destroyers, Boarding Teams force the player to forgo both the customary Gunnery Team, and the upgrades usually used to employ these ships as carriers.

The player trades all of that in the hopes of arranging one spectacular close-range round. If that is what you wish to attempt, the most obvious build is the Imperial Star Destroyer Avenger. It has the speed to close with targets, and the title magnifies the bad news of defense tokens exhausted by Boarding Troopers. But the question remains; is this the best strategy for the points?

Fantasy Flight Games is to be commended for the way that they release new upgrades to keep old ship models flying. Disposable Capacitors are an Offensive Retrofit for Victory Star Destroyers and Interdictors, the latter of which were mediocre to start with, and really need the help. Especially when combined on a VSD with Gunnery Team, they give a surprising bite in the early rounds.

Go a step further and add the new Quad Battery Turrets to a VSD as well, and you turn the ship’s notoriously slow speed into an advantage against the faster Alliance ships.

On the subject of speed, The Grand Inquisitor is a new upgrade that can be a major game-changer. The rules governing ship movement in Armada often send your high Command value ships lumbering into the wrong position, slaves to inertia instead of your will. This card does a lot to make a ship much more maneuverable in response to your enemy’s maneuvers. His obvious home is on the Demolisher, but other ships could also get a lot of use out it.

The final new card in this expansion is Admiral Sloane, an interesting commander who keeps with the screaming TIE theme, and is clearly fit to command any fleet featuring a Quasar Fire. But carefully calculate Sloane’s odds—she costs only 24 fleet points, after all, and her effect is not as sweeping as it might first appear.

This expansion is highly recommended for very good upgrade cards and a spectacular pair of Cruiser-Carrier variants that are virtually a must-have for any fleet that wants to use TIE squadrons to exert the Imperial will.

 

 

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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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