Star Wars Armada – Phoenix Home Expansion Pack

4.3 Overall Score
Utility: 4/10
Dollar Value: 3/10
Point Value: 6/10

Commander Sato, the new Commander Upgrade.

Two slow, fragile, gimmicky Pelta variants that aren't worth the fleet points.

Star Wars Armada
Phoenix Home Expansion Pack
Fantasy Flight Games
2017

The Phoenix Home Expansion Pack is an exercise in mediocrity unrivaled since the Interdictor, one wave ago. It brings both the Modified Pelta-Class Assault Ship and the Modified Pelta-class Command Ship to the battlespace in Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars Armada. One is bad, the other is worthless.

Let us briefly consider the Modified Pelta-Class Assault Ship. At 56 fleet points, it costs the same as the Imperial Gladiator I-class Star Destroyer. They both have eight shields, and five hull points. The Assault Ship has better anti-squadron armament and a higher Engineering, but lower Squadron.

Then things go right downhill. The Gladiator I-Class is Speed 3, with a better upgrade bar, and carries much more anti-ship armament than the Assault Ship. The Gladiator can take Weapons Team upgrade cards like Ordinance Experts; the Assault Ship cannot. So for the same fleet point cost, the Gladiator outruns and solemnly outguns the Assault Ship, while the Assault Ship wallows through space at Speed 2. And of course, the Gladiator can use the famous Demolisher title.

The Assault Ship’s anti-ship armament is two red and two black forward, one red and one black in each broadside, and two red to the rear. It’s low speed and maneuverability leaves this Hull 5 ship little choice but to stagger straight into the powerful forward arcs of ISDs and VSDs, to be blasted to splinters before having a chance to fire its small number of short-range black dice.

The Alliance’s MC30c Scout Frigate is nine points more expensive, but so vastly superior to the Assault Ship that putting the cards side-by-side looks like a joke. The Modified Pelta-Class Assault Ship is a waste of points.

The second variant in this expansion is the Modified Pelta-Class Command Ship, which is merely bad. It replaces the Assault Ship’s black dice with blue ones. It has Squadron 3 instead of 1, and trades the Ordinance Upgrades slot for an Offensive Retrofit. This allows it to take either Expanded Hangar Bay or Boosted Comms.

All of this makes it the most carrier you can buy for 60 fleet points, and its Command 2 makes it very flexible for having so much Squadron. But the Pelta continues to be crippled by its Speed 2. It literally cannot outrun anything in the Imperial fleet list, and it is the single most fragile Speed 2 ship in the game. Its survivability is miserable. Other ships with similar Hull and shields gain survivability through speed, which the Pelta doesn’t have; maneuverability, which the Pelta lacks; and being low priority targets. But the Command Ship is a high-priority target because it’s such a powerful carrier.

The game designers try to save the Peltas with the Fleet Command upgrades. Like the Interdictor, the Pelta has a unique category of upgrades that cannot be assigned to any other ship. Like the Interdictor, these upgrades aren’t worth it. Both Entrapment Formation! And Shields to Maximum! allow the player to do things, change the speed of ships and regain shields, that can already be done with other methods that don’t require sinking 60+ fleet points into this space lemon. The last one, All Fighters, Follow Me!, boosts the Speed of each squadron activated by a friendly ship by 1, to a maximum of 5. This is the only Fleet Command upgrade worth having, but it still requires a 60+ point investment in the Pelta which could probably have been spent better elsewhere.

And even All Fighter, Follow Me! suffers from the fact that it must either be discarded, or a squadron token must be spent, to activate it. It isn’t easy to use.

This leaves the other upgrade cards to consider. First, there is the Phoenix Home title. For 3 points, it allows you to put a second Officer upgrade on the Pelta. This is powerful, but it also requires sinking more and more fleet points into a slow and fragile ship. This title also allows the Pelta to have four command tokens instead of its usual two, but it would be a very unusual situation indeed where this ship had nothing better to do with its command tokens than hoard them.

Moving on, there is Major Derlin, Rapid Launch Bays, and Commander Sato. This is where this expansion pack makes a last, furious charge to justify it’s $30 price tag, and falls short anyway.

Major Derlin is an Officer upgrade that may be exhausted to reduce the total damage from an attack by one. He is the only upgrade in the game that reduces or alleviates damage that is not a Defensive Retrofit upgrade. He can be assigned to a ship that already has a Defensive Retrofit upgrade. An MC80 Assault Cruiser with two Defensive Retrofits and Major Derlin would be incredibly hard to kill. But Major Derlin is not cheap at 7 fleet points, and takes up a valuable Officer upgrade slot.

Rapid Launch Bays looks sexy, sexy, sexy, allowing the player to shoot a fat load of B-Wings right into a Star Destroyer’s face. But it should be kept in mind that if the carrier is destroyed before those squadrons are launched, the squadrons are also destroyed. Also, any squadrons onboard the carrier are squadrons not in battle; if 42 fleet points of B-Wings are in those launch bays, that leaves a maximum of only 93 points of squadrons out in space, facing as much as 133 points worth of Imperial fighters.

Ahsoka Tano is an Officer Upgrade with potential. For only two fleet points, she can do a lot to ensure that your other ships have the right token at the right time. She’s a good fit onboard the CR-90s and GR-75s.

Commander Sato is the most exciting card in this expansion. He’s the second most expensive Rebel Commander, with only Ackbar’s sheets of red flame costing more. Sato allows the player to tailor their attack pool to a high degree, swapping out two dice already in the pool for two dice of any color.

Suddenly CR90 Bs are blasting two black and one blue dice at medium range. Assault Frigate Mark II Bs are gaining accuracy with one red and two blue dice in a long-range broadside. An MC80 Battle Cruiser with Spinal Armament could do three red and two blue at long range in the front arc.

But Sato has a catch. He can only use this ability if the target ship is at distance one of an Alliance squadron. Sato can be a terrific commander for the Alliance’s bomber-heavy squadron lists, piling his extra punch onto the disaster of a Y-Wing bombing run. Or a player could fling some A-Wings toward the enemy as forward observers for Sato’s fire. And remember, it doesn’t matter to Sato if the friendly squadrons are engaged by enemy squadrons or not, just as long as they are at distance one of the target ship.

But if the fighter game goes against you, and the TIEs entangle your squadrons in engagements away from the Star Destroyers, then this expensive commander is chopping carrots onboard a flagship that’s become an even higher priority target because of his 32 fleet points.

In the end, if there’s anything in this expansion to justify the $30, it’s not these lumbering eggshell ships. You’re paying a steep price in dollars for a few good upgrades.

 

 

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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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