Columnist Adem Kolar relates the tale of night the sky over Corellia burned…

Adem KolarA few months ago, I had the pleasure of participating in a 6-player Corellian Conflict campaign for Star Wars: Armada. The Corellian Conflict is a campaign expansion for Armada that allows up to six players to wage a full scale campaign spanning multiple fleet battles. In a full six player campaign, three Rebel and three Imperial players would vie for control of hyperlane routes, shipyards, and bases which are represented on a galactic map of the Corellian Sector. Victory depends on your team's ability to win individual battles to gain control of those hyperlanes, shipyards, and so on. The more of the Corellian Sector your team controls, the larger your advantage going into future battles. However, if your ship is destroyed in a battle, then it goes into its next game 'scarred' unless you repair it with your team's refit points and resource points. If a 'scarred' ship is ever destroyed in battle, it is lost permanently and the player must either use resource points to buy a new one or retire his or her fleet entirely. In essence, your casual Armada games are no longer standalone, and they mean something now. They're part of a wider campaign.

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The three fleet commanders for the Galactic Empire were: Grand Moff Tarkin, Moff Jerjerrod, and Darth Vader. While both Moff Jerjerrod and Darth Vader had almost identical fleets consisting of an Imperial II-Class Star Destroyer, two Arquitens Command Cruisers, and a Gozanti-class Cruiser, Grand Moff Tarkin commanded a very unique fleet indeed. It was a triple Victory Star Destroyer fleet (two II-class and one I-class) supported by a Gozanti-class Cruiser. Certainly the former two lists were the ones to watch for the Rebel team, but even the latter could pose a problem if the Victory Star Destroyers managed to trap you and get close enough to use their forward batteries. Moff Jerjerrod had the highest number of squadrons, but all three fleet commanders utilised powerful unique squadrons over generic ones, such as Soontir Fel, Dengar, and Ciena Ree.

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The three fleet commanders for the Rebel Alliance were: General Rieekan, Admiral Ackbar, and General Dodonna. Among these three Rebel fleets, there were substantial differences. General Rieekan opted to utilise a fleet centred around the fearsome MC80 Star Cruiser, backed up by an MC30c Torpedo Frigate, a Nebulon-B Escort Frigate with the "Yavaris" title, and three GR-75 Medium Transports. This particular fleet was the best the Rebels had when it came for offensive strikes, with "Yavaris", the Transports, and a huge ball of squadrons, providing support to the Star Cruiser and the MC30c -- both of which packed a huge punch. Admiral Ackbar, on the other hand, opted for a more defensive line-up. Han Solo, Shara Bey, and a small entourage of A-Wings were the only squadrons in this ship heavy list consisting of an MC80 Command Cruiser, two Assault Frigates Mk II B, and a GR-75 Medium Transport. The final Rebel commander, General Dodonna, had ten squadrons -- including the likes of Luke Skywalker and Biggs Darklighter -- with a collection of ships fitted with upgrades that would directly support his horde of squadrons. These included an MC80 Command Cruiser, an MC30c Torpedo Frigate, a CR90 Corvette A, and two GR-75 Medium Transports.

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In the setup phase of the campaign, both teams selected locations within the Corellian Sector to establish as bases or outposts. The Empire specifically focused on establishing bases on planets with a Repair Yard so that they would accrue a greater number of refit points. The Rebels, on the other hand, did not just look for Repair Yards. They also managed to take control of all locations in the Corellian Sector that produced a Spynet token. Spynet tokens grant the powerful ability of being able to move one ship or two squadrons anywhere in a player's setup area AFTER all ships and squadrons have been placed for setup. Spynet, therefore, gives immeasurable intel for the player using it and is highly sought after.

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The Spynet token would prove important in my very first match – controlling Admiral Ackbar's fleet – against Darth Vader. I was able to outmaneouvre Vader early on thanks to the use of the Spynet token on setup, and by the end of the battle Vader had lost two ships for every ship I had lost. Critically, Vader's own Imperial Star Destroyer was destroyed in the engagement, meaning Vader's player would need to spend a significant amount of refit points or else risk losing it permanently in his next game. The first round of the campaign saw the Rebel Alliance go 4-0 up in campaign points.

My second match of the campaign was another base defence, this time with Grand Moff Tarkin leading the assault. Given that the Empire was already behind in resources, the Tarkin player elected to play the "Show of Force" special objective, where we played for resources rather than campaign points. The resources were centred around immobile stations placed on the map. For each station destroyed, the Imperial team would gain resource points, so it was up to me to protect the stations from destruction. Given the forward firepower of Tarkin's Victory Star Destroyers, my strategy was to forsake one station and protect the other, so I set up the stations and my ships at opposite ends of the map. One Assault Frigate was next to one station, while the MC80 and the other Assault Frigate was protecting the other station.

My plan was to encircle around his attacking Victory Star Destroyers to destroy one, hopefully two. I hoped he would try to go for both stations, at which point I would concede the lightly defended station and speed my Assault Frigate out of danger while my bulk of fleet defends the other station. He took the bait and, after two hours of combat, one Victory Star Destroyer had been obliterated while another (with Tarkin himself on board) had to hyperspace out and evacuate the area before he too was annihilated. After two matches, the Rebel Alliance was leading 6-0 in campaign points.

My third match of the campaign was up against Moff Jerjerrod. Jerjerrod is a bit of an enigmatic admiral. He doesn't bring extra damage or extra health to the table like other admirals, but he does allow his own lumbering ships to become more maneouvrable by dealing a point of damage to them. This match was a pyrrhic victory for me. My setup was only partially successful, as I trapped Jerjerrod's Imperial Star Destroyer in a triangulation of firing arcs, but the Arquitens escaped the scene at full speed. Even with Jerjerrod dealing damage to himself in order to do 'sick drifts', the Imperial Star Destroyer crashed into my MC80. The ensuing dice volleys killed both of them off. Later in the contest, I was fortunate to destroy the other Arquitens and the Gozanti (the latter using the "Base Defence: Ion Cannon" objective).

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My defence of the base from Jerjerrod's assault was successful, but it came at a great cost. Still, not as much as the cost my opponent paid. He lost a scarred Imperial Star Destroyer which means it is gone permanently and will, more than likely, have to retire his fleet and start from scratch as the Empire simply does not have the resources to purchase another Imperial Star Destroyer. I guess you could say they had to... double their efforts.

By the end of the third round, the Rebels were leading 10-0 in campaign points and decided to trigger the All-Out Offensive, a final 3-on-3 battle to end the campaign. This is the climax of the Corellian Conflict and, for me, one of its biggest drawcards. Despite the resource disadvantage, the Imperials put up a good fight in this truly memorable contest. Unfortunately, time constraints (6 hours of play!) meant that the Imperials just snuck away with the victory, but had the game been fully played out I have no doubts that the superior resources and firepower of the Rebels would have been enough to secure the freedom of the Galaxy. Such an anti-climactic end to an epic campaign means an All-Out Offensive Round 2 is definitely on the cards!

If you want to give you games of Armada a bit more of a thematic weighting, I highly recommend picking up the Corellian Conflict campaign expansion! Every game feels like you're defending a base, an outpost, or a vital shipyard. It's an absolute blast to play – pick it up in store today!

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