The Nadiri Starhawk is the latest Rebel ship to release for Star Wars: Armada and I am in love. I know it isn’t exactly realistic, but I’ve always been a fangirl for big boxy space battleships blazing away at each other from point blank range: the Battlestar Galactica, the Earth Alliance Omega-class destroyer, the human ships from Endless Space and the mammal ships from Stellaris. That is what my brain thinks space warships should be. So the Starhawk is visually appealing to me.
It’s also great from a gameplay perspective. My biggest complaint about Armada is how squishy my capital ships feel. The competitive meta at the moment leans heavily on “haymaker shots” and “alpha strikes” to take pieces off the board as quickly as possible. At the height of the Two Ship BTAvenger craze it wasn’t that uncommon for me to see MC80 cruisers taken down before they could fire a shot in return. It’s fun if you are the one doing the shooting but it’s not how I want my space battles to feel. I want them to be nail biting slugfests.
Enter the Starhawk.
This thing is a beast. 14 hull. 16 shields. 8 dice in the front and 5 out the side. I’ve been trying to get as much practice with it as I can and these have been some of the best games of Armada that I’ve played in a long time.
We are now five days out from our local Prime Championship and I was still on the fence a week ago about whether to bring a Starhawk to the tournament. Because of the shipping delays, we didn’t even get the thing until two weeks ago. That’s not a lot of time to train with it.
But I’m going to do it.
This is my fleet:
Faction: Rebel Commander: Kyrsta Agate Assault: Most Wanted Defense: Asteroid Tactics Navigation: Superior Positions Starhawk Battleship Mark II (150) • Kyrsta Agate (20) • Walex Blissex (5) • Expert Shield Tech (5) • Local Fire Control (4) • Leading Shots (4) • Linked Turbolaser Towers (7) • Unity (10) = 205 Points GR-75 Medium Transports (18) • Repair Crews (4) = 22 Points CR90 Corvette A (44) • Leia Organa (3) • Turbolaser Reroute Circuits (7) • Tantive IV (3) = 57 Points Squadrons: • Tycho Celchu (16) • Shara Bey (17) • Ketsu Onyo (22) • Dash Rendar (24) • Rogue Squadron (14) • Lando Calrissian (23) = 116 Points Total Points: 400
This is not my usual Armada list and it feels very strange for Rebels. Three activations. No bid. A giant battleship AND squadrons?
It’s been doing surprisingly well in practice. I’ve made a few refinements over the course of my games but the basic framework has stayed the same.
My plan started with thinking about how to best utilize a tanky Starhawk with dual Salvos (from LFC). This thing stresses the heck out of the defense tokens on any ship that engages it. It’s not uncommon for my Starhawk to get 4 shots a round on something. Those Salvo shots may be small but they’re still each a CR90 front arc and that adds up fast. I wanted to take advantage of that situation by putting even more stress on defense tokens which usually means a lot of small ships, but I didn’t really want to bring a bunch of small ships because they would just be weaker targets for my opponents to focus on. There is probably a very fun Starhawk list with Agate and a crapton of Taskforce Antillies Hammerheads, and believe me I want to play that list after Primes, but this ain’t it. This list is all about Rogue fighters. Lots of small packets of damage and less tempting to shoot at.
Let’s start with the Starhawk. The base Starhawk comes with a defense suite of Brace, Redirect, Contain and Salvo. The Unity title adds an additional Redirect. Local Fire Control makes you swap one of your existing tokens for a Salvo. 99% of the time it will be the Contain but you don’t have to choose until after deployment which means you get to look at your opponent’s fleet and upgrades first. Kyrsta Agate also adds a defense token after the Starhawk is deployed. That’s a total of 6 defense tokens which you can take in a variety of configurations.
- Standard Loadout: 2x Brace, 2x Redirect, 2x Salvo
- Against Fighters: 1x Brace, 3x Redirect, 2x Salvo (or maybe 3 Salvo depending)
- Against Red Dice: 1x Brace, 2x Redirects, 2x Salvo, 1x Evade
The ability to add/remove defense tokens after seeing the opposing fleet is very powerful.
In the First Officer Chair we have Walex Blissex who will almost always been found on whatever ship Agate is on. She can emergency discard defense tokens to spend them. He brings back a discarded defense token. They make a great pair. Be careful with his timing though. His effect happens during your activation so he can’t save you if you get Last/Firsted by Avenger. Also watch out for Darth Vader.
For the Second Officer, I have Expert Shield Tech. I have not used this guy nearly as much as I expected to when I put him in. My experience is that by the time the Starhawk runs out of shields I’ve also run out of redirects, but I still think he will be good in a matchup against heavy squadrons. Straight up canceling 2-3 damage a round (with an Agate redirect) just sounds so good on paper. I’ve not had a game against squads yet so he stays in until I get a chance to test it.
Rounding out the Starhawk we have Leading Shots and Linked Turbolaser Towers. Why Leading Shots AND Linked Turbolaser Towers? Is that really necessary? Probably not. I have not tried it yet. I was running LTT by itself but after multiple games where the Starhawk whiffed a shot and died because it didn’t have Leading Shots, I found the points for it. This ship just throws too many dice to rely on a single reroll to fix it. I’ve considered replacing LTT with QBTs for the long distance leading shots or XI7s might be hilarious if I get to shoot four times a round, but it’s a tough decision. LTT is still good. There are plenty of Salvo shots where that single reroll is plenty. Plus another flak reroll and extra dice against annoying fighters. Is it worth having them both? I’m not sure.
This thing comes out to a ridiculous 205 points. Along side the 100+ points of squads I’ve been running that doesn’t leave a lot of room for anything else.
My second ship is a GR-75 repair crew flotilla. Now, the entire Armada world, myself included, have long mocked the meager repair crew flotilla so why is this here? 14 hull. No Contain. Every single game with the Starhawk has seen me piling up the worst collections of critical damage I’ve ever seen in Armada. In one game I couldn’t go faster than speed 1, change my speed, reveal any command dials, recover shields or shoot at long range. All at the same time. If that wasn’t bad enough, last week I pulled a crit that halved my engineering value so that I could no longer repair crits. That is some bullshit. I’m terrified of pulling some of these things in the tournament. So, repair flotilla. It’s both insurance and a safety blanket. If you are playing against me there and kill it first that will be really demoralizing.
The third and final ship is a TRC90 with Tantive IV and Leia Organa. Talk about thematic! Why is this not a second flotilla? Well, my experience so far has been that the Starhawk is very likely to die. I hope it’ll die less with Leading Shots but I’ve lost it in about 75% of my games so far. It’s never failed to earn its points back and I’ve won most of my games in spite of the huge swing but I absolutely cannot afford to be automatically tabled every time it dies. Thus, CR90A. It has Tantive IV so it can pretend to be a very expensive comms net flotilla that can also shoot. Leia is here to provide dial fixing. Slicers aren’t as prevelant in the meta as they once were but even so a Command 4 ship might need some help. I haven’t actually used her yet either but if I need her it’ll be during a tournament.
I knew when I started working on this fleet that I wanted to make a substantial investment in squadrons. I needed them to be flexible for dealing with other squads or ships which is not too hard for Rebels. And I needed most of them to be Rogues because the Starhawk has too much going on to spend the whole game commanding squadrons. I spent a lot of time agonizing over the composition of my squad ball and this is what I’ve got at the moment.
Tycho and Shara are great on defense, working as interceptors, fighting other squadrons and can hit ships well enough if needed. Their main weakness is in the end game when I need my squads to be chasing down damaged enemy ships. Unless the flotilla lives they are not doing a lot of work there. I’ve considered replacing them with YT-2400s to do that job, but my previous experiments show that YT-2400s fall apart fast in the current ace heavy squadron meta. The A-wing aces are much more survivable in that role. I’ve also got them painted and they look great and I love putting them on the table, so there is that.
Ketsu and Dash have also been here since the beginning. I carried them over from my previous fleet. Originally, I put Ketsu in as a joke just to be as annoying as possible with three scatters, but she does work, especially against ships. She has been the VIP in almost every match that featured heavy bombing. She might get into a bit of trouble against other squads but she eats no squads fleets for lunch. Dash is also just good. Expensive but good. I am too cowardly to reroll his single hits most of the time.
Rogue Squadron… exists…. they have Rogue and Bomber and they’re cheap. Could probably be a YT-2400 but meh. They were in some fun books. They’re thematic.
Lando is a new addition. I had Corran in here for awhile but a lot of his cost is in Snipe which doesn’t help against ships. He combos well with Tycho and Shara but I’m expecting a lot of Starhawks, SDDs and Onagers, so maybe fewer squads than normal for a big tournament. I’ve been using Lando a lot since Rebellion in the Rim came out and my results have been mixed. His anti-ship is great, especially with his ability to set a die to any face. That’s what you want in Round 6 when you’re staring down an Arquitens or CR90 with one hull that’s going to table your opponent and swing the game 100+ points. On the other hand his dice are super swingy and it’s so tempting to use his ability too early.
I have to pick objectives with the knowledge that my 200 point ship is probably going to die as often as not. That means I need to be able to get extra points to help offset that or I’m looking at a lot 6-5 / 5-6 games. I have a reputation for doing poorly in tournaments while also ruining the day of anyone that has to face me by turning every match into a bloodbath so we both walk away with nothing to show for it. 6-5s don’t win tournaments. I need extra points.
My original plan for this was Contested Outpost and Doomed Station. These seem like idea objectives for the slow command 4 Starhawk. The problem was that whole dying thing. The Hawk tends to go down in Round 4, which means I score 3 times and my opponent is then free to score three times. Getting their surviving ships to hang out around the station is kind of useful for bombing them to death but the victory tokens were almost always even at the end. This has forced me to reevaluate.
Most Wanted - I have a flotilla. I’ve not met a Star Destroyer yet that I didn’t kill before it killed me. Extra attack dice. Double points for something big offsets the loss of the Starhawk nicely. This seems like a no brainer.
Asteroid Tactics - This is kind of a weird one. I feel like every game we end up playing the Yellow objective and I’m expecting this to be the same. My hope is that the interaction between Asteroid Tactics, Agate and Lando will scare people into picking something else. If not, at least I can recover defense tokens and not take damage from asteroids. That might be enough to let the Starhawk live and I won’t need a bunch of extra points.
Superior Positions - I usually avoid this like the plague since it can turn against me in a bad way, but I do have 116 points worth of squadrons, LTTs, Unity and Red/Blue flak so maybe not this time. The deployment advantage will be nice to make sure the Starhawk doesn’t end up somewhere it can’t catch the enemy and I’m fine with my squadrons shooting enemy ships in the rear and forcing them to spend their redirects so it seems okay.
That’s my fleet. I doubt I will be making any changes in the next five days. Best not to second guess myself at this point.
I’ll plan on posting a tourney recap next week to let you all know how it went. And I’ll try to get some good pictures.