Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

Re: [Icehouse] Underrated Game: Armada

  • FromDavid Artman <david.artman@xxxxxxxxx>
  • DateMon, 20 Apr 2009 11:35:50 -0400
Ah, yes... Armada. One of my favorites to demo to minis players, who think Icehouse only makes strat games.

Some random thoughts, play ideas, and notions:

* Keep the small 4 movement. The larges are meant to be in formation (or defense) and they can wreak havoc if you employ them correctly (i.e. roll into a pack of mediums and waste them all).

* Consider not allowing every ship to move and fire every turn--what happens to the strategy, if (say) you have to roll a "d3" and only ships of the result or larger may be moved that turn (by both sides). Makes smalls a lot less effective--which sort of follows, as smaller vessels actually are considerably slower than larger, at combat sizes. A sort of simple "wind rule" that, basically leaves smaller vessels in doledrums while larger ships can still limp along under full sail.

* For a more complex, but more "realistic" game, some folks have worked up windage rules for the Pirates TCG:
-- Roll a die to determine wind direction, roll another to determine speed, roll a third to determine duration until a change. Use a simple chart (similar to a pie chart) to determine a multiplier of wind speed based on your angle of attack into or away from the wind direction, to determine a final ship speed multiplier. Sounds complicated, but it's pretty intuitive once you know how it works (or if you know how to sail). And it could *also* be a way to mitigate any balance problems between sizes: maybe larges can beam reach and run faster than mediums or smalls, but smalls can go closer hauled? LOTS to play with, there, just making custom points of sail charts for the piece sizes, to balance them.

* Use the tubes for "barrier reefs"--they make for fun tactics.

* I also play a space variation (not true vector piloting, just theme) and use tube tops or matching-color poker chips as "teleporters" or wormholes:
-- If any part of your ship touches a tube top or chip, you can relocate the ship to the corresponding chip (or any other tube top, whatever) for one movement step. Place it so that it's backend is completely touching the tube top (or touching the other chip on its base center--use the sprue mark as a gauge). Proceed with normal movement (if any). Makes for interesting tactics, and often a surpirse or two, when folks forget about them and--BAMF!--someone's now right up their tailpipe.

* On that note, I've never played but want to test an idea where every ship has a small-length-range cannon coming straight off the nose and straight off the back (i.e. ray trace with a laser pointer). Makes smalls even more devastating, I'd imagine, but they could be denied it... or maybe only the larges have nose and tail cannon?

* Don't forget multiplayer. It's often as not kingmaker material (most game can degenerate into that anyway, tho), but it can be fun for "scenario" games:
-- Protect the merchant convoy: a third color is a "dead hand" posse of larges trying to get from line A to line B on a long table. One side is the guardian navy, the other is the rampaging pirates or enemy navy. GO!
-- Two-on-one, 12 pts each vs. 24 pts, NO TALKING TACTICS; or, that is, all tactics talk must be in the open, being "semaphore" or "morse code."

* Steal rules from the Pirates TCG again, and populate the playing field with islands which, when "captured" (land on them) yield a hidden number of points in "gold" (randomized prior to play), but only IF you can shuttle the gold back to your home island (and that island's not captured!). Gives an objective other than mere carnage, and can even make for minor "role playing" play, if folks make deals not to totally sink a ship, if the gold is given over (i.e. you can take the money or sink the ship, but not both). ALSO, can have a repair option at the home island: say, 1 point of damage per turn spent passing "in dry dock."

Anyhow... I can go on and on. Armada is, as was said, an awesomely visceral, easy-to-understand game for almost any age; and it's nowhere near as intimidating to new players as most "normal" mini games. Superb demo material, too, as it shows the 'mids versatility.

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