Star Wars Armada Gladiator: Opinion Time?

Gladiator-class Star Destroyer Expansion Pack

Gladiator-class Star Destroyer Expansion PackThe Imperials gain a brand new ship in Wave 1, the Gladiator-class Star Destroyer. If you look through the old Expanded Universe stories, you’ll find that this ship isn’t named until The Force Unleashed as it was previously just known as the Demolisher, which was the title of the only version present in the stories and something we’ll see again later. In the pack you’ll find two variants of the ship:

  • Gladiator I-class Star Destroyer
  • Gladiator II-class Star Destroyer

And you’ll find a load of new and old upgrade cards:

  • Admiral Screed (Commander)
  • Admiral Chiraneau
  • Insidious
  • Demolisher
  • Weapons Liaison
  • Expanded Launchers
  • Assault Concussion Missiles
  • Engine Techs
  • Nav Team
  • Sensor Team

The Model

Even though the Imperials tend to have a “Go big” attitude towards ship construction, the Gladiator is a small-class ship used for patrolling and designed to quickly take down any opposition with a brutal volley of fire. However the model doesn’t look to be the right size for a small ship. The model fills the base its on, dwarfing the same-size class CR-90 and Nebulon, making it look more like a medium size rather then small. The detailing on it is as nice as always, but again its a bit of a let down as the overall look feels lackluster. A primary focal point, the launcher bay dominating the front arc, is left untouched and is just plain grey which is a real shame. I’m sure some re-painters will correct this but it would have been nice to see it already painted.

Ship Cards

Both versions, the Gladiator I-class and Gladiator II-class, carry on the “Go big” ethos in their stat line by packing a lot of close range punch in black dice heavy arcs. This means that they can deal out a lot of damage in just one salvo but it comes with the risk of rolling nothing but blanks too. A big gamble but if it pays off, bye-bye Rebels, plus Admiral Screed helps maximise your rolls by spending a die to switch another die to a face with a critical.

Both of them have 5 hulls and Evade, Brace and Redirect for their defence tokens so their endurance is a mixed bag. If the hits get through then they’re going down quickly and, because Evade doesn’t work at close range, which is where they want to be to use their black dice, they’re relying on just two tokens per turn (Insidious title changes this slightly but I’ll get to that later). On the approach this means they should be able to shrug off a salvo or two but they need to be dashed in, strike, and then quickly move out. I prefer the Gladiator II-class of the two versions because it comes with red dice on its side arcs, giving its attacks access to the ever useful accuracy result. The extra anti-squadron dice should also make your opponent think about swinging in with a bomber wing because, with good rolls, this ship can quickly whittle them down.

The Gladiator-I comes in 6 points under the Gladiator-II by trading in the red dice on the side arcs for pure black dice and by dropping down to just one anti-squadron blue dice. This means that, once it’s in range, its salvos really pack a punch with a potential 8 damage from one side shot, and that’s without any upgrades. Otherwise, however, the difference isn’t massive and it will come down to your preference and your desired role for the Gladiator.

Upgrade Cards

The Gladiator comes with 10 upgrade cards, 3 of which we already saw in the Core Set, so I’ll skip those for this article and instead focus on the 7 new cards. First up…

Admiral Screed

Gladiator Class Star Destroyer - Admiral Screed A new Imperial Commander and already a popular one, often being picked over Tarkin in a lot of lists I’ve seen. His ability allows you to spend a die during an attack to switch another one to a facing with a critical icon. You can only do this once per ship activation, but this makes black and red dice attacks that bit more devastating. Plus the black dice critical facing also has an extra damage, so you’re effectively turning a blank miss in to 2 hits with a critical effect. Can you see why he’s so popular already?

To make the most of Screed’s magnificent ability you should be focusing on taking ships with black dice such as the Gladiator and the Victory I, but he still works with any attack the Imperials make as every ship uses black or red dice. At 26 points he’s a real steal, much lower then Tarkin’s 38, and that extra 12 points turns in to a Title card or TIE Interceptor.

Admiral Chiraneau

Gladiator Class Star Destroyer - Admiral ChiraneauDespite the misleading title, this card is an Officer upgrade who provides some utility to your squadrons. When you use the squadron command, your squadrons can move even if they were engaged but their speed is reduced to 2, half of the normal Imperial speed. I’ll put it here immediately: this works beautifully with “Mauler” Mithel if your opponent has tried to lock him in combat to avoid his move-to-damage ability, allowing you to just shift him around the engagement.

Really this Officer is better off being on-board a Victory in most situations because the Gladiator will want to be spending its command dials on manoeuvring and concentrating fire, not activating squadrons. Consider also that the Gladiator’s squadron value is one lower then the Victory’s and, with its lack of access to Expanded Hangar Bays, you can see this guy belongs on a different ship. On a side note, one day I will learn how to pronounce Chiraneau.

Sensor Team

Gladiator Class Star Destroyer - Sensor Team A Weapons Team upgrade that lets you spend a die, and exhaust the card, to change a die to an accuracy facing. Accuracy is always helpful in small quantities by helping you deny your opponent’s defense and at close distance you’re already ignoring Evades, but it costs a die and that’s the crucial part. With Screed being so popular you’re probably already burning a die to get the damage/critical facing so sacrificing another one, without having an upgrade like Expanded Launchers or a concentrate fire command, can be a tough call to make but potentially game changing.

There is definitely a time and place for Sensor Team and I’ll try it out in some builds, but right now I’m not seeing the value of it so long as I’m running Screed.

Expanded Launchers

Gladiator Class Star Destroyer - Expanded LaunchersWhat goes well with 4 dice? Two more dice! The launchers improve the Gladiator’s front hull zone by 2 black dice making for a devastating 6 dice attack from the front. This will rip through most ship’s shields and burn through defence tokens leaving the opponent vulnerable to secondary fire.

You’ll want to always be firing from your front hull zone with this equipped, so other upgrades such as the new Engine Techs and the Demolisher title help achieve this. At 13 points it’s a costly upgrade and should be taken with caution, otherwise your 5 hull Gladiator starts to become a very expensive, quite squishy points-sink.

Engine Techs

Gladiator Class Star Destroyer - Engine TechsI mentioned this card above and this is one of my go-to upgrades for the Gladiator. She allows you, after taking a manoeuvre command, to perform a speed-1 manoeuvre. If you take a look at the Gladiator’s card you’ll see that, at speed-1, it gets two yaw meaning this is a great upgrade to get into position to utilise your front arc’s fire power. Your Gladiator is a nippy ship, for an Imperial, and should be used to get in behind an opponent’s ship, which this upgrade allows you to do.

The Demolisher and the Insidious titles combine nicely with Engine Techs. Demolisher because both abilities happen after executing a manoeuvre so you can choose which one to resolve first and, even though premeasuring is allowed, sometimes you might find you’ve slightly mispositioned, so you can use this extra move to get into a more favourable position and unleash hell on an opponent’s newly exposed side. With Insidious the extra move makes it easier to get in to a rear hull zone so you can gain those extra dice.


Gladiator Class Star Destroyer - DemolisherI’ve covered this title a lot already because it combos so well with the other upgrades, but I will add that this title is a must for any Gladiator. It’s slightly costly at 10 points, but being able to take one of your attacks after you’ve moved is an ability worth its weight in gold and shouldn’t be underestimated until you’ve tried it. I can see that, if you’re going for a maximum-ships list where you want quantity over quality, then there’s no problem with leaving this off, but otherwise I would recommend it every time.


Gladiator Class Star Destroyer - InsidiousI mentioned this title right at the beginning and now we’ve finally got to it. This title ups the range of your black dice to medium distance, but with the catch of the range only increasing when firing at an opponent’s rear hull zone. Three points is cheap for a title and, whilst on initial glance this seems fantastic, you soon realise that actually getting to use this ability is a bit more limiting. Speed 3 is high for an Imperial ship, but the Gladiator is still slow compared to the Rebel ships and you really need other upgrades to support this title, such as Engine Techs or Nav Team, and at this stage it’s a 10+ points.

Learning how to manoeuvre to maximum effect each turn is crucial to utilising Insidious because, with a 6 turn limit, you don’t get many chances to correct your course. In a mirror match you should be able to get in behind a Victory and use the added range to good effect (although you need to be careful that you don’t speed up and bump in to it by accident) but against Rebels you’ll have a tougher time finding the benefits of the increased range. Its a good title but it needs you to fly well to use it.


I really like the Gladiator. It’s fast for an Imperial ship, with a great array of dice with some interesting and amazing upgrade cards included in the box. Any Imperial should pick this up and give it a whirl.

Star Wars Armada cards, components and models are available to purchase at Big orbit Cards: Star Wars Armada

Star Wars Armada: Rebel Fighter Squadrons Expansion Pack Review

Star Wars Armada Rebel Starfighter ShipsWe count 30 Rebel ships, Lord Vader, but they’re so small they’re avoiding our turbo lasers!” – Imperial Officer

Wave 1 introduces the first squadron expansions, with Rebel Fighter Squadrons expanding the Rebels snubfighter line-up to include:

  • A-wing Squadron
    • Tycho Celchu A-wing Squadron
  • B-wing Squadron
    • Keyan Farlander B-wing Squadron
  • X-wing Squadron
    • Wedge Antilles X-wing Squadron
  • Y-wing Squadron
    • “Dutch” Vander Y-wing Squadron

X-Wing: The X-Wings were already included in the Core Se,t but we get a new character squadron, Wedge Antilles, so I’ll start there. Coming in at a fair few points more than a normal X-Wing squadron, Wedge thankfully brings a lot for this extra cost. He keeps the Bomber and Escort rule and gains the ability of adding 2 blue dice to his attack pool against activated squadrons. Rolling 6 dice against other squadrons is deadly, even in the mirror, and he could easily take out other character squadrons in one salvo by denying the use of defense tokens with accuracy results. A nice little bit of synergy is with the Y-Wing character, “Dutch” Vander, whose ability causes a squadron to be switched to activated (more on him later). So use a Squadron dial, activate Wedge & Dutch, and pop an opposing character squadron in one turn. With double Brace tokens he has a good chance of survival, but combine him with his wingman and Wedge will be your sniping squadron.

A-Wing: A-Wings introduce us to the the new Counter ability. After being attacked, the squadron can shoot back (even if destroyed), making engaging squadrons beneficial in most situations. A single black dice against ships looks nice, until you remember that criticals don’t apply to them, so you really don’t want to be engaging ships with A-Wings (even if you want to try to recreate a certain infamous scene). They are however an exceptionally fast squadron at speed 5 and, with 3 blue dice against other squadrons, they fill the role of an interceptor perfectly. Tycho Celchu is the character pilot and he is allowed to move even if engaged, which fits in with how manoeuvrable the A-Wing is and will let him flee unfavourable engagements.

B-Wing: Now for the B-Wing, my personal favourite fighter. With 5 hull, blue and black anti-ship dice and Bomber, this squadron is designed for tackling the big boys, but the squadron is definitely a hybrid fighter-bomber as it can perform well in either role. A pair of these can easily put the hurt on ships late game and when you look at Keyan Farlander, who allows you to reroll any of your dice when attacking a ship, this squadron can do some serious damage in one turn. However this comes at the high cost of 20 points, which is steep for a single squadron with only double Brace and a slow speed of just 2. Combining Keyan with the new Nebulon-B title Yavaris, which allows him to attack twice in one turn, will be downright brutal and a ship-killing move. Right now with only X-Wings and TIE Fighters, squadrons have not been much of a hinderance to large ships, but now it has all changed with the B-Wings.

Y-Wing: Speaking of damaging ships, the last ship in this pack is the Y-Wing. In the stories, the B-Wing replaces the ageing Y-Wing in its role of anti-ship combat and this rings true in Armada. Having only 1 black dice against ships, still with Bomber, but now carrying the Heavy rule (They don’t prevent squadrons from disengaging), their damage potential isn’t as high as the B-Wing, especially their anti-squadron fire power which is a mere 2 blue dice. They do however come in 4 points cheaper and have an increased speed and hull so they can manoeuvre more easily with a bit more survivability. In the character slot we find “Dutch” Vander who brings an ability that sounds just like an ion cannon shot. When he damages a squadron they toggle to being activated, and if they already had activated they instead take 1 damage. A punishing ability if the opponent has flown in to tie you up, but otherwise its only a minor ability when used on its own, reflected by him only being 2 more points then a normal Y-Wing. However, as I wrote above, if you add Wedge in to the mix this becomes a nasty attack pattern.

Star Wars Armada Rebel Starfighter CardsSpeaking from a fluff perspective the Rebel Fighters really shine with their ethos of using small snubfighters to tackle the larger ships of the Imperial, as they simply didn’t have the resources to produce massive vessels. When you look through the stats of each squadron you see that they all threaten to damage any ship, including the A-Wing, who, even with just a single black dice, still has a 75% chance to inflict one damage. Over the course of a game, this begins to add up and chipping away at an opponent’s shields will take its toll.

Each expansion pack has 2 of each squadron so it’s enough to supplement your fleet, but I can already see the need to buy additional expansion packs. Having only two A-Wings seems a little low as it would be good to fly them in a larger group where they can bring their number to bear on unsuspecting squadrons, and Y-Wings need to be supported by further squadrons if you want them to survive contact with the enemy. I feel this pack will bring a much desired aspect to the game, squadrons will become much more important now and will have a much bigger influence on the game as a whole. Wave 1 is going to make a big impact on Star Wars Armada.

Pick up individual components, models, cards and accessories for Star Wars Armada, along with sealed items at Big Orbit Cards: Star Wars Armada

Big Orbit are a hobby games retailer that specialises in the sale of individual trading cards and game components – Big Orbit also runs a Gaming venue in Evesham, Worcs, UK.

Star Wars Armada: Imperial Fighter Squadrons Expansion Pack Review

Star Wars Armada Imperial Starfighter ShipsEscorts, swarms, cannon fodder, the Imperial starfighters have many different terms but what you can’t deny is their effectiveness in their roles. The Imperial Fighter Squadrons Expansion pack brings with it four types of starfighter, three of them new entries to Armada:

  • TIE Advanced Squadron
    • Inc Darth Vader TIE Advanced Squadron
  • TIE Bomber Squadron
    • Inc Major Rhymer TIE Bomber Squadron
  • TIE Interceptor Squadron
    • Inc Soontir Fel TIE Interceptor Squadron
  • TIE Fighter Squadron
    • Inc “Mauler” Mithel TIE Fighter Squadron

TIE Advanced: Commonly known as Darth Vader’s personal fighter, the TIE Advanced, on paper, looks like a simple upgrade from the classic TIE fighter. Keeping the same movement and anti-squadron fire power, they boast an improved hull, a black dice vs ships and they’ve traded Swarm for the Escort ability. For the small 4 point increase, the Advanced brings a bit more to the field over a regular TIE. Utilising the Escort ability will be their primary role, flying alongside Bombers to keep them from harm. As I mentioned, Advanceds are known because Darth Vader piloted one in A New Hope and he appears here as the character pilot. With double Brace, 3 blue dice, 1 black anti-squadron die and 1 black anti-ship die you get a lot more punch from him, while his pseudo-Bomber ability means that his critical icons add 1 damage to the total. This means  that, against squadrons, he could potentially deal five damage in one shot, which is enough to insta-kill any squadron. However, this comes at a cost of 21 points, which is a bit steep for a sole anti-squadron ship. I can’t see the Advanced being used a huge amount, the same fate they’ve had in Star Wars X-Wing, as their all-round stats just don’t compare to the more specialised squadrons in most scenarios.

TIE Bomber: On to the squadrons they might be escorting, the TIE Bombers. A single black dice for both of its attacks looks lacklustre, but it has its namesake ability “Bomber” so against ships it can deal critical damage. They also have the Heavy rule, meaning that they don’t cause enemy squadrons to be engaged, which, when you add in their single black die, you can clearly see these squadrons should not be anywhere near opposing squadrons. At just 9 points they’re cheap and a swarm of these lumbering in late game could finish off ships easily. With a speed of 4, the Bomber is quite fast, faster then the Rebel Y-Wings and B-Wings who fill a similar role, and when you mix Major Rhymer’s character squadron into a swarm you get the added ability of being able to attack at close-medium range too. This dovetails beautifully in with escorting squadrons; the escorts move in to tie-up any surrounding flights, while the Bombers hang back and freely unload their bombs against the enemy ship.

TIE Interceptor: After all this talk of escorts and bombing, what about offence? That’s where the TIE Interceptors come in. At 11 points they’re only a small bump up from a TIE Fighter and they bring a deadly stat line to your fleet: they have a speed of 5, 4 blue dice against squadrons, the Swarm ability which grants them a reroll and, if that’s not enough, they also have Counter 2. When a squadron attacks them, even if the Interceptors are destroyed, you get to roll 2 blue dice back against the enemy. These fighters are a threat to any squadron and if left unchecked they could quickly ruin an opponent’s bombing run. Soontir Fel, the character pilot, adds a nasty ability to these already vicious fighters. If a squadron attacks someone else whilst engaged with Soontir, then they suffer a damage for not attacking him. Your opponent’s plans to deny you your Swarm rerolls or to take out the Bombers will need to be reconsidered if Soontir is in play flying as a wingman because that damage will soon add up. Additionally, weilding a Brace and Scatter defense token he won’t be easy to take out even if he is targeted. All this for just 18 points is fantastic and I will be happily fielding Soontir with accompanying Interceptors in the future.Star Wars Armada Imperial Starfighter CardsUnlike the Rebel Fighters, the synergy between these squadrons outside of the usual escorting roles doesn’t seem apparent, but there is something to be said about joining Soontir up with “Mauler” Mithel, the TIE Fighter character pilot. He has the same stats as a normal TIE Fighter, but its his ability that the 15 points pay for. After he moves, each squadron engaged with him automatically suffers one damage. That’s painful. Stick him to the side of Soontir, fly them in to an opposing swarm and watch your opponent try to prioritise who to take out first. Again, as seems to be standard for Imperial characters, Mithel has a Brace and a Scatter token to keep himself alive.

I won’t cover the iconic TIE Fighters because we learnt all about them from the Core Set and this expansion doesn’t add much to them, other then enabling you to fly an even larger swarm. Comparing this expansion to the Rebel Fighters, I feel that the Imperials come off marginally worse because the variant TIEs don’t add huge amounts over the original Fighters, but they are all still inexpensive which is the Imperial way. Mass-produced, cheaply made and thrown at the enemy en-mass is the classic strategy and that rings true in Star Wars Armada.

Pick up individual components, models, cards and accessories for Star Wars Armada, along with sealed items at Big Orbit Cards: Star Wars Armada

Big Orbit are a hobby games retailer that specialises in the sale of individual trading cards and game components – Big Orbit also runs a Gaming venue in Evesham, Worcs, UK.