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Games Overview - Star Wars: Armada

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Game Details
Name:Star Wars: Armada
Logo:star-wars-armada.jpg
Manufacturer:Fantasy Flight Games
Website:http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_minisite.asp?eidm=270
Popularity:The game is played by 2% of the T³-Users.
It's the preferred game of 1% of the T³-Users.
The T³-Users can field a total of 26516 points.
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Average rating 4.6 after 271 vote(s).

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Armies/Factions
This is a list of all supported armies/factions, their distribution between the players and a statistical review in the tournament field:
Name DP DA TN TS TV
Empire58%55%37410040
Rebels46%45%28190.2629
Legend:
  • DP: How many players play this army.
  • DA: How big is the percentage of all armies.
  • TN: How often the army was used on a tournament.
  • TS: How strong is the army on tournaments. The strongest army is used for an index of 100 (see army ranking for details). A value of 0 means that we don't have enough data for a classification yet.
  • TV: How often did the army win a tournament.
  • If there is another army/faction behind a name in brackets, the entry is a sub type of this army/faction.
The distribution is based on 142 players from France with 148 army selections. The tournament data is based on 655 tournament placements. You can enter your own armies, if you create an account.


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Alert All Commands

Published 5 February 2019 | Star Wars: Armada Alert All Commands Sector Fleet Rules for Star Wars: Armada In the intergalactic battles of Star Wars™: Armada, you’ve used fleets of massive capital ships and nimble squadrons of starfighters to lay waste to your opponents and win the space battles of the Galactic Civil War. But now, you’ll have the opportunity to expand your fleet battles to new heights—in anticipation of the upcoming Super Star Destroyer Expansion Pack, the Star Wars: Armada development team has put together a new set of rules to support larger battles than ever, including multiplayer games of up to eight players! Today, developer Brooks Flugaur-Leavitt joins us to introduce the Sector Fleet rules (pdf, 3.4 MB) and how they can bring thrilling new formats to your games of Star Wars: Armada! Brooks Flugaur-Leavitt on the Sector Fleet Rules for Star Wars: Armada The Star Wars: Armada development team is excited to release Sector Fleet, a new set of optional rules if you want to play games at larger fleet point totals! Here, you’ll also find the rules for multiplayer games involving as many as eight players, organized into two teams each led by a Grand Admiral. These Sector Fleet rules are an evolution of those used for large team battles at some Star Wars: Armada events in the past, as well as in The Corellian Conflict campaign expansion, but the concept took on additional importance with the development of the Super Star Destroyer, our biggest and most impressive ship yet. The most powerful variants, the Executor I and Executor II-class Star Dreadnoughts, were designed to portray the Super Star Destroyer as the thematic centerpiece of a massive battle. The capabilities of these Star Dreadnoughts already exceeded the limits of standard fleets, and of course, you’d want to field additional warships alongside them, so some framework for larger battles was needed. In writing the Sector Fleet rules, keeping them compatible with the existing systems of Star Wars: Armada was one of my foremost considerations. The objective system that gives players control over the conditions of their battle, adds a lot of nuance to Star Wars: Armada, and it’s one of the game's greatest strengths. As such, all standard objectives can be included in Sector Fleet games, and the same 3' x 6' play area is used. Although the size of fleets is not unlimited, our largest games of Sector Fleet have featured an Imperial fleet of several Imperial-class Star Destroyers led by an Executor-class Star Dreadnought and accompanied by an escort of smaller ships and squadrons, all matched against a Rebel force of equal size! Additional rules for two-player games have been kept to a minimum, covering only altered setup areas and fleet-building restrictions to keep game lengths manageable. Although there are few new rules, increased point limits is the defining feature of two-player Sector Fleet gameplay, and will give plenty of cause to re-examine older cards and tactics. Your larger fleets will interact with existing abilities and objectives in new ways, such as in the brutal head-on confrontation created by the reduced setup area of Blockade Run! The bulk of the Sector Fleet rules is devoted to multiplayer games with as many as four players per team. Veterans of The Corellian Conflict will recognize many elements drawn from the All-Out Offensive scenario, but the adaptation of those rules for standard objectives and the expansion of the Grand Admiral role offer new opportunities for gameplay. Teamwork between allied players will be key to victory, while the new rules for Grand Admirals resolve high-level gameplay decisions quickly and keep multiplayer games from bogging down in strategy debate. The role of Grand Admiral has been expanded, with one player on each team assigned responsibility for the order in which teammates activate and the resolution of any team-wide effects. Players still control their own ships and squadrons, of course, but this new dynamic adds even greater depth to team games as each individual fleet's situation is balanced against the team's priorities. We hope you're excited to play even larger games of Star Wars: Armada with your favorite fleets, and we look forward to seeing the epic battles you fight! Brooks Flugaur-Leavitt is the youngest developer in the miniature games department and started with FFG as a playtester before working in the warehouse for several years. Since becoming a developer in 2017, they have worked on Star Wars: Armada, X-Wing™, and Runewars Miniatures Game. In their spare time, they are an avid miniatures enthusiast, historical wargamer, and medieval re-enactor. Discuss this article in our forums! Star Wars: Armada is an epic two-player game of tactical fleet battles in the Star Wars galaxy. Massive Star Destroyers fly to battle against Rebel corvettes and frigates. Banks of turbolasers unleash torrential volleys of fire against squadrons of X-wing and TIEs. As Rebel and Imperial fleets collide, it is your job to issue the commands that will decide the course of battle and, ultimately, the fate of the galaxy. © &amp; TM Lucasfilm Ltd.  
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The Future of Organized Play

Published 30 January 2019 | X-Wing Second Edition The Future of Organized Play What to Expect from FFG Organized Play in 2019 A Foreword from Alex Watkins Hello FFG gamers! My name is Alex, and I am the new Global Director of Organized Play for Asmodee North America. For the past several years, I have been working on the Organized Play and Marketing teams in the UK and Europe. I’m very excited to be taking on this new role. As an avid gamer, I know first-hand how important Organized Play is. I’ve made many friends and had a lot of fun organizing and playing in OP events over the years and across multiple platforms. This is my passion, and I hope to bring that passion into this role. As I have been transitioning into this role, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to a number of players and retailers to get a sense for how FFG’s Organized Play has been performing out in the world. I’ve heard a lot of really positive comments, and I’ve also heard some very legitimate concerns. We’ve already been hard at work developing strategies and processes to help alleviate these concerns, and we will continue to explore every aspect of Organized Play looking for continual improvement with all of our programs and offerings. We have a really amazing Organized Play team in place, and we’re adding several new faces this year. We’re already seeing a lot of fresh ideas and innovation from our team, and I can’t wait to reveal some of that to you in 2019. Below is an article highlighting some of the changes coming to Organized Play. As we move forward, I want to encourage all of you to reach out to us with any additional thoughts or feedback—both good and bad. I will personally be at a number of events this year, so if you see me, please feel free to come say hi and maybe play a game or two. Have a great year in gaming!      –Alex Watkins, Global Director of Organized Play for Asmodee North America Alex Watkins (left) in a recent episode of Crucible Cast The Future of Organized Play Fantasy Flight Games Organized Play was created as a way to build and grow gaming communities—to help players around the world meet other players, make new friends, and have fun playing the games you love. Years later, this continues to be our primary objective. While our central focus has not changed, 2019 will be a year of significant change for FFG Organized Play. We have several new faces on the team, new leadership, and we're taking a fresh look at all of our events, programs, and processes to deliver the best Organized Play experiences we possibly can. Today, we are happy to outline some of the changes that are coming in 2019 and how these changes will help us move forward on our goal of growing great gaming communities. Seasonal Kits and Open Play Nights The events you enjoy in your favorite local games stores are the bedrock upon which all of Organized Play is founded. In-store events are critical for welcoming new players, growing communities, and providing regular gaming nights for your favorite games. Our Organized Play program's support for these in-store events has come primarily in the form of Seasonal Kits, which are going to become far more accessible in 2019. Historically, Seasonal Kits have focused on tournament play, providing stores the materials they needed to run tournaments that awarded prizes based on performance. Going forward, stores will still be able to use Organized Play Seasonal Kits to run tournaments; however, we are also going to emphasize our support for casual play and for players who want to play regularly, but who would prefer not to enter a tournament. Seasonal Kits will support Open Play Nights and will reward players for their in-store participation. We want in-store events to be as accessible and welcoming to casual players as possible. Local organizers may continue using Seasonal Kits to run Open Play Nights as tournaments if they so desire. Most Seasonal Kits will come with enough prizes to support up to eight players through three months of weekly play. Some games may feature different prize structures, but will still support three months of play per kit. The prize cards within Seasonal Kits will change each month. Participants will have the chance to earn multiple copies of most cards. Changes to the pricing and distribution of our Seasonal Kits will make them easier for retailers to obtain and release on schedule. Some games will also receive Seasonal Premium Kits in addition to their regular Seasonal Kits. Retailers and event organizers can use these Premium Kits to support their communities with additional gaming experiences, either casual or competitive. Players participating in events supported by these Premium Kits will contend for prizes that are a step up—a bit more "premium," if you will—than those included in the standard Seasonal Kits. With these new Seasonal Kits, you can expect support for both a more casual Open Play experience as well as plenty of materials to support in-store tournament play. Championship Events In 2018, we introduced several new naming conventions for our events and corresponding kits. This experiment proved unsatisfactory for many of our customers, so in 2019 we are changing our naming structure to something more intuitive and consistent across all of our games. Store Championships These are fun, local tournaments that your favorite local game store gets to hold twice per year (per game). Store Championships represent a chance to test and refine your competitive skills while playing for a range of custom prizes. Prime Championships Formerly known as "Regional Championships," Prime Championships are high-level tournaments that are run at select retailers and draw players from across a wider region to compete for custom prizes and qualification for top-level events. The winner of each Prime Championship reserves his or her seat at the game's next World Championship. Grand Championships Formerly known as "National Championships," Grand Championships are high-level events that take place only once per year per nation or territory. These events feature top-level prizes and qualify the Top 4 players to their game's next World Championship. Continental Championships Continental Championships are international events that are open for all who wish to attend. These events draw top players from multiple nations—as well as aspiring players looking to make their mark—and encourage them to compete for top-level prizes, including the World Championship invitations awarded to the Top 8 participants. World Championships The pinnacle of any game's competitive Organized Play program, each World Championship is a showcase of the world's greatest players and strategies. In 2019, the World Championships for X-Wing™ and Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game will be invitation-only. By 2020, the rest of our Organized Play World Championships will be invitation-only as well. Open Events In addition to the Championship Event tiers listed above, we will continue organizing several Open Events, such as the System Open Series for X-Wing, the Kotei Series for Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game, and the Galactic Qualifiers for Star Wars™: Destiny. The Vault Tour for KeyForge will also be joining these events in 2019. These Open Events are high-profile events that offer players more opportunities to earn top prizes, as well as invitations to the World Championships. Because they draw together so many talented and enthusiastic players, Open Events are simultaneously fantastic platforms for competitive players to test their skills and exciting social events where casual players can get better connected with the larger gaming community. Because these Open Events typically run alongside our standard Organized Play structure, they may or may not interact with Championship Events. These interactions will be determined and communicated on a case-by-case basis. We hope to see you travelling in your teams and gaming groups to these different Open Events, many of which are scheduled to take place at major gaming conventions around the world! Global Event Manager One of our key initiatives for 2018 was the development of a new tournament software platform known as the Global Event Manager ("GEM" for short). GEM has already been soft-launched and is a crucial component to the Organized Play program for KeyForge. GEM allows us to track player results, award digital prizes, and offer an improved tournament experience for stores and tournament organizers. It will also power our Store and Event Locators, making it easier for retailers to communicate their support of local gaming communities and for players to find all the events nearest them. Our development of GEM will continue throughout 2019, and we will be adding to and evolving the feature-set all year long. GEM is already central to our support of KeyForge Organized Play, and retailers will want to talk with their Asmodee representatives to make sure they are positioned to take advantage of all the ways GEM will improve your Organized Play experiences. Communication We are constantly striving to improve the ways we communicate with both stores and players, and our improved communication will be a major point of emphasis throughout 2019. Many of the changes discussed in this article are the result of feedback we've received, and we want to keep that communication flowing. Expect to see more engagement and interaction from us in 2019 and beyond, as we'll be expanding our ways to connect with both players and stores. We also want to hear from you! You can share your feedback through our FFG Organized Play Feedback Form, or you can reach out to us via Facebook or Twitter. The Year of Organized Play We're very excited about our Organized Play offerings for 2019. We have a lot of new faces on our team—and a lot of big plans. Whether you're new to FFG Organized Play or a seasoned veteran, you'll find 2019 full of new ways to enjoy your favorite games, meet other players, and share thrilling experiences. As a final note, we want to extend our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all of the stores and players around the world who make our community so great! Discuss this article in our forums! © and ™ Lucasfilm Ltd.
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2019 World Championships

Published 11 January 2019 | X-Wing Second Edition 2019 World Championships Details on the 2019 World Championships for FFG's Organized Play Programs There are a number of changes to Fantasy Flight Games Organized Play headed your way in 2019, and these include some significant changes to the World Championship tournaments for our competitive games! First and foremost, our World Championship tournaments will be held at four different times throughout the year, rather than two. Our X-Wing™ and Star Wars™: Legion World Championship tournaments will be invite-only. And the World Championship tournaments for Star Wars™: Armada and Star Wars™: Imperial Assault will be held at AdeptiCon 2019 in Schaumburg, Illinois, rather than at the Fantasy Flight Games Center. These changes are not wholly indicative of the shape of things to come—apart from the Organized Play team's intent to reevaluate the best ways, times, and places to hold these top-level events. Apart from that, 2019 represents a year of transition, and we will be working throughout the year to improve our programs and events, meaning that we're aiming to deliver better and better play experiences—including those you might enjoy at the pinnacle of your game's competitive Organized Play: the World Championships! A group celebration at the 2017 X-Wing World Championship March 2019 World Championships The World Championship tournaments for Star Wars: Armada and Star Wars: Imperial Assault will be held this year at AdeptiCon in Schaumburg, Illinois. AdeptiCon runs from March 27–31, the 2019 Star Wars: Armada World Championship runs March 28–29, and the 2019 Star Wars: Imperial Assault World Championship runs March 30–31. The initial public offering for these tournaments has sold out. Players who qualified for these events through Regional Championships, National Championships, or previous World Championships have until 11:59 PM CST (UTC -6) on March 3 to reserve their seats. Any remaining seats will be made available to the general public at 12:00 PM CST (UTC -6) on Monday, March 4. Players in action during the 2018 Imperial Assault World Championship June 2019 World Championship The first-ever Star Wars: Legion World Championship will take place June 21–23 at the Fantasy Flight Games Center in Roseville, MN. This highly exclusive event is limited to the Top 8 finishers from the High Command Invitational at AdeptiCon. If you have earned a seat at the High Command Invitational, be sure to plan your trip to AdeptiCon and use our form to let us know you're coming. One of many battles from the 2018 Maximum Firepower event at Gen Con Indy Q4 Star Wars 2019 World Championships The exact details of the 2019 World Championship tournaments for both X-Wing and Star Wars™: Destiny have yet to be finalized, but they will take place in the fourth quarter of the year. The 2019 X-Wing World Championship tournament will be an invite-only event, showcasing some truly top-level play from those players who have earned their seats by qualifying at System Open Series, Hyperspace Trials, and National Championships. The tournament will be preceded by the 2019 Coruscant Invitational, which will see the winners of the year's System Open Series events going head-to-head on livestream the day before the World Championship begins. Players competing during Day 1 of the 2018 Star Wars: Destiny World Championship The 2019 Star Wars: Destiny World Championship tournament will remain open to the general public. Registration is not yet open. We will open registration once we have finalized the event details. Note: Players who earn more than one reserved seat for either X-Wing or Star Wars: Destiny should fill out the appropriate form once per qualification once it is made available. KeyForge Celebration KeyForge has enjoyed a tremendous reception thus far, and our Organized Play program is off and running. While the Organized Play is building toward a World Championship in 2020, we are planning to celebrate all things KeyForge with a special, massive Celebration Event in late 2019. We are still finalizing details and will share more information about this event—and how you can be a part of it—as soon as we are able. KeyForge demos at Gen Con Indy 2018 Q4 Living Card Game® 2019 World Championships The 2019 World Championship tournaments for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game and Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game will take place in the fourth quarter of the year at the Fantasy Flight Games Center in Roseville, MN. Registration is not yet open for these events. You can expect more information about this event in the weeks to come, and we will open registration with the full announcement of the event details. Note: Players who earn more than one reserved seat for either A Game of Thrones: The Card Game or Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game should fill out the appropriate form once per qualification once the forms are made available. 2018 A Game of Thrones: The Card Game World Champion Lennart Paga Meet Players. Make Friends. Enjoy More of Your Favorite Games. Do you have to be a brilliant tactician and world-conquering hero to enjoy the action at your favorite game's 2019 World Championship tournament? Absolutely not! Sure, the World Championships are the pinnacle of our competitive games' Organized Play programs, but that "pinnacle" represents not only a high level of skill, but also of investment, identity, community, and enthusiasm. Attend one of these events, and you'll find yourself in the company of new friends who share your love of gaming and your thirst for sportsmanlike competition. Even if you can't attend, you'll be able to join your game's World Championship community as a spectator. Thanks to our livestreaming and social media coverage, you'll get a small taste of what it would be like to attend, you'll get to follow all the dramatic turns of events, and you'll learn new tricks and tactics from the world's best players. Attend if you can. Watch if you can't. Be a part of the World Championship community. We hope to see you for our 2019 World Championships! Discuss this article in our forums! © and ™ Lucasfilm Ltd.
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Redirect Your Fleet

Published 19 December 2018 | Star Wars: Armada Redirect Your Fleet Try Something New with Season Four Organized Play for Star Wars™: Armada "It's a trap!"    –Admiral Ackbar, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi There are two ways to avoid flying your fleet into a trap. You could outwit and outmaneuver your enemy once the trap is sprung, but alternatively, you could assemble a fleet that can respond more swiftly to your commands—allowing you to steer your ships out of harm's way, even at the last moment. Either way, you'll find that the 2018 Season Four Tournament Kit for Star Wars™: Armada offers a range of valuable upgrades to help you better avoid your opponent's trap and, possibly, snare them in your own! So as you and your opponents head into the thick of battle during 2018 Season Four, you'll find plenty of reasons to stay on the move, to maximize your fleet's responsiveness, to experiment with the unexpected, to unleash a whole new arsenal, and to expand your talents as fleet admiral. Who knows? Your changes may even catch your opponents by surprise and improve your chances of claiming the season's top prizes! Choose a Side Season Four Organized Play for Star Wars: Armada finds the Galactic Civil War still raging across the galaxy. Rebels and Imperials continue to meet in ferocious battles for key star systems and objectives, and the prizes in the 2018 Season Four Tournament Kit support both sides equally. This means you'll have plenty of reason to head to battle, whether your organizer runs Fleet Patrol tournaments or schedules some other form of event. You'll want to win these prizes for your cause and keep them from falling into the wrong hands and bolstering enemy fleets! Core Prize The Tournament Kit contains seventeen copies of a double-sided extended art upgrade card that you can use to enhance your fleet. One side features the Boosted Comms upgrade, extending your ability to command your squadrons all the way to long range. The other side features the Slaved Turrets favored by ship captains who prefer to stay at long range and attack their foes from a single firing arc. One copy of this card is intended for the tournament organizer to keep or distribute as he or she sees fit; the other sixteen are to be awarded to participants in the season's Organized Play. At a Fleet Patrol tournament, the Top 16 players should each receive a copy. Elite Prizes Ships need more than comms systems and weapons; they need names as well. A good name can inspire the ship's crew, or it can invoke terror among your enemies. After you upgrade your ships with the Season Four Core Prize card, you might aim to title your Nebulon-B frigate or Gozanti-class cruiser, using one of the titles from the double-sided Elite Prize card. Printed at the same size as a standard LCG® card, this card features extended art on both sides, with the reliable Yavaris title on one side and the Suppressor title on the other. There are three copies of this card in each 2018 Season Four Tournament Kit. One is again intended for the tournament organizer, and the other two are awarded as elite prizes. At a Fleet Patrol tournament, these elite prizes are awarded to the top participants in the order of their finish, with each choosing to claim either one copy of this alternate art card or one set of the tokens awarded as the other elite prize. The 2018 Season Four Tournament Kit comes with two sets of three acrylic redirect tokens—green on one side and red on the other. As you look for ways to get your ships safely through your engagements with enemy fleets, these are bound to come in handy! Ready Your Fleet As the game of epic Star Wars fleet battles, Star Wars: Armada demands you plan well in advance of your maneuvers—even well in advance of your engagements. After all, your Mon Calamari cruisers and Star Destroyers are far too massive to respond swiftly to the threats they encounter. It falls to you to plan intelligently and build flexibility into the remainder of your fleet. What mixture of ships and squadrons will serve you best in the coming battles? Now is the time to experiment and take your rivals by surprise. Talk to your local retailer about getting involved with Season Four Organized Play for Star Wars: Armada! Discuss this article in our forums! Star Wars: Armada is an epic two-player game of tactical fleet battles in the Star Wars galaxy. Massive Star Destroyers fly to battle against Rebel corvettes and frigates. Banks of turbolasers unleash torrential volleys of fire against squadrons of X-wing and TIEs. As Rebel and Imperial fleets collide, it is your job to issue the commands that will decide the course of battle and, ultimately, the fate of the galaxy. © &amp; TM Lucasfilm Ltd.  
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The Fleet Is Yours

Published 14 November 2018 | Star Wars: Armada The Fleet Is Yours Decide the Fate of the Galaxy at a 2018 Star Wars™: Armada Regional Championship   "Deploy the fleet so that nothing gets off that system. You are in command now, Admiral Piett."    –Darth Vader, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back It's time to ready the fleet! The 2018 Star Wars™: Armada Regional Championships are nearly here, and you'll want to be ready well before the first shots are fired. After all, Star Wars: Armada is a game of epic fleet battles, featuring many of the Star Wars galaxy's largest warships. These are ships that boast crews of hundreds—even thousands. It takes them time to respond to new orders. And that means developing a strategy that embraces your strengths, baits your opponents into making mistakes, and sets you up for the eventual victory… In the end, it's the fate of the galaxy at stake—plus a whole lot of fantastic prizes! Top 64 Embrace the Galactic Empire's military strength and planetary conquests with this alternate art Imperial Star Destroyer Kuat Refit card, available to everyone in the Top 64 players at your Star Wars: Armada Regional Championship. Top 16 Playing within the shadows of Imperial Star Destroyers—and the looming arrival of the Super Star Destroyer—Rebel players understand the need to make big statements with little ships. Those who battle their way into the Top 16 will gain the ability to proudly proclaim their Rebel status with this frosted plastic Nebulon-B Escort Frigate card. Top 8 Once you're in range, it's time for your missiles, torpedoes, and lasers to rip through the stars, and if you make the Top 8, you'll be able to bring all the fire and explosions to life with a set of twelve custom dice. Top 4 The capital ships of Star Wars: Armada aren't really designed to zig-zag though enemy fire unscathed. Instead, they rely on their shields and reinforced hulls to withstand enemy fire. But you can still improve your chances of survival by cancelling enemy attack dice with the five acrylic evade defense tokens you'll get for making the Top 4. Regional Champion Winning the battles of the Star Wars: Armada Regional Championships for your faction is a reward in and of itself. After all, it will feel good to know that you've brought order to the Galactic Empire or fanned the flames of rebellion. However, there are other prizes at stake as well. Win a 2018 Star Wars: Armada Regional Championship, and you'll find yourself a hero of your chosen faction—complete with a trophy designed to look like a medallion encased in glass—and you'll walk away with a first round prize bye for an upcoming Star Wars: Armada National Championship! Answer the Call to Battle The fleet is at your command. The fate of the galaxy is at stake. The 2018 Star Wars: Armada Regional Championships are nearly here, and you can now review the list of events. Where will you answer the call to battle? Discuss this article in our forums! Star Wars: Armada is an epic two-player game of tactical fleet battles in the Star Wars galaxy. Massive Star Destroyers fly to battle against Rebel corvettes and frigates. Banks of turbolasers unleash torrential volleys of fire against squadrons of X-wing and TIEs. As Rebel and Imperial fleets collide, it is your job to issue the commands that will decide the course of battle and, ultimately, the fate of the galaxy. © &amp; TM Lucasfilm Ltd.  
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"I Play to Win" Is a Lie

Published 28 September 2018 | X-Wing Second Edition "I Play to Win" Is a Lie A Designer Journal from Nate French Are games meant to be won? If not, why do we play games that have strong competitive scenes? In today's Designer Journal, designer Nate French takes a look at the nature of competition and suggests some alternative ways of thinking about winning.  It is helpful from time to time for those of us in the competitive gaming community to reflect on our own relationships with gaming and competition. What can we do to ensure that our hobby of competing with one another through gaming brings out the best in our selves, rather than the worst? This designer journal is one of my own recent attempts to wrestle with such a question. The statement “I play to win” has been used to rationalize and justify a fair bit of behavior that runs the gamut from off-putting to questionable to unethical and downright evil. As a competitive gamer who’s had some success in various arenas in the past, such a mindset has never been one that I have been completely at peace with. “Winning isn’t everything—it’s the only thing.” This overused quote and idea is often attributed to Vince Lombardi, but it is believed the original speaker was UCLA Bruins coach Red Sanders. Regardless of where it originated, it is frequently embraced by high-level competitors to focus on the supposed ultimate goal (winning) and to motivate them to do what they need to do in order to win. It shouldn’t be difficult to see how such a belief is unhealthy, and leads to many evils, great and small, in the world of competition. Unfortunately, such an idea is deeply engrained in our culture, and countless competitors find strength and reassurance in an “I play to win” approach to their sport or game. I should know, I’ve been there myself. Winning is seductive, and easy to fall in love with. As you win more, it feeds back into your identity as a so-called “winner.” Losers, on the other hand, are often derided: the very term is frequently used as an insult. But seeing winning as “the only thing”—the point, the end that justifies all means in any type of competition—is a mistake, a dire mistake that we must continually guard ourselves against believing. This task, I feel, is one of our deepest imperatives as competitive gamers. Making the task somewhat easier, I’ve found, is this: while the “play to win” attitude cloaks itself in the guise of strength, when you really dig in to the idea you begin to realize that it comes from a place of weakness. The Trap The biggest self-defeating trap in the “play to win” mentality is this: winning is a result, and we don’t get better at games by following results-oriented thinking. This is a concept I came across while studying poker, but the idea can transfer to any form of competition. What is results-oriented thinking? Basically, it’s judging the quality of your decisions (and your decision-making process) based on outcomes rather than judging the quality of those decisions on logic or objective analysis. Why is this type of thinking a bad thing? Ultimately, it’s because competitors don’t truly have any control over the outcome—the only thing we competitors can control is the quality of our decisions, and the outcomes take care of themselves. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at a few examples from different types of games. It’s easiest to see this in perfect information games, as they do the least to hide the connection between our decisions and our results. Consider a simple game like Tic-Tac-Toe. If both players play perfectly, the game inevitably ends in a draw. Put another way, you can only win a game of Tic-Tac-Toe if your opponent makes a mistake. As there is nothing (within the rules) that a player can do to “force” their opponent to make a mistake, winning this game is entirely reliant on a factor that I, as a competitor, have no control over. I can only play perfectly, and hope my opponent messes up. “But Tic-Tac-Toe is a simple game with a known solution. What about a more complex, unsolved game, such as Chess?” you might ask. While it is true that—as of this writing—Chess remains an unsolved game, this does not grant a competitor any additional agency in forcing a desired result. If both sides play perfectly, the outcome (currently unknown, but it will either be a draw, a win for black, or a win for white) is inevitable, and it is only through imperfect play by one player or the other that other outcomes can be achieved. Let’s now move our consideration to other types of games with variance and hidden information. In a broad sense, each of these devices serves to disguise the ways in which player error determines a game’s outcome. Variance is easiest to see. Imagine you make a play that, 99 times out of 100, is going to win you the game… and then the fated dice roll the one result that defeats you, throwing the win away. Curses! Even in such extreme cases, a truly results-oriented player would believe they made the wrong decision or, if they were on the other side of the improbable roll, believe they played the game perfectly. And either of these conclusions would be an obvious impediment to their development as a player. Hidden information (such as the hole cards in Texas Hold’em, or a player’s hand in a customizable card game) also serves to disguise the concept of “perfect” play, in that it demands competitors evaluate and analyze their play against all possible (or likely) holdings, and then choose optimal lines against the various possibilities an opponent could be sitting on. With such games, it’s very possible to make a correct play (correct against the possible range of cards the opponent could have) that in a particular instance turns out to lose the game (because they happen to have, against the odds, the one card in their deck that could beat your play). It’s also possible to blunder (make a play which would be wrong against their likely holding the vast majority of the time) that turns out in this particular instance to win the game because your opponent didn’t happen to have any of the dozens of likely outs that could have defeated your play. Such outcomes are not examples of superior or inferior play, they’re simply another case of running up against the wrong (or right) side of variance. Once variance and hidden information enter the picture, it’s possible to make terrible decisions and still win, and it’s also possible to make good decisions and still lose. Or, as co-host Andrew Brokos of the Thinking Poker podcast once suggested, “the end result of you winning the pot does not change the fact that the way you played the hand was a complete disaster.” What are our takeaways from these considerations of various types of games? Essentially, we as competitors don’t have as much control over our results as we’d initially believe. If a game is not decided by bad (or good!) luck, it was decided by a mistake (or series of mistakes) made by one of the competitors. Just as we cannot control luck, we cannot control whether or not our opponents make mistakes. All we can do then, as competitors, is eliminate as many mistakes as possible from our own play, and be prepared to capitalize on the mistakes our opponents do make.  A more profound way of thinking about this is the realization that at the heart of all competitive gaming—in which we strive to control the sole thing we have any control over, by eliminating mistakes from our own play—we are only competing against ourselves. This casts our opponents in a completely different light—they are no longer our enemies or adversaries that we must defeat and crush and overcome at any cost, but rather our allies, a mirror against which we can measure ourselves in our effort to grow and improve at our chosen game. And this realization, more than anything else, might change the way we treat those opponents—in victory and defeat. Nate French is the longest-tenured member in the card game department, and serves as a mentor and coach for the team. More often than not, he’s working on a project he can’t say anything about… yet! In his spare time he is an avid poker player and enjoys reading, writing, sports, (older) heavy metal, and talking about LeBron. Discuss this article in our forums! © and ™ Lucasfilm Ltd.
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