So Andrew and I got to try Noble Armada this past Tuesday. While we had played the Babylon 5 version of the game a few years ago, this was our first outing with the updated ruleset. My Hawkwood fleet (assembled and mostly based) met his Decados fleet (mostly not cleaned and not based) in a regular ol’ learn-the-rules-through pitched battle.
I should note here that when we get together to play tabletop games, we are notorious for taking a very long time. Most of the blame goes to Andrew, who has a different sort of Gamer Distraction Syndrome than I do (i.e. his short-term attention span can be horrid, while my long-term attention span is near-non-existant!). So, we were able to play about a turn and a half before having to call it quits. Granted, we started out pretty late, and we deconstructed each phase pretty deeply. So it’s all in the name of learning.
First turn’s initiative went to Andrew. We both moved our ships up, but only a handful of them were able to fire. I learned the hard way that my small Explorers should not be sent up to the front, but rather should be held back to Scout. Which I didn’t even do on the second turn, as I kept forgetting! Anyway, shots were fired, one Explorer blew up, a couple of his ships were wounded, but nothing too special. We did learn about paying attention to fire arcs and ranges, though. And we pretty much skipped Special Actions this turn. At least we got the basics down for Movement and Attacking.
Second turn I won initiative. We got through the Movement phase and then realised it was almost time to pack up. So we took a few shots before skipping right to the Boarding Phase to learn that whole process. Easypeasy. It’s too bad we couldn’t carry out the entire turn, as there were about four sets of Boarding Actions, one of them involving 4 or 5 ships! I think that’s just crazy. We have yet to see the true value of Boarding, but clearly it’s one of those situational things, like if you’ve got the right ships lined up for it. I don’t think in the future I’ll go and send that many ships to Board…but you never know.
And that’s all we got to play, sadly! Hopefully we can get together over the holidays to play some more, as I think we’re both pretty interested in the tabling it some more. It’s an interesting system, and I can see the games being pretty fun. However, there are two issues I have with the game. One is that even at starter box level, the games are pretty big. Not big ships, just a lot of little ones. It’s one of those times when I look at Firestorm Armada and think, now that looks like a manageable scale! I’m not sure why. Perhaps because the ships, in relative size terms, are somewhat bigger in FA (no Explorers or Raiders, and the smallest ship is the Frigate). I’m not yet sure if I care for all the small ships.
The second issue is bookkeeping, to an extant that I wasn’t prepared for. You need to track Shields, Damage and Critical Levels/Effects, as well as who has activated. All without statcards (which apparently will be released…at some point in time). I’ve decided that I have to make my own cards, as using dice, tokens, beads and little scraps of paper just fill up the table too much, and make things ugly and messy.
Those things aside, the game has a lot of potential, and I’m looking forward to future plays.