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KoW Armada: Does Size Matter?

KoW Armada: Does Size Matter?

Ahoy Sailors! As you know I am most and foremost a passionate hobbyist. That being said I am also a pirate, a scoundrel and a fanatical enthusiast of Mantic Games Kings of War: Armada. The latter resulted in a few strategy related articles, one of which you found yourself reading right now.

Kings of War: Armada is a game of fantastical sea warfare. Set in a rich world of Pannithor the Armada clashes wonderfully crafted and strongly themed factions against one another. As much as miniatures go, KoW Armada offers a selection of beautiful miniatures from across multiple factions, with more being released every few months. These ships vary in size and power from Tiny Squadrons zigzagging between larger vessels to XL flagships capable of dealing devastating damage with a single broadside. With size comes the firepower and capacity but at a cost of speed and maneuverability. Is a spamy fleet capable of competing with a centerpiece type fleet? Is, in general, a particular ship size more optimal than the other? Today I will ponder a question: 

Does Size Matter?

Let’s start by stating the obvious: Yes, in Armada the size does matter a lot. The larger a ship, the more firepower it brings and the more devastation it is capable of with a single Activation. But large size does not come without some drawback, most obvious being speed and maneuverability. A ship’s hull can be bristling with guns, but what if it is unable to draw a proper line of fire to a group of smaller, more agile enemy ships? Let’s talk about pros and cons of large size and see if they hold merit.

* The larger the ship the more guns it brings.

Large ships are more expensive and so they pack more guns than their smaller counterparts. Having more guns allows them to deal more damage in a single Activation. So much so as to potentially Cripple or even Sink an enemy ship (or ships!) before subsequent Activation.
Interestingly, more often than not, the same points value spent on a variety of smaller Main Battle Ships will result in more guns on the gaming board. This is obvious to see for some factions, while a bit more obscured for others. Basilean fleet, being pretty vanilla, with same type of armaments across all three Main Battle Ships, is perfect to represent this:
A Basilean Dictator has less broadside guns than three Elohis combined. 2H less to be precise.
Basilean Dictator: 90pts, 4H, 3L, 3C
Basilean Abess: 62pts, 3H, 2L, 2C
Basilean Elohi: 30pts, 2H, 1L, 1C

* Larger size equals more upgrade slots.

Capacity increases with size, which allows for more upgrades for a ship. This can lead to some pretty nasty combos or just increase efficiency of some upgrades. For example a Master Gunner allows for a reroll of an entire salvo. This upgrade has a much more impact on a Dictator’s devastating salvo of 4H, 3L and 3C, than on Elohi’s 2H, 1L and 1C. Furthermore it will cost three times the cost of a Master Gunner, to equip three Elohi’s.
Fielding a variety of smaller ships is not without it’s merits though, as it allows to add important fleet-wide-buff upgrades for cheap and not take up a valuable slot on an expensive vessel. More so, the cost of such upgrades can be decreased by degrading a Crew Level to Inexperienced. “Okarina of Korgaan” and “War Drum of Spite” are good examples. Of course nothing prevents mixing ship sizes to achieve the same result. 

* Larger ships have more Crew Strength.

Large ships pack a lot more CS, which means a huge advantage over smaller opponents during Boarding Actions. Advantage that is not mitigated by the current Multiple Grapple rules. Even though most Large and Extra Large ships might be unable to grapple fast moving enemy ships (Full Speed etc.), usually there will be some opportunities to do so throughout the game. Furthermore having high CS ensures fast Ongoing Boarding Action resolution, thus freeing a larger ship from being pinned by a smaller, cheaper vessel.
On the other hand a single powerful ship can become entangled in melee, thus significantly reducing the firepower of an entire fleet. A fleet of more ships will still be mostly operational if one get’s caught in a Boarding Action, allowing the rest to deal damage and go after objectives unhindered.

* More Structure Points in one place for larger ships.

Larger ships come with more Structure Points, which makes them more difficult to Cripple/Sink, resulting in more time of full effectiveness. A fleet composed of three Elohis will probably gradually lose it’s firepower while ships get damaged and subsequently Crippled, or Sunk. At the same time a single Dictator can be expected to stay operational for longer, before reaching the threshold.

* Repairs Bonus.

Large and Extra Large ships receive a Repairs bonus of +2 SP regained with a Repairs action.
Multiple smaller ships, faster and more maneuverable by default, are capable of putting constant pressure on a larger vessel, while being able to take turns, speeding out of immediate danger to undertake Repairs.

* Area of effect.

Thanks to the size of their bases, L and XL ships are easier to Rake enemy ships. Wider Broadside is easier to position for a solid Raking Fire. This leads to larger ships being more difficult to go around and combined with high durability, makes them perfect area denial pieces. 

* Speed decreases with size.

The larger a ship the slower it usually is. High Movement allows to go around slow enemy ships, zoom out of danger and go after objectives. Fast ships are capable of crossing the entire board in a matter of barely few Activations, resulting in a much higher effective range of their weaponry.

* Maneuverability decreases with size.

On top of a (usually) yellow Turn Arc, larger ship bases are more difficult to maneuver with. More so, L and XL movement is more hindered by Sandbanks, Islands and dense battlefields.
This can be partially mitigated with Kedge Anchor and Magical Rudder upgrades.

* Less is sometimes more.

Large and Extra Large ships are points intense. Adding these to a list results in a small size fleet, which in turn leads to easier general maneuvering. Wielding a numerous fleet is not an easy task, potential collisions dealing high amount of self inflicted damage. 

* Some scenarios favor small size.

While a large SP count is good, there are some scenarios that favor smaller ship sizes and/or greater numbers. Not every scenario devolves into sinking more enemy ships.

* Large targets are easier to Hit.

L and XL ships are easier to hit, providing an additional +1 To-Hit bonus for shooting opponents. There is a catch though. Due to how Partial Visibility rules work, S ships are unable to gain Full Visibility to XL ships when side by side.

And now we’re left with a question: Go big or go for numbers? There’s not a straight answer. Extra Large ships are monsters, capable of dominating entire game. They are though, reliable and deadly. On the other hand Large and Medium size ships are just as well optimized and excel in areas outside of XL’s capabilities. Are Extra Large ships overpowered? Certainly not. Are they generally “better”? Maybe, depending on the faction, but not by a large margin. My guts tells me they are just easier to successfully implement in a game. I am inclined towards an opinion that in time, when meta clarifies and players get used to everyday maneuvering, we will see a shift from more cumbersome XLs towards Medium and Large. Regardless, with how well balanced Armada seem to be right now, the XLs are definitely worth the points investment and are fun to wield. I for one, love me some of that Dictator swinging and greatly enjoy having an Extra Large ship on the table. If you haven’t already, be sure to give Extra Large ships a try. GLHF.

I hope you find this article entertaining. Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments below or via Facebook or Instagram. I would also appreciate if you considered sharing this content with your hobby buds, who might find it useful. Finally if you are looking for a professional miniatures painting service be sure to contact me via this contact form. I always reply within 24 hours, after which please check out your spam folder.

Many thanks to M.L., R.Z. and K.R. for providing valuable input. Your feedback and suggestions is what made this article possible.



2 comments so far

Al.Posted on8:33 pm - Apr 5, 2023

These are thought provoking, interesting and intelligent articles. Thank you.

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