This week we look at a game which it took me some time to lay my hands on, finally finding a copy in Germany.
Armada is an abstract strategy game with a naval theme which was released in 1973 by designer Sicco von Hülst.
Pelikan was the publisher.
So why did I seek this one out. Well the theme to start with. A naval battle works as an abstract strategy game. The idea of pieces representing ships in opposing fleets is along the lines of chess pieces representing different armies.
It is unfortunate the Pelikan edition did not opt for some actual ship pieces.
Instead they use red and yellow pieces that look a lot like sewing thimbles. They are serviceable but they detract from the fleet theme concept.
The pieces move on a hexagon board, a board which has the play area designed as a blue ocean surrounded by what appears like a vintage land map. It's a good look which does enhance the theme.
Now for the real strength of the game. Each player has a fleet of 15 pieces, three galleons, five galleys and seven galleasses. Each have different movement mechanics.
The galleons start on a point of a hexagon which may move along the edges of hexagons one, two, or three corners.
The galleys are played in the centre of the hexagons, moving to an adjacent hexagon on a move.
The galleasses also start on the points of a hexagon, moving one, or two points on a turn.
The captures allowed in Armada are also interesting, relying on what is often referred to a 'rock-paper-scissors' (RPS) mechanic.
The galleon sinks a galleass, if it is moved onto a corner adjacent to the galleass, the galley sinks a galleon, if it is moved into a hexagon with the galleon on a corner, and the galleass sinks a galley, if it is moved onto the corner of a hexagon where the galley sits.
If a moved piece can attack multiple opponents, only one is removed.
The use of RPS certainly adds to the strategic options available within the game, even on the smallish board (59-hexagons).
The game also offers three win conditions, which sounds better than it is in action. Most games will be won by attrition, leaving an opponent with no ships remaining, although leaving them unable to attack any ships, because they do not have the type of ship required is a viable victory condition too. You can leave your opponent unable to make a move as well, but that is a rarer road to victory.
The game would be a top drawer keeper with ship pieces, but even without them the RPS mechanic keeps the interest high.
Definitely one with some depth to explore, and room for some interesting experimentation. It would be easy to add an island or two to the board limiting some movement patterns.
A larger board and an additional ship or two, think rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock, could be interesting as well.
Still as it is Armada is a solid game worth exploring.
If anyone is interested in this game, or other boardgames feel free to contact email@example.com
-- Review appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper June 27, 2012 - Yorkton, SK. Canada