Aug 12

Star Wars: Armada… Has Fantasy Flight Gone too Far?


On August 8, 2014, Fantasy Flight announced the brand new Star Wars: Armada (see the announcement here, and the game page here), an epic, fleet-scale space combat game set in the Star Wars galaxy.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this game, and what a soft spot I have for naval, fleet, space combat. I got back into gaming in 2001 due to Games Workshop’s Battleleet Gothic. I currently play X-Wing; in fact I own at least two of everything (well… only one Rebel Transport and Tantive IV). However, I’ve only played the game twice… not because it’s a bad game. Far from it, I thoroughly enjoyed both games, and can’t wait to play more. I think what makes it difficult is that X-Wing tends to be a lifestyle game. What’s a “lifestyle game,” you might ask? Before I answer that, I’ll tell you that I believe that Star Wars: Armada will also be a lifestyle game, and I don’t believe most players have room in their lives for two lifestyle games… about Star Wars… that involve space combat… from Fantasy Flight Games.

A lifestyle game is a game that requires a lot of time and energy, such that other games/hobbies do not get as much or any attention. Examples of this would be Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer: 40,000. Many players of these game will spend inordinate amounts of time building/painting armies, constructing deck lists, consuming vast quantities of media for strategy and news, play-testing, competing is tournaments,  and playing their respective game to the exclusion of most others. Recently, many of the FFG LCGs have become lifestyle games for some people (i.e. Android: Netrunner), as has X-Wing. Not all people who play these games, play them as lifestyle games.

Board gaming is a lifestyle… I consume vast amount of board game media in the form of podcasts, and YouTube videos; I check in on Boardgamegeek.com… often. I build custom inserts for my games, I buy special shelves for storage, I build a custom gaming table out of red oak… the list goes on and on. My board game hobby is every bit a lifestyle as is Warhammer or Magic. However my hobby extends beyond a single game (or a collection of interrelated games). I place no value judgment on any of these lifestyle hobbies – there was a time in my life when I enjoyed Warhammer or Magic more than board games.

For some, X-Wing is a lifestyle game, but for others, like myself, it straddles the line between lifestyle game, and just another game in a board gamer’s collection. I know there are those out there that will pick up only those ships that interest them, and can find a nice balance with the other games in their collection. But having been a lifestyle gamer of Warhammer and Magic at different points in my life (and one maddening year, where they overlapped), and having acquisition disorder, self-diagnosed (see the Secret Cabal Podcast for more details), I purchased a lot of X-Wing. Too much, some would say, and rightly so.

I have far mar interest in Armada than I ever did in X-Wing. I would rather command Star Destroyers and squadrons of TIE Fighters than a handful of fighters. Are these games going to be different enough to warrant having both in your collection? If you’re an X-Wing lifestyle gamer will you want or be able to play Armada to the same extent. If you’re a board gamer that dabbles, can you dabble in both? Or, if you’re like me, a borderline lifestyle gamer, can you really continue to buy X-Wing with their exhaustive release schedule, and keep up with Armada, and still play Caverna, Dead of Winter and all the upcoming hotness from GenCon and Essen and still get good value for your money?

Is Fantasy Flight Games producing too many lifestyle games? The folks over at Team Covenant seem to play all of them, and provide great media in support of them. Does producing multiple lifestyle games cannibalize sales from the others?

Given that Armada and X-Wing both involve, Star Wars, space, and combat, are they more likely to cannibalize each other? I don’t know. But I expect to like Armada far more than X-Wing, due just to the scale. I am seriously considering getting rid of all my X-Wing prior to Armada hitting shelves. Am I the only one? Would FFG have been better producing a Star Wars land-based miniatures game like Tom Vasel predicted (see here at 16:00)

Let me know what you think, and may the force be with you.

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