Capital ships form the critical foundation of any Star Wars: Armada fleet. As of Wave 1, the Imperial Navy has two excellent capital ships to choose from. Today, let’s take a look at the Gladiator-class Star Destroyer.
IN SHORT: With good speed, surprising maneuverability with the right upgrades, and a devastating close range punch, the Gladiator is a deadly addition to the Imperial fleet.
STRENGTHS: How about 4 black dice firing out of the left and right arcs? That’s the first thing anyone should notice about the stock Gladiator I. And if it isn’t, then it will probably be made clear when the Gladiator unloads at close range. On average, that’s 4 damage inflicted out of each attack. Start adding in Concentration commands and/or upgrades, and the Gladiator’s damage output can become ridiculously high.
The Gladiator is also a remarkably well-rounded package. It comes with 1 token each for Evade, Brace, and Redirect, giving it a defensive mechanic for just about any situation. It can turn 2 clicks at speed 1, allowing it to execute some very tight turns. 2 Command allows it to react reasonably quickly to the ebb and flow of battle, and 2 Squadron and 3 Engineering are nothing to sneeze at either.
The upgraded Gladiator II exchanges 1 of its black dice on each side for reds and enhances its anti-squadron batteries to 2 blue dice. This gives it an overall boost in versatility while lessening its broadside punch just a little for only 6 points. With generously wide side arcs, the Gladiator II is well suited to assisting TIE squadrons with sprays of blue dice.
It even comes with 2 forward facing red dice (augmented with 2 more black dice) for chipping away at enemies while on approach. Oh, yes. I like this ship.
WEAKNESSES: When it starts receiving hits, the Gladiator-class Star Destroyer is no Victory. A Gladiator II costs 62 points, only 11 below a base Victory I, but it won’t survive enemy fire nearly as long. 5 Hull Points are still respectable, but caution should be used to ensure the Gladiator is supported by the rest of your fleet and not blindly charging ahead of it.
It’s also not much more than a nuisance at anything outside close range. Sure, black dice are awesome, but only when you actually get to roll with them. Fortunately, there are a few options available to the Gladiator to help with this problem.
With the dirt cheap Insidious title (only 3 points), a Gladiator can use black dice at medium range. The catch? It can only use this ability when firing into an enemy ship’s rear hull zone. Not the easiest thing to achieve, but certainly not out of the question for an appropriately upgraded Gladiator (see combos below).
With the Demolisher title, a Gladiator gains the incredibly potent ability to perform one of its attacks after a maneuver. Given the general need to get in tight, this upgrade provides the Imperial player with considerable flexibility over every other ship that must shoot first and then move.
COMBOS: Gladiators like to fly in close and personal to deliver all those black dice to the enemy’s face. Good thing they have some handy upgrades to help them get there.
With Engine Techs, a Gladiator can execute an extra speed-1 maneuver after its regular maneuver with the use of a Navigate command (either dial or token). This is especially good on the Gladiator because its speed-1 maneuver has 2 clicks, resulting in a potential 4 or 5-click turn. Toss in Wulff Yularen with his ability to copy a token once per round, and 1 Navigate token at the start can last the entire game.
You can even throw the Demolisher title into this mix. A base Gladiator I with these upgrades starts to get a bit bloated at 81 points, but it can undoubtedly get where it needs to go and unload a fist full of black dice when it gets there. Not bad at all.
And speaking of those black dice, the Assault Concussion Missiles upgrade can make them even meaner. On a black critical, both adjacent hull zones take 1 point of damage. Granted, you can only have one critical effect per attack, but the big advantage is this effect doesn’t need to hit the hull to trigger. It works just as well on shields, too. Take Admiral Screed as your commander, force those critical hits when you don’t actually roll them, and watch the damage pile up.
LISTS FOR FUN: Here’s a little list I like to call Admiral Screed’s One-Two Punch.
Victory II-class Star Destroyer (85)
– Admiral Screed (26)
– Overload Pulse (8)
Gladiator I-class Star Destroyer (56)
– Demolisher (10)
– Engine Techs (8)
Gladiator II-class Star Destroyer (62)
TIE Fighter Squadrons x 5 (40)
TOTAL: 295 points
The idea here is to utilize Screed’s penchant for critical hits by deploying two effects in a combination. Pick a target that’s in range of the Victory and is close to the Demolisher. The Demolisher should either have a Navigate token saved up or a Navigate dial ready to reveal.
Activate the Victory first and trigger an Overload Pulse critical hit on the unlucky target, exhausting all of the ship’s defense tokens. Then move and shoot with the Demolisher and pummel the now helpless target with black dice. Even if the target activates in between, the Demolisher’s move and shoot, plus the Navigate command, plus Engine Techs should give you the flexibility to get an arc on the target. After that, they’ll either take the hit on the chin or start discarding defense tokens. Either result is good for you.
I’ve shown the remaining points spent on TIE Fighters and a second Gladiator (upgraded to a type II for extra anti-squadron firepower), but there are plenty of other ways to spend those remaining points. I just naturally prefer to keep my upgrades frugal and my ship count high. 🙂
SUMMARY: Ladies and gentlemen, the Gladiator. One lean, mean short range brawler.
TRIVIA: Did you know that the Gladiator is not a new Imperial ship? In fact, it’s a very old Imperial design dating back to the Star Wars: Droids cartoon series from 1985. Check this out!
Oh, and here’s Admiral Screed, too!
Check out the complete list of Star Wars: Armada articles here.
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