Alamo City Fleet Command – Community Spotlight #1!

Welcome to our very first Around the Board Community Spotlight (AtBCS)!  This AtBCS is all about the Alamo City Fleet Command (ACFC), a San Antonio-based gaming community that plays Star Wars Armada.  AtB had the fortune of meeting up with community leader, Justin Curtis, and other ACFC members who taught AtB how to play Armada and gave us insight on this wonderful community.

Summary of Star Wars Armada

A special event hosted by the ACFC

Star Wars Armada is a tabletop warfare-game, released by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) in 2015, which depicts epic space-combat featuring some of the largest ships in the Star Wars universe.  Players choose to field a fleet of Rebels or Imperials, choose their ships and squadrons, then use them to achieve mission objectives and of course, annihilate the enemy fleet.  Each player-controlled fleet is comprised of various capital ships (see: angry space triangles) and squadrons of smaller ships, like X-Wings, TIE Fighters and unique characters from the Star Wars universe.  Players typically use a pool of 400 points to build a fleet, assign officers, modify ships and assign various upgrades.  The end result is what is referred to as a List.  Players alternate activating ships and squadrons, firing weapons, issuing special commands and navigating their ships.  There is such a wide variety of possible combinations that it is rather difficult to assemble a single, “be-all, end-all” list.  Though not all Lists are created equally, success rests much more heavily on how you use your List and how well you understand your enemy’s List.  The average game time, according to FFG, is roughly 2 hours (6 turns), with a 2h 15m timer on sanctioned tournament games.  More information at FantasyFlightGames.com.

About the Alamo City Fleet Command

The ACFC was created in 2015 by Justin Curtis, who soon became a top-ranked player in the annual Armada Worlds Tournaments.  As a long-time fan of tabletop-warfare games and Star Wars, it was only natural that Justin would be drawn in by the tractor beams of Armada.  The ACFC hosts meet-ups at least 3 times a week at local gaming centers, with regular tournaments and impromptu meet-ups organized by members.  Most matches played at the weekly ACFC meetups would be considered casual-play, but there is a dedication to giving constant feedback to help each other improve in all aspects of play.  The ACFC strives to have a community that is not only appealing for new-comers to Armada, but a place where veterans can really hone their skills or experiment with new fleet compositions.  The ACFC is one of the largest Armada communities in the world, contributing to the third highest attendance at the most recent Regional event in San Antonio.  If you play at any major Armada tournament in Texas, you will no-doubt have a chance to meet and play several ACFC members, including an annual presence at Worlds.

The ACFC started as a group of players who were immediately interested in playing Armada, as soon as FFG launched it.  Since the game was new at the time, there wasn’t much of an initial player-base.  Justin Curtis and his fellow X-Wing players purchased core sets for Armada, then set out to grow the San Antonio player base.  As more players attending weekly meet-ups, they would eventually dub their group the Alamo City Fleet Command, which also encompasses local X-Wing players and Imperial Assault players (FFG products as well).  Together, through participation at tournaments and regular organized play, the ACFC helped shaped the meta of the Armada community.  For those unaware, “meta” is the term generally used to describe what Lists competitive players bring to events, and the concepts they build around.  The meta for last year’s Worlds event was largely based on flotillas with lots of powerful squadrons forming the bulk of the damage dealing capability.  While the specific Lists used by competitive ACFC fleet-commanders and those in the Top 8 in the world vary,  they are largely built around the meta of the time.

Where do they meet-up and play?

Super Star Destroyer model, painted by ACFC with custom-made base.

Monday: Dragon’s Lair on Medical.
Wednesday: Alienworlds at Westlakes.
Thursday: Knight Watch Games, near 1604 and Blanco.
ACFC-hosted tournament times and places vary,
but occur on a regular basis.

What Makes the ACFC Unique

The back of my sweet ACFC Rebel shirt.

In addition to having skilled members, the ACFC offers a set of unique experiences for its members, like their promotion system and ACFC gear.  At each meet-up, ACFC members are awarded “Promotion Points” that are used within the group to attain new ranks.  These ranks are used for the purposes of prestige and entertainment, and have nothing to do with who is in charge.  A higher rank in the ACFC does not convey some kind of dominion over lower-ranked members, but instead demonstrates a level of participation.  Points are typically given out for attending meet-ups and events, organizing events, teaching new players and other contributions to the community.  Creating a written guide for other community members is one example of how to earn Promotion Points through contributing to the community, outside of actual matches or meet-ups.

 

Promotions are not just written down on paper and points kept in some unseen spreadsheet – each member wears their rank on their official ACFC shirts.  Shirts designed for Rebel leaders and Imperial leaders are donned by members and worn at events.  Not only does this bolster morale, but it creates a special incentive for community members to get involved with each other.  It also demonstrates the care and attention the ACFC leadership shows it’s community.  It is possible to attain high ranks as both a Rebel fleet-commander or Imperial fleet-commander.  The ACFC places no kinds of limitations on what factions you can fly, so members are free to change factions as they see fit in order to explore all aspects of the game.  Members are often encouraged to try the game from both sides in order to become more familiar with different Lists and tactics.  Even members who see success at large tournaments are always interested in experimentation with tweaks or entirely new lists.

Look ma, I’m a Lieutenant!

What makes the ACFC special to us at Around the Board is we recognize the importance of community interaction within the tabletop industry.  Star Wars Armada is already an entertaining, complex game, but with the added incentive of participation rewards, special events and (another) reason to wear your favorite Star Wars gear, it is a complete experience rivaled by very few entertainment platforms.  In the age of social media and digital communications it is important that we do not overlook the importance of face-to-face interactions.  Given that, generally speaking, many tabletop, RPG and card gamers are a bit shy or socially awkward, it’s not just fun playing with a great group of people – it’s therapeutic and a chance to feel like you belong.  The ACFC is not just a group of people who play Armada, they are a community in every sense of the word.

 

Meet the ACFC

Justin with Regionals trophy in Houston, TX


Justin Curtis

ACFC Rank: Fleet Admiral (Rebel)
Fleet Style: Squadron Focused – Gallant Haven
Founder of the ACFC.
Favorite Star Wars character: Captain Rex (Clone Wars and Rebels)
Favorite Star Wars movie: Return of the Jedi
Favorite local gaming venue(s): “The one I’m playing at.”

Justin is a long-time tabletop warfare fan with experience in a myriad of games in the genre.  When Star Wars Armada launched in 2014, Justin was immediately drawn in by the presence of capital ships.  He immediately invested in core sets and began inviting people to play with him, particularly people he played X-Wing tabletop with.  Justin competes in tournaments of the highest level, placing in the Top 4 in the World Championships in 2015 and 2016.  This hasn’t gone to his head, as he is extremely welcoming of new players, and is always ready to offer feedback on fleet compositions and tactics.  Justin organizes tournaments and events as well, and even created a scenario for Armada centered around the Battle for Endor.  ACFC members are relieved that Justin will be attending GenCon, which occurs during the next ACFC organized tournament.  Not only are they proud of the community presence at GenCon, it gives other players a chance to play without fear of combatting the dreaded “Gallant Haven” fleet Justin commands so well.

ACFC at Worlds 2016

Ryan Bazurto
ACFC Rank: Commander (Imperial)
Fleet Style: Balanced approach, with a favor toward battlefield manipulation (like objectives and interdiction)
Joined ACFC: 2015
Favorite Star Wars character: Thrawn (Novels and Rebels)
Favorite Star Wars movie: Return of the Jedi
Favorite local gaming venue(s): Knight Watch Games and Dragon’s Lair

Ryan is also a long-time tabletop gamer with a background in Warhammer Fantasy and 40k, where he formerly competed in the world championships for both games.  He met Justin through playing X-Wing at local gaming centers, and have together helped to grow the player-base to what it is today.  I had the fortune of playing my inaugural Armada match against Ryan, and it is immediately clear the attention to detail he has when forming Lists and strategies.  Though he enjoys other tabletop games, fielding capital ships (see more angry space triangles) brought an instant level of appeal to Ryan.  He also competes in Regionals and Internationals tournaments, and has seen regular success.  Ryan is a veteran member of the ACFC, having played with Justin since the “early days”, before their group was officially named the Alamo City Fleet Command.  In spite of me getting summarily destroyed, it was a great pleasure playing with Ryan.  Like most of the ACFC, he was extremely patient with me as I learned and was happy to make sure I got as much knowledge as possible from my first match.

ACFC at Southtown Games Store Championship

Angelo Almeda
ACFC Rank: Commander (Rebel)
Fleet Style: Maneuver and Flank
Joined ACFC: March 2016
Favorite Star Wars characters: The Eternal Twins (Old Republic)
Favorite Star Wars movie: The Empire Strikes Back
Favorite local gaming venue: Knight Watch Games

Angelo is another tabletop veteran whose first foray into the world of tabletop warfare was playing Warhammer 40k.  Though Angelo does play in local tournaments, he’s more interested in the guaranteed set of matches he’ll get to play, knowing that he’ll play at least 3 rounds at an event.  Angelo joined up with the ACFC after meeting several members at Dragon’s Lair’s open-play game room.  According to Angelo, his joy simply derives from the love of the game and getting to interact with a variety of people, who in turn, bring a variety of play-styles to the table.  Like other members of the ACFC, the call of the capital ship was not something he could ignore and he’s always happy to discuss strategy and teach new players.

Candler Horton, an ACFC member, posing as General Dodonna at Worlds 2016

Austin Prochko
ACFC Rank: Lieutenant (Imperial)
Fleet Style: “Hammer & Anvil” – a strong centerpiece with solid support structure
Joined ACFC: March 2017
Favorite Star Wars character: Darth Vader
Favorite Star Wars movie: The Empire Strikes Back
Favorite local gaming venue: Knight Watch Games

Warhammer 40k, X-Wing, and Infinity were Austin’s previous tabletop loves before discovering the world of Armada.  As soon as he heard he could field an army of Star Destroyers in one of his favorite genres of game, he was hooked.  Though he doesn’t have the same extensive history in tabletop gaming as other ACFC members, Austin is still a very competent fleet commander.  I had the opportunity to see him and Angelo (from above) duke it out in the Corelian Conflict campaign.  The battle last nearly the full 6 rounds, with heavy casualties on both sides of the field.  Austin’s gaming roots are actually in Austin (the city), where he spent a great deal of time playing X-Wing.  Austin competes in local tournaments, though would love to one day have the opportunity to compete on a larger stage, but scheduling conflicts often arise since Austin is a full-time student in college and teaches 6th, 7th, 9th and 12th graders.

ACFC at Mages’ Sanctum Store Championship in Austin, TX

Maygann Perez
ACFC Rank: Captain (Rebel)
Fleet Style: Squadron foucs
Joined ACFC: March 2017
Favorite Star Wars character: Yoda
Favorite Star Wars movie: Rogue One
Favorite local gaming venue: Knight Watch Games

Maygann is one of the community organizers for the ACFC, often taking on the task of running ACFC-hosted tournaments.  Gathering players, getting them registered and making sure everything is done in a timely manner is no small task, but Maygann loves the challenge.  She is no stranger to the battlefield, however, and has spent the last year getting into the tabletop warfare scene.  Armada isn’t the only tabletop game she plays, and also enjoys playing Imperial Assault and Warhammer 40k.  Her newly discovered love for tabletop was discovered when she met her husband (below), though they favor different play-styles and factions, not just in Armada, but in other tabletop games as well.

The Perez’s destroying their enemies, side by side.

Michael Perez
ACFC Rank: Commodore (Imperial)
Fleet Style: High Mobility
Joined ACFC: March 2017
Favorite Star Wars character: Darth Vader
Favorite Star Wars movie: Revenge of the Sith
Favorite local gaming venue: Knight Watch Games

Michael playing Wainwright Harold, another veteran ACFC member.

When asked what drew him into Armada, Michael simply replied, “It’s Star Wars, and it looked cool.”  Can’t argue with that.  Michael is active duty, currently serving in the U.S. military, so his time to make meet-ups largely revolves around this schedule.  He makes the meet-ups and tournaments when he can, and when he does, he is a force to be reckoned with.  He has climbed through the ACFC ranks quite quickly, demonstrating a passion not only for the game of Armada, but for growing his community.  “High mobility” isn’t exactly the words you would ascribe to the typical Imperial Fleet, typically headed up by larger, slower ships than Rebels can field, but this exactly what catches opponents off-guard.  Preferring to act first and take the initiative, his service to the Dark Lord, Vader fuels the warships he pushes into the breach.

Even battle-hardened fleet-commanders need breakfast.

Jacob Weber
ACFC Rank: None (see details below)
Fleet Style: Balanced
Joined ACFC: Nov. 2016
Favorite Star Wars character: Thrawn (Rebels and novels)
Favorite Star Wars movie: A New Hope
Favorite local gaming venue: Dragon’s Lair

We not only share the best first-name ever, we share a love for Star Wars.  Jacob is a life-long Star Wars fan, who isn’t particularly interested in achieving ranks within the ACFC.  His focus lies in playing all aspects of the game, Rebel and Imperial, analyzing the meta in other areas, and further developing his own strategies.  Most of all, Jacob loves to share his gaming passion with anyone who is interested, and offers loaner pieces to anyone new to Armada.  He hails from the Houston area, where he was a regular in the local tabletop scene competing in tournaments for games like Imperial Assault, Halo Fleet Battles and Runewars.  Jacob also competes in Armada tournaments, boasting success in the local and Regional settings.  In addition to offering loaner pieces, Jacob is happy to discuss strategies, rules and make getting into Armada as seamless as possible.

Written by Jacob Walsh, published 8/13/2017
Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you, always.

Legal stuff:

Around the Board is in no way affiliated with Games Workshop, Fantasy Flight Games, Disney, Southtown Games, Knight Watch Games, Dragon’s Lair, or Alienworlds.  

Photos provided by the ACFC.  All copyrighted content property of their respective owners.
All rights reserved.  Transmission of this data in any other form or on any other website
is prohibited without the express, written consent of Jacob Walsh (Around the Board)