I'm really thinking about getting the game. First of all, it reminds me of Battlestar Galactica. Second, it's about epic-scale space battles where ships blow apart other ships. Third, a starter set that plays at 500 pts is 50 bucks. That's pretty freaking awesome.
For those that want to check out what the factions of the game are like, check out this short pdf file here. It's a link to Spartan Games' website where they have a bunch of files up for the game. The game itself is relatively new since it came out in November '09 and there seems to be a good amount of support for it. I never played BFG before, but from what I hear: the game is massively imbalanced. I'm going to be honest here: I absolutely hate game imbalance. Aside from terrible game design, nothing puts me off faster than a imbalanced game. I don't care if your game is beautifully designed, if it's imbalanced to a point where I can't field a army because it face rapes everything it touches, there's no point playing it. My friends tell me that Necrons in BFG is laughably overpowered.
Let's talk about Firestorm Armada really quick. The game has 6 factions and each faction has like 6-7 ships. Each ship does something different with the big Battleships being the mainstay of each force. There's also Cruisers, Heavy Cruisers, Frigates and Escort ships for each faction. What makes each faction different is that their ships are designed differently; from the looks to the stats of the ship themselves. There's nothing crazy like in BFG with Holofields or Lance-type weaponry. Instead, there's more subtle changes to the ships stats like their armor, weapon systems, crew rating or defense stats.
A quick look at the Aquan Prime Poseidon Battleship and the Dindrenzi Conqueror Battleship:
- The Aquan Prime Poseidon takes less damage from weaker attacks but has a smaller threshold for bigger attacks. The Dindrenzi takes more damage from weaker attacks but has a larger threshold for bigger attacks. What this threshold represents is how vulnerable a ship is to critical damage.
- The Poseidon moves faster than the Conqueror, but has less Hull Points (basically health).
- The Poseidon has more Point Defense (think AA guns) than the Conqueror but the Conqueror has more crew and offensive boarding power. Yes, you can board other ships!
- The Poseidon has shields whereas the Conqueror does not and both ships are equipped with mines.
- The Conqueror uses huge railguns in its fore; which generates 16 dice worth of damage at the 8-16" mark (or RB2). It has virtually no guns at its rear (aft).
- It also shoots 7 damage Torpedoes but only at the front and its broadside guns are at 6/9/4 at RB1/2/3.
- The Poseidon, on the other hand, has pitiful fore guns; doing a non-impressive 5/7/3 at RB1/2/3, but it's broadside guns do an impressive 11/14/7.
- Another thing to note is that the Poseidon's guns are capable of firing at all sides and its torpedoes can be launched at any arc, not just the front.
As if this wasn't cool enough, you can play special cards during your game turns to do some crazy stuff. There's a 52-card game deck that you draw cards from depending on how many squadrons you have (I think) and each card has special abilities that can be activated. These cards can do things like make your ship's fire more accurate, do more damage, move faster and repair. There's more exotic options out there as well such as summoning special operatives that can assist in your ability to board a enemy ship. Sure, the cards are drawn randomly (or you and your friends can pick), but they add a layer of strategy that's often found in board games but in a table-top miniatures game. That in itself is very cool.
There's some other stuff out there such as interceptors that comes from your Carriers, mines and rolls on the catastrophic explosion chart, but I'm going to hold off on that. I'm still doing my research and so far, I'm liking what I see. The game rules sound pretty sophisticated when you want to do combined shooting and linked shots, but all this is part of more advanced tactics. Such things are hard to find in miniatures games these days since everyone's shooting for the easy-to-learn approach. I like it when a game has a noticeable learning curve and a high ceiling to improve.
If you guys have any experience, feedback or comments about this game, let me know!