Friday, January 7, 2011

Firestorm Armada

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.
Now let's look at weapons really quick:
  • 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.
When comparing the two flagships, one can clearly see that they're designed radically different and thus, will play out differently in terms of strategy, tactics and player gameplan.  Even though there's only like 7 ships out for each faction, there's 6 factions and Spartan Games is going to put out 40 new ships for 2011.  That type of support is always good news.

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!


Biodon13/RedWidow said...

I have played Firestorm Armada for a while now. I really like the game overall. The ships are very well done. The combat system works well in small games (starter force) to relatively large ones (2 starters and more) I think anyone will enjoy it. I own Relthoza, Sorylians, Terrans and Dindrenzi and like all of them.

HERO said...

What do you like most about the game if you don't mind me asking?

fracas said...

i think BFG has a better game mechanic. while certain far from perfect, BFG seems less clunkly.
i think BFG has better factions and back ground.

i have looked in depth at Firestorm and have the rule book. i have also followed the discussion before and since its release on SG's forum. i think SG has some really good ideas for gaming as seen with Uncharted Seas and Dystopian War but kinda fumbled a bit with firestorm.

Minijunkie said...

How do you mean, fracas? Is dystopian wars a superior system?

fracas said...

imo most spartan games' rules are good but their books needs a better organization.

dystopian war imo is a superior system to firestorm. it nicely represents the complexity of a technology explosion of the background. it also nicely integrates the same set of rules to apply for surface, above surface (air), and below surface (sea for now but later land).
the models for dystopian war imo is also much more detailed, varied and interesting than firestorm.
the fluff back ground also better with dystopian war.

one last note about BFG.
a 30 page 2010 FAQ is pending release by GW. It both clarifies and modify the blue book rules. it also tweaks and give more options for most of the fleets. Major and new options are also coming out later for chaos, tau, eldar, orks, rogue trader, and inquisitor.

Biodon13/RedWidow said...

I really like the templates for turns. I think that the combat system is really good...I especially like the success based to hit with exploding 6s. I like the linked fire rules. The models are really good too.

Anonymous said...

An expat in my region brought it in for a run. In about a month or so, about 5 people started Firestorm. I think that's a good achievement. Only thing is whether it'll catch on in tiny Singapore.

HERO said...

Hmm.. someone posted this but its not showing up somehow..

"My group has been supporting Firestorm for about a year now, demoing at cons, running events at stores, and running leagues. It is a far, far, better game than BFG. From model assembly/design/cost to the sheer imbalance that is native to GW's design ethics, Firestorm is cleaner, easier to pick up, and less prone to confusion over the simple mechanics of running your fleet.

The biggest contributing factor in the approachability and sense to the ruleset is Spartan Games itself. Unlike some other industry giants, Spartan discusses and hashes out rules on its forum WITH its customers. They share ship ideas, rule development, rule interpretation and FAQ extension in a contributory environment. They have even run contests to design new races for the games, which have become official products. Add this to a clean, balanced and overwhelmingly consistent points system (You can reverse engineer nearly all existing ships using the ship construction rules and the math works.) and you have a model for a very successful game, even in its 1.0 version.

As for BFG's 2010 FAQ, when it takes you twenty years to get a balanced game, where others start off in year one with the same, you are either not trying at all or incapable of the task. Never mind GW's belief that if you are willing to shell out $400 for a 40k army, you should be more than willing to shell out the same for a BFG fleet. "

fracas said...

i have not found BFG to be unbalanced, and definitely not anything like 40k. in the 20 years since it came out there has been 2 FAQs. in the same 20 years there has been several itineration of 40k and Fantasy.
the 2010 FAQ isn't so much about balancing but about addressing some gaps in the rules as well as simplifying some items. people are still playing it you see.
again, by no means perfect.

at 20 bucks for 2 cruisers (IN and Chaos) averaging 180 points each, a 1000 points fleet can be had for 50 bucks. double that for all metal fleets. a far cry from the alleged $400 for a fleet. the BFG models are also superior in details and design, much less blocky and blunt. i understand that aesthetics is subjective.

there are also substantially more factions and more ships per faction with BFG. This provide for a richer play experience as well, not just for finding the right fleet for you.

on the Spartan Games forum there was a flurry of questions about firestorm's mechanics when it was released. for months. now as DW is released, there is a flurry of post as to why certain DW rules were not applied to Firestorm.
neither are signs of a "far, far better game."

yes, Spartan Games is very responsive to questions and inquiries on their forum. But so has Specialist Games regarding BFG on the Specialist Games forum.

ultimately it is your money and time as to what game system you want to get into. BFG allows integration with your 40k gaming though, so i suggested you give it a look. all the rules are free for down load by the way on GW's Specialist Games site. you've ordered the firestorm book. download BFG and compare for yourself.

fracas said...

i am not down on Spartan Games ... i have gotten into both Uncharted Seas and Dystopian War with an itch to get a second faction for both. These two are quite good.

Chris34 said...

Thank you HERO for the introduction. I'm starting to love this game..

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