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Toxic_Rat

What makes Firestorm Armada, "Firestorm Armada"

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In the Future Rules thread, we've gotten into a discussion of things that take up time, and some suggestions on what rules or game mechanics could be streamlined.  Some things may end up being trimmed away from a new edition...so that got me wondering, what makes the game "Firestorm Armada" to you?  What combination of factors makes the game unique enough for you to want to play it?  

For me, when I demo'd the game at GenCon several years back, I was drawn in by the following:

  • Really cool ship models.  They were big and mean looking, some of them.  I instantly fell in love with the Dindrenzi railguns...guns with engines mounted on them!
  • Customizable ships.  Being able to add or remove updgrades, change hardpoints, and adjusting the composition of the fleet.  Having MAR's on ships falls into this category too.  Something to differentiate one factions ship from another.
  • Different weapon systems.  I liked the idea of having beams, kinetics, grav weapons, etc.
  • I liked that there was a combination of direct and indirect weapons, short range fighters/bombers, and boarding parties in the same game.  The game is (to me at least) primarily about Capital Ship combat, but these other elements lend a feel that you have a fully functioning fleet with lots of moving parts.
  • Gridless movement.  I have plenty of grid-based games, this one fills a nice niche in my library.

So, what makes your list?

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Ship scale and design is one of the biggest for sure, I remember pulling my first Carrier out of its box and just being floored with the size of it.

Exploding d6's, Belly-Up maneuvers, targeted strikes, shunt matrixes, these are all gameplay concepts that excited me in the rulebook and ended up performing fairly well on the table. Above all else was that factional playstyles are varied and open to different uses. Aerotech suffered from this, seen one PPC and LRM rack you've seen them all

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I actually started with Taskforce ( I know horror of all horrors:P). But if I had to say what drew me to firestorm it would be.

1 Cool spaceships. Like @Wolfgang Jannesen I was amazed at the size of my Apollo when I first got it. And the designs are just amazing!

2. Flexibility in the size of a battle. A new player doesn't have to buy a boat load of new models to get started, but on the flip side you can have full scale battles with the big ships. Which being a Star Wars legends fan that was something I have been looking for. Firestorm fits that bill rather nicely.

3. Price. For the price of one Star destroyer in Star Wars Armada you could get a full patrol fleet in Firestorm Armada and play a small game with it .

 4. The sheer number of Factions , ships, and play styles available. Its easy to make a fleet fit your preferred play style.

5. Exploding sixes and shields are pretty cool.

6. Relatively simple rules. I tried to get into Flames of War, I got a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of rules :blink:. Firestorm is much better in that regard.

If one were to compare my Terran fleet to my entire Star Wars X-wing collection you would find that my Terran fleet is considerably larger. Needless to say I like my Firestorm better than X-wing.

And finally I just love my Tyrant. Best looking Terran ship ever (in my opinion).

 

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1. The size, scale, and detail of the models are what make FSA most unique.  Most space battle games are a smaller scale.  FSA Battleships being 5" or more is really cool

2. DR/CR is cool & it has a great feel to it.   It is also (sorry exploding6) the only spaceship battle mechanic that I am aware of as being unique to FSA

3. Initially I was very intrigued by how important maneuver is in the game, and the order of activation.   Getting into just the right range at just the right angle at just the right time is challenging and refreshing gameplay.  Over time, however, as this became second nature, faction imbalance became evident and the game became repetitive.   So angle/range/timing is a selling point ... but the game needs more balance and depth.

4. Different weapons systems are neat ideas, as are shields.  But how each of these were implemented in 2.0 was never very inspiring in-game, sorry.

These next two things don't "make FSA" but they were appealing to me in 2014 coming from a minis games background where these were not the case

5. A low entry point $-wise. Other games (40k, cough cough) are hella expensive

6. FSA has rules in a single book and relatively stable vs. changing on a monthly basis, which is overwhelming players who are not hardcore 

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The size and detail of the ships is a huge part for me. You really get an idea of a mighty battleship or a huge dreadnought when you're putting a serious sized model onto the table to play with. Those huge guns and hull long rail guns are not just for show! It's something that BFG never fully gave, yes it has some great and high detail models and loads of guns on most, but the average ship size was actually quite a bit smaller. 

 

I would also say that the detail level and size of the Firestorm ships makes them very open to newer gamers who might not yet have a higher skill in painting. Yet the detail is there for those of a higher skill to really show their talent if they so choose. 

 

I would also say diversity of the range is something very Spartan Games, though was really only something they developed well with Dystopian. Things like support ships, civilian ships, space stations (I will say that Dropfleet has the cream of the crop with their huge custom space battlestation set) etc... Spartan made good effort with terrain and I hope WC continues and is able to follow that through. There's nothing like having a great table with some really neat space stations and civillian ships and all other manner of content to really pull the games into the battlefield and the game. 

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FYI, the first system I'm aware to introduce exploding 6s, was Full Thrust (1992?), which is an effect of only Beam weapons in this system.  FSA expanded the use of exploding 6 for nearly everything.

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For me, the core of what is Firestorm Armada goes back to the 1.0 roots of the game:

  • Six+ factions of distinctly styled space ship models with distinct, but balanced game play
  • The "Spartan Engine" of Exploding D6s combined with DR/CR
  • Squadron-Based game play
  • Alternating Activation gameplay 

Combined, these make for a fun and visual striking game that mostly avoids that feeling of having lost a game long before it ends. 

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I was first drawn to Firestorm Armada by the overall balance in the game.  While every faction had something that made it distinct, the gameplay is about maneuver and Activation choice, not building combos or having a Rock to counter Paper.  With DR/CR and Exploding d6s, every unit threatens every other unit.

I still think DR/CR with Exploding 6s is an elegant way to have a system with constantly varying odds to determine four basic outcomes: Miss, Hit, Crit, 2x Crit.  Degradation from damage and range bands also ties into this very nicely to create a gaming environment full of meaningful Choices.  During any given game, there is a lot of risk vs. reward situations.

Making RB 2 the optimal firing distance encourages a lot more tactical choices; you want to be close, but not too close.  If RB 1 was generally the best firing distance, everyone would just mindless charge each other and hope the RNG swung their way.  The slight variations in RB distances really impacts the various Faction vs Faction game dynamics, which leads to you needing to change your tactics depending on what your opponent can and can’t do... you really need to maximize your comparative advantage.

Finally, I really like how the final Battlelog comparison was used to not just determine Win/Draw/Loss, but also the degree for victory.  This, combined with the strong reward for destroying entire Squadrons (and also the reward for successfully Escaping) did a very good job at capturing the feel of an ongoing campaign in every game.  I think I also came up with a great way to tie this into a Tournament, where you were rewarded for maximizing your Win AND mitigating your Loss.  1 point of Battlelog is often the differenc between one outcome and the other, which really impacts the risk vs gain calculations during the end game.

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The big alliances do it for me. Even if they're way underused, there's something magical about the idea that if I get a fancy for a particular ship, there's a good chance I can add it to my existing fleet. I really wish these rules had been somewhat looser, allowing for things like core fleet ships allying into a support fleet, or having access to full TACs but placing restrictions on what they could be used on, or Natural Allies filling mandatory choice slots, for instance, but yeah. 

I'll also echo everything else said so far. FSA is pretty magical. I'm trying to get into another game right now, one that is much maligned but happens to have some of those elements, and I'm having a hard time with it. Painting ships is way more fun than painting minotaurs.

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Here's something that I think sums up Firestorm to me - Starwars - no wait hear me out. 

To my mind the space battles in both are cut from the same cloth - big clear guns, epic sweeping fights, huge ships clashing whilst fighters dodge and zip around. The space battles in Last Jedi (which I honestly thing are some of the best since the original 3 films*) I think sum up what I think a Firestorm game should feel like (heck the exploding 6s even emulates hitting those dodgy imperial starship weakspots that blow the whole ship ;)). 

Firestorm needs Dindrenzie with railguns running the whole length of the ship; it needs Sorylians with rank after rank of cannon. If anything some like Relthoza and others actually need a few more clear weapon ports (although the curved laser spots on some ships do work - they just need some epic battle artwork to spark peoples minds and imaginations to go alongside). 

 

I think it also has that touch of fantasy-sci-fi as opposed to strict hard-core-sci-fi. We've got giant lizard people; huge spider robots; humans of various kinds; biomorph monstrosities; aliens disposed from their homes flying in huge cities through space etc... 

 

 

*The prequels had good fights, but they felt a little less epic. I think partly because many were often shown half way through and the space battle was almost ignored compared to people inside ships or in other areas doing stuff. Then again I freely admit to a strong fondness for the cinematic style of Last Jedi

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25 minutes ago, Overread said:

The space battles in Last Jedi...

There were space battles in the Last Jedi?  All I remember is 2 strafing runs and then a slow plodding to the middle of nowhere.  There was one actual space battle in that there were people actually shooting at each other, but it was due to use one of the stupidest ship designs conceived in this universe (and that's including the Legend's Die-Wing).

That having been said, I've imagined using my Directorate ships to do invasions during the Clone Wars and what kind of shenanigans they could do to both Separatist and Republic ships.  There were more naval actions in some of those episodes then the movies all put together.

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20 minutes ago, Charistoph said:

There were space battles in the Last Jedi? 

Yes including one of the best space battle effect scenes ever!

 

The opening was also good, yes even with bombs in space. 

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1 hour ago, Overread said:

Yes including one of the best space battle effect scenes ever!

...

The opening was also good, yes even with bombs in space. 

I may be feeling a little pedantic about it, but that wasn't really a space battle.  No fighting actually occurred.  It was just a ramming (even if it was one of the most beautiful sequences in the movie).

I don't have a problem with bombs, it was with the bombers and their whole design concept which makes me pull my hair out.  The bomber scene was the only actual space battle in the entire movie, and while it was to frantic to fully appreciate it, it was based around a really really stupid concept for that time period.

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55 minutes ago, Charistoph said:

I may be feeling a little pedantic about it, but that wasn't really a space battle. 

I agree with you there.

When I think of great Star Wars space battles outside of the trilogy I think of some of the X-wing books, The Thrawn Trilogy, and the Legacy of the Force has some good ones too. I do think Firestorm would benefit from a bit of epic space battling.

 

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Toxic did you ever play Nexus Jupiter Incident - the early game Terrans had rotating ships like that! 

 

Pick has been running the B5 series but its every single day! Suffice to say a few days missing cuts out a huge chunk and I only managed to keep up with the first season - one day I'll get that B5 DVD boxed set! Sadly when I grew up B5 was on Channel 4 which never had great reception, and was made worse by our TV aerial being up a pear tree (so during summer Channel 4 was very hit and miss and Channel 5 when it came around, was a myth)

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On 4/13/2018 at 6:06 PM, Overread said:

The space battles in Last Jedi....

There were space battles in Last Jedi?  Where is the capital ship vs capital ship sequence? You mean the First Order chasing what’s left of the Resistance Fleet, where only one side is shooting, and is resolved by a hyperspace ram attack that destroys everything that made Star Wars work?

Wiat, you mean it didn’t occur to you that you could just blow up any ship or Death Star by ramming it with an X-Wing, or better yet, a hyperspace missile?  That sequence, while visually stunning, completely destroyed any interest in future Star Wars films for me.  Admitidly, it was already on the ropes thanks to everything else in the film...

Babylon 5 definatlely shows you what space battles should look like.  Or watch some late-game  video from Homeworld.

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That Babylon 5 @northerndragons was a pretty good spacebattle. 

6 hours ago, Ryjak said:

Admitidly, it was already on the ropes thanks to everything else in the film...

I started lossing interest when Disney got rid of the original canon. Seven finished it off. I stick to legends now.

I just remembered some of the space battles in the Yuzong Long war were pretty epic, of course all the ones I mentioned a regulated to books.....

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21 hours ago, northerndragons said:

Epic space battles...  I think of Babylon 5.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Indeed.  Deep Space 9 had a few good ones, but B5 was the first to get it good that I remember seeing.   Star Wars Clone Wars had a few good ones as well, but they were mostly focused on the ground game.

And I love the line that ended one of the biggest, "Get the hell out of our galaxy!"  Boxleitner rocks.

19 hours ago, Toxic_Rat said:

Man, if I could get a table-top model of the Omega Destroyers, with a rotating command section...yeah, that's one of my favorite ship designs for some reason.

It should be possible.  There were a few made, and with some proper pinning, it should be possible.  The hard part is tracking them down.  The fleets would make an interesting "mash-up" against Firestorm.

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Neo BSG didn't have many space battles, but out of the ones they had, there were a high proportion of epic fights.  Most of the series focused more on the mind screw of infiltration and suspicion than with humanity fighting to survive like the original one had.

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@Overread: I missed out on the Nexus Jupiter game.   As for B5, the episode "Severed Dreams" has all of the elements of a great space battle.  Boarding, SRS combat, Capital Ships...all good stuff.

13 hours ago, Charistoph said:

The fleets would make an interesting "mash-up" against Firestorm.

Didn't someone, way back when, do a set of stats for the B5 ships?  Anyhow, I've borrowed a friends 3-D printer to mock up some Omega's.  I'm fully caught in nostalgia now!

While we're picking on SWars, why do they have capital ships at all?  Seems like the X-wings always go for the big sphere structures on the Star Destroyers, and next thing you know they're bursting into flames, crashing into each other, into small moons (that's no moon!) and what-not.  Not much of a capital ship if you're brought down by a couple of X-wings, IMHO.

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