Monday, March 21, 2016

Firestorm Armada (v2.0)

Well, the last few weeks have been interesting for me to say the least.  I spent most of this weekend fighting what I call "weed war" - in that it has been raining so much here I have not been able to mow the lawn or go kill the weeds ... they had taken over but I've now fixed that situation.  I started into some early "spring cleaning" which led me into a total side project.

Before I "squirrel" into the main topic here ... I just have to say that I'm *super* excited about the new game from Great Escape Games called "The Chicago Way" which is a 28mm Prohibition wargame.  I'm already thinking of the scene from Untouchables with the RCMP charging in from one side of the bridge and Mr. Ness and his team coming from the US side ... anyways ... more on that later (it is being released on April 16th).

Now, on to the main topic ... Firestorm Armada.

When it first came out I purchased two small fleets for Firestorm Armada (FSA) because I really liked the look and size of the ships.  Unfortunately, the rules at the time where not all that well written, but I figured at some point they'd get cleaned up so I packed up my fleets and stuck them in the cupboard (and promptly forgot I had them).

About 1/2 way through cleaning out that particular cupboard I stumbled across those models.  I decided to check in on if there was indeed a version 2.0 that came out and if so, was it cleaned up and better than version 1.0?  The short answer is yes.

As many of your already know, I'm primarily a historical gamer, but I do mess about with non-historical miniatures from time-to-time.  So I guess this serves and kind of an update on what is consuming my time at the moment and also a review of FSA 2.0.  The approach I'll take here is that of answering specific questions.  Those questions are:

  • Why bother with any Sci-fi miniatures game other than Star Wars X-Wing or Armada (or the reluctantly named Star Trek game by Wizkids ... which I can't bring myself to even look at given the lack of consistent scale and utterly crap pre-paints)?
  • Why Firestorm Armada?
  • How big is the range?
  • How good are the models?
  • How does it play?

Fear not on the historical front though ... I'm planning a Muskets & Tomahawks game soon to play test my Raid on Fort William Henry scenario that I'll be running at KublaCon this May.

Some cool Sorylian Collective dreadnoughts.

Why bother with any Sci-fi miniatures game other than Star Wars X-Wing or Armada?

Good question given the popularity of those games at the moment.  Don't get me wrong - I enjoy playing both games.  But (there is always a but), based on factions available, breath of tactical options during game play, rules mechanics, and setup/tear down time, I see both X-Wing and Armada as not "real" miniature wargames.  By that I mean that they are more "miniature board games" - driven by a meta game of building card combos and such.  The basic game is fairly straight forward but is quickly complicated by the cards.  Setup takes far to long for the game play reward IMO.  To reinforce this, Roy and I played a full 800 point game of FSA this past weekend (setup, played, cleaned up) in about the same time as a two others who played X-Wing beside us (played at my local game store).  Essentially there are only two factions as well (major factions ... I know there are mercenaries and such).  Overall, the X-Wing and Star Wars Armada games just don't feel like full-fledged miniature wargames.  I like space combat games and still play X-Wing and Armada, but I still wanted a more full fledged space combat miniatures game.

Why Firestorm Armada?

When I originally purchased FAS I was wanting a full Sci-fi spaceship combat miniatures game.  Also, given my standardization on 28mm (for look and feel reasons), I wanted the ships to be big and beautiful.  FAS seemed to fit the bill.  Unfortunately the first version didn't really work out (not going to belabor that here).

One of the great things about Spartan Games is that they offer their rules for free.  I was able to download the v2.0 rules and read through them before deciding to give it a second go.  In fact, FSA has very good community support as well as support directly from Spartan Games.

Having played three games now I very happy with FSA v2.0.  So, chalk up another "skirmish" type game to add to my collection.

How big is the range?

There are 6 primary factions (Aquan Prime, Dindrenzi Federation, Sorylian Collective, Terran Alliance, The Directorate, and The Relthoza).  Additionally, there is the Kurak Alliance (6 factions: Veydreth, Terquai, Hawker Industries, Ryushi, Xelocian, and The Tarakians) and the Zenian League (5 factions:  Kedorians, Rense System Navy, Works Raptor, Ba'Kash, and Illosian).  Lastly, there are the Marauders & Mercenaries (The Oroshan Imperium, Pirates & Marauders, Stellar Syndicates, Trading Companies, Penal Flotillas, Corporate Raiders, and The Infected).

That is a total of 24 various factions and fleets you can play.  The primary factions, Kurak Alliance, and Zenian League fleets all have a wide range of ships available (dreadnoughts, battleships, heavy cruisers, gunships, cruisers, light cruisers, destroyers, frigates, corvettes, escorts and various small spacecraft like fighters, bombers, and such).

So how big is the range .... it is big (that's what she said ... lol).

How good are the models?

The current generation of models from Spartan Games are outstanding.  Crisp detail and low part count with little to no flash (usually just a nub to clean up at the injection point).  Spartan Games has really figured out how to make resin work well.  The models also paint up easily.  One of the great things Spartan Games has done is make their newer models modular.  For example, many of the cruisers in the game used the same basic parts and are upgraded to heavy cruisers using a couple of key parts.  The parts and mount points have holes for magnets molded into the model so that the key parts can be swapable.

How does it play?

With the introduction of Firestorm Taskforce, if you find that FSA is a little too much wargame for you it really simplifies things down and speeds up game play.  That being said, for me a game can play much easier and faster with a decent QRS, so I made one for FSA.  The entire set of rules is summarized on 3 double-sided pages - and I mean everything, special rules, optional rules, and so on.  The first 3 pages are what get used the most --- and even then, really it is page #2 and 3 that I've spent the most time on.  For those who are interested, you can download the QRS here:  PDF or PPTX.

In addition to the QRS, I did ship cards for several factions ... a Sorylian Collective example can be seen below.  These files are editable so you can print cards off that reflect any upgrades or hardpoints you select.  Download them here (MS PowerPoint):  Sorylian Collective, Dindrenzi Federation, Terran Alliance, Rense System Navy, Stellar Syndicates, and The Directorate.

So how do you play it with all these fancy gaming aids?  There is a great video you can check out below ... it is 30 minute video but it walks you through a game in detail and covers all the aspects of the game.

That should about do it for now ... I have made some progress painting my Sorylian fleet ... crappy WIP picture below ...

WIP of Sorylian Collective fleet.
4 x Cruisers and 1 x Battleship.

I'm going to keep picking away at the ships while I get some other stuff going as well.  Glad to be back to blogging.


  1. Interesting, and worth dome further exploration. Like you, I am 90% Historical gaming, but I do like Fleet level starship combat, although my drug of choice there is the Superior Starfleet Wars ships (Now Galactic Knights by MKP).

    1. Oh cool, will have to check that out. I'm really happy with the game play of FSA ... and the ships paint up quickly and easily as the detail is really crisp.

  2. Color me both surprised and intrigued! Great write up. We'll have to get together soon so I can hear more!