In an effort to show up ZombiePirate and his lack of painted models (I jest friend), I’ve finished painting some reinforcements for my Blazing Sun fleet; an Assault Carrier and a Mechanical Squid. I finished them last night and I’m particularly fond of the cuttlefish inspired paint scheme on the squid. Captain Emo will be pleased.
Hi all those out there in internetland. My local gaming club has been showing an increasing interest in Dystopian Wars, which is good news for me as I’ve become a fan of the steam punk naval game. There is however one problem…too many Kingdom of Britannia players (including myself). In an effort to redress the balance I decided to get a second fleet, and as you’ll have guessed by the title it’s the Japanese Empire of the Blazing Sun. I’ve finished painting the basic naval starter box and thought I’d show off the pics. After a trawl of the web (was that a naval pun?) I came across someone who’d painted the blazing sun motif on the side of their ships and I liked it. However being different I went for a metallic purple on a black background rather than the red-on-white that is traditional. I think it gives them a more sinister stealth ship kind of look, that and it allows me to call my commander Captain Emo.
I know it’s been a while since I’ve mentioned this Victorian Sci-fi naval game. For those of you who have not heard about it, Dystopian Wars is the latest game from Spartan Games, the makers of Uncharted Seas and Firestorm Armada. The core mechanics are the same, but there are a series of differences such as tiny flyers and the use of sea, land and air models. Although we haven’t been playing it among our little band of gamers, I have had a few games with some others at a local gaming club and I can say that I have enjoyed them. The game works well, is fairly simple and as Spartan Games has made a new edition of the rulebook (version 1.1) it is easy to read. This was my only real criticism about Dystopian Wars, that the rulebook was just badly put together. The new rulebook is a big improvement; its nicely done, with plenty of diagrams and explanations, and the fleet lists come complete with a nice profile picture of each model.
When Dystopian Wars was first released I purchased some Britannian models, but because we haven’t been playing it much I haven’t got around to painting them until now. So here are some pictures of some of the finished models; a Bomber, a Submarine and a Battleship. The Submarine happens to be one of my favourite models.
Hope you’ve all enjoyed Christmas and have recovered from all the eating and drinking etc. We here at 6 Inch have enjoyed spending time away from the floating citadel with the company of our loved ones. This hasn’t ment however that the gaming has stopped. A few weeks ago Spartan games released its third naval game – Dystopian Wars. I picked up a copy from my local gaming store and have spent the past week giving the rules and good read and felt that I should share my thoughts of my first impressions, so here we go.
Dystopian Wars is set in the Victorian Era, but not the one we’re familiar with. It all starts off when a half mad-half brilliant scientist by the name of Sturgeon travels to Antarctica in search of the mythical Vault which contains many scientific goodies. He finds it and decides to share this knowledge with the world. Humanity being what it is decides that the best use for all this new stuff is to blow each other up.
There are four factions currently available; The Kingdom of Britannia, The Prussian Empire, The Federated States of America (FSA) and the Empire of the Blazing Sun (i.e. Japan). The picture above is of the
British sorry Britannian ships. There are also four other factions mentioned by name that I’m assuming will be released at a later date; The Covenant of Antarctica, The Ottoman Empire, The Russian Coalition and The League of Italian States. If you’re wondering where France is it was conquered by the Prussians in 1808 and is little more than a puppet state.
The whole look and feel of the models is that of something familiar and yet slightly different. The technology is more advanced and has a good steam punk look. There are shield generators and tesla weapons, aeroplanes and even a mechanical squid. I like it, even if the Japanese cruisers have the look of choochoo trains.
For anyone who is familiar with Uncharted Seas and Firstorm Armada this is more of the same. The core mechanics of the game haven’t changed much; your ships have range bands for weapons telling you how many dice you get to roll, 4+ is a hit with a 6 counting as two hits and allowing you to roll again. There is linked fire and split fire, boarding assaults and ramming that is all familiar. So what has changed?
Point defence has been replaced with Ack Ack (AA) against rockets and planes and Concussion Charges (CC) for use against torpedoes and submarines. It can also be used every time such an attack is made against your ship/squadron (unlike one of the glitches with Firestorm where you could only use it once per turn). You can also use both in your own activation as a shooting weapon against the respective units. Oh and you can’t link fire your AA or CC from multiple squadrons, only from the one that is under attack, so there is no point clumping your ships together for mutual point defence. Other big changes include break tests which if you fail will reduce the squadrons effectiveness with such things as preventing you from link firing. Aeroplanes have a more comprehensive rules section and they appear to be really quite effective.
Another big change is that Dystopian Wars can be fought on sea, land and in the air. The original release includes the naval models with a few aircraft, but there will also be models for tanks and land ships, blimps and sky fortresses. The same rules are used for pretty much all of the models though.
There is also now more variation. The rulebook includes complete fleet lists for all 4 factions; including all their naval, land and aerial units as well as static fortifications and other buildings such as comm towers and landing strips. You can also upgrade many units with different options. For example the Prussian Battleship can be taken as it is with three gun turrets or you can replace one of these turrets with a UPG generator, a shield generator or a tesla generator – essentially giving you 4 variations for the Prussian Battleship.
What do I think?
On the whole I like it. I like the look and the genre. The rules are still fairly simple and I get the impression that Spartan Games has taken on board a lot of the feedback from US and FA and changed somethings for the better whilst still retaining the games uniqueness. One of the things I really like is that your ships (etc.) have more options. In the previous games you really didn’t have much variation. For example if you wanted to take a second battleship in your fleet your only option was one that was identical to the battleship you already had. At least now you can make some changes. There is also more variation between the fleets with special rules assigned to specific models that are often unique to a certain faction.
So what don’t I like. Well as far as the game is concerned not much (except maybe the stupidly high firepower of the FSA battleship). I have been a fan of both US and FA and really enjoy playing both games. My only real issue is the construction of the fleet lists. The whole rulebook was nicely put together until that point, then all sence of cohesion seems to have broken down. The lists themselves are good; comprehensive and give you a full list of the rules for each model, but what gets to me is the pictures that they’ve put with it. They’ve illustrated the lists (good thing) but often not put the image next to the unit’s entry in the list (ahh). For example the entry for the Britannian MK II Tank is on page 90, yet for some reason the image of it is on page 92. Whats even more classic is that on page 96 there are 2 images of the Prussian Bomber (why 2 I do not know) and their entry is on page 99. I know that not all of the models will have been designed when the rulebook was released, but perhaps it would have been better to leave the space rather than randomly placing images of some of the units all over the show. I know its only a petty thing, but it does kind of ruin the book a little.
The other concern I have is that of production. With a new game out and new models to produce will US and FA be put on the sidelines? And how long will it be before all of the models for each fleet are available? Only time will tell. I’m sure this wont be the last post from 6 inch about Dystopian Wars.
Spartan Games purveyor of 6 Inch Move approved space combat simulator Firestorm Armada and ocean plundering Uncharted Seas announced with today’s newsletter another game to their rapidly expanding stable; the steampunk inspired Dystopian Wars. The new page gives brief details about the starting factions, Brittania, Prussia, Blazing Sun and the States as well as some previews of the various models which I’ve included below if you’re too busy (or lazy) to click the links provided.
The only worry I have is that Spartan has popped up out of nowhere last year, Uncharted Seas is a great game and then they topped it (for our play group at least) with Firestorm. From recent announcements there are still a lot of things happening for these games and now we have this one arriving as well as Firestorm Invasion! on the horizon as well.
The only other games company I’ve seen produce this many miniatures games is the Sherriff led, Nottingham based bane of the wallet, Games Workshop and many of those games (despite promised support) really have faded into obscurity. GW has a long history and a large customer base, Spartan has none of these. Now, I’m not going to come out and say they are doomed to fail, no-one wants to see that happen and I wish them every success but does seem like a lot of stuff is getting released really quickly. Spartan come across as quite a small company and the workload on a small team to be pumping out all this stuff, even if it works off the same base system would seem to be quite large. I hope they can keep up before staff burn out or the quality of the releases suffer.
After my own revelations recently getting another game doesn’t seem to be high on my priority list and I can probably say the same for the rest of the 6 Inch Move team, what with times being as they are (we’ve already had to cut back on the number of scutters we use for cleaning the floating citadel.).
Anyway, here are the previews for your viewing pleasure.
Last night I got a call from Servitob and was asked to come and help give a demo of Firestorm Armada to a chap considering diving into the Storm Zone. So it was I packaged up all my gear and made the drive over to his house picking up Gribblin along the way. Even though I had planned to spend my time sat at home painting my Haradrim it was nice to get to have a game of Firestorm for the evening and it was a close game. By then end all that was left was a heavily damaged Dindrenzi Battleship supported by two undamaged Cruisers beating on the Terran Battleship that was also starting to take damage. Servitob conceded at the end of turn 7 but it really was a game where out fortunes went back and forth as to who was holding the upper hand.
However, this isn’t a post about Firestorm, that was just a pre-amble to what I have been trying to come up with the words for over the majority of this week. There should be no surprise that personally I am unconvinced by the new version of Warhammer Fantasy and that all of us here feel a great sense of excitement about War of the Ring. Odd how two games from the same company can bring about such different emotions. I know there are a lot of people out there in Internet land that cannot stand 40k, I happen to find it an interesting and fun game, this may depend on the environment in which you play it though. My friends and I enjoy chilling out and playing with each other, we don’t take the super competitive armies nor do we go to tournaments.
From this I have been wondering about how people decide on which games they will play. For many years now GW has not been the main player, there are a number of viable competitors exciting the market, I’ve had the fortune to play a number of these and some I’ve looked into but never took off. Sure I’ve gone through a large part of my adult life with no one to play with (yeah, I know, /violin) but since getting in with my current pals we do play some games and not others. Firstly, I think I should make a list with all the games I’ve spent money on getting the rules and/or models for in the not too distant past;
- Warhammer Fantasy
- Warhammer 40,000
- War of the Ring
- Secrets of the Third Reich
- Sphere Wars
- Dungeons and Dragons
- Magic: The Gathering
- LOTR: CCG
- Uncharted Seas
- Firestorm Armada
- World of Warcraft: TCG
That’s a lot of stuff that has come around, far more than any of us could actually get around to gaming with, yet as I have said in previous posts I am a sucker for fantasy worlds. Some of these games all I ever got was the rules, some of them have good models, some of them don’t. I like the rules for Secrets of the Third Reich but the models are hideous. So, let’s put up another list of the games that are really the ones that our group will be playing in the foreseeable future;
- Warhammer 40,000
- War of the Ring
- Firestorm Armada
- Dungeons and Dragons
This is still quite a long list, Warhammer Fantasy may pop back in there later but at the moment I have little inclination to get the new rules and finish off my High Elves. But, how did we come to the conclusion that this is what we would be playing. Well, a large part of it is what people are willing to spend their money on, a lot of the games listed at the top I guess most of our group has never even heard of. I am always looking through gaming forums and spotting what is new and if the models are good (we bought stuff for Sphere Wars from Salute just because the models were really awesome, I don’t see us playing it ever if I’m honest with everything else happening). Warhammer 40,000 is a long time favourite of the group, it’s what we started playing together and we all have armies for it. War of the Ring is obviously the newbie for us but it looks a solid rule set and we are all really excited by it, more so than anything else for a while. Warmachine is throw back to our individual gaming days as we all have models for this game already, we’ve had a couple of games of Mk2 and people are keen to keep it around to play now and again.
Malifaux is awesome, currently there are only myself and nBreaker playing it, but I love the Fate Deck mechanic and the game is a lot of fun, it is quick to play and is different from the other games that we play, hence it stays. Firestorm allows us to take a break from normal gaming as it is a completely different setting, we all really enjoy it so again, it stays. D&D got a resurgence after we tried 4th Ed at Salute, Servitob is currently DMing a campaign and I think we are almost at the end of his current set of prepared stuff. It tends to be a quite light-hearted game (we are currently running through a mine that has a beholder as the foreman who has a magical hat which allows him to look human for public appearances) and expands the gaming circle to include Mrs Servitob playing her emo Wizard.
So, we have a broad range of games that are across genres and settings, each has a rich universe to enjoy and allows us to test our grey matter against one another. But with all the other games out there how many do you feel comfortable playing, how often do you get to play them all and how do you decide which ones are keepers and which drift into obscurity?
Full Thrust fanbois prepare to flail with nerd rage as new kid on the block Spartan Games has released another fleet for their outstanding space combat game Firestorm Armada as well as painted pictures of the next fleet for release. This rounds out the 6 fleets detailed in the main rulebook, the Directorate are shipping to stores as we speak while the Relthoza will appear a little down the line, this will also include the Escorts and Heavy Cruisers so you won’t miss out with the options available to other fleets.
Starter sets are being released to allow people to dive on in with the new factions. I’ve reposted some of the pics from the Spartan website to get people in the mood.
So a while back I wrote a post suggesting that I, the humble gamer, prefer playing the upstart and simple Firestorm Armada over the venerable and more complicated Full Thrust. Anyone would have thought I had taken a dump in the leader of the New Anglian Confederation’s hat! Looking at the fanboy / nerdrage responses from both sides over the last few days I am obviously in no position to make a judgement of such significance!
So it’s over to the Interwebs to decide.
We’ll even play a 6InchMove celebratory round of which ever game is the victor… so get your votes in. Polling closes in a week!
Original Blog Post: http://6inchmove.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/firestorm-armada-vs-full-thrust/
Firestorm Armada or Full Thrust? Let Battle Commence!
Full Thrust is the grandaddy of space games. It’s been around for ages and you can now get the rules for free. Firestorm Armada is a relatively new offering and really owes a lot to it, especially the More Thrust version of Full Thrust. The whole dice rolling business of 4 and 5 is one hit, 6 counts as two hits and roll again, was a FT concept many years ago. What FA did to the mix though was to introduce damage and critical ratings. Thrust used to rely on damage charts where you would tick boxes. Armada did away with all the paperwork to make the game more straight forward. And I think this is a good thing.
Psychologically, Armada also trumps Thrust quite severely. It is a simple thing really, but in Armada you get to roll buckets of dice, which is exciting. In Thrust you only ever roll a few, which is not so exciting. Simple things please simple minds. In addition, Armada models are excellent. Thrust models are not so hot.
Strategically however, Thrust has an ace. All movement is preplanned and carried out simultaneously so you need to be paying attention to get your fleet into an advantageous position. Also, the physics of Full Thrust, while not perfect, is far more representative of space. If your super dreadnought keeps accelerating it will eventually be moving at 60″ per turn despite the fact that it should be a lumbering behemoth. This is actually what would happen in space, and requires extra skill and planning to make the most of. Unfortunately in the Firestorm Armada universe space is filled with custard which means that spaceships move in a way that is easy to comprehend, as it is similar to the way that ships sail in the sea.
Now then, if some bright spark could take Firestorm Armada and add the Full Thrust movement rules we would not only have a potential lawsuit, but also a slightly deeper strategic game. However, as it hasn’t happened yet, and would require some testing, we must choose one or the other. I choose Firestorm Armada. Because ultimately gaming is about fun, and Armada is just that. Not to say that Full Thrust isn’t… it’s just that Armada does it in a much more accessable way. The miniatures are easier to get hold of, the game itself is better promoted, and there is a decent fanbase (but that might just be dependant upon where I live). It’s a bit like Full Thrust is a kit car, and Firestorm Armada is a purple Nissan. Yeah sure, if you put the effort in the kit car is going to be splendid. But ultimately if you just want to cram your mates in to go down the chip shop then the Nissan wins every time.
So I got my first outing with Firestorm Armada recently courtesy of nBreaker, and I must say, it really is very good. Quick, simple, with plenty of suitable opportunites to throw loads of dice, drink DPZ and smack talk. Pretty much a perfect game for the 6InchMove team then. The only improvement I could suggest is the addition of take away meals to fleet selection so we don’t all have to cram into gribblin’s car at lunch time. Oh well, you can’t have it all!
For those of you looking for more ‘beef’ in your posts, here comes the more serious intellectual bit… Firestorm Armada in my opinion is better than Uncharted Seas. Why? I don’t really know. Maybe the setting is more appealing. Maybe it’s pure shooting fun without all the hassle of boarding actions. Maybe the game just has more polish and balance.
More great intellectual analysis coming from servitob soon!