Firestorm Armada – Third Impressions


Now we return to our regular, scheduled programming.

Again I’ll apologise for yesterday’s diversion, but these kinds of news stories really get to me. I know that there are countries around the world that even have a thing against tabletop games and wargames in general. None of the games I have played with toy soldiers over the years has ever led me to thinking that I can replicate it in real life, but that’s not what we are talking about today.

Fire up those Fold Space drives and Railguns, we’re back in the world of Firestorm Armada.

As mentioned in previous posts we finally got around to our first play of this game over the Christmas break. I’d ordered my Dindrenzi after nBreaker had sided with the Sorylians, since that game Servitob has been and sold-out to the Terrans. We played the game using the standard starter fleets, no wings but everything else was on. We played the standard “kill or be killed” mission and played on the recommended 4′ * 4′ board. This was actually the board that Servitob had prepared for Uncharted Seas use, hence it was blue (nebula cloud perhaps) but during our lunch break KFC had apparently run out of cooked chicken (I know, who says they cook it anyway) so during the 20 minute wait for bukkits half the gang went off to procure black paint for the reverse of the Uncharted Seas board.

As this was the first game we played minus terrain, I do have some ideas of what we might add to this by using the Oasis balls you can get for flower arrangements. I am sure this is at least one valid excuse for me getting an airbrush! nBreaker deployed in a line across his side of the field while I set up with my Battleship and a squad of supporting Frigates while on the other flank I had my Cruisers and the second Frigate squadron. The Dindrenzi have a lot of firepower in their forward guns so I was deploying in order to maximise the amount of time I could use the forward guns.

Now, I’m not going to do a turn by turn battle report, we might save that until another time when we can do a decent job of it with some nice piccies etc… (most of my stuff isn’t even on flight-stands at the moment) but to let you all know what the rules are like in action. As you know Firestorm is based heavily on Uncharted Seas and therefore the conventions from that game are present in this one which makes things quick and easy to play. I like the new way of rolling for iniative where each side gains a bonus to their roll, it didn’t stop me from rolling some howlers despite the fact I had a +3 Fleet Tactics bonus to nBreaker’s +1. What stands out for me is that you have much greater long-range firepower in this game. No matter which fleet you are playing you should have something that is respectable out to range band four, so on the way in you’ll be unleashing something at your enemies. The added rules for Shields and Point Defence give you an incredible array of options you can use to try and protect your fleet from the various weapons of the opposing fleet.

nBreaker will agree with me that the forward guns of the Dindrenzi are amazing. You get decent range on them and a lot of dice, in turn 2 my Battleship Opened fire on a Cruiser and caused a critical hit (there were several times when I multi-critted a Cruiser and almost double-critted the Battleship). The critical table in Firestorm is a little more severe than in Uncharted Seas and there are two results that will cause a vessel to go nuclear. We started off our Firestorm crit record with a double 1. *BOOM* In this instance the ship explodes and leaves behind a template that will damage anything that moves through it. Not a bad start, I like the fact that things going bang can have a lasting effect on the game due to creating a terrain piece that you then have to navigate.

Another change with Firestorm in its current incarnation is the generic card deck. You can use one per player or share a deck (as we did for this game) although we got a lot of cards that affected wings there are still a lot that will find use turn to turn, we each rolled out plenty of cards during the course of the game and I like it that there is this interaction, it does seem that the cards get used more than in US and the fact that everyone has the same stuff with no game-breaking/winning supercards that only one fleet has access too levels the playing field.

The main difference in the games comes through the combat phase. You are still able to fire all guns in an arc during your activation but with Shields, Point Defence and Torpedoes there can be more to do in this phase. I love opening up with gun batteries trying to weaken a ship before launching Torpedo attacks trying to make use of the reduction in Point Defence fire. There were occasions when, between Shields and Point Defence, I had damaging attacks reduced to insignificance. Making use of the overlapping of other models Point Defence ranges certainly helps and also provides evocative imagery of a hail of bullets trying to gun down Torps as they head for the bigger ships.

Using the Dindrenzi was also vastly different in experience to using my Bone Griffons, I now have Frigate level ships that can shoot (5AD at range band 2 is awesome) and enjoyed them making a dent in Cruisers as well as the opposing Frigates. I don’t want to go too far into all the rules here, Spartan have put their efforts into this game and I don’t want to reproduce their work on a blog when I’d rather you check it out and send cash into their pockets to reward them for what they have done. I’ll also need to post a rundown of the Dinrenzi to go alongside this post, I picked them at first purely off looks and I’m glad I got this fleet as they certainly pack a real punch, their broadsides aren’t great though and once the Sorylians get up close they can dish out a huge number of attacks themselves. Although the Dindrenzi prevailed in this first outing I don’t expect the same result in ensuing games.

Overall I am very happy with this game, I need to get a few more games in but I believe it to be a better version of Uncharted Seas with a lot of extra depth and thought behind it. It isn’t just a carbon copy of the previous game, there is enough in there to keep things interesting and we haven’t even got to using Carriers/Wings yet. If I had the choice over the two games, at this time I’d probably sit myself in the Firestorm camp, although I do like both games for me the extra bits added into Firestorm help make it stand out. The rules are easy to pick up and you don’t have to wade through a rulebook the size of an encyclopedia to learn how to play.

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