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.

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18 thoughts on “Firestorm Armada vs Full Thrust”

  1. Counterpoint:

    Firestorm Armada is an overpriced, overhyped piece of garbage, not worth the wait even if it hadn’t been a year overdue from its original release date. The rules are a shambles of poor editing and examples that conflict with the rules text, the minis are poorly cast, often defective, and frequently mispacked, and the gameplay is slower than dirt and less rewarding.

    Furthermore, our reviewer states:

    “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.”

    That’s really the criterion you judge excitement by? Fine. Try actually playing the games you’re reviewing. Most FS:A battleships (the game’s largest class) max out in the mid-teens for AD. FT battleships (a smallish capital ship, and rather commonly used) throw about that many dice in a big salvo. A maxed-out, mint condition Skyhammer cruiser squadron at optimal range and arc can manage 20 dice in FS:A. A FT superdreadnought (the biggest standard capital ship class) manages 20+ dice by itself.

    You want buckets of dice, FT does it better than FS:A. It also has more weapon variety by far, a better movement system, and above all else, the rulebooks are 100% free.

  2. My Nissan isn’t purple either.

    And it will beat the wheels off a kit car or any other car for that matter.

  3. Sorry mate but a terrible review of both games. I still have no idea of how either game plays or of the basic mechanics of either. How many ships per side, 2-3 or 20-30 or something else? And FT ships are hard to get hold of? Only if you have no idea how to use the internet.

  4. My apologies, I wasn’t really trying to review either, it was more of a whimsical thought process on which one I prefer… I’ll leave the serious reviews to the serious people!

    Both Firestorm Armada and Full Thrust are great games, I think Full Thrust has the edge in strategy, and Firestorm the edge in simplicity and playability. If I want a spaceship simulation I will use a computer. If I want to bring my mates over, smack talk and have a laugh then playability is important.

    I do think Firestorm owes a lot to Full Thrust and unfortunately I reckon most Firestorm Fanboys are unaware of this, but that doesn’t make it a bad game.

    As to which ships are easier to get hold of, I validate my point by trying to search for both game systems on ebay and seeing a vast difference in availability!

    Thanks for the comments!

  5. No fanboyism, and nice writeup, the info provided has helped me make a decision, so weather the storm of outrageous fortune.

    I disagree with the many dice, but that’s my preference not yours 🙂

    Cheers for the write up.

  6. Having played both, my friends and I consider FT to have a slight edge by virtue of sheer variety. An FT game can have bucketloads of space opera flying around (ace fighter duels, chargeups for Ginormous Template Doomcannons, tense missile volleys), whereas FA is mostly line-up-and-shoot. It only has three weapon mechanics at present, after all.

    That said, FA is new and on its first rulebook. FT has been established for years. Give FA some time to work the bugs out and try new things, Spartan some time to build up a reputation, players time to write some scenarios, etc and we can come back and hold a much better comparison in about a year or so.

    FA is certainly easier to set up (FT playsheets approach D&D at times – FA I print off one playsheet for each player and pass the rulebook around), and gets bonus points for not having £$%^&ing threshold checks, which bog down FT.

    But no-one in our gaming group has felt the need to burst into song over an FA game, or bring a CD of theme music, or give a pre-ramming Dramatic Speech…which I see all the time when I pack FT games.

    Give FA time to build up some atmosphere, sez I.

  7. Rich: Calling FSA a “overpriced, overhyped piece of garbage” is not a counterpoint; it is a thinly-disguised piece of vitriol that you’ve presented as a counterpoint, but is actually nothing more than your own opinion.

    I haven’t played FT and, to be honest, don’t intend to. But at least I’m not going to stumble into a blog piece about FT and call it rubbish. I like to think I have more class than that.

    This was a light-hearted look at both games, and the author prefers FSA. At no time did he put down FT in the way you, in one comment, put down FSA. He simply expressed his opinion. (By the way, 6 Inch Move guys, please don’t let comments like Rich’s discourage you from posting more posts like this one!)

    Rich, before you lumber onto somewhere else on the internet and go all guns blazing, maybe you should take this time-honoured piece of advice: stop, think, post.

  8. Thanks for all the comments guys. Our humble little corner of cyberspace seems to have exploded over the past few days and these posts have primarily been written for the enjoyment of our playing circle. However, we are more than happy with a little extra exposure and the ability to share our opinions with other players.

    Servitob has played both games over the years, I have seen his well thumbed copy of Full Thrust from around 1820. I would also hope that we are all mature enough to realise that we all enjoy different things from our hobby games. Just as there are those that prefer 40k to Fantasy or D&D compared to IKRPG our group enjoys playing Firestorm and that’s good enough for us.

    I like that Full Thrust seems to have such a dedicated fan base that they are so quick to leap into a debate regarding what is obviously a much loved title. Hopefully those of us sitting on the Firestorm side of the fence can be extended the same courtesy of having our own opinion of which we prefer as we are willing to give those who enjoy an alternative.

  9. I’m very glad that there is something happening in this rather narrow field of wargaming. Even if FA still needs alot of work I still hope they make a success purely for the sake of the hobby.

  10. Well, I have played both and do prefer the Firestorm Armada rules myself… and I don’t have a Nissan.

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