Another day, another review. And this time I look at the Firestorm Armada supplement, Marauders of the Rift.
There are two things that stand out most on first impressions. 1. The cover is reminiscent of the earlier days of Forge World when they discovered photshop and 2. no one in the wargaming business, it seems, knows how to proof read.
But putting poor spelling and grammar aside, the book is nicely presented and is consistent in styling with the current rule set. It’s also reasonably well written by Spartan’s usual up and down standards. The introductory background to the Rift (within which the Marauders live) is coherent and paints a detailed picture of the part of space, its inhabitants and where events fit in against the backdrop of the main game.
Interestingly they’ve opted to have fluff take us to the start of the Dindrenzi War rather than during, like the main rule book. It’s not a bad thing as such its just a bit of a rough fit especially as the mkII ship variants of the main fleets were in response to the war, but you can take them as looted vessels for corsair fleets. But the fact that the option is there at all is immensely cool.
The book focuses on seven new sub fleets and campaign rules. Yes, ladies and germs, campaign rules. Finally. At long bastard last. Some campaign rules and scenarios which, with some tweaks, you can use using the core fleets. But the important thing to note that players now have a choice of game beyond lining up fleets and sailing them in to one another’s guns. This is extremely welcome news and worth the price of the book all on its nose. And the scenarios themselves are pretty damn good too.
The fleet sections, again, are tidy representations of each faction and their interests in the Rift without getting too bogged down. Although there are a few clumsy paragraphs in there which does rather spoil the flow but it’s not the end of the world. But to rub salt in the wound I do have to say that it’s a little frustrating, when considering the aforementioned proofing problems, when the models in the photography are not only averagely painted, but they’ve also used a miscast as the focus of a shot. Not awesome.
What is awesome is the fleet lists themselves. They’re all pretty well-balanced without too many MARs muddying the waters or slowing play down. In fact they’re actually extremely characterful and go a long way to giving what are quite limited fleets some serious punch. I’m especially impressed with the OmniDyne from both a rules and hobby perspective.
The nice thing is that there’s actually a point in taking the fleets in their own right rather them making them additions to the core fleets. In truth, the main protagonists of MotR – the Syndicate and OmniDyne – are nasty. As in proper nasty. As in could be a real headache for a core fleet. Especially if they were complacent which it would be easy to do.
That’s not to say that the other fleets are without teeth. The Corsairs are distinctly average but they’re cheap and they can take looted vessels from other fleets which gives them not only extra muscle but makes them very unpredictable. It’s also a great opportunity for those gamers that like models from different factions but not enough to do a specific fleet. Now gamers can buy what they want and shoehorn it in around the core of Corsairs. And I think the result could be really quite striking. It’s immensely cool that, if you’re feeling cheeky, you can field a floating supermax prison and it’s attending fleet.
I guess the point of Marauders of the Rift, and what makes it so good and worth the money is that it breathes life into Firestorm Armada’s slightly fuddled background. Granted it’s not specifically set in the Storm Zone but the scenarios just means that your games will instantly become more interesting, more enjoyable, and hopefully more violent. Which is nice.
And for this reason alone it’s absolutely worth the punt.
Marauders of the Rift is available from Firestorm Games priced £9.00.