After a very long wait and no shortage of pissing and moaning I’m pleased to announce that the start of Spartan Games’ second edition rules are starting to come out.
First up is Firestorm Armada. Although the game that needs it the least, it suits me as it’ll serve as a motivator to paint my Terran Fleet. All the information is lifted from the Spartan Games website, including the images. It all sounds rather interesting and providing they sort out their truly woeful layout issues and their obsession with making words bold for no obvious reason we may well be on to a winner…
As you would expect, Ranged Combat still forms the meat of the Firestorm Armada game, and its core principles remain very similar to the existing system.
However, we have added various layers to Ranged Combat with two central aims in mind: to further differentiate between the warring Races of the Firestorm Galaxy and to increase the tactical options available to players during the heat of battle.
These ‘layers’ include:
Different Weapons Systems
We have expanded out the current Primary weapons class to encompass different Weapons Systems, including Kinetic Weapons such as the high energy Dindrenzi Rail Guns, Beam Weapons like Aquan laser systems and Nuclear Weapons such as the infamous ‘Decimator Warheads’ used by the Terran Alliance.
These Weapons Systems can be used in conjunction to gain bonuses, for example focused Beam Weapon attacks are better at bypassing enemy shields. This gives a greater range of tactical flexibility; players will need to use the right weapons at the right time to overwhelm their opponent’s defences. Furthermore, as each race has a predisposition for particular Weapon Systems, it instantly gives every race its own distinct feel on the tabletop.
We have also given players the option to make ‘Targeted Strikes’. Declared when a Squadron makes an attack, this allows you to target particular areas of an enemy ship, in the hope of taking a specific system offline.
Again, this adds tactical nuance to the game, as you use Targeted Strikes to set up favourable situations. A Strike against an enemy Battleship’s defences could take out its Point Defence, leaving it vulnerable for a crippling Torpedo volley. An attack directed at a fleeing vessel’s engines could leave it drifting whilst your ships close in for the kill.
Given the vast distances involved (and the hard vacuum of space!) characterising Boarding Assaults without losing the hard sci-fi vision prevalent in Firestorm Armada is quite a challenge. However, the image of elite marines or deadly boarding robots stalking enemy ships and sowing havoc amongst their crew is far too evocative to abandon.
As such, we have kept the Boarding Assault system streamlined so as not to bog down a game which is primarily focussed on big ships with big guns. We have also made Boarding difficult, but potentially very rewarding. This is to encourage players to use their varied tactical options, such as ‘Targeted Strikes’, to set up a successful boarding action that can cause heavy damage.
The principle with the new system is that your boarding teams will be heading for a particular area of the huge enemy vessel, aiming to knock out certain systems whilst they disrupt the enemy crew as much as possible.
Squadrons now have the option to perform special ‘Tactical Manoeuvres’ when they activate. The idea being that ships can divert power from certain areas in order to boost up a particular system. For example, a vessel might be able to deactivate its Weapons Systems in order to gain a sudden burst of speed, or it might drain its engines to reinforce its Shields against an incoming attack.
FLIGHTS or SHORT RANGED SPACECRAFT
Flights, now referred to as Short Ranged Spacecraft (‘SRS’ for short) have also undergone some changes.
The primary aim here was to keep these craft a fun and effective tool, whilst boosting the role of the Carriers that bring them to battle. With this in mind, SRS are now kept orbiting their carriers until they are able to dart out in an ‘Attack Run’ against an exposed enemy vessel. This emphasises the need to get your Carriers in to the fight, so that their attendant SRS are in place to attack when the opportunity arises.
TACTICAL ABILITY CARDS
Replacing the existing Game Cards are a set of ‘Tactical Ability Cards’. These are special ‘orders’ that your Fleet Admiral and their bridge crew can give, to provide your fleet with certain bonuses.
Rather than drawing from a random deck each turn, you will be able to select a number of Tactical Ability Cards before a battle commences, which you can then employ at crucial moments throughout the game. This gives an extra level of pre-planning, and allows you to tailor your special abilities to the sort of fleet you like to play.
The role of Terrain within Firestorm Armada has also been expanded, to include more varied effects and increase the impact that the battlefield has on the game being played.
Whilst the majority of space is an empty void, there is relatively little to be gained by fighting over a vacuum! As such, we see most space battles taking place ‘in system’, around space stations and asteroid fields and near objectives that are worth committing vast resources to capture.
In turn this will make your games of Firestorm Armada more varied and engaging. You will need to plan your tactics to take advantage of asteroid cover, gain slingshot speed boosts from planetoids and avoid particle clouds that can disrupt your communications networks.
The way that Fleets are constructed has been altered to make the process quicker and easier, without invalidating your existing Fleet builds.
On top of this, we have also put more flexibility into the models’ Statistics Profiles, in the form of ‘Upgrades’ and ‘Hardpoints’.
Many models will have access to particular Upgrades; additional special rules that a Squadron can purchase which will increase their points cost but make them better suited to a particular battlefield role.
The larger models in your Fleet will also have a number of Hardpoints that they can fill. These will allow you to tailor these models to suit your play style – allowing you to create a tougher Battleship to soak up enemy fire, an assault oriented Dreadnought with increased boarding potential or a faster Carrier that can quickly deliver your Short Range Spacecraft to the fight.
The existing ‘Orders’ system is being replaced with a rounded set of Scenarios. This should help to make your games even more varied and exciting, and continually present you with new challenges to overcome.
To coincide with this we have introduced the idea of a ‘Battle Log’. This is an easy way to track the progress of a battle, and various effects will kick in as the Battle starts to swing one way and the enemy’s morale begins to crumble.
As you can see, we’ve made a number of exciting enhancements to Version 2.0 of Firestorm Armada. We have aimed to maintain the simple and easy to pick up nature of the current game, whilst adding even more sci-fi flavour and tactical flexibility. The core elements of the game (i.e. moving your spaceships and firing their weapons) should remain very familiar to current Firestorm Armada players, but the additional layers we have added will keep your games fresh and exciting.