Friday, 3 June 2011

Starting Firestorm Armada

I've written about the games that I'm currently doing or perhaps pursuing as a hobby, in short things I've already started and am either well into (Infinity, HoMachine) or have at the very least played, enjoyed and have a modicum of knowledge about (Malifaux, Anima Tactics). What I haven't done is talked through the process of picking a game up and how I go about deciding my factions or even what games to do. Not content with getting confused and muddled with the rules of the current crop of games I'm playing I have decided to screw things up even more by playing Firestorm Armada!!! I'm hoping against hope that I can shoe horn another set of rules into my befuddled brain.

So why did I choose to start Firestorm Armada... well apart from my general level of insanity that is. Its got a little something to do with me loving space sci-fi programs and space combat games. Quite frankly I never, ever got over the sad demise of Battlefleet Gothic, desite its flaws. Brings a tear to my eye!!! It also has to do with the fact that Spartan Games products are quite widely supported in my local gaming community and having plumped for the loveliness of Dystopian Wars steam-punk-victoriana-Jules Verne inspired miniatures and game, I trusted Spartan. In this hobby trust is a big thing, especially outside the big two, Games Workshop and Privateer Press, because they're so big you know the games will be supported at least. You see other space combat games haven't exactly fared all that well in the marketplace in the recent past for a number of reasons, and I won't bother expanding on them here.

Firestorm Armada seems like a safe bet to pump more of my money into, because Spartan are now 'established' or so it seems to me. There's also the friend factor, you see I think its fair to say that with Infinity and other games (not so much Warmachine) I have been the dynamic, thrusting and forceful power behind the take up of these products in my little gaming group, I'm the pioneer!!! Sorry I'm trying to act like I'm living in the 80's now we have a Tory Government in power and they've taken public policy back 30 years or more... ahem... but with Firestorm Armada things are slightly different. I wanted to start Firestorm Armada a while ago but my close gaming buddies weren't interested, so although I kept a watching brief on things I didn't force the issue with them as I'd already got them spending more money than they wanted to on new games (sorry guys). However people have taken to Infinity in a really big way round here now, and there are people who want to do some form of Infinity campaign, like we used to do 40k or Warhammer Fantasy campaigns... but we're missing a Space Combat element.
Firestorm fits the bracket and will fill that void nicely. However that's doing the lovely detailed game background a bit of a disservice and I don't want to do that, mainly because I'm playing Firestorm Armada in and of its own right first and foremost, its just we'll initially be using it to enhance our gaming with another system and others might like to give it a go!!! So I'm going to try and do a brief synopsis of the Firestorm races fluff and a really, really bad explanation of how I think they look like they'll play... remembering that I actually haven't played a single game... foolhardy or brave, you decide:

Terran Alliance

The Terran's (unsurprisingly) are a human faction, based around a group of star systems. I'm not too sure having read the fluff whether they are good guys or bad guys, or indeed a bit of both. They're fighting a war though against the better armed Dindrenzi, with the aid of allies in the shape of Aquans and Sorylians.

Reading the rules, they have pretty good shields, which I think means they can take some punishment and also have none too shabby broadsides so I think the tactics are to get stuck in and let rip with those guns.

Dindrenzi Federation

Now the background to these guys makes them seem like a young thrusting entrepreneurial human empire that has expanded past the the old and outdated ways of the Terrans. Another human faction though they have a touch of the fascist about them engaging in anti-Xeno wars against Sorylians and Aquans... nice! They have better tech than the Terrans too.

Looking at their stats they have heavily armoured hulls, good crews and really long range powerful weapons (railguns). Downsides limited fire arcs so you need to line those kill shots up quite carefully!!!

Sorylian Collective

These are aliens yay! Are they sexy aliens, ugly aliens, hairy aliens? Who knows as I don't think I've seen any fluff to describe what they look like. They are however supposedly quite an academic bunch, placing great cultural significance on scientific inquiry (something my Phd pursuing missus would like).

From reading about them I think they're the 'horde' fleet overwhelming opponents by weight of numbers and superior crew. Sounds quite fun and aggressive, well I think so!!!

Aquan Prime

I think these guys are fishmen!!! Although again no actual pics of the race. I like to think of them as floaty squid like things though... mmm calamari rings! They appear to be quite an aggressive race preferring to tackle their enemy head on. You go fishmen.

Their ships seem to have really good firing arcs, good levels of torpedos that are flexible to boot and pretty good defence rating that makes me want to say get them in close and go in en mass and let the guns do the talking as the defences watch your backs. But poor crew rating means they'd suffer if boarded... hmm any vetran help would be appreciated here.

The Directorate

Again we have a human faction, this time set up by shady interstellar corporations. How very Blade Runner, I love it. These guys have got to be bad guys surely? Attacking alien races in clandestine xeno wars, funding weapons development for the Dindrenzi... oh yeah these guys are bad guys I reckon!

I think they're the 'all round' functional force, well that's what they look like to me any way, with good shooting in the forward arcs, they can get in close or stay at range it seems to me. Not great crew rating though.

The Relthoza

Spider people!!! Yep these aliens are evolved from arachnids, so purely for creepy factor they rate high on my cool-o-meter. They have a war like footing and have a specific warrior caste. They have a nobility social structure and are quite a secretive bunch, well what do you expect from spiders? They are also quite technologically advanced.

These guys have a cool mechanic with some cloaking fields that make them harder to hit, but while using them they have reduced fire. So I'm guessing these guys are all about sneaking in close by manoeuvring and then unleashing those broadsides and torpedo's. I like that idea.

Right lets be brutally honest I've probably got all of that wrong and the veterans on Spartan Games Forums could probably, and by 'probably' I mean 'definitely will' steer you far better than I can on the functioning of each fleet and how they play. I am after all less than a n00b when it comes to this game. However those of you who know me will also know I'm all about the mini's, yep I like the visual side of things thank you very much and there are a good number of different looking fleets out there, and you can learn a lot more about them all and have a look at some nice shiny pictures of the Official Spartan Games website. Their background write ups are also far more comprehensive than my sub GCSE standard summing up.

The miniatures, to be honest are actually a fair bit bigger than I thought they'd be having played other space combat games, their size took me by surprise. The models themselves actually look really nice though and are really quite detailed and for the cost I would find its really hard to grumble about the amount of money required for getting into the game, when the figures are this nice, big and most importantly cheap! Bargain. The rulebooks for all Spartan Games systems are very reasonably priced as well, and Firestorm is no exception and having everything you really need to get under way for about £55 makes it a really tempting proposition... so tempting in fact that me and my mate decided to go grab two fleets each, obviously for the purposes of journalistic inquiry and nothing to do with the fact that we like new toys way too much!!! I plumped for the Sorylians and Relthoza while he went Dindrenzi and Aquan's. Now apart from the aesthetics and the fluff we really have absolutely no idea whether any of the fleets will suit our gaming style, hopefully having chosen two fleets each we'll find something to suit our needs and from reading the fluff and a few tactics postings on the forums I think with the Sorylians and Relthoza I have a good split.

So why did I go for the two fleets I went for... well primarily aesthetics. I loved the long tubular and yeah OK slightly phallic look of the Sorylians and unlike most of the other fleets my head was instantly awash with colour scheme possibilities and ways of doing them and making them look cool. The background to the Sorylians also appeals, the whole academic / warrior thing seems quite neat. The Relthoza appealed simple because the ships are just plain gorgeous looking, and I have some idea as to how I'd like to paint them but I'm in no hurry to get on with them right away like I am with the Sorylians primarily because I'm not totally settled on how I'm going to do what I want to do!!! I also just liked the idea of having ships full of giant spiders speaking in weird clicking and hissing tones as they scuttle about their twisty windy ships. Awesome!

So what now having taken the plunge into the unknown? well I'm probably going to have to choose which fleet I'm going to have to paint first, at the moment its the Sorylians that are speaking to me... or at least I hope its them... I really don't need the voices in my head returning... any way!!! We'll also need to produce a space board and scenery to plonk on said board as well, so I'll be probably blogging about shopping for black wall paint at my DIY store and the delights of the staff thinking I'm some sort of weirdo with an S&M dungeon requiring black walls (security follow that geek, over). I'll be making polystyrene ball planets, as well as a write up on painting my first fleet, utilising 80's hair spray peeps!!! I'll also be doing a write up of our first game and being as brutally honest about how wrong we got the rules and what we found difficult so you guys know what to look out for. Hopefully you'll enjoy following me on my journey into the unknown as much as I know I'm going to enjoy taking it. Peace out!

Edit: Sorylians are Lizard people!!! Lizards in space, what more could you ask for?


  1. Nice writeup! I've been looking at Firestorm for a while now - but I don't think ill take the plunge until I see what this "Firestorm Invasion" game look's like since I'm more interested in infantry - if you're right on the Aquans being Squid's though ill be definitly into it since I love total non-humanoid races!

  2. This game looks like it has alot of potential. I have to wonder if my gamer vision is so myopic that I missed it and am just seeing it here for the first time.
    I have nerd drool here man. Space combat.....dead bodies floating in the void, soundless explosions...drifting hulks....
    (insert maniacal laughter here)

  3. @ctanworldkiller I have no idea what the Aquans will actually look like myself I just love the idea of squid me... perhaps that's the Jules Verne fan in me coming out again... GIANT SQUID!!! lol. I'm with you though I do so love the whole none humanoid alien race stuff as it just seems more plausible to me that evolution on different planets would lead to more variance in physical shape than our biped 'design'. The ones I'd really love to see concept work for is Sorylians as I just have no idea what they look like. The Relthoza spider look could be awesome too. However what is this "Firestorm Invasion" you speak of? I've not heard of it... sounds intriguing.

    @Relic_5 I love the idea of space combat, I'm a geek and proud of it, I grew up watching Star Wars, Star Trek and I might be a little bit of a Babylon 5 fan... then of course there is the awesome Battlestar reboot. Space combat games are just a really cool and cinematic idea. I went and got some black paint for my new board today (security didn't follow me too much, lol) visually they look cool!!! Getting all nerd excited now to play my first game. I'd urge peeps to have a look at the ships and the cost and ask yourselves is £55 really too much for an awesome new gaming experience? I think not, go on spend some money it might pull us all out of a recession yet!!!

  4. Good on you for getting into F:A! It might not be my all time favourite spaceship rules system, but it's a solid game with great support (just look at all the upcoming alliance stuff!).

    I think the Sorylians are supposed to be some kind of lizard people. And since they excell at boarding you can infer that they're physically strong as well.

    The speculations on what to make of the Aquans are numerous! I prefer to think of them as dolphins swimming around in completely water filled ships (although that's physically stupid in more ways than one!) but squids.... I kind of like as well! Admiral Ackbar has worked as an Aquan officer stand-in a number of times though. Hehe!

    Also... my favourites:


  5. hehe I like the spider pic!!! My stuff turned up if you didn't see!!! My cats were very impressed, although mainly in the box and the bubbe wrap packaging... oh to be a creature of simple pleasures... I'd still rather have shiny new ships though!!! Its kinda put everything else on hold as I cast my beady eye over them... must say I'm very impressed with them. They feel nice and firm, good surface detail. There's a tiny bit of cleaning to be done but nothing out of the ordinary for any type of miniature really. Can't wait to put them together and get cracking on painting them!!! :)