Wednesday, November 14, 2012

First Games of Firestorm Armada!

Rob and I tried a game of Firestorm Armada yesterday, and despite several hiccups, had a good time doing it.

We started by getting our fleets ready- I was running a Directorate fleet, which was the Starter box and the Overseer carrier (640 points), Rob was running the Terran Alliance plus the carrier (665 points, I think?).

We set up, drew our hands (of various random events and things we could do to subtly influence the battle), and started playing.  Our random victory conditions involved me killing all of his medium-sized models (his cruisers and carrier), and him having to kill 70% of my fleet.

Turn 1:

First turn, we moved forward, and took long range shots at one another.  I led with my Enforcer frigates, and Rob obliged by having his Sentinel cruisers move up, and take a bunch of shots, killing two of them, and damaging the last one.

My other squad of Enforcers was hammered by his Battleship as well.  In return, my Judgement class battleship and Overseer carrier managed to kill two of his frigates... and then I got to be appalled that his last squadron of frigates damaged one of my Vanquisher class cruisers.

So, Turn 1 tally: I had 2 dead frigates and 3 damaged ones, and a slightly damaged cruiser, to Rob's two dead frigates.

Turn 2:

Rob and I roll for initiative, and I play a card giving me an extra 3 to my initiative roll.  Even so, I lose, and Rob activates his carrier first, which shoots and kills one of my damaged Enforcers.

I decide that, with their limited life span, I need to be bold with my remaining Enforcers, and sent them into the middle of the board, firing wildly, and resulting in damaging his cruiser as well as two frigates.

We traded shots back and forth, generally to little effect (my Vanquishers all linked fire at one of his Sentinels, and failed to do a point of damage, sigh), but my Judgement-class battleship DID manage to get a critical hit on his battleship, dropping his shields (which he failed to repair for the remainder of the game) and dealing two damage, although I then took a point in return from his shooting.  The battleship also accounted for a few frigates.

Also, we tried using Wings this game, and my carrier launches a flight of 3 bombers (Rob's had done the same earlier in the turn).

Finally, his carrier fired into my damaged Vanquisher, getting a critical hit, and causing a raging fire, which I immediately repair.

Turn 3:

I start turn 3 by playing a card to repair my Vanquisher, bringing it down to having a single damage point on it.  His battleship lays into mine, causing a critical hit (Decompression, which gets repaired at the end of the turn).

I line my squadron of Vanquisher cruisers up to get a full linked broadside into his cruisers, and get a total of 17 hits, causing a double critical, killing his cruiser.  My other shooting for the turn ends up dropping 3 points of damage on his carrier.

Our bombers get into action... and do nothing.  It turns out, reading the FAQ/errata, that we had been using them a little wrong (no PD against the torpedo shots themselves), but if anything, it may end up weakening them.  We'll see.

Aaaaand that was all that we accomplished this turn.

Turn 4:

I was running a little short on time, so we had to call the game mid-turn, although we did throw a few random shots early on, just for fun.  Rob's battleship dropped another point onto my battleship, and I shot to no noticeable effect.


So, we didn't finish the game, and since we were just trying to get the rules down, we didn't really figure out the results.  But regardless, we did have a good time.

I played a lot of Battlefleet Gothic in college, so I can't help but compare it to that in some ways.  Ships in this game shoot a LOT.  I mean, we were regularly throwing 10+ dice at a time, and then re-rolling a few of them every time we saw sixes.  As a man who loves to roll dice, I can't help but love this.  With that said, ships didn't really die all that fast.  Rob fired shots at my carrier and battleship every turn, and managed to get a total of 5 damage between the two of them.

Also, the Firestorm Armada rulebook is TERRIBLE.  I don't know who they had write this thing, but it really feels like they just half-assed it.  The rules may be among the worst organized (and there's no index!) that I've ever seen.  And this is their second edition rulebook?  Are you kidding me?

Torpedoes strike me as a little peculiar- they don't enter the map, and can travel whatever distance instantly.  In a sense, it's nice (fewer things to keep track of, and the torpedoes get to the target without issue).  But I do miss the tactical implications of throwing a spread of VERY scary torpedoes down, and watching my opponent have to maneuver to get around them.

The rules for boarding assaults are a little hard to understand (FAQ/Errata fixes this some), so we didn't use them yet, so I can't compare.  I don't remember caring for the BFG boarding rules at all, so I can't see how they wouldn't be an improvement.

Wings are very strange, but don't seem very strong.  Of course, we played with them wrong, so it's hard to say (I imagine 6 bombers would be a terrifying thing).  The equivalent in BFG wasn't much stronger, so it's comparable.

We didn't play with terrain.  We will next time.  As I understand it, you use a lot more terrain in Firestorm Armada than you do in Battlefleet Gothic.

The cards for Firestorm Armada don't do a whole lot for me, truthfully.  Rob says they add a cinematic feel, and add some epic-ness.  I mostly played cards to repair ships (which, combined with ships not taking too much damage means ships stick around), and once or twice we dropped cards to enhance our attack rolls.  Mostly, I kept cards around to cancel cards Rob played, if I could.  I can take them or leave them, however.

The game is in some ways a lot simpler- in a good way.  In BFG, you had to deal with a whole order structure to be able to reload torpedoes, change the way your ships move or shoot, any of that.  It worked, but it slowed the game down at times.  You also spent time looking up firepower in tables, which took time (for most batteries).  In Firestorm Armada, you move up, you shoot, then you move on.  Space games should be more fun, I feel.  Adding too much work to a game makes it less enjoyable, and Firestorm Armada did a good job here.

We'll get this game back on the table soon, hopefully getting more of the rules correct.  When we do, I can see this being very enjoyable.

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