Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Firestorm Armada Pt 2: The Turn

Greetings! SeerK  from The WayGate here once again. Today I am going to be taking you through a turn of Firestorm Armada. Last time we covered the six core factions and gave a little background on each of them. Now its time to get down to business and talk about the game itself. We will walk through a typical game turn so you can get a feel for how the rules work and how a turn flows.

Before the game starts you typically decide which of the six missions in the rule book you are going to play. This can be done by mutual agreement or roll a D6. After the mission is determined you build your fleet. Thats right you get to build your fleet after you know what mission you are playing and what faction you are playing against. This is also when you determine the point level of your game. The composition of your fleet, IE the minimums and maximums you have to take and can take, is determined by the point level of the game. Players who have played 40K are familiar with the Force Organization chart. This is a similar concept. Games of 800 points and below are considered Patrol Fleet sized games. Games of 801 points to 1200 points are considered Battle Fleet sized games. Games 1201 points and larger are considered Grand Fleet Sized games.

Tournament list building works a bit differently because the missions are different and you don't know who you are going to be playing. The Point totals and “Force Orgs” are the same, but I can cover that at a later date or you can check out out tournament format over at The Waygate. We are running the Firestorm Armada Tournament, The Schaumburg Prime Offensive at Adepticon. I am discussing casual games and pick up games with my examples today. For simplicity sake we are going to use the “Border Clash” Mission as our example mission today. This particular mission is won by simply outscoring your opponent by destroying his ships. The scoring method of Firestorm Armada is Battle Log.

The Battle Log tracker is a sliding scale. You and your opponent start out at zero Battle Log. Destroying vessels and squadrons of ships increases your Battle Log while decreasing your opponents. In missions with special objectives, fulfilling the objectives will also increase Battle Log. The Scale is determined by how many points your game is. Patrol Fleets have a maximum Battle log total of 10. The scale increases in increments of 5. so Battle Fleets have a maximum of 15 and grand fleets have a maximum of 20.

Firestorm Armada is an I go, you go style of war game. Unlike games like 40K though you alternate activating units. So when you Activate a unit and perform all its actions your opponent then activates one of his units. You go back a fourth until all the units have been activated. That completes one game turn.

Rense System Navy Fleet

The Turn has 5 phases. The TAC Phase, Initiative phase, reserve phase, Squadron Activation phase, End Phase. Order is important. The first 3 phases happen very quickly. The last 2 phases are the majority of the turn. Spartan Games has actually made the rule book available online in a free PDF form, so I am going to just briefly go into each phase to give an overview. You can dive in further by just heading over to the Spartan Games Website and downloading the rules.

  1. The TAC Phase
Before any turn starts you have the opportunity to play a TAC or Tactical Ability Card. You have cards that you choose before the game from a deck of generic and fleet specific cards. These come with the Patrol Fleet boxes and the Starter set. You generally get a hand of three. These cards can help repair vessels, speed them up and basically give you a slight advantage for the turn. You can only play these if your Admiral is on the Table and if your Admirals ship has not been destroyed.

  1. The Initiative Phase
Players Roll 2d6 and add in their fleet tactics bonus, which is in the appropriate fleet manual, to determine who has the Initiative in the turn.

  1. Reserve Phase
Starting at turn 2, players roll to bring in squadrons placed in reserve. The player with the Initiative for the turn rolls and places units first.

  1. Squadron Activation Phase
This is the phase when all the action happens. This phase is subdivided into 5 segments. The Command segment, Movement Segment, Combat Segment, Boarding Assault Segment and Consolidation segment. These are further subdivided. It sounds complex but once you actually play a turn it is pretty quick and seamless. Mainly movement is divided in two parts and combat is divided into three parts. Movement is divided into Primary and Secondary movement. Most of the time you are just using primary movement. Special orders like coming to a full stop and spooling up your fold space drive to get the heck out of dodge is done in secondary movement.
Oroshan Mercs vs A Pathogen vessel.

Weapons have different types but are grouped into two different categories. Direct weapons and indirect weapons. They are fired in the order of Direct weapons first and Indirect weapons second. The first part of the combat segment is to declare all your attacks for the activated unit. This can be very important. Order of operations is important. You could destroy a vessel with direct weapons and waste the fire of your indirect weapons because you declared you were firing on all weapons on one target. For example, you declare you are firing the main “Arc Bolt” rail gun, a direct weapon, of a Dindrenzi Battleship at a Terran Cruiser. You then declare that you are also firing your torpedoes, an indirect type weapon, at the same target. The cruiser already has 2 hull points gone out of 4. The Battleship is very likely to score a critical hit with its rail gun, destroying the cruiser as a critical hit typically does 2 hull points of damage. This would mean your torpedoes would be wasted as the target they were declared for is no longer there.

After movement and combat, vessels may launch boarding assaults against enemy ships that are within range and that they have not shot at. This can be very risky or pay off big as you can capture and destroy enemy vessels.

After boarding assaults we move to the consolidation segment where some in game effects and markers expire and are removed. Once this is done your opponent then chooses a squadron to activate. You go back and fourth until all the squadrons have been activated.

  1. The End Phase
Once all the squadrons have been activated you move to the end phase. The end phase is when you attempt to repair critical or weapon effects on ships. Command, basically leadership tests, are taken on disordered squadrons and you are allowed to buy back spent TAC's by paying the buy back cost on the card with Battle Log.

Hawker Industries Patrol Fleet
I know it seems like a lot to take in, but all games are like that at first. I found the best way to really learn how things work is to start with one squadron of small ships, like a squadron of frigates and play a few turns going back and fourth with a friend. Once you have a good understanding of how a turn works and flows add in another squadron. Build up as you gain under standing. In fact Spartan was thinking along the same lines when they put together the “Battle For Valhalla” starter set. You get a hardcover rule book, all the TAC's and counters you need to play. You also get a very nice Terran Patrol Fleet with a Special starter only Battleship and a Dindrenzi Patrol Fleet, also with a starter only Battleship. You also get a very nice space station. If those factions aren't your cup of tea, The patrol fleets available also include counters and TAC's and a full patrol sized fleet. Its easy to add Squadrons as they are all sold in box sets. You get FULL Squadrons! None of this $40 bucks for 5 Dire Avengers stuff.

The only thing you really need is a trusty tape measure and a cube of D6's. Some terrain would be handy as well. Terrain rules are pretty simple and easy to represent on the table. Our group likes to use thin craft foam to represent an area containing Asteroids or debris or even a Gas cloud. These all have effects on ships sitting in them and moving through them. They add to the tactical nature of the game. I would advise getting the basics down before adding in terrain.

Well thats a quick overview of the game turn. As I stated before, I recommend going over to the Spartan Games website and downloading the rule book PDF. Give the game a try and head on over to The Waygate for Tactics, hobby stuff and general musings on Firestorm Armada and Firestorm Planetfall. Oh did I mention there is a 10mm ground combat game that fully ties into Firestorm Armada? Well there is! If you are also a pod cast listener head on over to Firebase Delta. Phil and the guys are Firestorm enthusiasts and have some great episodes on tactics and just starting out. The WayGate writers, aka the Michigan crew, are also on there on occasion waxing philosophical on tactics and competitive play.

Well thats all for now. I hope I will see some of you guys at Adepticon. Keep and eye out for Spartan Vanguard polo's and “TheWayGate” t shirts. Come and say hi and get a demo. If are already playing Firestorm Armada sign up for The Schaumburg Prime Offensive. It may be full now, but we are getting more spots. It also never hurts to get on the wait list just in case a spot opens up.  Next time I am going to start getting into making a fleet list and the basics of how list building works in Firestorm Armada.  Read those rule books and see you next time.

Until then crush the Alliance and as always...



  1. Excellent summary, and inspiration for how i will be writing my review for Planetfall, thanks!

  2. I am working my way through Planetfall currently. I have only been able to get a couple games in so far, but I really like it;