Firestorm Armada Design Overview
Written by Spartan Games |
Spartan Derek here.
This is a follow-up blog to Spartan Neil’s earlier communication to you all regarding the changes in our organisational structure here at Spartan Games.
As of now, all design and deadline execution of all projects for Firestorm Armada and Firestorm Planetfall are my responsibility – designing rules, answering queries, hitting deadlines for creation, etc. After this, Spartan Neil and his guys then take over to put things into ‘pretty text’ for us all, but this cannot happen unless I and my team do our job.
The following article is intended to give a degree of clarity to everyone as to how the Firestorm Galaxy will be managed here at Spartan in the future and (more importantly for you all) so you have visibility of what you can expect over the coming months!
STRUCTURE FOR DESIGN IN THE FIRESTORM GALAXY
Here is the breakdown of the structure that is now in place for all aspects of design:
Previously the flow of communication from Spartan HQ has been less than adequate for our community, however I hope that as we move forward with our new structure I can remedy this by encouraging a positive and regular information flow from all persons listed above.
WHO AM I?
For those of you who don’t know me I’ve worked on all Spartan products starting with Dystopian Wars 1.5 and the expansion of the Factions past their initial Core 4 (KoB, PE, FSA and EoBS) to take in no less than 600+ models. I and my team wrote the initial campaign books for Dystopian Wars (starting with the Hurricane Season Supplement), I worked on Firestorm Armada 2.0 with Chris Worth to bring the initial rules to the public, rebuilt the Dystopian Legions rules, designed the Planetfall rules in their concept drafts, created Dystopian Wars 2.0 rules with James Flack, created the Halo Fleet Battles and Ground Command game engines, and recently finished the Dystopian Wars 2.5 rules and campaign system with the help of Spartan Josh Le Cheminant.
…. basically if you have played any of our games over the last 6 years my fingerprints have been all over them!
Of course, everyone must start somewhere, and for me it was here, on this forum – some golden oldies amongst you might remember me as Delboy! I began by posting tactics articles for Boarding in Dystopian Wars, then moved on to writing articles about other games where I looked at their core principles and broke them down into learning steps for other gamers. This brought me to the attention of Neil and Spartan, who eased me into the fold to assist in the creation of their Beta Teams. Soon I found myself leading them, and now today I find myself as the Supreme, Chief Oompa-Loompa, Grand Overlord of the Firestorm Galaxy….<gulp!>
If you would allow me to take off this heavy crown and toss it at the hat-rack for a moment, I will tell you all flat out, that this isn’t something I would have looked for – indeed it’s something akin to painting a target on my chest given the current climate on the forums, but I hope that if I approach this challenge with the same positive, open-handed and deadline focused attitude that I have always had when talking to Spartan and our gamers, my positivity will win over the doubters to the point where everyone can judge the progress and communications as they are now rather than by what has gone before.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Neil for allowing me to step in to bring both games under the one aegis and am sure that as we move forwards we will have a positive and regular dialogue with our gamers as we move the Firestorm Galaxy forwards.
FIRESTORM ARMADA MOVING FORWARDS
So, what does this all mean for Firestorm Armada!? Well… let’s have a look at the Firestorm Armada time-line for completion in games-design this year:
Alpha Team Testing is ongoing for 3.0. All new game mechanics are locked down and testing is moving at pace.
Alpha Testing ends and Core Rules are then revised based upon their feedback. The Beta Team are unleashed on the rules and provide their feedback to Spartan Linde and I.
Core Rules are presented to Spartan Neil to begin the rules-pour into a nice shiny book layout. At this point, YOU, the Firestorm Gamer will have a chance to comment with each of the Core-6 Factions getting cut-down version of their Force List, along with an expanded rules synopsis of changes – see below.
Brand new models arrive with statistics and rules for the factions within and previously mentioned ‘shiny rulebook’. The rulebook will also contain a revised version of Taskforce, and a Campaign System known as Flashpoint (similar to the Dystopian Wars 2.5 version, but more expansive, given the nature of the Galaxy it is being played in!)
All Core Factions within Firestorm Armada are placed into a living rulebook format that can be adapted every quarter.
All Alliance Factions in the Firestorm Armada Galaxy are placed in a living rulebook format that can be adapted every quarter. Timeline for the next quarter starts with this release (…meaning that in 3 months’ time the stats will be reviewed and updated). Our goal here is to perform a continual rolling quarterly review to ensure we keep model balance under tight control.
December 2017 onwards
With the community fully engaged in the formation of the games, the Galaxy can move forwards, with new models, scenarios, campaigns and narratives developed under a more focused framework.
SPARTAN NEEDS YOU
The important thing to bear in mind with all of this is that I and my teams can only do so much. A game is only as good as the community that supports it and I very much want our players/gamers to be part of the process. This shouldn’t be a problem as in my experience Spartan Gamers are positive and engaging individuals. They PLAY our games with a passion…of course I accept that passion can easily become jaded if not correctly channelled or encouraged, something that our previous limited level of engagement has exacerbated in my view.
I hope that everyone who is a Firestorm Gamer will move forwards with us to become part of something positive – a new stage in the development of the Firestorm Galaxy. A game based upon gamer-gameplay and feedback. Fuelled by positivity and a willingness to contribute our collective time and experiences. Built into something we can all be proud of.
CORE RULES CHANGES IN FIRESTORM ARMADA 3.0:
As you would expect, the move to any 3.0 ruleset requires a degree of innovation to prevent the game from becoming stale. Firestorm Armada is almost 9 years old, having first hit your tabletops in November 2009, and some concepts needs revisiting when viewed under the current gaming climate. Other mechanics are so core to the game’s function that they must remain no matter what! Here are a few changes we are making to 3.0 that we believe complement and improve the game rather than overhaul the system entirely:
- Command and Control – This becomes a vital component of the game with players purchasing Command Points as part of their Force Lists. These points allow players to fire more accurately, performs repairs with surety and execute manoeuvres that put incredible stress on their vessels! The costs for these points are done contra to a Fleet’s Tactical Bonus, meaning that those who are less tactical in mindset are represented with a bonus in their strategic thinking instead! This will also allow us to give each race a unique feel and personality.
- Range Band Notation – We have changed the Range Bands to be Points Blank, Short, Medium and Long Range…. No numbers have changed, but it is needed when other aspects of the new rules are used.
- Creation of Core Weapon Types – The new game allows for the creation of Core Weapon Types categorised as being either Primary (removing the existing rules for Primary Weapons), Secondary or Tertiary in nature. These have individual rules that apply when using Command Points giving players a greater tactical and strategic control over their battles. The naming policy allows us to create move weapon types within the current framework of the rules – Primary Torpedo Batteries, Tertiary Broadsides, etc. Various rules regarding the roll to hit and likely Power Rating (see below) are also allocated depending on the Weapon Type.
- New Ship Classifications and Sizes – We needed to give the game space to grow. We have therefore looked at how we define and classify ships and looked at how to expand the ships we can make for you. The current system is quite restrictive, meaning that previously making more vessels within the game ran the risk of repetition – this new classification system will address that to allow consistencies to appear. Frigates for example will be split into Heavy, Standard and Light Frigates, with a degree of statistical consistency existing within the Ship Classes and Sizes.
- New Crit Table(s) – The new Crit table allows for a fairer distribution within the 2D6 spread, and gives us the opportunity to create a Focused Table within the Standard Critical Table that deals with Targeted Strikes and Boarding Actions. This type of table exists in Dystopian Wars 2.5 and works very well. Re-setting the table also allows us to reduce the number of tokens used in the game, as well as altering certain rolled Effects to ensure that those who aren’t affected by the general result (e.g. if they don’t have shields… a vessel instead suffers some other type of disadvantage instead!)
- Removal of the AD-Degradation System – Feedback from many Vanguards and others who have taught the game to countless people over the years led to Spartan Neil to ask me to look at the AD-reduction that comes about through damage being applied to vessels. At present, we are testing a couple of design paths, most notably the creation of a Power Core Statistic for each vessel along with a stated Power Rating for each weapon….as the ship takes damage their power output reduces at the same rate, meaning the player must decide which weapon they wish to fire on a heavily damaged ship! This is a very different way of doing things, but one that has us all most excited.
- Short Range Spacecraft (SRS) – These have undergone a number of changes, mostly prompted by feedback from the Alpha Team and Vanguards. At present SRS are very powerful, and our current rules have them used more directly rather than allowing them to loiter in the middle of fleets. This leads to a tactical duel in SRS rather than them being used as persistent PD blocks. It also enables us to move away from our simplistic tokens to something far more pretty on the tabletop. Those of you who have seen out Halo Fleet Battles Mini-Models that use the Micro-Dice will have an idea of what I mean.
- Boarding – These changes are the most pronounced from the previous game. We have removed the possibility of capturing ships as the rules as written were very wordy, essentially a vestigial layover from the original 1.0 rules. Instead we have focused the Boarding Action to be a Special Forces (Spec Ops) Raid rather than a Massed Boarding Assault, using the Focused Crit-Table as a launch point for the damage mechanics. This is intended to give players the feeling that they are launching their forces at a specific part of a ship (the weapons arrays, the shield generators, etc.). Boarding will also no longer be a one-stop-shop, and so can be launched numerous times (assuming a ship has enough Crew Points of course!) – This will allow boarding to be a tactical choice for some fleets without feeling overpowered or underpowered… it should simply facilitate the engagement of the Fleet in general.
OVERVIEW AND CONCLUSION
All in all, the rules add more to the core framework of the game without overburdening the execution for players. This should allow us to play with more models, or play our existing points levels in less physical time.
I have created a Post in the Firestorm Armada Threads on the forum for those who wish to discuss the game as it moves forwards. You can find the thread here:
I hope everyone will join me there to talk about the game we love!
Cheers, and thanks for reading this very long article,