Gamers Gonna Game

It’s that time of year again when the Games Workshop releases their financials and the community explodes with rumours that they’re going under, that Hasbro will buy them out, that they’re woefully out of touch and they can basically go fuck themselves.

I freely admit to being guilty of this to some degree in the past. I’m the first to admit that I gripe about the pricing model either on The Shell Case or on Of Dice & Men (I promise there’ll be another episode up soon!) with some regularity. And I stand by those comments. The models are expensive. But you know what? I still play their games and I still pay their prices so who’s the bigger mug?

Reading Twitter today I was quite shocked by some of the comments that wargamers were making. Whilst I’m sure similar comments were made 6 months ago and the 6 months before that and so on, I’ve just never noticed until now.

For a hobby that is as inclusive as ours I’m bummed out to see so many people are willing the company to fail. People that moved to Warmachine or other game systems as an act of protest or to spite the Games Workshop – as if the Games Workshop knows each and every one of us and gives a shit what we do, say or think – berate for playing Games Workshop games and celebrate every penny lost in profit as a personal victory. And before I get pelted with angry comments I have to point out that no company genuinely gives a shit what we do, say or think. Not truly. If they did the XBox One would be free and delivered on a velvet pillow by the glamour model of my choice (don’t pretend I’m the only one who made the suggestion on the forums).encourage

I play Games Workshop games. I play the games they discontinued too and whilst I really wish they hadn’t canned Battlefleet Gothic and Mordheim, I understand why they did. But as I say, my understanding, my compliance or even consent is not required. Just my acceptance because there’s sod all I can do about it. Because I’ll live a longer happier life if I do. And not because they’ll send the Black Ships for me otherwise.

But I also play other games. I love Mantic’s Dreadball. Although they’ve been in a case for a while , I really enjoy Dystopian Wars and Firestorm Armada. I love X-Wing. And Studio McVey’s Sedition Wars, and lots more games beside. Whilst I’m not a fan of the Warmachine fluff or the sculpting style I can appreciate the quality of the game. And I know I ‘bash on it’ during episodes of Of Dice & Men, but it is all in jest. I honestly don’t give a monkeys what games people play. All I care about is everyone having fun.

Games nights with The Chaps – good and dear friends all – are a bevy of game systems and that’s cool because the key ingredient is we’re having a giggle. Good games, good models, good mates and good banter. What more could you possibly want. Apart from maybe the aforementioned glamour model to serve light refreshments. But you can’t win them all.

The point is this, before arguments break out – and I’ve seen it happen – just let it go. I urge all to stop sabre rattling. To stop clamouring for a company’s demise when that company not only represents a lot of enjoyment but people’s livelihoods as well. It is callous to forget that there are folk, just like you and I, doing a job there. A select few make the decisions that impact on us and whether or not we agree with those decisions, the majority shouldn’t be punished. Yes people are entitled to and should have opinions and yes they should be discussed but let’s remember the object of the exercise is not to win at all costs, or to be nasty or snide or bitter or resentful for some imagined slight. We have zero rights. Zero say. You’re a director or a board member you have as much entitlement to piss and moan as you have to tell me what colour socks to wear.

DontBeADickYes it’s frustrating that prices go up. Yes Games Workshop have us over a barrel and yes they know it. But the reality is this: play their games or don’t. Pay their prices or don’t. Just don’t be a dick about it.

Gone But Not Forgotten

Some of you may be aware that I have been on sabbatical/hiatus/break/time out whatever you want to call it. I have been taking some personal time or rather dealing with real life which generally happens when you’re trying to finish a high level diploma, buy a house, look after a 1-year-old have a heavily pregnant wife and have the workload from hell in your day job. All this meant I have to stop doing what I like doing…go on Phil make a comment…[I don't know what you mean? - Ed.] Now he’s got that out of his system…

With all that going on I took a break from hobby writing and doing to finish the one thing I had some sort of control over my Diploma which is now all but done hooray. So I thought I would celebrate with a quick “Mat’s Hobby update”.

What have I been up to? Well I have in the last few months streamlined my hobby collection, found a treasure trove of old school miniatures, started getting into Warhamster, and jump armies around a bit. So as you can tell I’ve not been idle on the hobby front despite the work load.

Streamlining how on earth did you do that Mat?

Honestly by being ruthless and realistic, I bought a lot at Salute as Phil and Lee can testify to. Much of this has now been sold. However much I friggin love the Death Guard (Heresy Era) and however much I want to do a loyalist army my tastes are just too rich and although I dearly love them, my Deathshroud were the first for the chop. Although I’ve not actually sold them yet. I just can’t seem to let them go. But I will… Closely followed by my Tau… Yes, yes I know how I went on about being gay for the little blue dudes but by the time I’d put together about 2,000 points worth I just wasn’t feeling it. I’ve kept my Pathfinders as I want to create a kill team with them but more on that later. Dystopian Wars was next to go having not played it or painted it and honestly I couldn’t ever see it getting any time on my table (saying that I’m loving some of the new stuff).

So still hanging on in there is my Sorylian fleet, I’m in two minds about it having not played the game yet having a clear idea of what I want to do are playing conflict with my thought process, so they are safe for now.

And oh the treasure trove of old school stuff, my god there were miniatures and paints in there from nearly 30 years ago, including old Squats, Rogue Trader Robots/Dreadnoughts, Inquisitors, Chaos champions, a butt load of Epic, Imperial Guard, a few land raiders, some Elder. Honestly it is immense! I am slowly working my way through it all cleaning it up and systematically selling it off through eBay to pay for more hobby bits.

I never really had much interest in Warhamster but I have found myself looking at it more and more. I think its stemmed from Mordheim and my want to build a beastman warband which got me looking at a Beastman army, and then Lizardmen. But eventually I settled on Skaven… let me explain I like the Beastmen but my god do they get their arses kicked and are actually difficult to play. I love the Lizardmen but the idea of painting them daunted me so I ended up with Skaven. But I’m not going to do the normal 5 warp lightning canons and 100 plague monks (I hate the plague monks) like you often see. I’m going Clan Mors affiliated with Clan Moulder and I actually have the rule book and some models (no army book yet mind, well not in hard format). But I’m looking forward to this and have a plan on writing a few articles on building a themed Rat army that’s not going to get people groaning when you take to the gaming table, and making sure you keep it within the theme and fluff.
So finally the Tau have been replaced with Necrons again I’m planning on theming the army so as not to make it bloody stupid, but this is going to be a slow burn as I really got it hot for the rats.

Other than all this in my time out ahem… I have continued to grow my X-Wing Imperial fleet and can now field a Bomber an interceptor oh and a couple of defenders. I will attempt to write-up on these in the next week or so, and I am really looking forward to seeing what they add to the game and if I can finally take it to Han Solo and stick it in him good…

So that was my down time… might give you an idea of what I’m like when I’m not on a break, especially as I haven’t mentioned my growing Dreadball collection and current obsession with Zombicide which I’m not allowed to buy until I either play or get rid of Sedition wars. But on the plus side the Wife said she’d play Zombicide with me.

Anyway this is me signing off and happy to be back in the saddle even if it is only with one foot in the stirrup at the moment.

-Mat

#TheVoxmanPledge 2014

In between recording podcasts and working in real life, I often get into lengthy conversations about miniature wargames on Twitter (My handle is @ATT64 if you wanna say hi). The other day I made an interesting comment (for once lol) and I would like to explain in further detail what I have planned.

“We live in a golden era of miniature games, go forth and play ‘em all!” (The Voxman Pledge)

It should come as no surprise to any avid miniature wargamer that there is an absolute colossal ton of games now available to buy. With dozens of successfully fundraised kickstarter projects and entrepreneurs looking to make a name for themselves in the industry, its an exciting time to collect miniature games. The competition between these new games is frantic and often brutal as the general population dictates the ultimate fate of these new projects. We have the power to change the landscape of miniature wargames for the better

Over the break, I thought about my relationship with the games I currently own and play:

Warhammer Fantasy: Empire | Skaven | Dark Elves

Warhammer 40,000: Tau | Orks

Warmachine: The Protectorate of Menoth | Convergence of Cyriss

Firestorm Armada: Terrans

Dust Warfare: Sino-Soviet Union (SSU)

I realized that my relationship with games has changed significantly over the years and the free time I have available to me is much more restricted. I started off playing massive battles of 40K with 4 childhood friends on a ping-pong tale, using cardboard boxes to create expanding cities. I eventually transitioned to playing Warhammer Fantasy, which allowed me to further design detailed ranked up miniatures in the form of my Empire Averland State troop focussed army and my 210 Skaven horde. Overtime I desired more variety in my gameplay and tired many things both in 40K and fantasy, but I always found that it felt the same regardless.

I tried multiple small units, monsters, all cavalry armies and even using only one Hellpit Abomination (rebel). I discovered Warmachine around 2010 and even though I slowed down playing Fantasy, I still retained a deep love for that game. Now with regards to 40K, I really found that while I still appreciated the universe and the built-in complexities within the established codices. I didn’t like actually playing it. I am a firm believer that the fun focus of that game is around list construction (for tournaments or causal play) or potentially creating a thematic army. I just felt that the game was usually over in 30 minutes, but played out for 2 1/2 hours. Keep in mind that I don’t hate 40K by any means, I just realised it wasn’t the game for me.

I have played Warmachine for several years now, but for some reason I have been beginning to feel burnt out. Maybe, its the sole focus of the competitive scene or the sheer flood of new miniatures being added to the game, but for some reason I entered a hobby slump. Don’t get me wrong, if you phone me up and have an army I will play you! I love the game, but I guess I am tired of it’s one direction approach and needed some more variety. I played Dust Warfare and Firestorm with varying degrees of success, but with their scattered release schedules and rule hiccups. I have decided to wait and see.

Recently though, I have had a rather profound realization about my hobby. I want to try everything. That’s really it, I am tired of trying to be “The Tournament goer” or “The Hobbiest” or even “The Fluff Gamer”. I want to have fun, it’s really that simple. For so long, I have prided myself by bringing the best list I can make for a tournament or building an entire army around a narrative or trying to be a better painter/modeller. But where was the fun? When I played Blood Bowl, Dreadball and even to a lesser extent X-Wing, I realized that I had been so focussed on a particular aspect of this hobby that I ignored what makes a game fun and engaging.

I don’t have to own an entire complete range of miniatures or even be a hobby completest, I just want to have fun like I have always done playing miniature games.

So I say unto you fellow Wargamers and Warmongers, that I will try to play every and any game I can during 2014. I don’t have to own or buy every miniature, heck I don’t even have to be that good at playing the game. I just want to have the willingness to try to open my mind to other experiences that these new/old games are offering. At the very least I want to trim down my collections and gradually have a variety of miniatures from several game systems. Now of course, common sense and reality are also important here. I’m not throwing pots of money at every game system. At the heart of my goal is to at least try every game and if I like it, then perhaps collect a small amount for that game. Simple, nothing complicated.

So I ask you then? Are also going to take the Voxman Pledge? Are you going to investigate other games and explore what makes them fun and enjoyable?

If not? That’s ok too, because there’s always a variety of ways to have fun in this hobby, just promise yourself to try to have fun during 2014.

Cheers!

Adam, aka Mr Voxman

What Kind of Year Has it Been?

The Shell Case has had its third Christmas and 2014 will see the site turn 3 years old. It’s been an eventful 2 and a half years and that certainly goes double for the last 12 months.

So, to repeat the question: what kind of year has it been?

A very mixed one.

In March I became a father. Whilst being a dad is awesome it inevitably had an impact on The Shell Case in so much as I couldn’t write as much as I wanted or as often. I did my best but inevitably I lost readers, some of which never returned. Between my time being hammered more than Charlie Sheen and some truly twatish comments on the posts I did put up I seriously considered closing the site. Until Erin (@sixeleven) suggested that to take the pressure off writing a post a day – which I was doing and then some – I bring in contributors.

It was a painfully obvious solution to the problem and have the added benefit of discussing topics and parts of our wide and varied hobby that I have no experience in. Bringing in contributors has seen mixed success with the initial team signing on and then almost immediately leaving again after they realised that when I said 1 article a week I actually meant it. We’re not quite there yet as all our contributions are a little up and down (mine included) and I’m still on the hunt for a couple more talented people to round off the team, but progress is being made and we’re slowly clawing our way back to where we were. And hopefully beyond.

Three months ago Lee and I, rather ambitiously, began A Tale of Two Armies. It’s been a lot of fun, if slightly stressy at times, to get back into Warhammer and actually do hobby and play games with any regularity. The narrative is developing nicely and as you’ve hopefully seen, Lee and I have been working hard to flesh out the entire thing. Check out our ‘Genesis of a’ posts.

I do have to extend huge thanks to Reece, Mat, Lee & Adam since coming on board. They’re all integral parts to the grand plan for The Shell Case and I’m not joking when I say this site wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them. And to Jason, Ashley, Adam (again), Nate & John for agreeing to take part in my hair brained scheme to create a multi-national podcast. 10 shows in we’re starting to find our feet and the new year should bring some more exciting changes and possibly some TSC exclusive content.

I also owe a huge and un-payable debt to my sponsor, Firestorm Games, for supporting me these last 18 months. Again, without them I wouldn’t have been in a position to keep pace with our ever-changing hobby or have been able to run A Tale of Two Armies.

Thank yous also go out to Amera, Chris Wraight, Gav Thorpe, Nick Kyme, Sarah Cawkwell, Megalith, Studio McVey, Ainsty Castings, Avatars of War to name but a few. Getting to know you all has been a pleasure and your support of my humble site rather mind-blowing.

I’d planned on spouting on about the state of the hobby and all that had happened over the last 12 months but actually, what’s done is done. The next 12 months is what interests me with some big releases from the Games Workshop, Spartan Games, Megalith and many others. I can’t wait to get to Salute 2014 and go batshit crazy for the up and coming games. And I can’t wait for my daughter to sleep through the night so I have a bit more energy.

All that’s left to be said is to thank readers of the site, old and new, as you’re the reason I’ve pretty much given up sleeping. I wish you all a happy, healthy & prosperous 2014 with many toys, games and, occasionally, some painting.

How to Breach Hulls and Influence People

The other week Spartan Games released new free PDF downloads of the Six core Fleet Manuals for version 2.0 of Firestorm Armada. Having had a look through the new files, I’m quite impressed, and there are clearly a lot of new ideas in the new version of the game.

So far, we only have Fleet Manuals for the six core factions (Aquans, Terrans, Sorylians, Directorate, Dindrenzi and Relthoza), but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the Alliance of Kurak and the Zenian League (not to mention other factions like the Syndicate) get their own treatment. These free downloads contain the key rules for choosing a fleet and the ship stats and options. For background material or shiny artwork however you will have to wait (and pay for) the shiny printed versions to be released in early 2014. It will be interesting to see how this pairing of premium book and free bare-bones download works out for both Spartan and the players. Certainly it means not having to lug a heavy book around when you can just look up stats on a phone/tablet; or carry around a printout and not get your nice book all scuffed.

The fact that the downloads are intended to be ‘living documents’ which will be updated as rules errata come up or new ships are released. This is undoubtedly a good thing, though I can imagine a few people being narked about having to download an updated PDF every so often.  I have to wonder how people with the hard copy versions will be updated. Whether Spartan will take the GW route of releasing updated manuals every so often or the Privateer Press route of releasing periodic anthologies with new toys for all factions. [Or downloadable paragraphs that you can glue over the redundant paragraphs. -Ed.]

Looking at the Manuals themselves, it’s clear that the fleet selection rules have been expanded and refined. Ships are now chosen from one of three Tiers, with minimum and maximum selections for each. Tiers group ships roughly according to size and the what falls within a particular Tier changes based on the size of the game, so large ships are heavily restricted in small games but are more widely available in larger games. The minimum and maximum choice restrictions for each size Tier both also scale with the size of game so fleets should have a reasonable balance of small, medium and large ships at all game sizes. That said, the gap between the minimum and maximum choices at each tier is quite narrow and I would not be entirely surprised if some players ran out of slots before they ran out of points.

Most importantly to some players, it is no longer possible to build a fleet with a token single squadron each of small or medium ships and spend the rest of your points on dreadnoughts.

The rules covering Alliance Fleets in the Fleet Manuals are clear and straightforward. While Alliance fleets do face some penalties in terms of Tactical ratings and access to cards, this is presumably to balance out the fact that including allies can be used to offset the perceived weaknesses of a particular fleet. Interestingly, each core fleet now has a ‘Natural Ally’, a minor faction whose ships can be taken in greater proportion and with slightly reduced penalties, for example Terrans with Hawker or Dindrenzi with RSN. This is a nice touch as it is evocative of the background and helps encourage players to vary their collection without having to take too great a wallop  from the nerf bat.

Interestingly, in very large games, you now assemble your force out of multiple separate battlegroups which are considered independent for a lot of rules purposes. Again this has a nice evocative feel of distinct formations coming together in common cause, but it also appears to be another way of including allies without the same penalties you incur when you are simply lumping allied ships in with a single detachment.

Looking at the ship rules themselves, the most obvious change is that virtually everything bigger than an escort now has at least a few options. I’m sure this will please anyone who has ever felt that playing Firestorm Armada felt a bit samey after a while and longed for the chance to make their personal armada just that little bit more theirs. The options seem to be thematically consistent throughout each fleet list and combined with the fact that ship weapons are now broken down by type (scatter weapons, beam weapons etc) means that each fleet has a lot more personality now. The only question is how to represent these options on the model as most FSA ships lack any kind of options in the kit. Players may find themselves having to concentrate very hard to keep track of which squadron of cruisers has the overcharged engines and which has the juiced up guns.

Coupled to this is the fact that in most, but not all cases ships of the same type (for example the Terran Razorthorn and Apollo battleships, but not the Tyrant battleship) have been rolled together and are  covered by a single profile and options list. This is slightly disappointing as it seems like they have missed of on a way of introducing more opportunities to vary and/or theme your force. Most of the ships affected by this are the MK1 and Mk2 cruisers, carriers and battleships so perhaps there is some reason for similar capabilities, but to potentially have them running with entirely identical stats – and even identical upgrades – seems a bit of a shame. I can appreciate that you can in principle use, for example, Sentinel and Hermes class cruisers to represent cruisers upgraded to different capabilities, but I can imagine unscrupulous players keeping their opponents guess about what they are facing, maybe luring the enemy into a trap with a ‘humble’ mk 1 cruiser.

Overall these are pretty impressive documents. All the more so given that they are being offered free to download. I’ve not had a chance to read the version 2.0 rules yet but what we see hints of in these PDFs suggests big changes and a lot more investment in making the game more diverse and characterful. I think FSA players have a lot to look forward to.

Firestorm Invading at Last?

Almost a year ago I reviewed a starter set for the Studio Sparta game Firestorm Invasion: Planetfall. I enthused about what had the potential to expand on the Firestorm Armada universe and finally break the company out of their habit of overly abstracted rules, shit writing and horrendous amounts of pointless bold copy.

At the time I had a chat with the people in the know at Spartan and they said that the Directorate and the Sorylians would be hot on the heels of the initial Dindrenzi & Terran Alliance starter sets. Well…they weren’t wrong. Almost a full 12 months later they’re finally releasing those two factions. And the indications are that they’ll be a proper boxset and some proper rules on the way too.

It’s been a hugely frustrating 12 months watching Spartan devolve into an early version of Games Workshop with rising prices, a scattergun release schedule with things like Spartan Scenics popping up despite no 28mm games actually being out yet from Spartan. Which is all part of the longer term plan for Firestorm Invasion. Which is why it’s odd that they’d release all that stuff so early.

I promise this isn’t sour grapes. I just don’t get it. The erratic releases, the supplements that push an abstract game system to its absolute limit and taking a year to roll something out that they’ve outwardly ignored. I have no problem with a company taking time to develop, or raising capitol to develop. Credit where credit’s due, they haven’t done a kickstarter. But I do feel that if Spartan had spent less time and money developing some of the iffy supplements they could have properly developed Firestorm Invasion rather than lose all momentum by taking a year.

Anyway, this is what Spartan had to say about Firestorm Invasion – and there’s some sexy shots of the Terran vehicles. I’ve also included all the stuff about the Sorylians and Directorate.

As I say, I really want this game to be good and successful. And I really want Spartan to regain its focus and get back to doing cool stuff rather than bodging, improvising and generally messing with a mechanic that was too precise to allow for it…

Spartan Games…

It has long been a part of the plans for the FA Galaxy that your space fleets could fight their way to planets and star systems ready to deploy ground forces with which to capture or destroy vital strategic objectives. Having watched our community of 10mm scale gamers grow, and beavered away in the background on new models and enhanced rules, it is a pleasure to tell you that all of the six major races will be coming to a tabletop soon.

Having listened to feedback and read your Wishlists, Firestorm Planetfall has taken shape and will be rolled out to as follows:

• All six major races
• Boxed Sets designed to make army building easy and cost-effective
• Hardback Rulebook
• Alliance Books
• Range of high quality scenery – from bunker complexes to entire cityscapes

For those players who already own Terrans and Dindrenzi we have not left you out. An entire set of new, highly detailed models have been created to complement your existing forces. From brand new tanks and aircraft to gigantic Prime Movers capable of transporting entire units of infantry across the gaming table, we’ve worked on it all.

So to end, please have a look at concept art for some of the new Terran models. Over the next few weeks our web pages will be changed to reflect the enhancements to our spaceships and ground forces, and we’ll keep detailing the new models across the range. Check back soon to see images of the Sorylians, Relthoza, Aquans and Directorate at the ground scale!

Terran Concept Artwork - MBT (Main Battle Tank)

Terran Concept Artwork - Heavy Tank

Terran Concept Artwork - Prime Mover Troop Carrier

Sorylian Collective

Sorylian Collective

What you can see here are concepts for just three of the Sorylian models: the Medium Walker (think Main Battle Tank quantity wise on a tabletop, the FA version of a Sherman), the Heavy Walker and a Small Strike Drone. But there is a myriad other models for this race, from the Small Flyer right up to machines that block the sunlight on a battlefield.

Chris added: “Their fundamental characteristics were to be resilient legged tanks that would lumber across the battlefield with less haste and more of a juggernaut archetype. With this in mind I started to think of the silhouette and sense of the weight of these mighty mechanical mechs piloted by a lizard-like race. Their centre of gravity would be extremely low to help them feel sturdy and immovable and I drew reference from the body language of various reptiles and similar creatures to create a leg setup that was appropriate. Having arrived at these wonderfully mechanical dinosaurs of war I am very pleased with the outcome. They feel technologically advanced yet prehistoric in their physical presence.”

The fighting vehicles of the Sorylian Collective are primarily comprised of bulky, resilient walkers. Slow and ponderous, but very well protected from all forms of incoming ordnance, these stoic vehicles shrug off enemy attacks whilst their return fire punctures hulls with ease.

Sorylian Collective

Sorylian Collective

Sorylian Collective

Filling the sky around these walkers are swarms of much smaller aircraft. Incredibly agile, they dart around the larger vehicles, knocking out enemy aircraft attempting to strike at the walkers from above, or driving off light vehicles trying to outflank their charges. In this way the Sorylian ‘Sphere’ formations grind across the battlefield, maintaining their defensive stance whilst they roll over objectives and crush enemy wrecks beneath their giant metal feet.

In the next blog we’ll delve into the ideas behind the Directorate ground forces. Sleek, fast, deadly – I know it sounds clichéd, but it’s the ideal way to sum this force up.

As the most technologically advanced race in the known galaxy (in their own minds at least!), we felt that the Directorate in Planetfall needed to capture that sleek Hi-Tech sci-fi look, whilst still feeling like working military vehicles that can take a beating and dish out some brutality in return.

After an exciting design meeting with lots of reference pictures (and sci-fi gun noises) an eager Chris Peacey set about bringing to life the Directorate ground forces, and the units he came out with are some of the most stunning Planetfall models yet.

Chris Peacey explains: “The Directorate have the best gear, the best resources and the most advanced technology of all the races in the Storm Zone, so it was only fitting for their ground and air vehicles to have an air of elitism about them. Superior offensive and defensive technologies manifest themselves in the form of plasma weapons and ablative armour, cyber-attack capabilities and intimidating air support. Ground units are swift and employ first-strike tactics. It is rare that a Directorate force is ever cornered or taken by surprise. In this unlikely event, air support is devastating for the opposing forces as large and impressively armoured gunships can promptly deliver a barrage of suppressive fire.”

The Directorate

Pictured above are three concepts for Directorate vehicles: a particularly mean looking Battle Tank with reinforced armour cladding and a giant plasma weapon, an aggressive Gunship that perfectly hits the balance between functional military and sophisticated design and my personal favourite – a sleek cyberwarfare vehicle that screams speed, stealth and advanced tech.

Chris Peacey explains: “The Cyber Warfare tank is the personification of the Directorate’s slick approach to conflict. Its smooth lines and hexagonal cladding give an appropriate feel to a vehicle that changes what is necessary to secure victory over enemy forces. You can expect future Directorate units to share this striking aesthetic. In contrast, the main battle vehicle and heavy gunship have a contemporary science fiction feel; armed to the teeth and equally armoured. These vehicles built for pure offence are the true fist of the Directorate military.

I hope that Directorate players of Firestorm Armada are looking forward to seeing these vehicles realised as 10mm scale miniatures as much as I am!!”

The Directorate - Battle Tank

The Directorate - Gunship

The Directorate - Cyber Warfare Tank

On the battlefield, the ground forces of the Directorate take a ‘right tool for the job’ approach. VTOL craft of varying sizes provide manoeuvrability and heavy firepower, Tank Destroyers and automated gun platforms deadly fire support and Battle Tanks occupy the enemy’s attention, shrugging off their shots with high-tech armour systems.

Meanwhile elite infantry and powerful augmented mechs perform a crucial “special forces” role, supporting the larger vehicles, clearing ground and seizing objectives. Across the board, the Directorate supplement their arms and armour with unmatched cyber-tech. Capitalising on their supremacy in this arena, they shut down defences, overload systems and sow havoc and discord throughout their inferior enemy.

Firestorm Armada Second Edition

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…

RANGED COMBAT

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.

Targeted Strikes

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.

BOARDING ASSAULTS

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.

TACTICAL MANOEUVRES

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.

TERRAIN

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.

FLEET BUILDING

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.

VICTORY CONDITIONS

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.

SUMMARY

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.