New boxed set for Firestorm Armada

I’m sorta going through a love/hate relationship with Spartan Games. I think they sort of painted themselves in a corner with Firestorm Armada. They cranked out a hardback book to be a ‘definitive’ edition of the rules, then realized the game was not as deep as they wanted. The core mechanics are sound and there was some variation in the ship designs and systems but it just barely scratched the surface. The MARs (Model Assigned Rules) only dabbled a bit with different units and never really expanded beyond a few models. It’s a shame as with all the different races there was certainly room to expand on that concept more. With Dystopian Wars, they really saw how popular MARs was with players and having nation/faction bonuses really made the game more interesting.

A short while back I stumbled across an announcement of a FA 2.0 rulebook which had some details on the new direction of the game. Now being announced is Storm Zone: Battle for Valhalla which is a new boxed set. It looks pretty neat and has rules, tokens, dice, 2 starter fleets, tactic cards, and what looks like cool fighter stands. The price is pretty hefty tagging in about $130 USD, but it looks like you get 2 complete fleets with the set. I really dig the look of the new Terran fleet models and have to say Spartan Games seem to be really improving their sculpts.

One thing that stands out for me are the Tactic Fleet cards. I sort of liked the STAR deck as an addition to the base game. A form of short term bonuses you could employ for your fleet and the more ships you had, the larger your hand (meaning the more options available). It looks like it’ll be tweaked some but I like that FA is dabbling into this somewhat. How core to the play experience is another question, but it may just be an option which would be nice. A little something to add a wrinkle to your typical session.

There is a slight cloud on the horizon with this game. Spartan Games seems to recognize a need to have material that can accommodate older players with the new edition. What worries me is they’ve seemed to have gone a Games Workshop route with a rapid turnover of the rules. I expect the models will be interchangeable, but having fans that have gone through 3 rule books in the space of 4 years seems pretty drastic. I’m certain some will throw in the towel with the game. However another part of me recognizes that they have to bite the bullet as they realized the rules just aren’t as robust as what people want. Core changes to ships and fleets need to be done to allow for some variety in the races, translating to different fleet tactics and a deeper game overall. I’m a little torn with the announcement of these rules. While I have some desire to pick them up, I also realize it’s plunking down another chunk of money while I ignore a growing stack of outdated books I currently own (and thank god I didn’t pick up Marauders of the Rift).

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