As the new version of Firestorm Armada is on the shelves, Spartan Games has put up new fleet files for the major races in the game. From their download section it appears that much of the older files will be slowly getting the 2.0 treatment. So if you are a fan of the game, you might want to keep an eye on the downloads section of their site.
Overall the fleet documents look pretty cool. It seems that games are codified into tiers and points depending on the type of fleet you want to play. For a specific point value game, you have a few choices for each tier. Tier 1 being your command battleship class vessels, tier 2 being the cruisers, and tier 3 being frigates and escorts. The higher point values, the more options you have and the bigger the squadrons. For most of the races there isn’t much difference but some allow for more squadrons of lower tier ships. It’s a bit more regimented than before which I like.
Looking over the ship stats the larger vessels have hard points. You can then pay for specific weapon and defensive systems up to that hard point value. It’s a nice way to tweak your forces and try out different weapon layouts. So not all carriers or battleships are alike.
Model assigned rules (MARs) seems codified now so that nearly every ship save for the smallest frigates have racial special rules. Another layer of variation is that weapon systems appear to have different keywords. There are still primary weapons and torpedoes, but also beam, scatter, kinetic weapons, etc. What is nice is that most frigate ships have the option of also having these special weapon systems. Again, another way to tweak and customize your fleet giving it some flavor.
The profiles for battle stations are also presented. Overall they look like floating masses of guns and hull points. They appear pretty immobile. It might make for some interesting scenarios representing a recon in force or a border skirmish.
I like Firestorm Armada but always felt that the rules didn’t allow for some more variety in the races. It was just little differences, or incorporating more flexibility with weapon arcs (one group had turrets, one had gun racks, etc.). While there were some unique technologies like cloaking, for the most part they were all the same. The optional MARs rules for the different races helped alleviate this but it wasn’t part of the official game. Now they have seemed to have really embraced that concept.
I’ll be blunt, I am a bit miffed that this follows on the heels of a new rule book so soon. Like they wanted to roll out a new book incorporating new ideas, but realized it didn’t go far enough. I understand the position they were in. Either they stick by a rule set that isn’t dynamic enough for the game they wanted, or just go for it and put better rules. For new players, I think this will be a great system. For older players, I can see why some feel a little burned. It’s almost treading on Games Workshop-rollover-of-product territory. But looking at these fleet rules, I am digging the direction they are going with FA. It seems worth getting behind this new book.