Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Why I Chose Firestorm Armada

I'm writing this blog about Firestorm Armada so I guess its somewhat important to talk about WHY I chose to give it a try.  Short story: who knows these things?  They just happen.

Long story?  Well, you asked for it:

In the beginning, God created... Just kidding.  We won't go back that far.  Suffice it to say that I've loved spaceships for as long as I can remember.  I grew up on Star Trek and Star Wars.  I had really rough Fridays at school during my senior year because the only way I could watch Babylon 5 was at 1:35 in the morning.  Totally worth it.  Suffice it to say, I'm a sci-fi fan.

During high school, my brother and I discovered Warhammer 40,000 and I fell in love with rolling dice and moving little plastic army dudes across the pool table in our basement.  When Battlefleet Gothic hit the shelves, we jumped all over it. The artwork on the front of the box was enough to get anyone to buy that game.  We played that for a few years until my brother and I fell out of the hobby for a few years.

Grimdark Starships?  Sold.
So after the better part of a decade of being miniature free, I fell off the wagon when I found Babylon 5: A Call to Arms.  Next thing I know, I have a Minbari, Shadow, and EA fleet.  My buddies picked up a few fleets also and we were having a blast!  I've heard reviews about the game being  unbalanced and some other complaints but people were ignoring the main point here: I had four Omega class destroyers squaring off against the Shadows on my dining room table.  Rules be damned!  That was fun!

Getting back into miniature wargaming eventually led back to us pulling out our old 40k armies and getting back into the swing of things.  My friends and I have been playing 40k pretty hardcore for the past few years now and, while I love the setting and (barely) tolerate GW prices, it gets a little stale playing the same game over and over.  Hopefully, the Dark Angels codex will make me a happy little Deathwing player once again but we're getting off-topic.  Being a little bored with 40k, I started longing for some spaceship combat again. I started looking at getting back into BFG because I LOVED that game.  However, it just seems to not get any love from GW and there isn't really anything new coming out for it.  It's not dead, but it is stale.  Babylon 5 again?  Nope, Mongoose lost the license.  Bummer.  It was a blast.  They do have Star Trek now, though.  Pass.  I love the original series but not for the ships.  What is this Firestorm Armada I keep seeing everywhere?  My interest kept pushing me back to this game.  

So how did I finally decide on Firestorm Armada?  Well it came down to a few factors: price, scale, ease of play, and availability.  I will try to quickly explain my decision in each of these areas.

Firestorm Armada is actually not the cheapest game to get started in.  Let's be honest, you can probably find half the rule systems out there on the ole interwebs for free.  Heck, I have rules and models for two games in my basement already.  So why did I choose the $40 rule book over the systems I already have and the competing systems that cost less than half that?  Well, maybe I should have left price last because it really needed to take into account scale, ease of play, and availability.  Let's just say that, in my opinion, the overall  investment of rule book and models seemed like a steal when looking at the other factors.  I purchased two starter fleets and a rulebook from Dewayne's World for $160.  I think it was actually two dollars cheaper than ordering directly from Spartan Games AND I get to support my FLGS.  Double win.  A single starter fleet is $60 and its enough to play the game with.  It is a 500 point fleet in a box.  I dare you to play 40k for $60.  Can you play 40k for $60?  I'm sure it's possible.  Grey Knights?  Maybe?  Anyway, my point is: You can enjoy this game to the fullest for a very low initial investment.  That is a huge selling point when I go to my friends and try to convince them that this game is worth investing in.  Starmada was the game I almost went with and it wins hands-down for customization and ship creation.  The rule book was a $15 PDF I think.  Alright, you win on price, Starmada, especially since I have ships that could be used already painted up and ready to go.  However, this is where scale, ease of play, and availability come into the equation.

The scale of Starmada, can be any scale you want it to be.  That's nice.  That means I can use any scale of ship I want and not worry about what size hex we're using because I can just use bigger hexes.  However, if the fleet I love has two inch long ships and the fleet my buddy loves uses 5mm ships, well we have an issue there.  Firestorm Armada has some big chunks of resin that look like a lot of fun to paint and look really good on the table.  They're also all the same scale.  That's a win for Firestorm Armada.  My sometimes OCD nature would flip out at trying to justify why someone had a ship a third of the size of mine and twice as powerful.

Ease of Play:
Let me be clear, I am not saying 40k is a super difficult game to play.  However, my friends and I are pretty busy these days.  If I'm going to convince them to invest in a new game, I don't want a three month learning curve.  Starmada, you look great.  You really do.  However, I don't really want to have to hit the square root function on my calculator every time I field a fleet.  I know my friend Jarred would punch me in the junk if I tried to get him to play you.  After watching this Firestorm Armada Introduction on YouTube, I was pretty confident that my friends and I could enjoy this while intoxicated.

Finally, availability.  It was very difficult to get a copy of Firestorm Armada.  I had to make one phone call to Dewayne's World and tell him to get me the rule book.  Shew... that was rough.  The game is in print, its being played, its growing, the company isn't bankrupt and they are supporting their product.  Starships! looked like a fun system but I'm not even sure if the company still exists.  The internet was very vague about it.  Shocking.  Starmada was super easy to get.  I downloaded the PDF for fifteen bucks.  However, to get the models to build a fleet is an involved process.  You can literally use anything you want for your fleet.  That kind of freedom seems amazing.  Then I started looking at prices of these ships and scales and then seeing that a lot of the ships I liked were from shady looking places.  I'm sure these small companies that make these great looking ships are on the up and up but I'm paranoid and don't feel too comfortable ordering things from shady looking websites.  Call me crazy.  Dewayne's World can get my friends and me whatever we need for Firestorm Armada and he can get it by Friday.  It's always by Friday with him....  But you know what?  It's there on Friday.  That's why he's the best FLGS around!

So I guess that's why I went with Firestorm Armada.  I really like the look of a lot of the models (except you, Terran carrier).  The game looks easy to learn and seems to keep a fast pace.  The ships are nice and all the same scale.  Most importantly, we can get what we need to play in a timely and affordable manner.

If you also play Firestorm Armada, tell me why you chose it.  If you went with another system, what drew you to it?


  1. Replies
    1. Oh, it's a FLGS. Urban Dictionary says that's a "Fun-Loving Geek!"

    2. Urban Dictionary needs to get with the hobby slang!

  2. They have - Fun Loving Geeks. You can add some prefixes to it too. Like BI-FLGS. We are a couple of BI-FLGS. Or Boisterous,interesting, Fun-Loving Geeks! Maybe we could make that the name of our podcast - BI-FLGS!

  3. For me, the impetus to finally start Firestorm Armada came when Battlefleet Gothic finally started to die, for real and true. With GW announcing that many BFG models are now "while supplies last," I decided that it was time to get a new space combat game. Firestorm Armada had been recommended to me several times, so I decided to take the plunge. My ships still haven't arrived yet (some time next week, I hope), but you'll probably see me commenting here, now and in the future.