Prepare to enter a galaxy gripped by a war of cataclysmic proportions. Where fleets of colossal warships clash in brutal conflict among the stars. Systems are besieged, alliances crumble and whole worlds burn as the bitter struggle for control rages on. Yet amidst this fire and fury there is hope. Heroic commanders and admirals of renown stand firm against their foes, rallying their fleets and inspiring their crews to acts of great valour in the name of victory. The fate of a galaxy hangs in the balance.
Enter the Firestorm!
-Spartan Games Promotional Tagline
The game Battlefleet Gothic wanted to be!
-Every BFG player who starts playing it.
|Wargame published by
|Rule System||D6's with exploding dice|
|No. of Players||2 or more|
|Session Time||points dependant (1000 pts) 2-3 hours|
|Essential Books||Main rulebook & Race books - All available for free as living documents(Here)|
Firestorm Armada, or more collquially, simply "Firestorm", is a sci-fi naval battle game dreamed up by Spartan Games. It was released as their second game, after Uncharted Seas, a fantasy naval game. Firestorm, much like other naval fleet games, eschews complex gameplay, such as systems management and 3d newtonian movement, in favour of a simple yet deep game mechanic. Like all Spartan games, Firestorm has a nearly complete library of models for every unit in the game (and with 11+ factions, each with at least a DN, BB, CA, DD and FF, that's a lot of ships). Made from resin, the models are fairly priced, and investment in a fleet doesn't burn up your funds like some other games.
Did I mention the rules are at the low low price of FREE?
With Spartan Games having declared bankruptcy in October 2017 after years of comical mismanagement of company franchise that Spartan is infamous for, the rights to the game went to Warcradle Studios, who are currently working on overhauling the game rules.
The models, especially dreadnoughts, are quite large (10~15 cm is not uncommon), and this can lead to games feeling quite claustrophobic. On the other hand, the detailing is nice and the large models allow for creative paint schemes. Resin is a bitch to cut the flash and stuff, but generally they're durable and good looking. You will have about 12-25 models in your fleet. No one really cares if you proxy models, either, unless you're at major tournament.
The older models (version 1.0) have a different name and are not as detailed, but still legal in-game. Whether you have a 1.0 or 2.0 version of a cruiser, for instance, it's got the same stats just looks different.
Tier 3 - The myriad of smaller vessels used in squadrons
Corvettes - Corvettes generally perform the same tactical roles that frigates do. Most of have inferior DR/CR compared to frigates but are instead given often given Elusive Target and larger squadron sizes. The are also generally much faster than their racial frigate counterparts, though are individually less powerful.
These changes even harder to kill for weapons that aren't anti tier 3, but in turn the lower DR/CR makes them more vulnerable to these weapons. (mines, assault, scatter, nukes)
Corvettes are generally effective starting on the table on in reserves. When reserved they can arrive some distance away from their target (in case of mines for instance) and still end up in a annoying spot, and when starting on the table they can dart from cover to cover avoiding unfavorable engagements.
Light Frigates - A new class of ships introduced as reinforcements for all of the major races and a few of the smaller ones. They fit in between corvettes and proper frigates in terms of speed, armor and firepower. The only models in the game to have smaller than standard bases, which adjusts their lines of fire, but overall makes them very maneuverable as a ship class.
Frigates - Like corvettes, frigates tend to be lightly armored, but benefit by being harder to hit due to their smaller size compared to capital ships. Many have decent weaponry that can be linked together to allow them to fight above their weight class.
Escorts - Sort of like heavily specialized corvettes, escorts are exclusively found alongside tier 1 vessels, like battleships. Their main job is to prevent your big expensive centerpiece models from being raped by torpedoes.
Light Cruisers - An uncommon class of ships that sits somewhere between a cruiser and a frigate in speed, firepower and durability. Usually taken to get a bit of extra strength in a fleet without swelling up on tier 2 options.
Tier 2 - The main-line collection of cruisers etc
Cruisers - Your workhorse ships. Each race and faction has cruisers specifically tailored to their own playstyle, varying wildly in speed, armor, firepower and squadron size between them.
Heavy Cruisers - More specialized variants of the standard cruiser, generally featuring heavier armor, bigger/different guns and slightly slower speed as a result. Tend to be much more expensive than your standard cruiser, with different abilities and special rules to help set them apart.
Assault Cruisers - Highly specialized cruisers that trade their long-range weaponry to make room for more space marines. As they are purpose-built for boarding assaults, most sport heavier armor or bigger engines in order to get to where they need to be.
Destroyers - Your snipers. Generally all focused on a single long-range weapon and sporting built-in stealth systems and better point defenses to protect them from retaliation. While most are content to sit in the backfield and plink away from afar, other destroyers specialize in setting up traps and ambushes. They all have a special rule that lets them turn up to 90 degrees if they remain stationary, giving them all excellent angles of fire.
Escort Cruisers - Halfway between a carrier and a cruiser and doing neither role quite properly, they are nonetheless useful for bringing additional SRS to the table.
Shield Cruisers - Terran only. Very tough bastards that make other ships around them even tougher and more bastardy.
Shunt Cruisers - Relthoza only. These ships have a special ability that lets them pop up where is least convenient for their enemy, allowing for the spider player to set up ideal ambushes or quick retreats with them.
Torpedo Cruisers - Cruisers that trade their main guns for more/better torpedoes. These are meant to be played safely from behind an asteroid screen, as their weapons won't be impeded or degraded due to damage. However, their attacks can be shut down squarely by a point-defense conscious opponent.
R&D Cruisers - Found most commonly amongst the Directorate, R&D cruisers carry unique and often powerful weaponry, but tend to have smaller squadron sizes due to being rare and uncommon.
Gunships - Sitting on the higher end of tier-2 in terms of power, with some even being able to fill in as tier 1s in smaller games. Gunships are a step below Battlecruisers in that they can be generally considered massively upgunned cruisers.
Defense Platforms - Although pinned in tier 2, they tend to underperfom compared to other members of this class, as they are intended to supplement battle stations as defensive assets. As a result, they share the same weaknesses. They are highly specialized to their owning faction, each proving defense in their own thematic way.
Tier 1 - Hunks of resin large enough to kill a man
Battlecruisers - A class of ship that tries to take the best aspects of a cruiser and a battleship and combine them into one. Much like the ships in real life, they make solid flagships in small games, but fall behind quickly once real tier-1 ships start showing up. Tend to come in pairs, but when taken single can take frigates as accompaniments.
Carriers - Generally not much tougher or better armed than your average heavy cruiser, carriers bring the fight in the form of their short-range spacecraft (SRS). True to their real-life counterparts, however, they can't fight well on their own and require support from other parts of the fleet to operate at their best.
Assault Carriers - Specialized carriers that focus less on attack craft and more on close-range boarding assaults.
Battle Carriers - A combination of a battelship and a carrier. Despite ultimately being a compromise between the two classes, most are quite good and strike a fine balance between brawling power and SRS flexibility. Most commonly found in the smaller secondary factions.
Battleships - Your big beating sticks. Featuring heavy armor and impressive firepower, and generally some of the slowest ships on your fleet as a result. Battleships tend to exemplify the characteristics of the faction they represent, and have the widest variety of upgrades available to them.
Battle Stations - Huge constructs built to defend important areas. Essentially a battleship or carrier sans the engines. All quite powerful, save for the fact that they can't really move. While they can be taken in normal games, they are only useful as defensive assets, as the enemy will generally be aware and capable of staying outside their limited threat radius.
Dreadnoughts - To date the largest class of ship in play. All monsters exceeding battleships in durability and firepower, their high cost generally means that the rest of the fleet needs to be built around their presence, while their intimidating power means that the game can and often will revolve around how they are played.
Leviathans - Teased for years with their inclusion in the rulebook, there are at present no Leviathan models in the game. With Dreadnoughts already pushing the limit of durability and firepower without breaking the game, this might be a good thing. One Relthozan Leviathan was shown at Adepticon 2017.
Like their other main title Dystopian Wars, the Firestorm setting has two main alliances comprised of several factions and an ostensibly neutral set of factions that have individual alignment matrices.
Ostensibly the good guys, but in reality only a lighter shade of grey than the Zenian League. Formed by the Terran Alliance and the two most powerful alien races to combat the threat of the Zenian League. They eventually brought six smaller factions into the fold who had suffered at the hands of Zenian League aggression during it's push into the Fathoms Reach and Storm Zone.
- Major Races
- Aquan Prime - A collective of aquatic species, basically space dolphins and lobster men. Very Eldar-ish in that they are graceful, maneuverable, and deadly when used right, but
die horribly when they make a mistakeare just as tough as everyone else. Make heavy use of omni-directional lasers and a crapton of mines. They have been a long-standing ally of Terra, having been strong supporters of the Terquai for centuries before formal contact with the main human forces.
- The Sorylian Collective - Ancient race of logical, pragmatic space lizards. Generally they are a very up-close force, using powerful broadside guns and lethal boarding parties. They are slow to act and very thoughtful, as a species, presumably developing out of their relatively long lifespans which makes zero sense based on how they play in game. Their territory extends into the Storm Zone, which was the catalyst for joining the Kurak Alliance, but have since become one of their staunchest defenders yet galactic record holders as the consistently worst performing major faction.
- The Terran Alliance - Used to be the dominant human power until the Directorate turned traitor and the Dindrenzi rebelled. Now they're fighting to hold onto what they have left with the efficiency of the Office. Their ships look bad on paper, then you realize they're shielded out the ass and can absorb retarded amounts of punishment if they can roll well. Makes heavy use of nuclear weapons, as the Dindrenzi eventually found out when their homeworld of Dramos was reduced to a smoldering, lifeless rock in space.
- Aquan Prime - A collective of aquatic species, basically space dolphins and lobster men. Very Eldar-ish in that they are graceful, maneuverable, and deadly when used right, but
- Minor Races
- Hawker Industries - Old-school, honorable corporation that helps design and build Terran ships and weapons. Have badass-looking ships known for durability and nuclear armament. Basically Elite Terrans. With the defection of the Directorate and Works Raptor, they've become the primary developer of new weaponry for the Terran Alliance.
- Ryushi - Nomads who wander the stars after the loss of their homeworld to the Dindrenzi and Illosians. They are obsessed with SRS and lots of drones to preserve their own lives, as they are not very numerous. They are bitter enemies of the Kedorians, being the only race outside of the Zenian League to know their secret origins.
- Tarakians - Mysterious, advanced aliens that use big lumbering ships with troll-tastic gravitic weaponry. Their favorite sport is grav-pushing your ships into asteroid fields or planets, while ignoring shields, crew loss and intervening terrain in the process, and then watching you whine and quit to play 40k again. They inhabit an area of space along the edge of the galaxy called the Harrison Belt. They seem to be keeping watch for some force outside the Milky Way and much of their society seems structured around guarding the galaxy's edge. Since this is boring, they spend a lot of time re-watching videos of their gravity weapons throwing your ships off the board to keep themselves entertained.
- Terquai - Human citizens of the Aquans. Their ships are a mixture of Aquan and Terran tech and design sensibilities. Their ancestors were among the first human space colonists, having settled far from Terra before being cut off from humanity during the Wars of First Contact. They soon found their colony worlds were already occupied by the Aquans. This worked out for both, however, as the Aquans lived in the oceans and they on the land. Centuries later when they reestablished ties with the Terran Alliance, it was discovered they had become a client state of the Aquans. These ties helped form the Kurak Alliance when the Zenian League launched their invasion into the Storm Zone.
- Veydreth - Savage, spacefaring raider tribes with fast, assault-y ships. They are described as "star dragons" by Terrans due to their physical appearance. They used to raid Terran Alliance colonies, but with the push into the Storm Zone by the Zenian League they have been hired by the Hawker Consortium to raid Zenian races instead, cause why not, right? (insert star dragon roar!!!)
- Xelocians - The other nomadic race living in giant worldships. They were drifting through the area just firing forward lasers aimlessly when war broke out and they joined the Kurak Alliance out of need for protection and general boredom. They have a strong business acumen, but also seek enlightenment as a race among the stars. They currently believe their race has begun its final journey as war breaks out across the galaxy, so pew pew their way to destiny.
Technically the bad guys, but only because they tend to be more self-serving than the Kurak races. Most of their races are motivated by revenge for wrongs committed against them in the past at the hands of the races now comprising the Kurak Alliance.
- Major Races
- The Dindrenzi Federation - Tough, don't-tread-on-me type star colonists who rebelled against the Terrans after being politically marginalized and taxed into oblivion... what Libertarians wish they could be, basically. The initial rebellion ended with their homeworld obliterated in Terran nuclear fire, but this only pissed them off more. Distrustful of aliens and most other humans, for good reason, they are an alliance of various frontier systems. Most of their ships are built around gigantic railguns and look like cock-n-balls, but they pay for it by being relatively slow and unmaneuverable, kind of like riding a bike with a boner. They basically play like Tau, preferring to sit back and snipe with their superior forward guns.
- The Directorate - The true villains of the setting. Basically a bunch of greedy, amoral corporations who broke away and created their own empire where Profit Is Everything. They're fond of playing both sides off against each other in order to keep the wars going as long as possible so they can profit from weapons sales. Their homeworld is like the BDSM playroom of Ayn Rand and Bill Lumbergh where the wealthy live in excess, but if their net worth drops too low they are forced to leave their homes and move off world. Their ships are mostly giant flying saucer types with omni-directional turrets in the center. They make heavy use of nuclear, biological, and chemical warheads on their torpedoes, dirty tricks, as well as cyberwarfare weaponry.
- The Relthoza Empire - Giant spider people with a raging hard-on for nanotech. Surprisingly they are not a monolithic hive mind, and are actually a caste-based society of fully sentient individuals. Currently undergoing a swarming urge in which they attempt to conquer more territory. Generally they rely on stealth technology to get into optimal firing range, and back it up with nasty boarding parties made up of giant power armored spider marines and tons of acid torpedoes. Thanks to their nanotech, some of their ships can also repair themselves in the middle of battle. In the Wars of First Contact they were humiliated at the hands of the Terran Alliance, losing territory and suffering their first major defeat at the hands of an alien race, which played part in their decision to join the Zenian League.
- Minor Races
- Ba'Kash - Bootstrapper space pirates who love war and plunder. Joined the Zenian League after being promised the chance to have both of those things in large amounts. They prefer simple, direct weapons and technology, as well as boarding actions. They seem to be roughly analogous to the Klingon of Star Trek.
- Kedorians - Highly intelligent aliens with many client races who supported the Dindrenzi rebellion, thus earning political favors from the new Dindrenzi state. Make use of giant circular floating fortress-ships that double as space-based cities with tons of omnidirectional weaponry, and are hard as hell to assemble. Disdain getting their hands dirty and thus use their more aggressive servitor races as assault troops. Most races think they're a race composed of several sub species, but in reality they are parasites who implant themselves in other sentient races and seize control of their bodies like the Gou'ald of Stargate. Strangely in contrast to their generally cowardly attitude of using their client races to do their dirty work, they believe fighter to fighter combat to be honourable and only pure/noble members of their race may use their interceptor craft.
- Rense Systems Navy - The Dindrenzi state security and intelligence force based out of their most powerful star system; basically the KGB meets the Word of Blake. Created to police the various Dindrenzi worlds and keep their allies of convenience in line. Use very well designed, advanced ships with elite crews. They have the trademark Dindrenzi railguns, but with none of the trademark Dindrenzi weakness to close-range combat, but they ain't cheap points-wise. Are shown to be fanatical in their devotion to the Dindrenzi race and the Church of Dramos, a cult that has sprung up following the radiation shower given to Dramos by the Terrans. The RSN are employed in a number of different scouting and deep reconnaissance missions, while also acting as the enforcers for the leagues best interest (read as killing/punishing lesser members of the league who act out of line).
- Works Raptor - Basically what you would get if the Dark Eldar were businessmen. Expelled from the Terran Alliance, they have become the most infamous member corporation of the Directorate, so mean that even EvilCorp would be like "whoa dude". They use monstrous bio-engineered assault troops, nuclear, biological, and chemical weaponry, and stealth technology. Don't let them take you alive or you'll end your days as a test subject for some new horrific weapon.
Marauders and MercenariesEdit
Unaligned factions who can be added to Zenian or Kurak fleets as mercenaries, or even played on their own. They too now have a free living rulebook of their own available on Spartan's website breaking down who they can and cannot ally with, along with complete fleet rosters for each faction.
- Mercenary Forces
- OmniDyne Special Operations - A Terran Alliance company with ties to the Directorate, known for their distinctive ships with a big circle out the backside. Bitter enemies of Works Raptor, to the point where they will not fight alongside one another in the same fleet outside the System Wars supplement. Currently the most fleshed out mercenary faction with a great selection of figures.
- Oroshan Imperium - Yet another nomadic race. The Oroshan usually work as mercenaries for the Directorate and OmniDyne, but being true capitalists at heart they will fight for anyone who pays them enough, including the Kurak Alliance. They focus on utilizing the Pack Hunter rule to gain extra attacks by combining multiple ship's attacks together.
- Syndicated Traders League - Syndicate - The personal illegal raiding fleet of Tauris Vylia’sal. He must have a huge crush on Flash Gordon cause they all look like a 1950s moon-rocket crossed with a Corvette. Their ships sport solid defenses, SRS and flexible weapons.
- Syndicated Traders League - Traders - The legitimate front organization for the Vylia’sal Syndicate and as close to true civilian ships as you can get in a wargame, Traders ships are all dirt cheap, shitty mining vessels and convoy escorts that can be taken in large numbers to offset their individual weaknesses. Currently the only faction without even a single figure to their name, so if you're the kind of
dorkartist that likes to build, mod, mold or customize your own shit this (or Pathogen) is the faction for you.
- Corsairs - Quintessential space pirates. Most get their ships and weapons supplied in secret by OmniDyne, and can be employed by all factions for the right price. Their crude-looking ships are all extremely customizable, and some are dirt cheap, but rarely match up one on one with a true warship. Thankfully, pirates don't play fair like that and get some funny TAC cards.
- Standalone Forces
- Overseers - An ancient race from outside the Milky Way that nothing of note is known about except that they are very likely the "ancient evil" that the Tarakians are on the lookout for. They currently only have a single probe model that comes with the Return of the Overseers two player set. This probe is not playable in regular games, but is an incredibly powerful model that will "attack" both players in the final scenario of the campaign book included in the set.
- Pathogen X-9V - Nightmare fuel. Ships that have been infected by a bizarre techo-organic plague that is implied to have been accidentally created by OmniDyne weapon-testing. It has
terribledecent shooting limited to short range, but once it gets in close it can launch boarding assaults that can corrupt other ships and actually bring them under its control, adding them to the fleet. Their SRS are double trouble and scary as shit. Like Tyranids, it's best not to think about the horrific fate suffered by the crew of a ship assaulted by Pathogen. Curiously, the only figures currently produced for it by Spartan Games are based off Relthozan vessels, who make heavy use of nanomachines themselves. You can mod, build and green-stuff your heart's desire with this faction, but you cannot ally with other factions.
Despite what the quote at the top of this page might lead you to think, the game plays nothing like Battlefleet Gothic. For just about any given die roll, 4+ is generally a "success". The ‘Exploding Dice’ mechanic is the Core Dice Mechanic used in Firestorm Armada, and other games by Spartan Games. Whenever a Dice is rolled using the Exploding Dice mechanic, the roll of a natural ‘6’ on a dice ‘Explodes’, resulting in two successes and the chance to roll the dice again and score further successes! If you rolled a 6 again, keep on rolling!
This can result in ships being slapped with a double or triple crit, usually resulting in a lovely explosion as the ship in question suffers critical existence failure. It goes the other way too, with a shield maybe stopping a deadly shot in extraordinary fashion. While some people get cranky when this happens, others love it. Statistically speaking there is "no more random" with exploding 6s than without per this article it's just that there is a chance for an occasional extraordinary result. Thus the mechanic does mean that even a lowly frigate has some chance of blasting a battleship and hurting it, unlike 40k where until 8th plain ol' Guardsmen couldn't never do shit to big things.
Ships come on a sometimes wobbly clear plastic base; magnets or Hawk Widgets help a great deal with this problem. The bases have four firing arcs: fore, aft, port and starboard. Stats include: hull, crew, point defense, wing capacity, shields, assault, damage rating and critical damage rating. You compare the various stats when you roll dice in different situations, blah blah blah.
Ships fly in squadrons of one to six models. Most bigger models stand alone. Little birds flock together. When you move your ships, they go between 6"-12" generally, and you use a wonky tool to help you turn that even a Master's Degree won't help you figure out. Bases can touch, and you can shoot something you're touching, unlike X-wing.
Almost every single ship has more than one weapon system pointing in different directions, so a player who gives a shit will generally try maneuver in such a way as to fire more than one weapon in the same turn. This sounds easy enough, but there are mines, asteroid fields, not to mention other ships all clogging up the game board so good luck with that.
Frigates, corvettes and other tiny Tier 3 ships have two hull points and can be wiped out in a single good hit. Cruisers and other Tier 2 ships have three to five hull, so it takes a couple good shots (or a mitful of 6s) to wipe them. Battleships and the like have eight or more hull and are generally a bitch to take down.
I choose one of my squadrons, move it, then fire its weapons. Now it's your turn to choose one squadron, move and fire. Back and forth until all squadrons are done, then send out the damage control teams to get shields back online, and a new round starts. Who goes first each round is sorta a big deal, but Firestorm is no way near as alpha-strikey as other games and nobody gets tabled round 1.
All the various special abilities are called Model Assigned Rules and there's over 50 - way too many of them to mention here, ranging from "why does anyone want that?" to "mwhahahaha". Different ships have different MARs but with only a couple of exceptions there aren't many combos between ships, unlike Warmachine where this dude buffs that dude who fucks your world apart.
Mercifully the MARs are standardized, same name, and all in the main rulebook, so Spartan doesn't just make shit up like GW. You can buy MARs and other upgrades for your ships. Almost all ships have at least one upgrade available. Some bigger ships you can mix and match half a dozen MARs.
Nobody remembers what this acronym means, but you get to choose 3 (maybe 4) cards to play that allow you to do cool shit you normally couldn't, cause strategery! Some TAC are available to everyone, others are specific to your race or faction.
This game takes a while, ok? Like 2-3 hours. If you're new, add another hour. More ships? More hours. They're working on making it more streamlined with a new version without dumb-downing and breaking everything in the process.
SRS please leave cause the rules be wonky and a tad broken, but whatever, eat 18 bomber dice, bitch!
SRS refers to Short Range Spacecraft, which are the fighter screens or bomber wings that are represented on the tabletop by either large or small SRS tokens, with a dice in it representing 'wings'.
They divide into the following groups:
- Interceptors - These little bastards can proactively make a mess of other SRS tokens, can re-actively make intercept moves against enemy bombers, and can shoot down torpedoes like Battlestar Galactica. Even a few of them can make your torpedoes useless. The only downside, they cannot directly attack ships.
- Fighters - These jack-of-all trades can fight other SRS tokens or attack ships, and have a 18" range, but that still doesn't convince most people to field them. Even the game designers wonder what the hell they were thinking.
- Bombers - Can hold their own against fighters with the added bonus of having a fucktonne of attack dice (18 dice on a full 6-die wing) against ships, the backhander for this being they only have 12" movement, but so what? If your enemy doesn't have interceptors on the defense, you will wreck his shit.
- Assault Craft - the shortest move range of all SRS (8") with the same dogfighting ability as fighters, but laden with a tonne of pissed off dudes to deliver into an enemy ship. If you don't feel like your ships have enough Marines already, that is.
- Support Shuttles - Shares the Assault crafts tiny move distance, but who needs it when these guys will be hugging a ship in order to repair it or provide replacement crew.