I’ve wanted to run a competitive Firestorm Armada (FSA) Tournament for some time now. I have attended a few events in the past year, which is shaping my Event. Right now, the plan is to host a 600 point Tournament at Games ‘n Stuff on May 15th. 600 points seems like an odd point-level, so I wanted to explain why I chose this MFV, as well as some problems I’m struggling with so far.
Why 600 Points?
If you look at the popular gaming Tournaments, you will see some commonalities. Weather its X-Wing, Guildball, or Magic: The Gathering, Rounds against one opponent tend to take about an hour. This Round length seems to be ideal for gaming Tournaments; otherwise, it wouldn’t be so popular. I think the reason why is this: it allows for more games against more opponents. The more games you have, the more data there is to determine who the best player is on a given day, and more variety in opponents. Unfortunately, FSA is NOT a fast game to play. Due to several factors, a given Activation can be slow and tedious to work out, even for experienced players. I assume at least half of any Event’s participants will not be experienced players, which slows the gameplay down.
The easiest way to speed up the game is to reduce the number of Activations available to each player. One option would be to tell players they can only bring X number of Activations; another is to limit the MFV for the event. Of the two, I feel limiting the MFV is the best way to go, as it works within the normal playing rules. After a lot of playing and discussion, I have concluded 600 points is the smallest viable MFV, as it allows enough points for variety in fleet building. All factions can fill their minimum Fleet Requirements for about 450-500 points, and without taking any ‘minimum’ squadron sizes, so players have the option to add a bit more to their minimum. Generally, players will bring 4-5 Activations, and can potentially field two Tier 1 or two Tier 2 choices, or three Tier 3 choices.
This facilitates the Objectives to allow enough time to finish each Round AND have many games during the Event.
600 points creates a big problem, though. At this point value, Battleships completely dominate the game. I’m sure anyone who has ever player a Patrol Fleet Box vs. a Patrol Fleet Box can agree that most games end up with two Battleships on the table, and everything else destroyed. The reason for this is simple; each player simply lacks enough Activations with high AD pools to destroy a Battleship. And since I already identified I want the Tournament to have as few activations as possible, there is an inherent conflict here between Competition and Fun.
So, I’ve decided to do something any Tournament Organizer should be extremely hesitant to do, and that is to add additional restrictions to the gameplay. If you look across the Tournament scene, you will see all sorts of added restrictions. Some ban certain units, or combos, or certain moves… whatever the TOs have decided needs to be implemented. Sometimes, the purpose behind these is to create “balance” where it doesn’t exist in the normal game, sometimes it’s to maintain the “spirit” of the game. In my case, it’s not so much “balance”, as creating that “fun” playing environment, which is half of my Goal. I don’t think it is fun when Battleships dominate the game, but if everyone brings one, it is balanced. It’s also balanced if no one brings Battleships, and can still be fun.
So, here are the Fleet Building Restrictions as of right now:
I’m debating restricting Assault Carriers as well, because frankly, they’re often just as tough as Battleships. Here are all the factions with Assault Carriers in the game:
Mitigating Limited Choice
I have many test games with these restrictions, and I know it accomplishes the main Objective (make the game fast and fun). Everyone I have convinced to give this 600-point restricted format a shot has said they had fun afterwards. But there are two problems it creates:
1) Not all factions have a viable Tier 1 choice with these restrictions
2) Starter Boxes don’t include viable Tier 1 choices with these restrictions
Specifically, here are all the factions without a viable Tier 1:
Frankly, this sucks, and I’m not sure how to address it. So far, the best option we have is to allow these specific factions to ally in an acceptable Tier 1 choice, and to allow these factions to proxy it with their regular Tier 1 Model. For example, the Oroshan could use their Battlecarrier as a Syndicate Battlecruiser; Tarakians could field their Battleship as a Ryuishi Carrier. I don’t particularly like this solution, but it’s better than excluding players because their fleet doesn’t have many Tier 1 options.It’s also unfortunate that brand new players with only a starter box can’t play in this modified 600 point format either. Of course, the best solution would be if Spartan Games quit putting such beefy Tier 1s in their starter boxes, but I can’t control
I’d like to know what you think about this 600 point format; particularly these restrictions, why I created them, and how I’m trying to accommodate all players. And if you play any 600 point games, I’d love to receive your feedback
Starter Boxes don’t include viable Tier 1 choices with these restrictions
I figured I would post photos of all the fleets from Adepticon, from when they were put out for paint judging. I'll start with the Painting winner.
Here are the rest of the photos; enjoy!
First, I must apologize for not posting for the last few months. This WILL be different going forwards. Every Saturday morning I'll post something, even if it's short.
Right now, I'm waiting to fly out from Chicago, after spending the last three days at Adepticon. Here's a quick summary:
Thursday: Ticket to Ride and 7 Wonders Tournaments. Placed third & fourth, and had a great time. Also played a 2-player card game with Robert (from Firebase Delta)
Friday: 12 hours of painting, because I wanted to field two completely different lists at the Firestorm Armada tournament. Ultimately, this was a waste of Convention time, but I don't really regret it. I painted to a decent quality:
2 Assault Cruisers
RSN Carrier and Large Token
4 Buckler Escorts
1 Retarius Escort (used as Corvette)
Finished my modular Cruisers/Heavy Cruisers
Granted, there is a lot more to do before they're "finished"... I still need to learn how to use my airbrush effectively, so I can paint a nice engine glow effect.
Because the painting competition entries were due that night, most people at the painting tables were professionals doing some last minute touch-ups. It was pretty awesome being in that crowd, seeing their amazing work become more amazing. Winners announce tonight; I expect to see some of their work win.
Saturday: 4 1000-point games of Firestorm Armada, each lasting 2.5 hours.
Game 1: Completely new Scenario (Armistice Failed), which wasn't reflected in the Primer packet in any way. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of questions on the rules, and many Scenario mistakes were made across the Tournament.
For my game against Nolan and his Sorylians, I'm pretty sure it would have been a close game if we had played the Scenario correctly, as I would have destroyed his Dreadnought carrying the Objective before it Shunt Escaped. I also tried my Assault list for the first time, and it sorta worked as designed.
At least the game went 5-6 turns.
End result, crushing defeat (suffering 20+ successes from 12 non-exploding dice killed my Carrier before it could escape)
Game 2: Played against Sean's Terrans in Defense Network, basically the same as Primer mission. Tried the Assault list, made some mistakes with deployment and targeting... But having 1/3 of my MFV in Reserve until Turn 4 basically cost me the game, as we only played 4 turns. (I don't know why, but this game played very slowly)
End Result: Crushing Defeat, maybe one Tournament point
Game 3: Had the pleasure to play against Matt (of Firebase Delta, "Balor" on the Spartan Forum, and frequent guest on The Hub Systems Podcast) and his Works Raptors in Echoes in the Dark (semi-blind deployment). This game was very interesting in how it played out, because he massed in one corner. His strategy completely threw me off, but makes sense. Maintain distance for as long as possible to take advantage of Difficult Target, High DR, and Stealth to plink at me with Torps, then try to Assault all at once when Stealth is no longer viable.
So while I mostly massed in the opposite corner (I generally want distance too), his first two activations taught me I needed to close quickly or get slaughtered. Fortunately for me, the 5 Interceptor Praetorian was a hard counter to tis strategy, and I was generally able to cluster my fleet within the 12" diameter PD bubble and stay safe to close. The Heavy Cruisers were extremely lucky with their PD and DR 5, and were generally able to defend themselves. I still lost one without doing much with them, but clustering my fleet prevented a game-losing situation.
I think my game-winning move was peeling off my Cruiser Squadron on Turn 3/4, to flank around a Debris Field and meet his fleet head-on. The Cruisers took a lot of fire, but were able to inflict 2 Crits on his Admiral's ship, and my surviving Frigates, Corvettes, and Escorts were able to finish it off. This was the second Capitol ship lost, and quickly turned the tide in my favor.
Matt proceeded to maul my Cruisers, but despite several attacks and one boarding Assault (which, despite Special Forces, I was able to repel) he couldn't kill the last one, which allowed my Fleet to knock out a WR Battlecruiser.
Unfortunately, the game ended due to time, but I think we played 5 Turns. Despite having most of my fleet, I wasn't in a position to do much more after this. I think Matt would have torn me apart the next turn. He still had 530 points of models on the table... Hmm, I think we did the Battlelog wrong with the Battlecruisers. Final Battlelog should be:
Admiral Assault Carrier: +6/-4
Corvette Squadron: +2/-1
Reform Corvettes Turn 1: 0/-1
Cruiser Squadron: 0/+2
Corvette Squadron: 0/+1
Frigate Squadron: -1/+2
Final Battlelog: 9/-1 (Maybe my Battleship lost 5 HP, but I don't recall). I also scored 5 Tournament points.
Game 4: My final game was against Dale, "Dalek Unz" on the Man Battlestations Forum. This game was one of those crazy games I was sure I would lose, as he was able to Battle Shunt his Relthoza Carrier + Banes onto the Objective Turn 1, earning +4 Battlelog at the end of Turns 1&2. This put us at 10/-1 Battlelog at the end of Turn 2.
However, my Cruisers once again heroically sacrificed themselves and double-Crit his Carrier after performing a Reserve Entry in its rear-Arc, then quickly crumpled to his Battlestations guns and 2-3 Bombing Runs. This resulted in a net 3 Battlelog in my favor, as well as removing the Carrier's 6 Bombers and 2 Interceptors from the Objective.
My Corvettes and remaining Frigate Squadron also arrived to outflank his flanking Destroyers, and were able to finish them off with multiple crazy-good rolls landing rear-Arc double-Crits. Heck, my Corvettes managed to land a Crit with Boarding after destroying one Destroyer with their guns. My dice were simply hot, while Dale's dice turned cold.
At the end of Turn 7, I managed to destroy the last Relthoza model (the Battlestation), which secured the Secondary Objective, netting me 6 Tournament points. Final Battlelog was 15/2.
Overall, despite my abysmal performance in the first two games, I had a lot of fun during those 12 hours. That's how many games I get to play in a month if I'm lucky.
Aftermath - NOVA Open
I have mixed feeling about attending Adepticon this year; I certainly did not use my time effectively during my 3 days there, because I painted instead of experiencing everything available. I also wish there was more time to socialize with the 20-ish other Firestorm Armada players.
The good news is, I will use this experience to inform decisions on running Firestorm Armada events at the 2016 NOVA Open near Washington, DC, and held on Labor Day Weekend (September 1-4). NOVA is very similar to Adepticon, so if you enjoyed Adepticon or any gaming Convention, or wish you could have attended, I strongly suggest you look into NOVA.
Every week, I will be posting status reports on our FSA NOVA development, and will be placing resources in the new NOVA section of this website. We will be posting our Scenarios ahead of time, as we will have table spaces dedicated to Firestorm Armada all four days.
I also expect to discuss our NOVA Open Events on a few Podcasts as well. The next 5 months will be busy!
Started playing Firestorm Armada December 2014