It’s been two weeks since the NOVA Open, so it’s time I take some time and gather my thoughts… (Note: this is very long, as I cover 4 days of Firestorm Events)
First, there’s a few things to check out. Primarily, please check out the photographs of my Aquan Fleet, painted by Scattershot Painting (https://www.facebook.com/ScatterShotPainting/posts/1777925335827879) just for this event. They turned out beautifully, and I received a lot of compliments for them over the course of the weekend. Over in the NOVA section (http://ops-center.weebly.com/nova-2016.html), I posted two slideshows. The first are photos from our earlier events, like the GT. The second slideshow is only from the Narrative, which was a lot of fun for everyone… well, maybe not for the Zenian players, who lost our 6000 vs 6000 game. Second, you can check out the official NOVA Open photo gallery (https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/novaopen/sets/72157673281149145/). Lex, a NOVA Open Archivist, also documented some of the cinematic events from our games, and posted them to Twitter (https://twitter.com/search?q=%40novaopen%20%40spartangames&src=typd). Finally, Andy Rucker, who won best painted for his Terrans at the GT, has already posted his thought on his Man Battlestations Blog (http://www.manbattlestations.com/blog/2016/09/15/event-report-nova-firestorm-armada-gt/).
A lot of things happened, so I guess I’ll start from Day 1.
Build and Play
The Firestorm Armada Build and Play was our most successful Event. For $45 dollars, you would get:
· A Patrol Box of your choice
· Access to all the hobby supplies needed to build and prep your models for painting (rubbing alcohol bath to remove the mold release agent!)
· TOs would discuss the gameplay with you while modeling, how to download the rules to your smart phone, etc.
· A quick introductory game to show you how to play, focusing on basic mechanics (movement and shooting)
We only had a few initially sign up, but as people walked by our area and were drawn in by the beautiful space mats, Bill and I would talk up the game and almost inevitably get people to sign up and build a starter fleet. One of our first participants, Johnathan, was drawn in like this, signed up for the Build and Play, and signed up for the Beginner’s Tournament that evening as well.
We had so many sign up this way that we were able to get NOVA to duplicate the Build and Play event on Friday as well. At the end, we handed out 5 Core Races, all Zenian Races, all Mauraders, and a couple Kurak Alliance fleets.
We had a small 500 point “Tournament” for our Build and Play participants, if they were up for a playing actual games, and I think we had 4 participants. Every played two games, and walked away with some NOVA swag and other things, like Spartan Games Gift Certificates. Johnathan trampled the competition with his new RSN (maybe my early advice worked?), winning both games and earning a 30-40 pound gift certificate from Spartan. I expect to face his RSN in the future, if we can make our schedules match.
Unfortunately, while we had expected 3 teams, only Mike and Nikki showed up to play. Honestly, I don’t remember what we ended up doing, but we played several games of Firestorm Armada, and since we had a bunch of prize support, Mike and Nikki ‘won’ the Team Tournament and walked away with the top prizes.
When we had proposed running the Firestorm Armada GT at the 2016 NOVA, they wanted us to run Events for all four days. The Team Tournament was an extra event we hadn’t planned to run, and there were a lot of issues with getting it available for registration. I don’t think Registration was finally open until a couple months before NOVA, so we weren’t really surprised by the lack of participation, but still disappointed by the no-shows. Fortunately, we ran a 2nd Build and Play and had a few more new players put together fleets and watch our games, so the day wasn’t really a loss. I expect next year Thursday and Friday will be Build and Play Events, with a Beginner’s Tournament Friday afternoon/evening, and basically open gaming.
Firestorm Armada Grand Tournament
The Big Event! For the couple weeks leading up to the main event, we had several people contact us stating they couldn’t make it. BigBen and Gasological (local players) couldn’t make it on Labor Day Weekend, Josh and Larry (Adepticon TO and Adepticon Champion) canceled a few days prior due to family issues, N2OJoe canceled the day of the Tournament due to a dental emergency. In the end, we had 5 wonderful players, instead of the 10+ we had expected, and we made the most of it.
Scenario 1 – Intensifying Engagement
I’ll have to get the Tournament Results and Army Lists later, so I’ll just focus on the Scenarios. This didn’t play out the way play-testing had lead us, mostly because we had learned it was a trap to place all of your forces in one corner and drive at each other, as it makes you very vulnerable to units flanking in from Reserve. Unfortunately, our players didn’t know this, and inevitably ended up charging each other along the board edge, with one player falling into the trap and losing handily. On the plus side, everyone seemed to really enjoy our modification to the Escalating Engagement deployment rules, so we’ll keep that.
I’m thinking next year, the Primary Objective will be Table Quarters, while the Secondary Objective will be keeping your Tier 3 Squadrons alive. Building a terrain layout with Table Quarters and limited Reserves should make for an interesting game.
Scenario 2 – Secure the Trade Lane
A minor modification to Hold the Waypoints, by simply placing the Objectives as far apart as possible, and then building the terrain around this corridor. Something that isn’t immediately apparent is squadrons holding the Objective have no immediate cover, and have very open lanes of fire to each other. The rest of the table had plenty of terrain for you to maneuver around, and two gas clouds you can hide within in the middle.
These games all looked very close, and I saw a lot of different strategies and tactics employed. The only issue we had was confusion on how to count the Scenario Points. For next time, all Scenario Points are Bonus Points which will be added to your Battlelog at the end. While this means each player will have to tally these points during the game, it will lead to the best final results.
Expect this Scenario and Table to return next year.
Scenario 3 – System Conquest
This table went through so many iterations, it’s ridiculous, and the end result didn’t really work out. While the central Planet with a ring was cool, the rest of the table didn’t really support the Scenario. I don’t think anyone attempted to capture their opponent’s Ghost Station, and generally these games ended up very lopsided. Next year, expect to return to using Planetoids as each player’s ‘base’, and a completely different table layout.
Scenario 4 – Capture Ancient Beacons
A variant on Recover Resources, where we place all the Objectives on the mid-line, and replace the Objectives with indestructible Gravity Towers. For further fun and excitement, the towers were placed inside large Gas Clouds and a central 12” Debris Field. The rest of the terrain was placed to give you plenty of cover Turn 1, and basically nothing afterwards.
This was the best game for all of our players, for a few reasons. Our top two players were duking it out for the Championship, our bottom two players were scrambling to finally pull a dominate win. Both games went back and forth, and were even all the way until the end. I’d like to think it’s because I had developed a really good scenario and table layout, but we also had players facing opponents around their skill level, which probably did more to create fantastic closing games.
I expect this Scenario and Table Design to return as is next year as well. The only modification will be for the Scenario Objectives. Having two Towers ‘Secured’ at the end of the game will still net 4 Tournament Points, but I expect Capturing a Tower will net 2 Tournament Points.
In the end, Jason’s Oroshan barely edged out Greg’s Dindrenzi at the end of Turn 7 for the Minor Victory, giving him 1 more Tournament point and the Championship. Nikki’s Aquans placed 3rd, and Mike’s Relthoza soundly beat Andy’s Terrans in the last game (suffering the GT’s only two Reactor Explosions didn’t help Andy at all). On the plus side, because of the lack of turn-out, everyone walked away with something, and everyone seemed to have a great time.
I’ll post Fleet Lists and Round Results next week.
In many ways, Bill and I were looking forward to this more than any other event, because we just wanted it to be fun for everyone. However, like the Team Tournament, we hadn’t initially planned to run a big event on Sunday, communication was slow, and registration was low, with only Mike, Nikki, and Jason being there on Sunday. We had planned to just have random table layouts, with participants playing Rulebook Scenarios with a few midgame twists, but that wouldn’t really work with three players. Fortunately, we had three TOs, and collectively decided to play a 6000 point Kurak vs. Zenian megabattle. Everyone scrambled to build a 2000 point list, and with some tweaking and model borrowing, everyone was eventually set. I was pleasantly surprised to find out all of my professionally painted Aquans, by Scattershot Painting (https://www.facebook.com/ScatterShotPainting/posts/1777925335827879 could hit 2000 points without going completely crazy on Upgrades and Hardpoints, and was able to put all my models on the table.
We decided to try something new, and pushed three tables together, creating a 4’ x 18’ playing field, with Kurak facing Zenian. I ended up in the center, opposite Mike’s Relthoza, and after everyone had deployed, we started playing, three activations per side, one activation per player. This seemed like a good idea at the time, but as the game moved into Turn 3, it became very apparent that some activations took much longer than others, so there was a lot of downtime while we waited for someone to attack with SRS, move and shoot, then board.
One innovation we used from Dan Bird was if someone fired anything at a Model, the other two players could not target that Model with their Activation. This way, there wouldn’t be two or three Squadrons all lobbing Torpedoes at the same Model, which would very quickly lead to insta-kills. However, the large board did mean my Aquans had a target rich environment. From my perspective, it’s a thing of beauty when Destroyers and Battlecruisers get to fire shots to their Port and Starboard in the same Activation; Bill and Mike would likely disagree.
We had a lot of notable events that cause all of us to laugh and cry. The Ba’Kash flanked in near a Gravity Well, and then we almost sucked off the table edge. The Relthoza repeatedly failed to breach the boosted Aquan DR, Bill’s Directorate learned the hard way a Xelocian Dreadnought is a real beast… oh, and Aquan Mines caused a ridiculous amount of damage across the field. If it sounds like I’m focusing on all the bad things that happened to the Zenians, well, there’s a reason the final Battlelog was 40 to 5 after 3 turns. Also, the planet blowing up and bouncing off Aquan armor and shields while crumpling Ba’Kash armor didn’t help either.
How did a planet blow up, you ask? Well, for the normal cinematic reasons.
Wow, that’s way more than I wanted to write… if you’ve stuck through to the end, thank you. The 2017 NOVA Open should be available for registration around 1 Feb, and expect to see Firestorm Armada events available then. Hopefully having registration from the first day will encourage more participation next year.
Started playing Firestorm Armada December 2014