As 2016 draws to a close, I wanted to share another small article on gaming. Strategy is an important part to any good wargame, but a lot of people don't really understand what Strategy actually is, or how to apply it. Hopefully you will learn both by the end of this article:
Strategy is simply a plan. First and foremost, you need one Goal. Defining your goal is the most important part of the strategy, as it shapes everything else, so it's really important to define the best goal. The goal is simply a desired end state you wish to achieve; an achievement. Once you have one Goal, a focus, you can refine your plan with Objectives.
Objectives tell you how to achieve your Goal. They are very specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely: SMART. Goals are not Objectives, but people often conflate the two. Goals generally are not specific or timely; they may not even seem attainable.
For example, a video game may have two Achievements:
- Beat level 1 on Hard difficulty without dying
- Kill 100 enemies with a specific weapon
The first Achievement is a Goal, as it does not inform you in anyway on what to do or how to do it. Each player will probably develop their own way to achieve this goal.
The second Achievement is an Objective. It is specific (use a certain weapon), it is measurable (kill 100 enemies), and it is attainable (every player should think they can do it). However, it isn't exactly timely, as there is no time limit; it is merely up to the player to determine when they wish to do it. It also isn't relevant to anything by itself, because it is not supporting a given goal; again, it is up to the player to create this Goal. If the player has the Goal to actively complete the Achievements in the game, then it becomes relevant. If the player doesn't have this goal, then this Achievement does not align with their goal, and they will not actively pursue it.
In many FSA games, most players only have the goal to kill their opponent; this is pretty much the worst goal you could have, as it t does not help you with the second part of strategy: developing your game plan. Here is a broad Strategy for when the scenario only calls for you to kill your opponent:
Maximize game points while minimizing losses to obtain a winning condition
1. Destroy enemy units to gain points
2. Prevent opponent from gaining points by protecting units
3. Control game tempo by baiting/forcing your opponent to make certain moves
Our Objectives are in priority order as well. The primary Objective is to kill units, because that is how you get points, which is what you need to win. The secondary Objective is to deny your opponent opportunities to gain points; this is how you keep from losing. It also gives you future opportunities to do damage and score points later.
The last Objective is about Tempo. If you can't realistically cause damage with your next Activation, and you can't do anything to protect your fleet, what should you do? This is the answer. Books could be written about game tempo, so I'll give one example. If you ever find yourself predicting how your opponent will react to your Activation choice (Unit A or Unit B) you're thinking about Tempo. It's about defining your opponent's choices, and is a large but subtle part of gameplay. Generally, if you can dictate the flow of the game by acting instead of reacting, you should be in a better position to inflict damage while minimizing losses.
With three prioritized Objectives supporting one Goal, we now have a good Strategy for playing Firestorm Armada.
Everything else within the game, from Deployment to your final Activation is Tactics. List-building is technically Grand Strategy and Logistics, as it happens before you start playing the game. I’ll try to address both to some degree in the future.
First, an apology. I know there isn't much Firestorm Armada content online, because I'm probably like you and constantly looking for it, so anything is better than nothing. I intended to post every Saturday, and that has not happened.
Now, the excuse. Right after my last post, I went on a trip and didn't pack my laptop appropriately, which resulted in a cracked screen. This made it very difficult to access my backlog of conent, which I had just transferred from my phone. While I could have found a solution, such as transferring the data onto another computer in my home, that 5 minutes of work seemed like too much work. I finally fixed my screen ($109 seemed like a good rate), so here we are.
I've had this Fleet concept banging around in my head for a while, and thought I would share it first. Occasional dance partner Ruckdog of the Man Battlestations Forum and Podcast, is going to Adepticon, and would really like to win a game with his Terrans. Two weeks ago he posted on his weekly blog his thoughts from a terrible player (his words). I provided some input on both the MBS FSA Forum, as well as the Spartan Games FSA Forum. Here's a completely different fleet concept for Terrans, and FSA in general:
800 Point Terran Fleet:
230 Battlestation (Beams, Nukes, Shield Projector, 3x Interceptors)
225 3x Destroyers (Nukes, Sectored Shielding)
225 3x Torpedo Cruisers (+1 Shield/Projector, Nuke/Spook Torps)
120 4x Armsmen Frigates
Basically, this entire fleet is effective without moving. The Battlestation and Destroyers have Maneuverable, everything else can lob Torps in Any Arc while at Full Stop. For this style of list, set-up is crucial. The Battlestation and Destroyers need good firing lanes, but don't necessarily want to be in the open. The rest should be deployed behind Impeding/Blocking Terrain and/or within the Battlestation's Interceptor/Shield bubble. Ideally, the Destroyers will be placed such that, if an enemy closes within 20" or Shunts behind them, the Frigates and/or Cruisers can reposition to use their Direct Weapons to defend them, if they aren't covering this area already. This reactionary move should be the only movement this Fleet needs to do.
The Nukes are important for one reason; it encourages your opponent to do something about thesm. Don't expect to actually land damage with a Nuclear Explosion, but do expect it to subtly manipulate how your opponent plays. They might just send a unit where every Frigate, Cruiser, and Battlestation Direct Fire weapon can blast them directly, which is great, because you aren't really planning to use these weapons.
Keep in mind this Fleet is playing the long game. The goal is to frustrate your opponent with how little damage they've inflicted after 3 Turns, while you've been plinking away with Torps. Sadly, even a single Interceptor Token can ruin this fleet's day; the best solution is for the Destroyers to get a lucky Crit and Nuke any Tokens your opponent has, but odds are you'll just have to settle for doing very little damage. Make sure your opponent is also doing very little damage, and play for a 6-9 turn draw. This fleet should only lose if a mistake is made during Deployment; it wins when your opponent makes a mistake.
Started playing Firestorm Armada December 2014