Spartan Games has announced their second Community Campaign on their forums. The forum members have discussed some of the implications in a separate entry here. I had a few questions on how to play in Conflict Area A: "All other priorities rescinded"; specifically:
1) Should we count the Comets as part of the 25%? I typically don't, as you could go an entire game without them showing up.
Spartan Neil responded with, "The 25% in the main rulebook is a suggestion - it is not required. For this scenario, it is unlikely you will reach this figure."
I'm somewhat offended by the suggestion that it is "unlikely" players can cover 25% of the playing area with Gas Clouds and Comets. So I did something about it. Instead of painting, I instead created a PDF file to address this issue. I posted this file in the Resources section of this site; please download it, print out the contents on 8.5x11 paper, cut out the templates, and use them in your games. Let me describe what the file contains:
Page 1: Alien Artifact Template and Comet Entry/Exit Markers
First, I created a 6" diameter circular template to place in the center of the play area. Unfortunately, you would need a 12" diameter circle to represent the entire Scenario Scoring area, and I don't know how to create this on 8.5x11 paper. The scoring area is an additional 9" away from this template's boundary, but at least it provides something to place on the board.
The Comet Entry/Exit Markers will be quite handy if you choose to play with a lot of comets. Markers 1-3 consist of the 1x2" box, as well as the dotted 1"x2" boarder. The intent is for you to cut out along the dotted line, and fold this in half. This will allow you to either hang the marker on the edge of the table, turn it into a crude clamp for your mat, or simply make a little paper tent to mark where a Comet enters and exits the table
Page 2: Comets
There are various sized Comet Templates (four different sizes), including 6" diameter and 2" diameter templates, which are the largest and smallest Comets permitted by the rules. These Comets do not include Tails, as the scenario is a "deep-space encounter", so thematically, there would be no solar wind to create a Comet Tail.
Pages 3-5: Gas Clouds
The rest of the document has a few different shapes for Gas Clouds. Two of them are full-page, and two are half-page. Simply cut them out, and as long as a models flight peg is over the template, they benefit from the -1 to hit from the Gas Cloud.
Here is how I would set up the table for this scenario. First, obtain enough terrain to cover 25% of the table with Gas Clouds. If you're using my templates, each large Gas Cloud is nominally 1/2 square foot, and each small Gas Cloud is 1/4 square foot. A 4'x4' table requires 4 square feet of terrain, so you would need 8 large Gas Clouds, or 16 small Gas Clouds. Another way to look at it is to print any 8 sheets of my Gas Cloud Templates and cut them out. I would suggest 3 of each large sheet, and 2 of the small sheets. You'll need 12 sheets for a 4'x6' table, and 16 sheets for a 8'x6' table.
I would also print out one sheet of comets, and use all of them to start. If you find you like comets, you can add more. Also print out the first page with the Alien Artifact template, as well as the 5 Comet Entry/Exit Markers.
Place the terrain however you like, but I prefer the following system:
Random Terrain Placement
First, divide the table into 2'x2' sections and number them; for a 4'x4' table, this will produce four sections (1,2,3,4). Each section is further divided into sub-sections 1'x1' in size (1,2,3,4). Create a pile of terrain templates, and get two different colored dice; designate one of the dice for the primary section, and one for the sub-section. (I use two four-sided dice (2d4), but you can also use six-sided dice to serve as d4 by re-rolling a '5' or '6'.) Roll the dice, and place the first template in the pile into the appropriate section and sub-section. Continue rolling and placing until all terrain is placed. The only rule is a given sub-section may only contain one terrain piece.
Once all the terrain is placed, it's time to move them to create an 8" gap between templates. Try to keep the terrain hazard marker (!) within the sub-sector, but break this as necessary. The goal is to create a random distribution of terrain, while allowing for dense and sparse terrain sections. If you cannot maintain an 8" gap, that's ok, just keep the gaps as large as possible. (The small Gas Clouds still create a very large buffer, which will make the 8" guideline almost impossible to maintain. One option is to consider a pair of small Gas Clouds one piece of terrain; they can be within 8" of each other, but other terrain cannot.)
BigBen and I love playing with Comets, but we found the rulebook doesn't create enough variability in Comet placement, so we use the following set-up steps. For each Comet:
Each player secretly places a die in their hand. Using each thumb, mark a potential entry/exit point for this Comet. Each player reveals which hand holds the die, creating the potential Comet Entry/Exit point. Then roll off, highest roll is the Entry Point.
This should be everything you need to setup your table for this scenario. Good luck, and I would appreciate any feedback in the comments below.
Started playing Firestorm Armada December 2014