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
Started playing Firestorm Armada December 2014