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.
First, there has been a lot going on for me, taking away from my FSA hobby time. Pokemon GO has been the largest consumer of this hobby time. For example, I'm taking my nephew to a baseball game today, so we can walk to 10+ Pokèstops and catch Fighting Types... Which means I'm not finishing the final Scenario 4 Layout Template today. That will be done tomorrow morning.
Right now, I'm sitting in the NOVA planning meeting to cover several event preparation activities, like Prize Bag packing. Soon, we're doing a walk through of the convention spaces, so we can better understand what the event weekend will be like.
In the next ten days, I have to do the following:
- Print out all templates, 8 tables each, potentially adding some new items
- Obtain container/crate for Terrain Templates
- Print Narrative Event Cards
- Scenario 4 Cardboard Template
The GT Scenario templates work extremely well for quickly changing the table designs. We can easily change out 8 tables in 30 minutes, and have all layouts be identical. This will make the GT a fair event.
I haven't posted photos, but we have made plenty of Debris & Asteroid Field models. We also made some outstanding Ghost Stations, which I think everyone will appreciate.
Also, everyone attending the NOVA Open should have:
- Free WiFi
- Parking/Valet Discouts
- Food/drink Discounts
These all require you to show your Event Badge. There are several event spaces; the main Event Level (E) is the first basement. Take the escalators down to the Registration desks. The Firestorm Armada event will be on the second level down (where the Vendor Hall and Lemonade Raffle will be), in the Potomoc 4 Hall (along with Dropzone). Just turn right when you get off the escalators.
The various seminars are being held in the various "President" board rooms on the 3rd Floor. If you have some free time, I suggest you sign up for one of these fantastic events and improve your hobby skills. For those of you in the Build and Play,
Finally, remember there is a Charity Lounge on 18th floor, in Room 1850. This will be the cheapest place to get beverages, there will be plenty of drink choices available, and a lot of VIPs will be hanging out there a lot. There will be several food trucks servicing the convention, but they tend to sell out fast, so keep this in mind when you're hungry. There is also a Board Game Room on the bottom level, next to Infinity in the Washington Room. Whenever I have free time, I'll probably be in either of these locations.
Last night, Bill and I recorded an episode with Firebase Delta, talking about all of our events at the 2016 NOVA Open. In some ways, it was similar to our interview Man Battlestations, but we covered some new ground, as we've made further progress on our NOVA preparations.
For me, the focus is still on producing the GT Terrain Packets. I finished Scenario 2 - Secure the Trade Lane today; it is available for download in the NOVA 2016 section. While drawing this diagram, I realized I had used 9" Gas Clouds in 2 of the 3 Scenarios. After discussing this with Bill, they have all been reduced to 8" diameter Gas Clouds. This allows three important things:
That's why there is a very wide and clear fire line between the Objectives; holding the Objectives should be risky for both players, to keep things balanced (remember, you get +1 Battlelog for each turn you hold an Objective). However, its also pretty easy for your opponent to either contest the Objective, or simply blow your holding squadron off the Objective. This should lead to a lot of different strategies on how to play this Scenario. In theory, its entirely balanced, and everyone will need to play to their fleet's strengths to succeed.
While working on this, I've been troubled by my last table design for Scenario 1. This table has probably been redesigned 5 times now, and I'm still not happy with it. I had removed the LOS blocking terrain between deployment zones last time in a fury of terrain adjustment, and I think it's really important to not have direct LOS between deployment zones. I want players to maneuver and explore the table, not just duke it out across the short table edge. So, I added two new LOS blockers in the middle of each table edge. There is still some LOS between deployment zones, but its a fairly narrow channel, so if you want to hide for the first turn or two (cleverly waiting for your Tier 1 to arrive automatically on Turn 3) you can easily do so, even if you activate second.
However, I feel like this design has been out for a while, and I really don't want to ret-con it. My instinct is to change it anyway, but I'd really appreciate your feedback on which table design to use, and why. This Event is for you.
Next week I'll be posting the Terrain Packet for Scenario 3. This will require a four-piece template for the central terrain feature: a small planet with a rubble ring. Rubble is just like Debris, but without the d6 event table. At Adepticon, we'll be using a two piece template, as I'm ok using 11x17 paper for the main event, but my intent is for everyone to have an equal opportunity to practice these Scenarios in Tournament conditions. A level playing field is very important for competition.
Until next time!
Just a few updates for this weekend. First, Bill received all the Deep Cut Studio's 4'x6' neoprene terrain mats for all our NOVA tables. These mats are printed at a very high quality on "mousepad" material, and will serve as an ideal playing surface. These were a substantial investment for this and future events.
Second, I put together the first GT Terrain Packet for Scenario 1 - Intensifying Engagement. This packet includes everything you need to play this scenario, so there's a diagram on where to position all of the Terrain Templates, as well as everything you'll need to print out. I use glossy cardstock for my templates, but you could use regular cardstock or just paper.
This is a custom scenario we created, and is a modification of Rulebook Scenario 2 - Escalating Engagement. There are two major differences:
Started playing Firestorm Armada December 2014