The rules for Firestorm are fairly simple and easy to learn. For instance generally speaking every shot fired by a model in the game will hit on a 4,5 or 6 with a roll of 6 counting as 2 hits and allowing you to roll another dice, if a 6 is rolled off that dice then it also counts as 2 hits and gives you another roll. This mechanic is referred to as the “Exploding Dice Mechanic” and means that even the smallest ship has a chance to inflict severe damage if the dice give the right results. Shield mechanic work in a very similar way to the shooting mechanics, for every point you have in a ships shield stat you can roll that many dice when being shot at, for every 4,5 or 6 rolled you can discount a successful shot from the enemy, this mechanic also uses the Exploding dice rule so a lucky player may be able to completely nullify a round of shooting from the enemy if he rolls right.
In addition to this the movement rules are also well designed, with ships required to move an minimum distance in inches before being able to turn, and with every ship required to move at least half its full movement allowance each turn. Ships can opt to come to a full stop but this takes place in the secondary section of the movement phase, with the movement of models taking place in the primary section of the phase. A ship can only come out of “Full Stop Mode” in the secondary section of the movement phase. Rules like this and the shooting mechanic rules mean that the game is quite balanced regardless of what factions are being played.
Speaking of the factions each one in Firestorm is well balanced, with pros and cons. No one faction is the clear power faction and each one has a different and distinct style of play. My own faction, The Dindrenzi Federation, have heavily armoured slow warships with hugely power front mounted Rail Guns, the Arc of Fire for the Rail Guns is a narrow line starting from the centre of each Dindrenzi ship, in this way the power of the rail guns is balanced by the very limited Arc of Fire and the lack of manoeuvrability of the ships.
When looking at the models on offer for a company’s wargame you have to look at two parts of the model, the quality and the price. Quality wise the models of Firestorm can compete with any of GWs models. Things like neatly sculpted faction symbols, gun turrets, command bridges and more are all present on Firestorm models. The material used is a hardy form of Resin that beat Finecast for durability and detail any day, on top of that there are very few pieces in the kits, meaning less customizations (but is a space ship so customizations wasn’t there to begin with) but easier to assemble. The one issue with the material is that brush applied undercoats don’t work, you need to spray paint on an undercoat .
Price wise it’s a grey area. 3 Dindrenzi Destroyers cost 34 NZD, and a Patrol Fleet (basically a barebones 800 point fleet with an 800 point fleet being the smallest tier of game) costing 87 NZD. I have found that a decent game size if 1000 points, so all you really need to have a decent game would be the Patrol fleet box and maybe a few more boxes here and there. So while the cost is still quite high you need a far small amount of models balancing out the cost issue.
|An example of Firestorm Armada miniatures|
One thing that will shock long time GW customers is the fact that Spartan games faction rules are all free to download from their website. The only rules you need to buy are the core rules ( a very agreeable 40 NZD) and the you can go onto download the different faction rules for free. On top of this their website is 2 separate websites rolled into one. The first part is the hobby section, with a description of each game, the downloads for each game, a gallery of photos of their models, a blog and various other hobby friendly options. The second part of their site is the online store. This has the nice effect of have a content heavy hobby section of website and a dedicated online store section; you can visit the hobby section and not feel like you are being pushed into buying something at every turn. On top of that the company as a whole seems very customer friendly, it’s a company that you wouldn’t mind supporting
|Screenshot from the hobby section of the website|
|Screenshot from the Online Store|