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Sunday, 30 July 2017

What the Firestorm....??

We're starting to get rules snippets from SG now about v3 of Firestorm Armada....and for me, this does not bode well. Let's have a look at a few of these;

1. Cloaks

Cloaks have been significantly reduced in value - models shooting at a cloaked model now use HEavy (blue) dice rather than Exploding (red) dice. Now I'm certainly not against introduction of the Red-Blue-Black dice mechanics in FA - they would fit well in certain areas, and it's a change myself and the FFG suggested, so it's nice to see some things come through.

Cloaks, however, are not one area that I believe this is a good thing. This essentially nerfs cloaks to the same as in PF, and it makes them sh*t. I always advocated that PF and FA stats should align as far as possible (something that did not happen), and that FA lore should over-rule PF lore, as it came first and was established. This also did not happen - and we have giant space dino-eldars kitted out with nose-rings and howdahs...just stooopid.

The Relthoza being masters of nano-tech and stealth doesn't come through when you're reducing the effectiveness of a cloak by a massive amount - Exploding dice normally have a hit probability overall of 0.8 per die, whereas on a cloaked model in FA v2 you halve your AD, making the probability approximately 0.4 (it's actually slightly lower on a macro level since you round down in FA) - so your attacks are half as effective, i.e. 50%.

Non-exploding "heavy" die have a hit probability of 0.67%, which means they're 83.75% as effective as exploding dice - or a 16.67% reduction in effectiveness. So Cloaks went from being 50% effective at reducing incoming fire to 16.67% effective. Wow - that seems utter garbage.

2. Movement

So it seems we're going down the Halo route of pivots for FA. This is personally something I don't like, but of course it remains to be seen how it pans out. I'm not against pivots as a mechanic, I just think it alters the "feel" of Firestorm, so I think it shouldn't be there. It's a rather imprecise tool too, since you're using the model's own base, you move it without putting a marker for where the edge was and you could open up the possibility for arguments....not something I've ever relished. With the "drift" mechanic (which sounds just like an unnecessarily rebranded minimum move/turn limit), you're also going to encounter the same issues with movement that FA v2 has when it comes to the knife fight - which was one area the FFG looked specifically at resolving.

3. Fleet Building

OMG - going back to %age MFV values? Are you F*cking kidding me? The %age system is easy to say, but a b*stard to use daya to day, and VERY open to abuse. It's also difficult to introduce new ships because if you get the points wrong, it can be impossible to field them in some games. In short, there are more min-max options that are difficult to spot if they are legal or not, and test - since balance is all about testing, this isn't going to allow much time for that, so I don't expect v3 to be balanced in any sensible sense of the word.

4. Weapons

So there are some good things here - one is that they're using a suggestion by the FFG (even if they don't admit it or credit us) about how to deal with linking easily, and that is to have 2 values for weapons - one to use for being the focus fire (or lead) ship, and one for if you're joining in...makes on the fly maths easier.

They've renamed the range bands, which is just stupid and unnecessary. Point Blank? In a starship combat game? Come on! <sigh> Also, the "WARs" (Weapon Assigned Rules) now replace coherence effects (which again seems unnecessary), and some are direct ports from those that already don't really work in Planetfall, so I'm not a fan. Kinetic Weapons are going to be hellish in this edition, now the Dindrenzi don't have to worry about fixed arcs and their weapons f*ck shields. Sorylians get a kick in the teeth since it seems scatter weapons now only work in RB1 (not going to use the stupid name for that!).

Overall

In short, what we seem to be seeing is a wholesale copy/paste from Planetfall with some small concessions to prior FA....but not many. Thsi si feeling a lot like the clusterfuck that v1.5 was, but in a much, much larger way at a time when FA and Spartan can't afford to do this. I don't see this winning over existing players who want a bit of a fatser game or attracting people from other wargames. All it seems to be doing is aligning PF & FA closer together in ways that don't make any sense, and actually detract from former strengths of the game.

Let's face it, if you like FA now, this is unlikely to float your boat, because too many things have been messed with, seemingly arbitrarily. I swear to god if the next change is that Fleet Guides are announced as ORBATS I'm going to have to physically hurt someone!

The big question to me, however, is how on earth are they going to balance all these changes before release? The answer? I don't think they're going to even really try. I think they're going to do a Planetfall v1 and release and change on the fly until it seems to be ok-ish. The problem there being that took over a year for PF v1, and by the time they'd done it they'd lost interest in the game ad abandoned it for...well, until now, actually. The issue with FA at this point is that PF was a new, exciting game with lots of models and it was ground combat and...ohh, new shiney! etc. FA is not that, and it's lost a huge amount of its playerbase. Where are they going to get balancing feedback from? The existing beta-group plus a few more people? How well is that going to work?

Now there is a good outcome here - it's strengthened my resolve to finish Fanstorm!