Spartan Neil here and I thought I would create a Q&A document to run through some questions about our newly launched fighter combat game Firestorm: Strike Force.
So, let’s dive in:
Why did Spartan Games create this type of game?
It is fair to say that games like Dystopian Wars (DW) and Firestorm Armada (FA) are big projects with many factions and models and complex rules. The statistic builds alone are a large task. If we look at DW we have 600 or so models existing in a vibrant game space and it continues to grow. Whilst FA is not as large a game, the arrival of version 3.0 of the rules and our Galaxy Expansion have us busy.
The creation of a game like Firestorm: Strike Force is a much simpler process and once the game is made it is quite literally that, made. Expansions will grow the depth of the game, but these are relatively simple to manage. Such a game needs development time, but it is nowhere near as complex as building a wargame like DW or FA.
Simply put, it is a way of opening up the Firestorm IP to a whole new audience and to incrementally increase revenue with a product which does not need the levels of development that a full-blown game like DW or FA does.
Does Firestorm: Strike Force integrate into the Firestorm Galaxy, or is it standalone?
By virtue of being in the same galaxy it is integrated, but it can equally stand on its own two feet as a standalone product.
You could also perhaps ask this question in a different way: what does Firestorm Strike Force do for the Firestorm Galaxy? Such a product acts as a simple entry point into our galaxy, and allows us to take the IP of the galaxy into a different, broader marketplace. The board game is standalone, but it is very much a Firestorm product and feeds off the fighters and models we are introducing in FA 3.0.
Whilst existing fans of Firestorm are a natural customer, it is also aimed at a different customer such as those who simply love sci-fi and want a great game to play. We hope to expand the audience for FA by reaching to those who just want a ‘beer & pretzels’ style board game. It would be great if some of these new customers then venture into playing the fully-fledged FA miniature game. The market for board games is large, and whilst very populated, we feel that this style of entry-level gateway product sits well in the Firestorm Galaxy, particularly due to its ability to appeal to a younger audience.
Let me use my son Daniel as an example. At 15 he has a ton of things on his mind right now, but he loves my models and loves the FA spaceships in particular. But he just doesn’t want to play wargames now, wargames just don’t tick his box. But when I used him as a guinea pig for the fighter game he was more than happy to read the short rules, grab a card deck and kill things. He even roped his friends in, and they’d never even played a game like Firestorm: Strike Force before. Now all I have to do is get him playing FA 3.0 and I will be a happy father – just have to get him off his mobile phone first I think…
Can I play the board game and FA together?
Absolutely no reason why gamers cannot do this. Firestorm: Strike Force is very happy to just be played as a standalone product, but in my mind the idea of gamers playing FA 3.0 and having a fighter/bomber game taking place on a smaller side table, perhaps even being played by different gamers, but being tied together in some sort of overall Campaign is what drove me to make the game.
The FA 3.0 book will have recommendations in it for how the games link up. Mechanically fighters and bombers work very differently in the board game to the way they work in FA 3.0, but it really isn’t much of a stretch for gamers to connect the two together in their game play if they wish.
Did the board game’s development impact other game development?
All games need development, but a board game is nothing when compared to the development of something like Dystopian Wars or Firestorm Armada and the associated products they need. As I said earlier, when a board game is made it is effectively ‘done’ and in the case of our first board game we made sure it was flexible enough in its design to be easily expanded, and to also allow us to create other games based around it if need be.
Isn’t this going to be a hard sell?
Not to everyone. Making large games like DW, PF and FA is what takes the most amount of development time and effort. We need to keep developing these and expanding them for our customers, but equally the ability to react to an industry that is also asking for simple, faster to play games which are literally out of the box solutions is important. For folk who do not want a wargame, but want a fast and fun sci-fi game, we would like them to enjoy the Firestorm IP when they do it.
What about your Firestorm Kickstarter, does this game play a role in it?
It plays a role because it is in the Firestorm Galaxy along with all other current Firestorm products. The Firestorm Kickstarter is about ongoing future development of the Firestorm Galaxy and our miniatures game. Firestorm: Strike Force is much closer and anyone attending GenCon will be able to see it on TheWarstore booth. We were keen to announce the board game prior to our Firestorm Galaxy Expansion Kickstarter so that folk could look at it now, pre-order and the game not be lost in the exciting noise that FA and the Kickstarter is about to generate.
Can you explain how the game plays?
I like to use the expression Lads and Dads game to define Firestorm: Strike Force. By that I mean it is intended to be played by all types of gamers of various ages. At its heart is what we call the Game Zone (see the image later in this blog to show how examples of layouts which can be created out of the 2-player set) and each player has a deck of cards.
A number of these cards are common to all players and the remainder of the deck is selected by a player, so bringing deck building to the game. This allows us to continue to develop new cards as time goes on to keep the game flexible. Play revolves around gamers playing these cards off against each other, so no dice and no tape measure.
Missions are chosen and the rapid-play card mechanic allows fighters and other craft to fight each other – we have Basic and Advanced rules here, allowing degrees of complexity to be associated. But it is not a wargame per se, speed and fun is the driver for this game, a dip in and play style of game. Beyond these smaller fighters, players can also fight against larger ships, such as Frigates. These larger craft are much more about acting as Mission Objectives rather than to be used in a full-on combat role – although they are more than capable of destroying fighters and bombers!
The mechanics are kept simple to enable a fast game play and the tactics comes from the cards selected by a player to finish their deck. As expansions come out so the array of different cards which come out will grow the overall game play.
A Draw Bag allows for the Fog of War to be simulated. This is a hugely fun part of the game. This enables the activation of models and also enables a random Turn End mechanic which players will be watching out for this to happen. Multiple players can put their activation tokens into the Draw bag and this style of larger game can be huge fun at something like a club night.
Can I paint the fighters?
Sure, why not. They come pre-coloured to accommodate those who want to open a box and play, but I’d love to see folk paint them as well. The game is designed to be played without painting and modelling, with the fighters just needing to be put on their flight stands.
Your 2-player set has the Terran Alliance and Dindrenzi Federation in it. Will the other races be made available?
Yes they will. We chose the galaxy’s two most prominent antagonists for the set, but we will quickly bring the remaining four core races out for you to expand the game with.
When you say larger ships, what do you mean?
In essence, Firestorm: Strike Force this is a dogfighter game, with fighters killing each other in a frenzy of combat! Escort missions can be performed, as in a player must get their bombers across a table, or an objective needs to be fought over and so on. The first fighters you see will be familiar to Firestorm and Planetfall players, but new fighter craft will come out, along with bombers and boarding craft and we intend to take these models and make sure they appear in both FA and PF.
So, back to what I mean by big models. Well escorting a bomber is a fun mission – get a wing across a Game Zone safely – but giving them a ship like a Frigate to kill on a bombing run is much more fun! Without putting too much pressure on the wallets of folk we will accommodate these as top down card punch outs of the ships. This will keep them simple, cost effective and easy to store.
But we like making models so the chance to make a 5 to 6 inch long Terran Alliance or Sorylian Collective Frigate was too cool an opportunity to pass by. It may not be on every gamers shopping list, but it will look great!
This Terran Frigate is a perfect example of a larger ship which can become the target of a bombing run in Firestorm: Strike Force
Game Zone Examples
The starter game comes with 9 Game Tiles and these can be put together to make a variety of shaped Game Zones which will feed a variety of Missions. Multiple sets can be brought together to create even larger Game Zones and this is ideal when more than 2 gamers come together to play.
The Tiles are double sided, and feature mixed artwork. Some are just interstellar space and others have debris fields, asteroids, space stations, space phenomenon etc. We went this route because it allows for more Tiles to come out over time and it very much keeps our options open for introducing Campaigns and Missions.
Take a look at some of he shapes below to see the sort of Game Zone you can make out of our 2-player box: