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Firestorm Invasion: Planetfall
10mm Sci-Fi Ground Combat Rules

Studio Sparta/Spartan Games

£45 starter sets for both Forces (each includes a 25pt force and a starter Rule set and all counters/die and figures required to play)

Firestorm Invasion : Planetfall covers ground combat within 'Spartan Games' Firestorm Armada universe. It is the first in a planned series of games from Studio Sparta (which appears to an offshoot of Spartan, possibly like Forgeworld relates to Games Workshop), which will cover various aspects of combat within the setting (Planetfall covers initial invasion engagements, Conflict will be centred on Company level – and in 15mm, and the as yet unnamed 3rd game will centre on special forces/squad level engagements – and by in 28/32mm).

The game setting is the Dindrenzi invasion of the Terran Planet of Traxon VI, and as such just provides forces for the Terran and Dindrenzi factions of the universe. Studio Sparta have said that they will release other factions, with each pair released linked to a particular event in the Firestorm Universe. It has also stated that it will focus on one event (so all three aspects), before moving on to the next.

Games Rules.

The game turn is broken down into several phases, and has an extensive pre-game set up sequence. This includes placement of terrain (the rules for terrain are quite basic), size of forces to be used, and reserves percentage of these, placement of 'Reinforcement Target Zones' (RTZ from now on) and objectives for both sides. When starting the game, each unit of the players force requires a 'card' to represent it (which are provided as 'wipe-off' blank cards in the set), which is then used to show when that unit will activate with a players turn. Cards are also required for each wave of reserves, and to show which 'RTZ' the reserves are assigned too.

At the start of each turn, the player takes the cards for available forces and constructs an 'Order of March' deck with these. This will then be used to show in which order the units in the force will activate within that turn, so forward planning is required. When reserves arrive (the reserve phase is at the end of the turn), their cards are added to the 'Order of March' for the next turn), so will increase the number of units to activate. Players then roll for initiative, with the winning turning over the first card in their 'Order of March'. Each player then alternately turn a card to activate a unit till all units have activated.

Players also gain the usual Spartan 'S.T.A.R.' cards (Squadron/ Turn/Attack/Reaction), with a maximum hand of 5, based on the number of units the player has. Also, each unit (depending on it's morale class) generates 'Command Points' to which a random number (1-3) are added, which allow players to perform certain actions during a turn. STAR cards can be player as required (only 1 Turn and Squadron (per squadron) card, unlimited other cards), though each has a command point cost – ranging from 0 to 3.

Movement is a value in inches, with a standard and flat out rating. Vehicles can move and fire and there appear to be no turn arcs to account for. If vehicles wish to move 'flat out', they require a command point and may not shoot. Terrain effects movement, generally halving distance or preventing entry.

Reserves are a major part of these rules, and are handled in a rather unique way. 50% of the initial forces (rounded down) MUST be assigned to reserves at the start of the game. These are then divided into a number of waves, usually 2, each of which must include 1 unit, but otherwise can be assigned as the player wishes. Then they are assigned to an 'RTZ' counter already placed on the table, which will control where they appear. These turn up at pre-set times wit no rolls required, generally end of turns 2 and 4 (but these can change with scenario). During the reserve phase, units arriving are placed on the players base edge as near to the noted 'RTZ', each player doing so alternately in card order. It is then 'advanced' toward it's 'RTZ', stopping within 4” of that counter. If during this advance, an enemy unit is within 8”, the advancing unit must either force an advance or stop. Forcing an advance requires an opposed command check against each unit, with the advancing unit receiving a disorder token and stopping if unsuccessful. If successful, the enemy unit receives a disorder token and the advancing unit continues it's movement.
With this system, it is possible for players to plan heavy pushes on flanks or centre, just by placement of 'RTZs' during the pre-game set up. Also, reserves arrive 'in action' on the next turn, not having to spend time travelling across the board.

Combat uses the standard Spartan '4,5,6' exploding die hits, but with a few new changes. There are now only 2 range bands, 'Effective' and 'Long', with long basically being infinite. Each range is assigned a number of die, but these die can be one of 3 colours (Black/Blue/Red – again 8 of each are included in the starter). Each of these colour work in different ways, though all use the Spartan core system. These effects are ;

Black - Hits on a '4,5,6' with all results doing 1 point of damage

Blue - Hits on a '4,5,6' with '4,5' doing 1 point of damage, '6' doing 2 points

Red - Hits on a '4,5,6 with '4,5' doing 1 point of damage, '6' doing 2 points and allowing a re-roll.

In this way, different weapons can be modelled to should greater damage potential just by changing the die colour. Modifiers to the roll generally result in a change of die colour, but can also result in the addition or reduction of the die pool generated.

Units fire as a whole against other units, and there is no reduction in die for any weapon involved. Range is measured against a target unit, with the firing player able to choose whether the firing unit engages with all vehicles within long range, or any vehicles within effective range – you cannot mix ranges. If a unit wishes to fire at long range, it requires a command point to do so. Unit which do not move can spend command points to use 'Zeroed Fire' which increases the die colour.

Damage is calculated by adding successful 'hits', and comparing against the target units 'KR' (kill rating). A vehicle is destroyed if the 'KR' is equalled or greater. Multiples of the 'KR' destroy extra vehicles in the target units. All casualties are removed by 'closest first'. The rules also cover a method of super-heavy armour (having 2 'KR' the first of which must be destroyed before a separate attack can destroy the second).

Rules cover the ability of units to 'reactive fire' when shot at, which requires that the unit has not activated and costs a command point, though prevents the unit activating later. Also, certain units (with the Sentry MAR) can go on 'over-watch' if they do nothing in their own turn. Also, Spartans system of MARs (Model Assigned Rules) is used, though there are only around 10 at present.

The game rounds out with force lists for both Dindrenzi and Terran forces (each list has around 14 entries, not all of which have figures available at present), a force construction system, counter reference sheet (a sheet of which is provided), list of MARs and several scenario's for the game.

Conclusions

The game itself appears to play well, and requires tactical planning over just letting the figures on the table work for you. The 'Order of March' system may not be to every bodies liking (it is to mine), but does allow for a limited fog of war effect without crippling either player. S.T.A.R. Cards allow for the vagaries of warfare, and can actually break the rules at times (but are not broken), and the use of 'RTZs' can change the flow of the game, allowing for planned pushes and battlefield control.

This game is one I feel that will be quite rewarding, as though the rules (at present – it is possible a larger rulebook might be forthcoming, though is currently not necessary) are simple, the tactics and intricacies of the game will take a long while to master.


Submitted by Kevin on 11/10/2012