Unlike many of the rules reviews I have done, this time I can be confident that it is impossible for me to give you too much information (and potentially giving people a way to play the game without the rules) as Spartan Games are in the process of releasing all of their rule books online free of charge.
This one will be available from the 12th January, so if you fancy a free look at the rules of Planetfall, you will be able to do so very shortly, by going to this page.
So today I am going to cover the following parts of Planetfall:
It is a natural progression of their Firestorm galaxy, win Firestorm Armada you fight with fleets of Spaceships to win battles, or capture planets, Planetfall is the what happens next bit, where you get to invade or defend a planet from hostile invaders.
The model scale can be seen below, currently only with my hand for size comparisons, but I will aim to get a few more pictures up when the models are painted.
The models themselves are all highly detail, and the only mould lines or flash I have found thus far is on the edge of the base of the model itself.
The game works on an alternative Squadron activation, as in you complete all your actions with one squadron, then I do, then you do until everything is activated.
There is one slight twist to this activation sequence, one that means you will need to do a little bit more foreplanning as well.
Your army roster is in essence divided into Helixes. Each Helix consists of several Squadrons. Once you activate a Squadron in a Helix, you must complete all your activations with the rest of the Squadrons in that Helix before you move onto a new one.
So this means when you have an army consisting of multiple Helixes you need to plan out what you want to do, because if you have a Leviathan that you want to activate towards the end of the turn, and you start on another Helix, and then something happens (the enemy surprises you and starts to damage your Leviathan) you wont be able to activate it until you complete your current Helix.
I love these rule types as they tend to allow you to respond better to devastating shooting or close combat scenarios, far more than facing something that is designed to Alpha strike you off the table.
Even if someone comes up with a method to do some form of Alpha strike the alternative activations means you are much more likely to be able to do something about it the second time you face them.
The twist of activating each full Helix one at a time though does mean that (in bigger games at least) your opponent has to be planning ahead.
How to win the game, and how long it can take are very important things to gamers so I thought it would be worth covering off the Victory conditions (at least briefly).
The game doesn’t have a set number of turns, but rather uses a Zero Hour tracker, when one players tracker reaches 0, they win.
You can reduce your Zero Hour tracker by destroying enemy units and capturing and holding battlefield objectives.
Objective markers that are provided to you as part of the standard box sets you buy, and generally each game consists of three levels of Objective for each player.
Primary – Your own placed Objective
Secondary – One or more contested Objectives in the mid field
Tertiary – Your Opponents Primary Objective.
There is no reason you cannot impose time or turn limits on the games as well and the lowest Zero Hour Tracker wins, but equally you can choose where to start your Zero Hour Tracker, at 100 and the game is one of the longer ones, at 30, and the game will work nicely for a demo game.
I have managed a couple of games, including one with one of the actual Game Designers (I was lucky enough he was in store to demo the game to me one day), and the whole way it played has impressed me.
I love SG’s game systems, but Planetfall feels like a much slicker and faster way to play. As I go through the review I will try and call out the new and improved bits compared to their other systems.
The Helix Structure
One of the best things about collecting a Planetfall army is the straight forward approach Spartan Games have put together for buying the models you need.
As I have mentioned already the game uses a Helix structure and this stays true in how you activate models, how you build your army and how you buy your army.
Below you can see the options available to an army.
When you purchase a Core Helix from Spartan Games, the box contains all of the items you need to fill out half of a Core Helix.
Only Half a Helix I hear you cry! Well yes, when you get round to looking at the Order of Battle (the army lists) for each Race, you will see that the Core Helix has a minimum number of choices that you are required to take. This is provided in the Core Helix box. You are also provided half of the optional choices as well. So two Core Helix purchases will mean that you never need to purchase another Core Helix again for that race, you have filled all the options you need.
The Helix’s around the outer edges are all optional, you don’t have to take them in your list. When you purchase one of the six optional Helix’s Spartan Games provide you with every model you need to build the Helix (the required and optional choices). You can find out more about choosing your army here.
This makes the game very flexible when collecting an army, in theory a total of 8 purchases (two Core, and six optionals) will mean you have a full army list that you never need to change, and also means that you have a whopping number of points.
Additionally when you purchase a Helix (of any flavour) Spartan have included things like Objective markers and buildings in each Helix, meaning as you expand your army you will also expand your terrain collection, something that is very useful for those slightly different scale of games.