Last Christmas, I reached into my stocking and found two dinosaurs. I immediately understood the reference, but had no idea what else was waiting under the tree. When I unwrapped this beauty, it was like the Universe had conspired to create the perfect gift: two of my most favorite things in the world, combined into one. I immediately wanted to tear off the plastic and explore this shiny new gift, but I was forced to put it aside since the rest of my family was not so inclined. (Credit for the perfect gift goes to my sister and brother-in-law.)
By Browncoats, for Browncoats
You know how sometimes you get really excited about something and it totally lets you down? Or when you buy something because it’s branded with your fandom but you discover the spirit of said fandom is nowhere to be found and it’s purely a case of commercializing what you love to sell merchandise? This is not one of those times.
This game nails it. The spirit of the ‘Verse is in every piece of this game. The art on the backs of the cards is stellar. The money is beautiful. Even the tokens have a meaning and give a nod back to the show and movie. Every crew or piece of gear is a reference to the show and the pictures are all screencaps.
Find a Crew, Find a Job, Keep Flying
If you’ve never seen the show, you can certainly play this game but it probably won’t hold the same joy it does for us Browncoats. There are a lot of little jokes you won’t get, but game play does not require knowledge of the Firefly ‘Verse.
The rule book is lengthy and the pieces are many, which may seem overwhelming the first time you sit down to play. Once you get past all that, the game play is actually fairly simple. In a nutshell, your goal is to build your crew and improve your ship so you can take jobs and earn money. In addition, there are story cards to give you different goals and win conditions.
Each turn you can take 2 actions and there are four actions to choose from: Fly, Work, Buy, or Deal. Flying is your move action, pretty self-explanatory. Working means you’re doing something required to complete a job you’ve taken. Buying means you’ve visited a supply planet and are looking for crew/gear/ship upgrades/etc. Dealing is when you visit one of the “contacts” to look for work or sell goods.
It Takes Too Gorram Long
One of the biggest criticisms I’ve heard of this game is that it takes much longer than the rules and story cards say. This is definitely true when you first play it as there are a lot of elements to get used to. The more you play, the easier and faster game play becomes. If you’re performing a Buy or Deal action at the end of your turn, play can pass to the next player while you make your decisions to keep the game moving. This is actually suggested in the official rulebook, but it can lead to a less interactive game because you may miss what other players are doing while you make your choices.
I adopted a couple of “house rules” to help move things along, especially if you’re playing with new players:
- Instead of taking only 2 unique actions each turn, take 3 actions per turn; you are allowed to take 2 fly actions a turn but all other actions are still only allowed once per turn. In addition to helping you complete jobs more quickly, this helps ensure that you don’t get stranded out in the big black.
- Start the game with a basic crew to help you complete more jobs from the start. To accomplish this, I pulled all crew cards from their respective Supply Decks, shuffled each location’s crew separately and then dealt one from each location to each player. Players can then choose to “hire” as many or as few as they’d like following the normal rules for hiring crew members. The crew cards are then shuffled back into their respective Supply decks and setup continues normally.
There are three expansions already available for the game:
- Breakin’ Atmo is a smaller expansion that adds some new cards to the supply and contact decks.
- Pirates and Bounty Hunters adds two new non-firefly class ships as well as new leaders, new supplies, new jobs and some new rules and story cards. One of the most exciting elements introduced here is the PvP element of piracy (that’s right, you can steal from each other) and the bounty deck (you can turn in wanted crew for rewards).
- Blue Sun was just released month and will add additional board space, two more Reaver Cutters, three new decks and introduces some new elements to the rules such as Big Damn Challenges for all you big damn heroes out there. I have this expansion ordered and eagerly await it’s arrival. I’ll post an update after playing with the new expansion.
The game’s website has some great images up of the pieces for the game and expansions. They also have full rule books available for download so you can read through before purchasing.