Firefly, The Game

I harbor a deep, smoldering resentment for only two* things in my life. Mr. Oliver, my grade seven maths teacher and the Fox television network (because they cancelled Firefly).

*this number has been known to change whimsically

I take my Firefly board gaming very seriously. Potentially more seriously than other games. I also take my losses very hard (and very personally*) often constructing a post-game analysis in my mind (and plotting revenge) while I lie awake staring at the ceiling. My wife knows this is not a time to try and get frisky.

*which often piggy backs into other games. ‘Remember that time (could be several years ago) you stole my contraband/trade goods/Waterdeep nib…. yeah… I’m nuking your home planet now’. (which is a lot like US foreign policy I’ve realized)

Even if this game wasn’t Firefly themed, I’d still like it. It has most of the elements I appreciate in a board game.

  1. Scarcity of resources. (you need everything)
  2. Various ways to get points, and
  3. Money is points. So spending it to get better and earn more points, hurts you.

I drew Monty as my random captain and then took a standard Firefly. He’s a good, solid and relatively flexible captain. His greatest asset is that he’s also a mechanic (which is one half of the pilot/mechanic combo that you need to have a decent shot at survival)

I decided I’d wait and see what equipment and crew was available before I committed myself to any particular strategy. (which is unusually considered of me)

One thing I often do right near the beginning is get solid with Harken by doing some legal government type business. I know it’s basically prostitution but I find being Harkens buddy makes traversing the core a little less scary.

Especially when that customs inspection card comes calling. So what if I sell out to the man… It also gives me some time to think about what sort of space rogue I want to be when I grow up.

After two or three turns I still hadn’t decided so I trundled off to move some Cargo for Ammon Duul. He’s also quite a useful contact to be solid with.

I hate drafted Billy along the way. I didn’t really need another mechanic, but denying someone else a mechanic seemed like a reasonable tactic. (There are only a limited number of mechanics in the game) Then I drew Jesse, a pilot. With two crew giving me bonuses for salvage ops I decided on a course of action. I’d skirt the core just inside rim space and search for wrecks and abandoned space junk. When my hold was full I’d return to Ammon Duul and sell my swag. Repeat as necessary.

Yeah… I was Rim jobbing…

My set up about midway through the game.

This worked out well for me. I managed to churn a fair amount of money and I avoided long dangerous runs into Reaver space, which requires a lot of expensive crew and equipment. It also means I could ignore missions and the associated pain of ‘aim to misbehave’.

Firefly is a great game, with efficiency, probability and risk management elements. You need gear and crew to make you better at being able to earn money, but your money is also how you win the game. It’s a fine balancing act. Run light and you’ll loose. Run heavy and you’ll loose.

I give Firefly a friendship ending rating of :

2.5/5*

*as a term of reference, Sheriff of Nottingham rates 0/5, ie no chance of losing friends and Twilight Imperium rates 4/5 Which at some point guarantees bloodshed (and that your children will one day have to avenge you)

2.5 sounds quite high. It could be as low as one. But if you play with all the expansions, the ability to attack and derail your friends increases dramatically. In our gaming group you constantly need to watch the ‘Wanted’ deck in case you have any crew members that could entice your fellow captains into a hostile boarding action with explosives and cutting torches. Even without a hefty bounty… piracy out of malice is not unheard of (in fact I’m pretty sure I’ve done this)

Declaration of shame. This is actually one of the (few) games I have rage-quit in the past. Because of the randomness of flying through space it is possible that a brief sojourn into ‘the big black’ turns into a clusterfuck of ‘blown out buffer panels’, ‘fuel coupling failures’ and ‘Reaver cutters’. I was falling behind and in desperation I designed to transport an entire hold full of refugees across space (a very profitable exercise). I got hit with a Reaver cutter that killed half my crew and all my passengers. (didn’t have the requirements for a crazy Ivan) This reshuffles the deck, as I limped off I got hit by ANOTHER Reaver cutter. Which killed the rest of my crew. 

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Suffice to say I was very unhappy. Destitute, crew-less and floating miles away from anywhere, I called it an evening. And then cried myself to sleep.

This is a very satisfying game to win (because its relatively difficult). A feeling that you need to laud over your friends by pelvic thrusting and wearing a pretty floral bonnet. (This egocentric behavior may actually explain the dynamic in our gaming group)

Firefly is made better by the associated banter, the verbatim quoting of lines from the series and (fake in our case) swearing in mandarin as we pass our stegosaurus first player marker around

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No card board cut-out for us. We’re too cool for that.

Haul out your brown coat and kosherize your rules. Still one of the bestest games in the ‘verse.

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