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Firefly: The Game» Forums » General

Subject: Getting Firefly back to the table rss

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Jonathan Rowe
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Firefly rarely gets to the table nowadays - my players are fed up with a game we never manage to finish in a reasonable time (3 hours plus wiggle room). But I'd like to charm them back to Firefly.

Any suggestions to keep the fun of the game but shorten it or speed up play? Any house rules fix this neatly?

Any Stories that work well in a short time frame? (Given that the Stories take about twice as long to play as written on the cards).

Yes, we're using the Whole 'Verse and no, I'm not interested in shortening the game by playing on a smaller board. So don't suggest that.
 
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Jason Bush
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Well the whole verse is the problem. Nuff said.
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Jonathan Rowe
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DanielFirestorm wrote:
Well the whole verse is the problem. Nuff said.


I agree. There was a thread some months ago about addressing this - but I can't find it (or maybe I dreamt it) so I'm wondering what fixes people are using to get the game back to a manageable playing time. Don't get me wrong: I'm willing to invest 4 hours or so in a game, just not in a game like Firefly. It was a brilliant 2 hour game - how can I re-experience that with the full board array?
 
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Dave Rowley
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I presume that you are encouraging the next player or 2 to sort through any Decks that will not be affected by the Active player?
 
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Jonathan Rowe
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UpStarter wrote:
I presume that you are encouraging the next player or 2 to sort through any Decks that will not be affected by the Active player?


Yes, we do that (or some of us do). It's a great speeder-upper although it does make you less attentive to what other players are doing - and this in a game where players are already quite disengaged from each others' progress unless actively pursuing piracy. I think we've got the optimal balance of deck-browsing versus following-the-game going on and I don't think it'd help the overall quality of play to push things any further in that direction.
 
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Dave Roy
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deadmarlowe wrote:
UpStarter wrote:
I presume that you are encouraging the next player or 2 to sort through any Decks that will not be affected by the Active player?


Yes, we do that (or some of us do). It's a great speeder-upper although it does make you less attentive to what other players are doing - and this in a game where players are already quite disengaged from each others' progress unless actively pursuing piracy. I think we've got the optimal balance of deck-browsing versus following-the-game going on and I don't think it'd help the overall quality of play to push things any further in that direction.


The set-up card where you mine a shopping planet before the game starts really helps.

I think it was in Kalidasa? Or one of the ship packs that came out just before it.
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Trueflight Silverwing
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2 Players on opposite sides of the board going at the same time fixed the problem for us. We rarely have a game last more than 2 hours (for 4 players)
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Judy Krauss
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You could play solo (either with the included story card, or any of the user-made ones for solo-play -- and there are also user-made variants for playing any story card solo). Then you could take your time, immerse yourself in the game, and enjoy it.
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George Krubski
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If you're looking to make the game quicker, consider giving the players more resources.

I sometimes play with some "convenience" house rules. They're not major, but can probably cut 1-3 rounds off the game. For example:

-- Double prime the pumps
-- Mechanics and Pilots can buy Parts and Fuel, respectively, on any planet
-- With a Companion, you can take Shore Leave on any planet
-- When you Make Work on a Supply planet, +100 per Grifter
-- When you Make Work in the Core, +100 per Soldier
-- When you Make Work in Border Space, +100 per Merc
-- When you Make Work in Rim Space, +100 per Medic

If you want to get a little more extreme, consider creating "starting packages" that players can get, either randomly assigned or selected during set-up.

To me, the game typically breaks down into three stages:

1) Find a Crew: Use starting money to put together the best initial Crew you can.

2) Find a Job: Work an initial job or two. This is often the riskiest part of the game, but if you're successful, you probably have enough money to round out your resources.

3) Keep Flying: Complete the goal or goals necessary to win. At this point, it's usually a matter of knocking through goals as quickly as possible, since the game is, at heart, a race. Luck is certainly a factor, but, all things being equal, whoever puts together the best resources the quickest will reach this stage first, in a position to weather a little bad luck.

To me, short of making the goals themselves easier, there's not much you can do with Stage 3.

Stage 2 is often the shortest phase, a sort of transitional phase, but characterized by the most risk, so what can make it longer is having insufficient resources.

That leaves Stage 1. In my experience, this phase often lasts 6-10 rounds (one-third to one-half of the game), and may be the easiest stage to fiddle with.

For example, maybe one package includes Elder Gommen and 2 Hill Folk (+2 Talk, +2 Fight, free Crew but Moral), while another has a Scrapper, a Merchant, and Border Space Nav Charts (provides Pilot, +3 Tech, +1 Talk).
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Jonathan Rowe
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Ender02 wrote:
2 Players on opposite sides of the board going at the same time fixed the problem for us. We rarely have a game last more than 2 hours (for 4 players)


Good idea. Eclipse has that mechanic too
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Jonathan Rowe
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gwek wrote:
If you're looking to make the game quicker, consider giving the players more resources.

I sometimes play with some "convenience" house rules. They're not major, but can probably cut 1-3 rounds off the game. For example:

-- Double prime the pumps
-- Mechanics and Pilots can buy Parts and Fuel, respectively, on any planet
-- With a Companion, you can take Shore Leave on any planet
-- When you Make Work on a Supply planet, +100 per Grifter
-- When you Make Work in the Core, +100 per Soldier
-- When you Make Work in Border Space, +100 per Merc
-- When you Make Work in Rim Space, +100 per Medic

If you want to get a little more extreme, consider creating "starting packages" that players can get, either randomly assigned or selected during set-up.

To me, the game typically breaks down into three stages:

1) Find a Crew: Use starting money to put together the best initial Crew you can.

2) Find a Job: Work an initial job or two. This is often the riskiest part of the game, but if you're successful, you probably have enough money to round out your resources.

3) Keep Flying: Complete the goal or goals necessary to win. At this point, it's usually a matter of knocking through goals as quickly as possible, since the game is, at heart, a race. Luck is certainly a factor, but, all things being equal, whoever puts together the best resources the quickest will reach this stage first, in a position to weather a little bad luck.

To me, short of making the goals themselves easier, there's not much you can do with Stage 3.

Stage 2 is often the shortest phase, a sort of transitional phase, but characterized by the most risk, so what can make it longer is having insufficient resources.

That leaves Stage 1. In my experience, this phase often lasts 6-10 rounds (one-third to one-half of the game), and may be the easiest stage to fiddle with.

For example, maybe one package includes Elder Gommen and 2 Hill Folk (+2 Talk, +2 Fight, free Crew but Moral), while another has a Scrapper, a Merchant, and Border Space Nav Charts (provides Pilot, +3 Tech, +1 Talk).


Great ideas. You're right about the power up phase being the bit that we can speed up. Does buffed Make Work make a big difference?
 
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Gerald Bocook
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Have you thought about using persistent crews? I like the idea of a starter pack crew like gwek mentions, so what if you allow players to keep their crew from the end of the game into the next game? That way you can get right to the meat-and-potatoes without having to spend time farming supply decks?

Or, would that get too broken too quickly?
 
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Jonathan Rowe
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motosada wrote:
Have you thought about using persistent crews? I like the idea of a starter pack crew like gwek mentions, so what if you allow players to keep their crew from the end of the game into the next game? That way you can get right to the meat-and-potatoes without having to spend time farming supply decks?

Or, would that get too broken too quickly?


Mistfall has a nice mechanic, letting you keep one card at the end of each game to "carry over". Keeping a 1 crewmember/ship upgrade/gear/job card to carry over to the next game is appealing.

Given that the most powerful Crew are Moral and are easily disgruntled and recruited away - and that most of the powerful Crew are Outlaws who can be arrested by the Alliance - it won't get broken _too_ quickly.

I suppose Crew that are discarded from play (ay, because they are killed or arrested by the Alliance) become available again next game but you can't keep them if you don't own them at the end of the game.
 
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Gerald Bocook
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Firefly: Legacy. haha Oh, man, that would be hell.
 
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Roger BW
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motosada wrote:
Firefly: Legacy. haha Oh, man, that would be hell.
After a few games, it'll be Gun Hands all the way down…
 
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George Krubski
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I don't know how the games compare, but I feel like "legacy crew" would work very well in a "campaign model" (where everyone retains the same ships and leaders) but not so well under a more stand-up set-up. Wash, for example, is a great +1 for Monty or Murphy... not so much for Jubal Early.

Although it would complicate set-up, I think it might streamline play a little to alter set-up to:

1) In order, chose either a leader, or ship.

2) In reverse order, chose a leader, ship, or Starting Crew* (You may NOT chose starting Crew until your leader has been selected)

3) In order, pick the remaining element.

4) In reverse order, place your ships.

5) Game on!

* "Starting Crew" would either by a single Crew (ie, first mate, like Zoe) or one of a group of "packages."

If the latter, perhaps the cards from packages are placed in the discard piles rather than shuffled back in. This would further help speed things along by having generally better selections of stuff at the supply planet when the game begins. There's also a nice effect that the less players, the more stuff out there, which balances how slowly gear can come out in a low-player game.

BTW, if it's not clear, in the packages approach, I would not recommend including "premium" Crew like Wash, Inara, etc. For the most part, you'd be looking at non-unique Crew without names - Hill Folk, Scrappers, Mudders, Gun Hands, Enforcers, Med Staff, Merchants, Bandits - with a smattering of named Crew thrown in for balance.

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George Krubski
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deadmarlowe wrote:
Great ideas. You're right about the power up phase being the bit that we can speed up. Does buffed Make Work make a big difference?


A big difference? Not so much, but it "takes the edge off." We generally use the house rule in 2-player games, and I find that it makes about a 15 minute difference, making the normal time 60-75 minutes rather than 75-90 minutes.

It keeps things somewhat random, but can have a downstream effect: If you can earn a little more money during the "Find a Crew" stage, you can get better resources, which makes the "Find a Job" stage shorter and less risky, which means you can jump to the "Keep Flying" stage a little more quickly.

Ultimately, I would say our games using these rules average closer to 16 rounds than 20... but, full disclosure, I don't know how that would translate during a game with more players.

The only time it became somewhat problematic was when my opponent had a crew with a few Grifters and Mercs and sat on Regina shopping and doing Make-Work for, like, $600 a turn. But, hey, it happens.
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Jonathan A
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deadmarlowe wrote:
Firefly rarely gets to the table nowadays - my players are fed up with a game we never manage to finish in a reasonable time (3 hours plus wiggle room). But I'd like to charm them back to Firefly.

Any suggestions to keep the fun of the game but shorten it or speed up play? Any house rules fix this neatly?

Any Stories that work well in a short time frame? (Given that the Stories take about twice as long to play as written on the cards).

Yes, we're using the Whole 'Verse and no, I'm not interested in shortening the game by playing on a smaller board. So don't suggest that.


I like using The Blitz set-up card.
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Brett Lamb

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This isn't so much a strategy to make the game shorter, but I've certainly found that Firefly is a tough game to get out on a regular game night. People want to play a few different things (or just something different) and not get bogged down in one long game.

My solution has been to occasionally schedule a Firefly-specific night (not on a regular game night). It becomes a special occasion, and if people are really not down to play they can stay home, but the people that do show up know what they are in for and we all have a good time.

Part of the key is only invite friends, not just gamers. i.e. People who really get along with or without games. Feeding them dinner also helps. Have the game setup in advance as much as possible.

Unless you have some friends that are Firefly-crazy, this won't work every week. But for me it has meant putting Firefly on the table when otherwise it would have stayed in the closet.
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Jonathan Rowe
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Thinking about Gwek's 3-Act analysis of Firefly, I'd love to somehow skip Act I and play a short, fierce game of Acts II-III.

That would involve some starter packs of Crew/Gear/Upgrades that were "ready to roll" - or perhaps some drafting mechanism.

This is in my mind:

*****

Each player chooses their Captain and Ship normally.

Then reverse order.

Each player goes through one Supply Deck of their choice until they find a Named Crew, which they add face-down to a Crew Draft Deck.

Then reverse order.

They each then go through one Supply Deck until they find an Unnamed Crew to add face-down to an Unnamed Crew Draft Deck.

Then reverse order.

They each then go through one Supply Deck until they find a Gear to add to a Gear Draft Deck. Do this twice, to create two Gear Draft Decks.

Then reverse order.

Then each player goes through one Supply Deck until they find an Upgrade to add to the Upgrade Draft Deck.

Shuffle each Draft Deck and reverse order again.

The first player chooses one Draft Deck, examines it. This becomes the Hiring Deck. The player takes a card to keep and replaces it with the top card from any other Draft Deck of their choice and passes the Hiring Deck to the second player.

Each player chooses a card from the Hiring Deck, draws a card to replace it and passes it on. When each player has done this, reverse the player order (so the last player becomes the new first player and makes two consecutive draws and choices).

Eventually, everyone has a set of 4 cards: Crew, Gear, Upgrades. The last player to choose a card had no choice at all, receiving a Hiring Deck with only a single card in it. This player becomes the first player for the rest of the game.

Award everyone cash equal to $10K, minus their ship's value and the combined value of their starting cards. From this money they purchase as much Fuel and Parts as they like. Double Prime the Pumps on Supply Worlds and Contacts. Draw Job Cards as normal from Contact Decks or Discards. Then, in player order, put as many as you like into play, replacing more Jobs into your hand from Contact Decks or Contact Discards.

In order, start on any world where a Job in you have play has its Pick-Up.

*****
Edit:

This mechanism lets you "seed" the Draft Decks with good cards, but it doesn't guarantee you will be the one that gets to draw them. Thoughts?

Would it be better to ensure that the Hiring Deck started out as the Crew Deck, and each replacement had to come from the Unnamed Crew Deck until it was empty, then the first Gear Deck, then the second Gear Deck and finally the Upgrade Deck? That would ensure everyone had the opportunity to get a similar spread of cards (2 Crew, 2 Gear and 1 Upgrade)
 
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Carl Hanson
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You could also consider the [I]Strip Mining[/u] draft method that was included in the Esmeralda ship pack. It is good for getting ships (mostly) ready to work jobs, and has the added bonus of playing very quickly so that the game gets started in a few minutes.

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George Krubski
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deadmarlowe wrote:
Thinking about Gwek's 3-Act analysis of Firefly, I'd love to somehow skip Act I and play a short, fierce game of Acts II-III.

That would involve some starter packs of Crew/Gear/Upgrades that were "ready to roll" - or perhaps some drafting mechanism.

This is in my mind:

*****

Each player chooses their Captain and Ship normally.

Then reverse order.

Each player goes through one Supply Deck of their choice until they find a Named Crew, which they add face-down to a Crew Draft Deck.

Then reverse order.

They each then go through one Supply Deck until they find an Unnamed Crew to add face-down to an Unnamed Crew Draft Deck.

Then reverse order.

They each then go through one Supply Deck until they find a Gear to add to a Gear Draft Deck. Do this twice, to create two Gear Draft Decks.

Then reverse order.

Then each player goes through one Supply Deck until they find an Upgrade to add to the Upgrade Draft Deck.

Shuffle each Draft Deck and reverse order again.

The first player chooses one Draft Deck, examines it. This becomes the Hiring Deck. The player takes a card to keep and replaces it with the top card from any other Draft Deck of their choice and passes the Hiring Deck to the second player.

Each player chooses a card from the Hiring Deck, draws a card to replace it and passes it on. When each player has done this, reverse the player order (so the last player becomes the new first player and makes two consecutive draws and choices).

Eventually, everyone has a set of 4 cards: Crew, Gear, Upgrades. The last player to choose a card had no choice at all, receiving a Hiring Deck with only a single card in it. This player becomes the first player for the rest of the game.

Award everyone cash equal to $10K, minus their ship's value and the combined value of their starting cards. From this money they purchase as much Fuel and Parts as they like. Double Prime the Pumps on Supply Worlds and Contacts. Draw Job Cards as normal from Contact Decks or Discards. Then, in player order, put as many as you like into play, replacing more Jobs into your hand from Contact Decks or Contact Discards.

In order, start on any world where a Job in you have play has its Pick-Up.

*****
Edit:

This mechanism lets you "seed" the Draft Decks with good cards, but it doesn't guarantee you will be the one that gets to draw them. Thoughts?

Would it be better to ensure that the Hiring Deck started out as the Crew Deck, and each replacement had to come from the Unnamed Crew Deck until it was empty, then the first Gear Deck, then the second Gear Deck and finally the Upgrade Deck? That would ensure everyone had the opportunity to get a similar spread of cards (2 Crew, 2 Gear and 1 Upgrade)


I think there are two types of people - those who love their drafts and those who don't. I'm one of the latter, so I may not be the right person to comment on this, but I feel like maybe there's enough going on here that any time you make up in game play would be lost in the draft.
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Carl Hanson
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gwek wrote:
I think there are two types of people - those who love their drafts and those who don't. I'm one of the latter, so I may not be the right person to comment on this, but I feel like maybe there's enough going on here that any time you make up in game play would be lost in the draft.


I agree with George, which is why I recommended Strip Mining in the post above. Since you don't have to do any extra manipulation of the decks, there isn't much time added to the game so you can realize more of the time savings from skipping several turns of shopping.

I would also suggest choosing the Strip Mining deck before choosing starting locations so that no one gets suck starting at the strip mined location.
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George Krubski
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turambur wrote:
You could also consider the [I]Strip Mining[/u] draft method that was included in the Esmeralda ship pack. It is good for getting ships (mostly) ready to work jobs, and has the added bonus of playing very quickly so that the game gets started in a few minutes.



I agree that strip mining is a great method.

One thing I don't love about it, though, is that it can theoretically hurt or help a leader. For example, the Pilot-rich Space Bazaar somewhat favors the Mechanic leaders by making it more likely that they will begin play with the Pilot/Mechanic combo, while Silverhold would be a mediocre blitz location for, say, Zoe, who is already starting with a lot of Fight.

I'm not saying that it's a bad idea -- it should even out more often than not -- but I think it does have the potential to create some discrepancies if the cards fall wrong.
 
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deadmarlowe wrote:
Thinking about Gwek's 3-Act analysis of Firefly, I'd love to somehow skip Act I and play a short, fierce game of Acts II-III.

That would involve some starter packs of Crew/Gear/Upgrades that were "ready to roll" - or perhaps some drafting mechanism.

This is in my mind:

*****

Each player chooses their Captain and Ship normally.

Then reverse order.

Each player goes through one Supply Deck of their choice until they find a Named Crew, which they add face-down to a Crew Draft Deck.

Then reverse order.

They each then go through one Supply Deck until they find an Unnamed Crew to add face-down to an Unnamed Crew Draft Deck.

Then reverse order.

They each then go through one Supply Deck until they find a Gear to add to a Gear Draft Deck. Do this twice, to create two Gear Draft Decks.

Then reverse order.

Then each player goes through one Supply Deck until they find an Upgrade to add to the Upgrade Draft Deck.

Shuffle each Draft Deck and reverse order again.

The first player chooses one Draft Deck, examines it. This becomes the Hiring Deck. The player takes a card to keep and replaces it with the top card from any other Draft Deck of their choice and passes the Hiring Deck to the second player.

...


Have to agree that this seems like it will take up as much time as it saves. Mostly I think this comes from the second phase which seems terribly complicated and time consuming. I'd suggest the following modification:

Allow players to go through as above choosing decks, and drawing crew, gear, and upgrades; as many as you think is appropriate (2 crew, 3 gear, 5 upgrades, whatever). This is something they could theoretically be doing all at once unless a player is waiting for someone else to finish with a deck.

Instead of creating different draft decks, everyone places their selection face down in one draft deck. After all the draws have been made, shuffle the draft deck, and deal them out blind to the players. Everyone ends up with the same amount of cards. Maybe something good, maybe something they chose. Maybe someone put something useless in there, who knows.

The main difference is you remove the second phase of choosing, which can be time consuming as people take turns hemming and hawing, and replace it with a much quicker deal.

Not a bad variation on strip mining.
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