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Firefly: The Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Review from a 3 year Firefly veteran rss

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April W
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(Is 3 years long enough to be considered a veteran? Aw, who cares.) I realize there is no shortage of reviews for this game, but I hope my opinion is still appreciated.

Some notes before we begin:

-I have played this game at nearly all player counts from solo to 9 players.
-I have played the base game and I have played every available expansion.
-I have played every official scenario available for this game (as far as I recall).
-No, I'm not saying all that to brag, I just want people to know where I'm coming from before we break atmo and set course for the far reaches of the 'verse. So here we go!


LUCK VERSUS STRATEGY:

One of this game's best features, for me, is that you have two routes: luck or strategy.

In each game you play through a scenario card. Usually, after some prerequisites are met, these will require players to fly to a specific location and roll a die. You add the number rolled to your stats on equipment and crew cards to determine whether you pass each test and get a goal token.

Tests will be in one of three categories: fighting, negotiation or tech. So, if a card says you need a fighting check of 10, you can run down to Silverhold and beef up your crew with lots of firearms and explosives until you're fairly certain you will pass the test, or you can pick up a couple decent items for low cost and try your luck.

The advantage to the former option is the peace of mind that you won't fail the test (which often means killing crew members or getting a warrant). However, the benefit in taking the "luck" route is that, while everyone else is taking their time doing jobs to earn money to buy items, you might be able to get an edge by lucking your way through the test (my only advice is, no matter what, buy a vehicle before attempting to draw any "Misbehave" cards, which are often a part of completing a goal and always a part of completing illegal jobs). The risk, of course, is getting a bad roll and failing. Either way, it's always a good idea to gear up at least a little before attempting a goal.


THEME (will people who haven't seen Firefly enjoy this game?):

This game is rich on theme. For fans of the TV series and movie this is one of the pleasures of the game, but it is by no means necessary to enjoy the experience. We got nearly everyone in my extensive family into this game and not one of them had even seen an episode. It didn't rob any of the joy from the game for them, and several ended up getting their own copy without even watching the series.


REPLAYABLITY:

I'm not gonna lie, I played this game pretty much every day, multiple times a day, for about one and a half years before it wore out its welcome. And even then, the main reason it lost some of its glow was due to the fact that the majority of my plays were with my husband and we both become so familiar with the game there were few surprises left. I still enjoy a play from time to time and would certainly play more if I had others to play with (though I have an extensive family, we don't always get the chance to play longer games). Note that we did acquire all of the expansions during this time. The base game itself is replayable, but if it hits your table as often as it hit ours you will probably want at least the Breakin' Atmo expansion and one of the board expansions (Blue Sun or Kalidasa).

Of course, the game comes with multiple story cards, some being better than others. These days we usually play the same story card every time due to the fact that it always changes, and that one is "Where the Wind Takes Us" which is included in the Jetwash ship expansion.

DOMINANT STRATEGIES (are some captains better than others?):

When my gamer nephew discovered Firefly it didn't take him long to come up with a pretty powerful strategy (which I won't give away here, because you should discover the game for yourself), but it didn't "break" the game, it just meant we had to work hard to find a good counter strategy. Overall I think the captains are well balanced if you play them right.


QUALITY & AESTHETICS:

This game is of excellent quality. The cards are thicker than in most games, which is a good thing due to the amount of shuffling ours have seen! Ships are made of sturdy plastic, cardboard tokens are decently thick and the game board itself is sturdy with a nice matte finish. Yes, the money is paper, but it's the best gorram paper money you'll ever see in a board game.

The cards have screenshots from the series, but this has never bothered me, and the art on the board is attractive.


THE TIME FACTOR:

Here's the biggest drawback and one of the reasons we don't play as often as we used to. Yet, if it weren't for the amount of setup you have to put in, you wouldn't have as good of a game.

-SETUP
Setup time is considerable due to the amount of shuffling needed. With just the base game you will be shuffling 13 decks. Add the expansions and that increases. Granted, all the cards are also part of what makes the play experience so rich. It's just a time investment. These days if I know we are going to play in the evening, I shuffle all the decks during the day in my spare time if I can.

-DOWNTIME & AP
As I mentioned above, we have played this baby with as many is nine people. Obviously there was some considerable downtime in that. In a four player game (the base game is up to four players) it is going to depend on the players. If somebody is AP prone, then the amount of choices, in my experience, does overwhelm them and slow things down. There is also a big learning curve, so I always advise starting with the "First Time in the Captain's Chair" story card with newbies.

-THE (maybe) GOOD NEWS
The more you play, the quicker you get. My husband and I can play a 2-3 hour story card in 30 minutes to an hour.


SCALING:

As you've gathered, most of my plays were 2 player, which is probably optimal to avoid downtime, but I think this game's best with 3 or 4 because there's a little more competition involved. Any more and it gets quite laggy, but it can be done. So I would recommend this for 2-4 players, and more if you're not fidgety. One aspect I have not explored thoroughly is solo mode. I did try it once or twice and didn't enjoy it all that much. That's not to say it's a bad solo game, I think I just missed the player interaction. I'm not a huge solo gamer, so there are probably better reviews if you're interested in that aspect.

(Speaking of) PLAYER INTERACTION:

Players are ultimately in a race to accomplish goals first. Because of this you're paying attention to what the other players are doing (or should be). Also, people can snatch up items and jobs that you want. There's also some "take that" with the Reaver and Alliance NPC movement. But if you're really looking for a head to head PVP experience you will definitely want to add the Pirates & Bounty Hunters expansion, which is a worthy investment. There are also fan-made variants for playing cooperatively.


TABLE SPACE & STORAGE:

The original game is not too bad. The board is about the size of a Risk board. But there are still a lot of cards. Add the board expansions and that all increases. We used to play on a pretty small table and had to get quite creative. This picture says it all:

Game with both board expansions (yes, those cereal boxes are homemade cartons for the cards. Yes we used a cardboard box as game space).


If memory serves, the game with all expansions can be stored in two boxes. If you have the game mat then you can fit everything but that in the original box (with the inserts removed of course) as you're no longer dealing with the thickness of the boards.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

If you're looking for a thematic pick-up and deliver and don't mind being in it for the long haul, then this game is for you! If you love Firefly/Serenity then this game is for you! If this game isn't for you, then you will have probably figured that out after reading the rest of this review. Personally, I say it deserves 8/10 stars. A solid, thematic experience that will make you laugh (and probably cry) and give you something to talk about long after the game is finished.

I tried to cover some of the more common topics I have seen brought up concerning this game, but if I didn't answer all of your questions in my review please ask in the comments! If I can't answer, I'm sure there's some old browncoat around here who can.

This review was brought to you by Soleia, your friendly neighborhood pirate queen

"No power in the 'verse can stop me." -River Tam
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John Van Wagoner
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Bluffton
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we love the game as much as you guys do apparently, so one suggestion (which i'm guessing you've seen/used anyhow):

- on all misbehave cards a roll of "1" is an auto-botch; you have to take the best of all losing results...otherwise misbehaving really doesn't carry much risk at all for us

and many games we also roll a D3 whenever another player can move a reaver cutter, instead of just moving it 1 space...
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Roger BW
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High Wycombe
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Soleia wrote:
THEME (will people who haven't seen Firefly enjoy this game?):

This game is rich on theme. For fans of the TV series and movie this is one of the pleasures of the game, but it is by no means necessary to enjoy the experience. We got nearly everyone in my extensive family into this game and not one of them had even seen an episode. It didn't rob any of the joy from the game for them, and several ended up getting their own copy without even watching the series.
This is one of the things that really surprised me - I had mixed feelings about the show, but the game is really good at generating interesting situations and microstories, and I've ended up liking the game rather more.
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Darin Bolyard
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Oak Grove
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I'd like to add my observations concerning luck vs. strategy and misbehaves becoming impotent: I personally appreciate having at least one player at the table taking the risky luck-driven route. This compells the rest of the players to get off their rear ends and get started instead of mining the decks for the perfect crew. Misbehaves remain challenging in this manner for most, as few players will continue seeking a perfect setup when they see other players racing ahead with lesser crews.

Of course, building up a sturdy ship and crew is what some players find most enjoyable in this game. So it hits the fun bone for different play styles.

Solid review, and your comments on player count are spot on.
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April W
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dbolyard wrote:
I'd like to add my observations concerning luck vs. strategy and misbehaves becoming impotent: I personally appreciate having at least one player at the table taking the risky luck-driven route. This compells the rest of the players to get off their rear ends and get started instead of mining the decks for the perfect crew. Misbehaves remain challenging in this manner for most, as few players will continue seeking a perfect setup when they see other players racing ahead with lesser crews.

Of course, building up a sturdy ship and crew is what some players find most enjoyable in this game. So it hits the fun bone for different play styles.

Solid review, and your comments on player count are spot on.


Thanks for the feedback/input. My husband likes to gear up, whereas I prefer an element of the unknown. If I'm going to roll a die, I want there to be some of that tension over whether I'll succeed or not. I have learned to fully take advantage of husband's planning and plotting ways and race to the victory. But if he gets fully outfitted and I have some bad luck, I'd better look out!
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Mudd Grizzly

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Soleia wrote:
I'm not gonna lie, I played this game pretty much every day, multiple times a day, for about one and a half years.


Super jealous.

Awesome review. Particularly good point about length. Folks comment on how long the game is a lot, but when it's just two experienced players, the game is almost short. For me personally, the more the merrier, but for most folks I play with, I'd guess they're happiest at 3 or 4 players too.
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April W
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Mudd Grizzly wrote:
Soleia wrote:
I'm not gonna lie, I played this game pretty much every day, multiple times a day, for about one and a half years.


Super jealous.

Awesome review. Particularly good point about length. Folks comment on how long the game is a lot, but when it's just two experienced players, the game is almost short. For me personally, the more the merrier, but for most folks I play with, I'd guess they're happiest at 3 or 4 players too.

I agree! We once had a game that took around 10 hours to finish (I think we were playing with 8 people that time). Of course, there were breaks and such along the way, but not that many! It was somewhat grueling, but also a lot of fun!

Also, note that most of those plays happened before our daughter was born and when she was too young to get into the game. Now that she's two, that is another reason we don't play as often as before. laugh
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George Krubski
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Your daughter may not be old enough yet, but have you seen my run of Disney-themed custom crew cards?
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Clint Pewtress
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Guelph
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Great review! As an aside, for the space challenged, I'd highly recommend folks check out Broken Token's "Big Damn Crate". SIGNIFICANTLY reduces the footprint of this game, and ease of playability. (IMO, and I'm not an employee of BT)

Clint
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April W
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gwek wrote:
Your daughter may not be old enough yet, but have you seen my run of Disney-themed custom crew cards?

I have seen that and I look forward to giving it a try with her someday!
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Bob
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Excellent review. Thanks for sharing it! What is your favorite Story Card and why?

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April W
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Ashitaka wrote:
Excellent review. Thanks for sharing it! What is your favorite Story Card and why?


The story card I mentioned in my review, "Where the wind takes us" is also my favorite. The reason I like it is because players draw job cards at the beginning of the game, then place goal tokens on the drop-off locations for those cards before shuffling them back into the deck. This way the game changes every time, because the locations change. Variable setup is one of my favorite features in a game. We also always play with the "Browncoat Way" setup... because why play any other way? Another one I enjoy is "Niska's Holiday" because it's a little more challenging than most.

What about you?
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George Krubski
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In this thread, Where the Wind Takes Us is the solid favorite, with almost 25% of the vote, and almost twice the support of the runner up:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1622338/which-your-favo...

Personally, I enjoy the "story-oriented" cards (King of All Londinium, Harken's Folly, Niksa's Holiday, Jail Break, and Patience's War) and Any Port in a Storm (although I add a few tweaks when I play that one).
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April W
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gwek wrote:
In this thread, Where the Wind Takes Us is the solid favorite, with almost 25% of the vote, and almost twice the support of the runner up:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1622338/which-your-favo...

Personally, I enjoy the "story-oriented" cards (King of All Londinium, Harken's Folly, Niksa's Holiday, Jail Break, and Patience's War) and Any Port in a Storm (although I add a few tweaks when I play that one).

Just cast my vote for another "Where the Wind Takes us" though I enjoy the ones you mentioned, except maybe jail break. I think I pretty much agree with the results in that poll, though I'm somewhat surprised at the starting card ranking so high... then again, it is the best for introducing new players. Also the only one that can be played in less than four hours with a huge group.
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Bob
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Soleia wrote:
Ashitaka wrote:
Excellent review. Thanks for sharing it! What is your favorite Story Card and why?


The story card I mentioned in my review, "Where the wind takes us" is also my favorite. The reason I like it is because players draw job cards at the beginning of the game, then place goal tokens on the drop-off locations for those cards before shuffling them back into the deck. This way the game changes every time, because the locations change. Variable setup is one of my favorite features in a game. We also always play with the "Browncoat Way" setup... because why play any other way? Another one I enjoy is "Niska's Holiday" because it's a little more challenging than most.

What about you?



Another vote for "Where the Wind Takes Us" thumbsup

Though it's almost a tie with story cards. cool
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Sandy Wilson
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I know this probably belongs in the other thread, and the review is awesome (better get that out of the way before I sidetrack some more!) but I really like the money grab one. It's good with any captain, it's good with any strategy, and it levels the bar for all players. It's not like you can fall behind on a bad misbehave for a Goal if all you're doing is earning cash!
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April W
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Sandals wrote:
I know this probably belongs in the other thread, and the review is awesome (better get that out of the way before I sidetrack some more!) but I really like the money grab one. It's good with any captain, it's good with any strategy, and it levels the bar for all players. It's not like you can fall behind on a bad misbehave for a Goal if all you're doing is earning cash!

Thanks for the input. Admittedly, I have not played that card much. Seems like it was decent. I've been meaning to get in some more plays for my 10/10 challenge, so maybe I should hit the cards that don't get played much.
 
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