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Subject: Wrapping up 2014: three games in three days rss

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George Krubski
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As someone who plays solo more often than not, I was excited to end the year with a trio of multiplayer games.

GAME ONE, 12/29

On Monday, I traveled from New Jersey to Manhattan to meet up with my friend Dan. Dan had never played the game before, but had read the rules and enjoys the show quite a bit.

Dan and I continued on to Brooklyn, where fellow boardmember JonSnow was kind enough to host a 4-player game. JS and I have been talking about getting together for some time, but my schedule had not previously allowed for the trip. With my wife and daughter at the Liberty Science Center for the day, though, I was ready to dig in.

In addition to myself, Dan, and JS, we were joined by one of JS's friends, Ken. JS and I had previously selected THE KING OF ALL LONDINIUM as our story card (in part because it's the only one from the core game JS hasn't played, and because I prefer the story cards to money grabs). We played with all expansions -- although no one ever made it to Blue Sun and piracy and bounty hunting didn't play much of a role until very late in the game.

Since Dan was the newbie, we gave him the Artful Dodger and the rest of us took standard Fireflies. Our captains and starting locations were:

Me: Nandi (Bonnie Mae) @ The Space Bazaar
Dan: Murphy (Artful Dodger) @ Silverhold
Ken: Jubal (Yun Qi) @ Persephone
JS: Malcolm (Serenity) @ Osiris

Although I prefer to start at Persephone, Ken scooped me. I didn't mind too much -- I was going to need to hit the Space Bazaar anyway -- and seeing Wash as the first card from the primed Pump really too the sting out of things.

I think everyone was a little daunted by the mixed requirements for the Goals (especially the Fight 10 for the last one), so folks began to put together their Crews.

There was a quick flurry of hiring in the first few turns, as there always is. Dan picked up the Head Goon and backed up him with two other Mercs (I think a Bandit and Enforcer), for a solid much of scum supporting Murphy. Ken grabbed Billy and The Fixer, and JS got Yolonda from Osiris then shot over to get Bree from Persephone. I think there were a few others grabbed early, but I don't remember much. I know both Merchants wound up in play at different points.

After grabbing Wash and a Merchant for myself, I headed to Persephone, but was disappointed to find both "good" Mechanics gone. Worse yet, one of the open Bounties was the Cortex Alert for Scrappers. I considered running to Regina, but someone has an early encounter with the Alliance Cruiser (we didn't remove the reshuffle cards from the Nav decks), so I settled for a Scrapper mechanic.

The other players started some jobs, mostly delivery ones, while I settled in at Persephone for a while to deal with Badger. Dan was the first player to complete a job, taking an early lead. His profit wasn't great, but it was enough to let him get some pretty good gear.

Meanwhile, Ken had filled out a full Crew, and JS had rounded out to 3 or 4 Crew members, I think. JS loaded 3 delivery jobs, all of which dropped off in Georgia, and began Moseying across Alliance Space (he had picked up the Mosey 2 Engine on turn 1 and made great use of it).

While JS was trekking across the 'Verse, Dan, Ken and I were busy running around "the Golden Triangle" of Persephone, The Space Bazaar, and Silverhold. There was a fair amount of clustering up. At one point, the Reavers ALMOST hit the Space Bazaar with two of us sitting there. Later, Silverhold became almost inaccessible, surrounded by two Reavers, some Reaver Alert tokens, and the Alliance Cruiser. I think there was only a single path in or out (and that only after Ken cleared the Alert tokens). Madness!

The $5000 to $7000 buy-in for the first goal proved elusive for us all for some time, even though most of us were rounding out of Crews nicely and everyone but me was in the process of multiple jobs.

When I left Persephone, I was pretty cocky, thinking that I had created a nice circuit of Crime jobs for myself. I added Tracey to my Crew, and finished things off with Jayne and some great before starting my first job on Silverhold. I had decent Fight and good Talk, but my first problem was running into the Misbehave card that forces you to split the take with another Crew (I wasn't confident enough to go for the Fight test). The second job went okay, but then I realized I didn't have the pre-reqs for my third job!

Back to Persephone for more dealing with Badger (which became a running joke -- I'd been open about my love of Persephone, and all the players ribbed me about it throughout the game).

Fortunately for me, the other players were running into their own problems. Dan and Ken both completed a number of delivery jobs -- but they had started the jobs with smaller Crews, but had rounded them out over time, so the Crew Shares bit into their profits quite a bit. In fact, there were a few jobs where they were going to have to potentially take losses.

Both of them were forced to Disgruntle some Crew members and stop for periodic Shore Leave. In fact, I think Ken Disgruntled his entire Crew on four different occasions, which led by to joke that his captain, Jubal Early, is really used to working alone. When we started the game, I had ribbed Ken that Jubal being the only non-Moral leader made him the bad guy, and now his treatment of his Crew definitely supported that!

The woes that Dan and Ken ran into, though, paled next to the run of bad luck that JS was about to encounter. Dan used some of his cash to hire Saffron -- which meant that Yolonda disappeared from JS's Crew just as Serenity reached Georgia. Unfortunately, most of JS's Jobs has a Talk requirement that he couldn't meet without her. Worse, the other jobs offered a Grifter bonus and one required a Negotiate roll. Since JS didn't want to backtrack, he settled in to shop on Regina, hoping he could find a rare card offering Talk skill.

Back on Persephone, a few turns trying to palaver with Badger paid off, as I wound up grabbing a trio of jobs in Red Sun and the outlying systems, with two on the way to Jiangyin (the location of Goal #1), with the third of Jiangyin itself. The first two jobs went off without a hitch -- and netted me enough to pull off the first Goal, but I took a stab at the third job first. Unfortunately, I botched, and the job had a Transport requirement, which I had used Fast Horses to meet.

Not wanting to leave and come back, I took at stab at Goal #1 and succeeded. This was a mixed blessing, because before that, I think everyone considered Dan the front runner, so now attention suddenly started to turn my way.

The lack of Transport rattled me, not so much because I wanted to go back and do the final job, but because I knew the ALLIANCE OPERATIVES Misbehave card was out there. I Moseyed to the Space Bazaar and did a combo of Shopping and Make-Work until I managed to get a Mule and a Cry-Baby.

This gave Dan and Ken the time to do a few more jobs, and further supplement their Crews, but neither was ready yet to take on Goal #1 (still low on cash). Ken, playing the ever-ruthless Jubal, eventually turned in The Fixer to make cash on the bounty!

Out on Georgia, JS was able to recover a bit from the last off Yolonda, I believe filling her role with a combination of Lucy and Sash's Hand Cannon (this purchase will become pivotal in a bit). Unfortunately, his bad luck streak continued when a Reaver wound up sitting on the planet he needed to deliver to next.

Having puttered enough at the Space Bazaar -- and concerned that Dan or Ken might be one good job away from Goal #1 -- I made a run for Londinium and Goal #2, but now the other players were after me! My good buddy Dan sicced the Alliance Cruiser on me, and I was now very happy for my visit to the Space Bazaar.

Although I was successful at the second Goal, if I'm remembering correctly, it was about this time that I ran into the Alliance Cruiser card. Fortunately, I was able to keep my two wanted Crew, but Jayne showed up in the new Most Wanted Alerts. In fact, everyone but Dan had a Wanted member on their Crew.

With two Goals under my belt, I headed to Georgia for the third and final Goal, even though JS was waiting there for me, and Dan and Ken were dogging my heels. JS tried to rally everyone to slow me, but Dan broke script, blowing past me to try to collect the bounty on Ken's Crew instead (he felt he had a better chance versus Ken than me).

Ken took a shot next, and succeeded in taking Jayne away from me. Worse, Jayne's bounty was replaced by Tracey's bounty!

JS gleefully took a shot at me, and although he lost, the fact that he had Sash's Hand Cannon meant he Disgruntled my leader. Since I needed to replace Jayne (I knew the Grange Brothers were sitting on Regina waiting to be hired as a suitable replacement) and I knew that JS was going to keep coming after me as long as Tracey was in my Crew, I opted to release Tracey.

Temporarily thwarted, JS realized that he had one other option: there had been a Piracy Job sitting in Niska's discard pile since the beginning of the game.

Unfortunately, I had only $200 left. Without time or money for Shore Leave, I knew that if JS got to that Piracy Job, it would cost me dearly. I was confident that I could find a sufficient replacement Crew on Regina -- and because I had Nandi, hiring them would not be a problem -- but having to collect an entirely new Crew would cost me time. With Ken prepared to turn in a lucrative bounty and Dan working on another job, that might be time I couldn't afford.

Admitting to JS that he was forcing my hand and that I hated to make the attempt knowing that I might not have enough Fight for the Goal, I grabbed the Grange Brothers, Moseyed for Boros, and managed to squeak out a victory with some pretty easy Misbehaves (ending with A Bit of Local Color, which I believe may also have been my FIRST Misbehave in the game -- Wash certainly pulled his weight) and a lucky final roll, finally stealing the Crown of Londinium as JS tried to swoop in to pirate me.

All in all, a great game that was a ton of fun. It was great to meet JS face-to-face after having communicated on the boards for over a year. Good stuff!
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Ruben
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The stuff of big damn heroes!

Love the session review (as I do with most of your posts gwek)

I really like the way the game ended for you guys (never goes smooth, how come it never goes smooth?)

See this is where I think it proofs that you really can get the whole Firefly look and feel from the show in to the game board.

Looking forward to playing this game many more times this year.

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Jon Snow
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Your memory is pretty good, George. And thanks to all the players for a friendly and gentlemanly game, so at odds with the nasty ethos of Joss Whedon's 'Verse and the nasty things that happen in it!

We both agreed that in Firefly The Game, after you set yourself up as best you can with crew, gear, and ship upgrades, you start doing jobs, and have to remain flexible as things go along, hoping for a good future in space but changing strategies when necessary. Its not the kind of game where you can just psych out some hypothetical 'Best Moves' and coast on them. Which makes each Firefly The Game an adventure more than just 'Pick Up and Delivery.' While George slammed us Three Goals to Zero to Zero to Zero, the six hour game was lots of fun nevertheless. The equivalent fun set in the Star Trek universe is Star Trek Fleet Captains, although a very different game; (see my reviews of both FTG and STFC).

I've never taken Saffron or any of her incarnations before, and now I know why! What killed me is that Dan not only replaced mine, he took it from Regina, the planet I was just going to, totally preventing me from dinging him back, as the third one was way back on Silverhold--whose area was now covered in Reavers and Reaver Tokens as well. Nice one, Dan!

We all tried the very useful tactic of getting jobs that were co-located. At one point I was working all three possible jobs at once, all of which had finishing locations that were close to each other. Unfortunately, my arrival in that carefully planned destination area after an epic cross the board trek was when things went so horribly wrong for me. "Notice anything about our luck lately?"

A few observations:

1. That Niska Piracy job I picked up just at the end, was the very one I got in my original starting jobs distribution, and put back in his pile many hours previously! And picking up a certain card like Sash's Hand Cannon, which I've never used before, can be a game changer!

2. One particular change in the Most Wanted List after an Alliance Cruiser appearance triggered quite a change in the game, since almost everyone suddenly had a Wanted crew member at that moment!

3. Its notable that if you are using Blue Sun, even if you never actually enter Blue Sun Rim Space, that expansion's increased Reaver presence is a game changer. Let's hope the next large expansion does the same for the Alliance, perhaps with a smaller Alliance Customs Cutter, The Operative (!?!), and more Legal jobs to perform within The Halo (Alliance Space; does anyone ever use that phrase 'The Halo?' Where did it come from? Its not used in the show/film. Probably some reference map.)

4. We never got to play a second game, but I had George's Local Color cards printed out and ready to go; maybe next time! George says he's going to add 12 more cards to the deck soon.

5. This is only the second four player Firefly I've been able to manage. I'm hoping with George dropping by that we can get in a 5-6 player game some day, just to try it out. We'll have to definitely play a simpler story card though. One other potential player was away on vacation, and another was ill. George has two other gaming buddies also, so next time we won't play during the holidays. Anyone else in the NY/NJ area can PM me if you'd like to drop by or join me/us for a game here in Brooklyn Heights!

6. The new green Set Up Card is great, but doesn't include preparing the Most Wanted List (Pirates and Bounty Hunters), so make a note to yourself.

7. We managed this game well, so it went smoothly. Besides starting to shop and etc. while the previous player was still taking his turn, I assigned player jobs:

A). Banker: perfect for a newbie.

B). Running the Supply Decks: handing their draw and discard piles over and keeping them together in general.

C). Running the Contact Job Decks (ditto).

D). Game Master (general rules guy).

8. I used two of those large plastic deck organizers for the first time. A previous poster has the info/pics on them here on the board. We separated them and placed them next to the player doing jobs B and C as noted above on my large table, and that worked very well.

9. I also placed plastic 'stones' as I usually do: white on Contact planets (even one on the Alliance Cruiser) and red on Supply Planets (sometimes the same; sometimes not). This little 3D aide makes it a lot easier to read the board, especially for newbies.

10. We used the latest two page Player Aid from the Files Section for the first time, which includes all the current expansions.

11. I got a large toy dinosaur, also used for the first time. Everyone always pooh poohs the use of the cardboard one. But slamming down a 3D one with heft to it in front of the next player bangs the table nicely and makes a very satisfying way to note the turn transition, or wake up a sleepy player! "Curse you for your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"

12. We also find it is fun and keeps things moving to have a different player flip and announce the Nav Cards for the player who is taking his turn. Ditto for the Misbehave Cards.

13. arrrh For the ill omened Number Thirteen, just a reminder that another good way to deal with a player who knows the game much better than everyone else is to just completely randomize all the Supply Cards into new Supply Planet decks! Hmmm. Given how this last game went, I'll have to threaten George with doing this in the future...
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George Krubski
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Thanks for the additional updates, JS. I meant to mention that you gave us all jobs (and that it worked well), but as you can see, I went on about other stuff!

JS is right that even though none of us made it to Blue Sun, the expansion had a huge impact on gameplay, with the Reavers swarming all over Border Space.

Also, I think this is the link for the great Supply Planet reference we used:

https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/110547/firefly-supply-pla...

JS had printed out a copy for each of us. It was invaluable to Dan and Ken... I even used it once or twice!

I'm sure we'll get another game going -- although I shudder at the idea of a 6-player one!
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Darin Bolyard
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But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
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In your world, I have another name. You must learn to know me by it. That was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.
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Edited to add: Cool report! Sounds like a blast!
chas59 wrote:
...And picking up a certain card like Sash's Hand Cannon, which I've never used before, can be a game changer!

This little piece of gear is the sole reason why Regina is my first choice for a starting planet. Failing at getting this firearm in the first few rounds of buying, There are plenty of decent crew to pick up in lieu of it. I personally feel that it's heavily overpowered for a single piece of gear. So, I try to ensure that it gets in the right hands. devil

Seriously, I have used Sash's hand to thwart an opponent in such a way as to cause him to rehire and entire crew twice in a single game.
 
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George Krubski
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I think that's what JS was hoping to do to me.
 
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GAME TWO, 12/30

After my day in the Five Boroughs, the family headed south to the Jersey Shore, specifically, my cousin Shawn's house. Although we were both tired, Shawn and I hadn't played for a few months and wanted to get a game in that night.

A little after 10, we started setting things up, which took quite a while because I'd gotten Shawn both expansions for Christmas. There was a lot to shuffle in! We'd played with PBH before, so as we shuffled, I updated Shawn on Blue Sun. We wanted to try out something related to the new expansion, so we opted for a modified version of Patience's War, which did not require Solid with either Contact.

This allowed us to get to the action pretty quickly. We also decided to use my "Career Opportunities" house rule, which generally makes early play a little easier. Although we discussed trying out Loyalty tokens, we never actually used them.

We drew ships and leaders at random and both wound up with Fireflies. Shawn had Corbin and I got Womack. Given the ruthless tone of the game, these leaders seemed very appropriate.

Another house rule we use is priming the pump BEFORE ship placement. The pump revealed Jayne and Zoe is Silverhold, so when Shawn got first pick for placement, of course he started there! I think I started in Persephone, but with Shawn starting out with such a strong advantage, I felt like I had a lot of ground to make up.

Although the game was a lot of fun, Shawn really had the lead throughout the entire game, and much of it was a whirlwind. I honestly don't remember nearly as much detail as the game the previous day -- but I do know that I felt constant pressure to catch up.

I think we both did a job or two as we put together Crews. I know my play style can be conservative, and I tend to try to get all my jobs out of the way first THEN do the Goals, but when Shawn completed the first Goal and started to move to the second, it forced by hand. I wasn't fully confident in my Crew, but I risked the first Goal, then caught up to him around the second. He was still running ahead of me, though, and it stayed that way until the end. Not much I could do, but still a very fun game.

For us, this game felt different than the normal ones. Yes, we're both always playing to win, but we generally try to put together a "family" as a crew. With the deaths required for Patience's War, though, we were both constantly hiring Crew we expected to die.

For me, this was probably the weakest of the three games, but it was still a good one.

Game Three tomorrow... (time permitting)
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craig tuin
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Re: Wrapping up 2014: 7 game tournament / 7 different scenarios / with 4 experienced players
We put together a tournament and fought our way with Victory Points of sort based on who won the game, who came in second and third, how far behind 2nd and third place players actually were, total goods on the ship, certain items collected, key words collected, professions collected,# of jobs completed, solids, and more. In all, the tournament system we created had each of us "IN THE HUNT" for victory at 5 games. We thought this was pretty cool since each game went completely different and first place flip flopped at least 5 times.

We have all the expansions including blue sun so there are many different areas of the galaxy that needs to be explored to score maximum points and yet if you can conquer the game scenario quickly you can leave your rival captains caught with their pants down or what you might call "TRASHed". Even still, the point system created a balance and caused some of the players to hurry up and buy goods before the 1st player finished as well as make huge purchases for certain gear that would then lead to them not necessarily being able to take 2nd place.

We really never can get enough of this game as it holds our imagination...

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Jon Snow
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Craig,

Hey, this sounds great! Please post your point system here (or down in the Files). The game encourages this kind of creativity in its general open endedness. How many players did you have at the tournament?
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George Krubski
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I'll second what JS said. I'd love to hear more detail about your tournament guidelines.
 
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George Krubski
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GAME THREE, 12/31

After a good night's sleep (and with Shawn's wife and work and my wife and daughter out having a "ladies' day), we got together for one final confrontation.

I recommended JAIL BREAK from PBH, although we made a few adjustments. As with Game Two, we had my CAREER OPPORTUNITIES house rule in play, and also decided we would make an active effort to use LOYALTY TOKENS. Shawn was excited to use the full board, so as a final minor change, we also altered the location of Goal 3 from Three Hills, Georgia to Muir, Blue Sun.

We drew ships and captains randomly. Not surprisingly, we both wound up with Fireflies.

Shawn's captain was Monty, and the Crew he was looking to rescue was Zoe. We deemed that Monty was looking to spring his old war buddy. To take advantage of the new stuff, Shawn started at Meridian, immediately nabbing Cortland and the LoveBot, then Moseyed over to deal with Lord Harrow on Highgate.

I drew Murphy, with Bree as my imprisoned Crew, and decided that maybe Bree was Murphy's old protege... perhaps even a ne'er-do-well illegitimate son. Based on the lay of the land (we prime the pumps before picking starting location), I started on Osiris, where I quickly recruited Inara and the female Helmsman (who, I think, had a soft spot for Bree).

We were both mindful of the fact that we were headed to the Alliance Cruiser, so we did our best to avoid Wanted Crew while putting our teams together.

Early on, I think we had slightly different approaches. I believe Shawn's plan was to get Solid with Harken and blitz the Cruiser to rescue Zoe, then go to work for Badger. Meantime, I planned to get everything set up first, then run the goals. Of course, this didn't go smooth for either of us!

As with our game the day before, Shawn got off to an early lead: he had the good fortune of pulling one of the Harken Tasks in Blue Sun, so he was able to become Solid with Harken almost immediately. However, he didn't have the resources for the jail break yet... and although he had a strong hand of Smuggling Jobs from Harrow, it was a slow start to get them done.

Meanwhile, I dealt with Harken to get a Task of my own, quickly pulled it off, the hustled to Persephone to try to find some non-Wanted folk and some good Badger Jobs. I eventually got some good Jobs, and a decent Crew, but not before Shawn scored some big money and hit Silverhold for a shopping expedition. Adding Fendris and a few others to his Crew, he also picked up some big guns to help him succeed at the jail break.

Poor Meadows didn't make it off the Cruiser, dying so that Zoe could have a bunk. With Goal #1 complete -- and one Warrant out for him -- Shawn headed off to Persephone to try to get Solid with Badger and get enough cash for Goal #2.

Not wanting to fall too far behind, I decided to take a risk and brave the Alliance Cruiser. I even brought my own lawman, the treacherous Dobson, who bought the farm as we lucked into some good rolls and rescued Bree (I figure Dobson turned on us, and I had to shoot him... in the eye, of course).

At this point, I think Shawn had a better Crew and a slight edge, but I had a stronger collection of Badger Jobs. Still, all he needed was the right one to get Solid and give him enough cash.

Things started to get very tight. I don't remember when it happened, but Shawn wound up with a second Warrant. This wouldn't have been a huge problem, except that just as he got the 5K needed to pay off Badger for the second Goal, he ran afoul of the Alliance Cruiser, knocking him from the $5000 he needed down to $3000.

That gave me the opening I needed. Even though I was forced to Disgruntle my entire Crew with non-payment, I had enough coin for Badger. We both raced back to Persephone, me to get Badger to clear me, Shawn to look for a job that would let him get Solid AND get rich quickly.

Now, remember that we were using Career Opportunities. With four Soldiers on his Crew (Monty, Zoe, Cortland, and Fendris), Shawn was about to earn $600 per make-work action in Alliance Space. He considered that as an option, but it wasn't enough.

With Badger covering my tracks, I made haste for Muir, but I ran into the Alliance Cruiser myself almost immediately. Unfortunately, even that didn't help Shawn, because it parked the Cruiser right where he wanted to go for the Badger Job he'd just gotten.

As I skulked off (Harken didn't recognize Bree or any of us), Shawn rushed back to Persephone, got another job located nearby, and worked as quickly as he could.

It wasn't enough. I didn't draw any other bad Nav cards (in fact, I even lucked into 2 Cargo - enough to get some Shore Leave for my fully Disgruntled Crew one we reached Muir, I supposed), and I skated away, with Shawn two turns behind me.

As most of our games are, it was a close one.

I've noted elsewhere that we playtested Loyalty Tokens in this game, and we both enjoyed them, although they didn't necessarily play as intended. I originally envisioned Loyalty as a gradual build-up as you develop an increasingly loyal Crew... and that's largely how Shawn used it. I know Cortland was loyal from early on, and Zoe and I think another Crew member or two before he finished. I, on the other hand, kept earning the Loyalty of the same Crew member or two... and then losing it again by stiffing them during work. Still, we felt it added an interesting and fun dimension to things without really distracting from the core "race" element of the game, or adding undue complexity.
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Ken Ip
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Your memory is astounding, George. If I didn't know better, I'd say you were taking notes during the game.

I was also impressed with how well you know this game. Knowing the locations of crew and gear led to your well deserved victory, even with you playing less ruthlessly than you could have. Kudos.
 
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George Krubski
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Hey, Ken, good to see you!

Honestly, my biggest problem came in playing three games in three days, so there were a couple times where I was like, "Wait, was that Shawn in Game #3, or Dan in Game #1?" One of the things I could much remember was who you had on your Crew... although I know the weren't happy most of the time!

If you guys were all playing cutthroat from the beginning, I would have trotted out Ruthless George, but I want the game to be fun! For me, it was actually pretty cool having everyone gun for me at the end. Made me feel like Mal.
 
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Nicholas Gauthier
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Sounds like some great games. I would have been there at Jon Snow's house but I was on vacation.
 
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George Krubski
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If you'll be in town at any point, let us know!
 
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