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Subject: New way to start the game - Card auction rss

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Chris Poor
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My son and I sat down last night and put together this idea for a different way to start the game.

We have played a lot lately with our local group, and everyone has adopted a general strategy of starting out at a supply planet, and for the first several turns everyone just shops and makes work, racing to put together a decent crew. This cycle usually ends with the first person who feels his crew is ready starting a job, which puts pressure on the rest to start moving. It can vary a bit, but overall this strategy has been adopted by everyone, and as a result, the first 30-40 minutes of the game can be dull. We play under some time pressure (people have to get up for work in the morning), so we were looking for a way to speed up the whole crew recruitment part of our games. We looked at the new Set up cards that are in the Jetwash and Esmerelda, and the Blitz looks close to what we are thinking, but when we started talking, this idea came to the top: an auction/card draft.

Here's how it works:

1. Roll to see who is the first player, second, etc.

2. Starting with the first player, each player selects either a captain, a ship or a starting location (Supply planet).

3. Continue around the table until each player has selected all 3 of these.

4. When a location is selected, that player takes the supply deck from that location.

5. Everyone gets starting cash. ($3000 is standard)

6. The first player now selects a card from his supply deck and places it on the table in front of him. This card is up for auction. He must start the bidding with a bid that is at least 1/2 of the printed cost of the card (round up), or $100, whichever is less.

7. Proceed around the table, with each player having the option to bid a higher number or pass. Continue until there are no more bids. The winner pays the bank and keeps the card.

8. Repeat this process with the second player, and so on around the board.

9. The auction is over when no one is willing to place a card out for auction. If a player declines to play a card for auction on his turn, he may not on a later turn play a card for auction, but he may still bid.

10. Any bonuses to purchasing cards (such as Corbin's 1/2 price on ship upgrades) applies; therefore Corbin may bid $1000 for a ship upgrade, but he only pays $500 if he wins the auction. Nandi's bonus (and similar "hire for free" bonuses) are changed to "pay 1/2 of what you bid".

11. At the end of the auction, shuffle the remaining cards of each deck, place your ships on their starting locations, and begin play as normal.

We tried this for the first time last night with 3 players. We did not select a story card until after the auction, and selected at random. We dealt out starting jobs and primed the pump, and the first player took his turn.

Overall, it was fun. It seemed to shorten the game significantly - we finished in about 2 hours to our usual 3+, and the auction phase actually had a lot of strategy.

For example, one player started at Osiris. Early in the bidding, he placed a helmsman out, starting the bid at $100. I needed a pilot, and had none in my deck, so I bid $200, and picked up the card for its cost. He then played a second helmsman, and bid $100. No one needed a pilot now, so he scooped it up for a bargain. He had given me something I needed, though. There are more examples, but you see what I mean: Do I auction the card I really want, or leave them in the deck for me to shop for when the auction is over? How much money should I hold back? Can I drive the price of this card up, or will I be stuck with it?

We only played 1 game, but so far it has been a success.

The Story was "Respectable Persons of Business". I won - selected the Dodger with my first pick, started at Persephone, and put together a decent crew with pilot, mechanic, companion, medic and soldier keywords, along with River. (Simon got snatched because I saved him for last, and was outbid). I was able to take tougher jobs right away, and started misbehaving early. Everyone else did well on the auction, too; I just managed to find the best paying jobs and managed my bonuses well.

Anyway, we thought we'd post this variant and see if anyone else would like to try it.

crispy
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George Krubski
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Sounds like it could be fun... especially with a gaggle of players!
 
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Chris Poor
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We thought this, too, but only had 3 last night. This meant that 2 of our Supply planets were not available, and did limit what we could get. Everyone chose a location that played to their overall strategy, but there is no way to get a perfect crew from one location. That was why I liked the Helmsman strategy - most places have multiples of a given keyword, and the auction means you may not get the first one you play, and you are providing your rivals with a chance to gain something of value.

I hope to play again soon with more people, and see how it goes.

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Darin Bolyard
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crispy66 wrote:
...there is no way to get a perfect crew from one location.

Meridian won't provide a perfect crew, but will provide one darn near it, when your leader is a pilot. Best part is the deck is considerably thinner than the rest. Very little fluff in it right now.
 
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George Krubski
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Meridian gives you everything you need but heavy tech. Great for a pilot is right.
 
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Chris Poor
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I haven't expanded there yet - just P&PH and Breakin' Atmo.

That could change the balance of this, but I don't know. All of the cards for auction are available to anyone.

 
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Cameron Burry
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I think that, ultimately, the auction part of the game can exponentially cut game time down, allowing for the inclusion of other variants (see GORAMMIT by same author). Rather than spending the first 45 minutes sailing around everywhere and shopping, you can get right to jobs -- even 2-3 misbehave jobs, if you're feeling particularly daring. With a full 5-player group, each commercial planet can be represented, meaning that anyone can potentially have access to excellent stuff right from the get-go.

And, don't worry about taking the fun out of finding the awesome stuff; eventually, people run out of money. You may have a well-prepared crew and ship, but it's never going to be perfect (providing you are sticking with the 3k starting amount).

We also tried this with an extra 1200 or so by not giving the players the starting fuel and parts. That way, each player would have to manage their funds so as to have something left over for fuel and parts. It makes the game far more administrative in practicing the economics of an auction, giving an already exceptional game a refreshed take.
 
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George Krubski
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We've found that either using the new Blitz Set-Up card can speed things up, or using the suggestion elsewhere of "Deal every player 1 card from each Supply Deck. They can buy as many as they want/can afford."
 
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The auction sounds entertaining! It does seem like you would need to have at least 3 people to make it interesting though.


I haven't gotten to pick up Jetwash/Esmerelda yet, so I don't know what entails in the Blitz setup. I'm definitely intrigued by it though


As another speed-up for the start of the game, this is a link to our own Headstart variant rules:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1364793/head-start-variation
Essentially, we alternate picking 1 card to purchase from Supply Decks. Similar concept, except it's still about who gets to each planet first as opposed to your auction approach.
 
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