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Subject: Starting Ship Upgrades or Starting Crew rss

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Sim Guy
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One of the features of the new ship expansions that I like are the Starting Ship Upgrades. They give the ship some of it's character, which is the obvious intention of the developers.

However I feel that choosing an outfitted ship gives a greater advantage than people might think, since the choice reduces the player's need to gather as many upgrades or gear during the game, effectively putting them a turn or two ahead of the other players.

My group uses a ship purchase to start, with every player receiving $12000 for initial ship, gear and crew expenses, so purchasing a ship that comes pre-equipped leaves less money for fuel, parts and crew. But I'm still undecided as to whether the extra money is that much more of an advantage, and am inclined to let a lesser equipped player make an extra draw of cards on their first turn. Thoughts?

Anyway, I was also thinking that there are a lot of custom ships and crews created in this forum. The crews in particular got me to thinking that it might be interesting to be able to start the game with a complete crew, sort of like the starting ship upgrades only with a starting crew instead. Players could be given the option of purchasing a ship with equipment, or a ship with a crew, or neither (this might also serve as a handicapping method for players of different skills, but that's another topic).

Aside from the custom crews created here, there are a couple within the game: Serenity, and the Walden for example – there may be another one or two, I haven't looked that hard. There are half a dozen or more (I haven't counted) crew sets here on BGG that could be used without robbing crew cards from the supply decks, leaving the often interesting task of assembling a crew for the rest of the players.

For solo games, I would find a fully crewed ship sharing the 'Verse to add something to the game. Especially if I've got player trading, piracy, and other player interactivity rules in use.

It will be a couple of weeks before I can float this idea with my group, and I'm interested in hearing how the folks here would receive the suggestion.
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Darin Bolyard
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I thoroughly enjoy scoping out and commenting on the custom crews/gear created among my fellow geeks, and even participating in fine-tuning them via discussion. But honestly, I haven't been able to visualize them among the current offerings from the game. First of all there's the issue of matching the cards [without sleeves]. And then there's the issue of "bloating" the supply decks. They're getting larger with every expansion as is.

However, adding the option of starting with either a fully assembled crew or a fully outfitted ship eliminates both of these issues. It's not something I would want to do for most games, but I would certainly be interested in trying it. Perhaps it would be better for campaign style play than for a typical game. Of course, solo play lends itself to this option particularly well.
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Bruce
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Campaign style play would be interesting, where each player could carry over a certain amount of crew, gear or upgrades into the next game. The total dollar amount would have to be set carefully so that a runaway leader in an earlier game doesn't automatically win the next game. But then each player could choose what crew, gear or upgrades to keep and which to put back in the supply for the next game.

It would also be interesting to have it so that if a crew member was killed in an earlier game they remained dead in future games.
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George Krubski
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As one of the most prolific customs-creators on the boards, I'm always keen to hear what folks think of new, fan-created material...

SimGuy wrote:
One of the features of the new ship expansions that I like are the Starting Ship Upgrades. They give the ship some of it's character, which is the obvious intention of the developers.

However I feel that choosing an outfitted ship gives a greater advantage than people might think, since the choice reduces the player's need to gather as many upgrades or gear during the game, effectively putting them a turn or two ahead of the other players.


Given the nature of the upgrades that come with the Jetwash and Esmeralda, I'm not sure that's necessarily the case. The Jetwash comes with two disposable, one-shot upgrades. Are they good? Yes, they certainly are (in the right circumstances), but in general, they are going to be more effective mid/late game, which means you're clogging up two upgrade slots throughout the game, waiting for the right time to use them -- and that time might never come.

The Esmeralda is a completely different build: Although the upgrades are fairly potent, they are also useless to start and generally become valuable only under very specific conditions. The Full Mess Deck, for example, requires that you have a) Cargo and Contraband that you can spare and b) Disgruntled Crew. AND c) a Fly Action. While you may meet the criteria a late in the game, it's not going to give you any edge early on.

In both cases (as in the case of the Walden and Interceptor, too), you're trading a "generalist" ship for something more specific, and gambling that you can take advantage of the specificity to win. Under the right circumstances, yes, these can be very potent ships. But if events don't go your way, you've paid extra for shiny toys you never get to use.

The design on the Jetwash and Esmeralda is VERY impressive. The game designers (who do a great job with pretty much everything) exceeded themselves here.

SimGuy wrote:
My group uses a ship purchase to start, with every player receiving $12000 for initial ship, gear and crew expenses, so purchasing a ship that comes pre-equipped leaves less money for fuel, parts and crew. But I'm still undecided as to whether the extra money is that much more of an advantage, and am inclined to let a lesser equipped player make an extra draw of cards on their first turn. Thoughts?


Having only played with the new ships a handful of times so far, my opinion here is largely theoretical rather than practical, but I would say that the extra money IS a sufficiently balancing advantage to start.

Once again, the game designers have done their job. Assuming I want to field a well-balanced Crew, $3000 is enough for me to fill up the bunks AND get a few pieces of Gear, and maybe even keep some money on-hand for emergencies. $2000 or $2200 is not.

Speaking for myself, I can usually use my starting money to get almost everything I want, and they after my first successful job, I'll usually have to make a second, smaller shopping trip.

With the Esmeralda or Jetwash, I can't do that (except with Nandi). Although I may be able to get started quicker, it's going to have to be with either a smaller/easier/lower-paying Job OR with a Job that carries greater risk. Either way, I will need to stop for LONGER to shop after an initial job or two.

Either way, given that most of the new upgrades don't provide maximum effect, it's likely to balance out before long. (Sidenote: This is actually not 100%, since the new ships, in my opinion, are partially designed to inspire a different kind of play, either supporting safe Legal work or pushing players to risk things earlier -- and both of those are good things from an overall design standpoint.)

Honestly, I think the fairest way to use the new ships is to have everyone pay full value for their ships (except maybe the Walden), but I personally think the real advantage these ships have is as Class IV ships (the superior engine and unique bonuses) rather than the upgrades. On the other hand, THOSE bonuses are balanced by the smaller Crew and lesser number of Upgrades... which, as noted, inspired a different kind of game play... (Again, hats off the the designers!)

SimGuy wrote:

Anyway, I was also thinking that there are a lot of custom ships and crews created in this forum. The crews in particular got me to thinking that it might be interesting to be able to start the game with a complete crew, sort of like the starting ship upgrades only with a starting crew instead. Players could be given the option of purchasing a ship with equipment, or a ship with a crew, or neither (this might also serve as a handicapping method for players of different skills, but that's another topic).


While there are certainly ways to make your idea work, I would like to point out that upgrades are really optional while Crew and/or Gear are not. I've won many games without any upgrades. I've never once won without Crew...

SimGuy wrote:

Aside from the custom crews created here, there are a couple within the game: Serenity, and the Walden for example – there may be another one or two, I haven't looked that hard. There are half a dozen or more (I haven't counted) crew sets here on BGG that could be used without robbing crew cards from the supply decks, leaving the often interesting task of assembling a crew for the rest of the players.


I think I've created close to a dozen customs crews, possibly more if you pluck the crews from a larger concept (like Santana's and Boss Johns' crew from The Black Market), and I probably account for less than half of what's out there. That's a LOT of Crew, if you want to use it all.

The problem with the existing crews from the game is that they're not balanced. The Crew of Serenity are all powerhouses on their own -- put them together and they're basically unstoppable. Walden's Crew is great for Salvage Ops... other stuff? Not so much. Nandi's girls are all talk, Womack's boys all muscle...

Having said that, it's not necessarily to put together "packages": Zoe, Wash, and Kaylee is too powerful, but Zoe, Wash, and Bester might work, for example. I've seen Monty be deadly backed by a gaggle of Hill Folk and a decent pilot...

One of the things I did with my Ship Packs is introduce the idea that there are multiple ways to use them. Here's my original quote from well before the GF9 ship packs came out:

Quote:
My intention is that the Ship Packs can be used fairly flexibly. For example:

1) Use them like regular cards. Put the Ships and Leaders into regular rotation, and shuffle the other cards into the supply decks like normal.

2) If everybody is using a Ship Pack (or if you want to give one player an advantage), a player using a Ship Pack gets a matching Ship and Leader, and during set-up can spent an agreed-upon amount to hire/purchase cards from the pack.

After set-up remaining cards are shuffled into the supply decks... or maybe the player retains their cards as a "personal supply deck."

3) Which could also be it's own idea. Players start with the normal resources, but each player keeps personal control over the supply cards from their Ship Pack. You can hire/purchase those supplies when you are at the appropriate Supply Planet.


Perhaps it's time to revisit that?

SimGuy wrote:

For solo games, I would find a fully crewed ship sharing the 'Verse to add something to the game. Especially if I've got player trading, piracy, and other player interactivity rules in use.


How would that work?

SimGuy wrote:

It will be a couple of weeks before I can float this idea with my group, and I'm interested in hearing how the folks here would receive the suggestion.


Like set-ups and story cards, I don't know that there will ever be a one-size-fits all solution.
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George Krubski
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dbolyard wrote:
I thoroughly enjoy scoping out and commenting on the custom crews/gear created among my fellow geeks, and even participating in fine-tuning them via discussion. But honestly, I haven't been able to visualize them among the current offerings from the game. First of all there's the issue of matching the cards [without sleeves]. And then there's the issue of "bloating" the supply decks. They're getting larger with every expansion as is.


Out of curiosity, why are both of those issues?

Post-Kalidasa, the supply decks are 41 cards, I think. Let's assume, for a moment, you chose to add 19 custom cards to each deck, bringing them to 60 (the same size as the Nav decks).

Why do the card backs matter? Sure, if there are only five custom cards, I can see it, but with a significant percentage, doesn't that sort of go away? Yes, you'll know that RIVER isn't the next card down, but other than looking for a specific card, does it matter? (As a dude who does a lot of customs -- and hopes that folks will want to use at least some of them, I'm genuinely curious about this kind of stuff.)

With respect to "bloat," again, what's the concern there -- assuming the key elements of the deck stay consistent. One of the things we did during a recent play-by-forum game was include not only the custom cards themselves, but some "balancing" cards. Some resources remain just as easy to get (if not a little easier), while others are harder, so they need to be balanced. For example, because most custom crews include a Mechanic, and many of them reside at Persephone, in the theoretical 60-card deck, it might be slightly easier to get a Mechanic than before... but much more difficult to get a Cry-Baby. So we'd add in a Cry-Baby (or perhaps design a custom card specifically to appeal to the same game element) to keep things consistently balanced in a broad sense.

Of course, this only works when you're talking about general resources, not SPECIFIC cards, and that may be an issue for some players. For example, in the PBF game I referenced, most players wound up with a "good" pilot (someone with 2 skills and some other usable benefit), making a "good" Pilot somewhat easier to get than the regular game... but a SPECIFIC good Pilot (Wash or Jesse, for example) would be tougher to come by.
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Sim Guy
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Without copying the entire post...
gwek wrote:
As one of the most prolific customs-creators on the boards, I'm always keen to hear what folks think of new, fan-created material...

IMHO, GF9 should consider hiring you as a free-lance variant designer. Nuff said.
SimGuy wrote:
...the Starting Ship Upgrades. They give the ship some of it's character, which is the obvious intention of the developers.

gwek wrote:

Given the nature of the upgrades that come with the Jetwash and Esmeralda, I'm not sure that's necessarily the case. ...

The design on the Jetwash and Esmeralda is VERY impressive. The game designers (who do a great job with pretty much everything) exceeded themselves here.

Agreed; like pretty much everything they've done with the game, they've put a lot of thought - and I suspect many playtest hours - into the new stuff. I still think that having pre-loaded gear is a significant time-saver, just based on my playing experiences. But as most of my playing group is scattered for the time being, I have only used the new ships in a couple of solo sessions. The play seems to bear out your assertion that the gear comes in handy later rather than sooner, but then it frees you to spend the early time less on gear and more on crew. And also...
gwek wrote:
Having only played with the new ships a handful of times so far, my opinion here is largely theoretical rather than practical, but I would say that the extra money IS a sufficiently balancing advantage to start.

...would seem to be the case in my early efforts. So my apprehensions may be unfounded.

gwek wrote:
...the new ships, in my opinion, are partially designed to inspire a different kind of play...

...(the) bonuses are balanced by the smaller Crew and lesser number of Upgrades... which, as noted, inspired a different kind of game play... (Again, hats off the the designers!)

As was the intent with the P&BH expansion; the new ships change the way the game is played. I like more stuff, but players now have more options and can tailor their game to fit their group's preferences.

SimGuy wrote:
...Players could be given the option of purchasing a ship with equipment, or a ship with a crew, or neither (this might also serve as a handicapping method for players of different skills, but that's another topic).

gwek wrote:
...upgrades are really optional while Crew and/or Gear are not. I've won many games without any upgrades. I've never once won without Crew...

Central point: A full crew is much more valuable than a completely equipped ship. And it takes longer to assemble. So for handicapping purposes, weaker players get a ship and crew, average player gets starting ship upgrades, strong players get an empty ship.

gwek wrote:
I think I've created close to a dozen customs crews, possibly more if you pluck the crews from a larger concept (like Santana's and Boss Johns' crew from The Black Market), and I probably account for less than half of what's out there. That's a LOT of Crew, if you want to use it all.

I have over 200 custom crew cards in my files, and there are at least as many more in addition. In anther post, I mentioned creating a 'custom crew only' deck, and giving the player the option to make one of their draws from this deck instead of from a Supply deck. Still considering that idea, but I like the variety.

gwek wrote:
The problem with the existing crews from the game is that they're not balanced.

Agree, but when used in a solo, or campaign game as NPS (non-Player Ships) balance is less of an issue. Your philosophy, and ideas, with the ship packs fit well into my embryonic campaign concept.

gwek wrote:
Perhaps it's time to revisit that?
SimGuy wrote:
Indeed.

For solo games (and campaigns), I would find a fully crewed ship sharing the 'Verse to add something to the game. Especially if I've got player trading, piracy, and other player interactivity rules in use.
How would that work?

Still working on it.whistle

gwek wrote:
Like set-ups and story cards, I don't know that there will ever be a one-size-fits all solution.

Nope, and ain't it great?cool
 
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Michael Statarius

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One idea is to spin "Find a crew" a different way: Crews are constructed before the game and set aside, and each Leader can roll at various places to 'find' them and add them to her crew.

This works particularly well with custom crew that are thematically connected to a particular Leader.

SimGuy wrote:


For solo games (and campaigns), I would find a fully crewed ship sharing the 'Verse to add something to the game. Especially if I've got player trading, piracy, and other player interactivity rules in use.
Still working on it.whistle

I'm working on a solo variant where I randomly choose a non-Moral Leader and 5 complimentary, nasty non-Moral crew (like Crow and all 4 bandits) right at the start.
Throughout the game whenever I Work outside The Halo I roll a dice: on a 1 they pirate me (normal rules, with Boarding and Showdowns). If they succeed they kill my crew, take my Bounties and any goods not in my stash. If I win I get $2000 and blow them outta the sky.
I then create a new villain with upgrades, a full crew, and gear, who can pirate me anywhere.
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George Krubski
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Mike - addressing the first part, are you suggesting that each player would create a crew that THEY could find and recruit, or that ANYONE could find and recruit? (Either idea has promise.)
 
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Sim Guy
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Statarius wrote:
One idea is to spin "Find a crew" a different way: Crews are constructed before the game and set aside, and each Leader can roll at various places to 'find' them and add them to her crew.

This works particularly well with custom crew that are thematically connected to a particular Leader.

Alternately you could place a token/marker at various locations to signify that one of your custom crew has been seen there. You could either pick up said Crew there or make a roll:
Straight 2+ finds the Crew -or- Negotiate: 6+ finds them

Depending on your preference, the token can either signify a rumor, and the Crew is not present (replace the token at a new location), or it is a solid lead and you can make more attempts, using a Work or Deal action.

You could even make finding your crew one of the Goals for your 'Story'

Lots of possibilities.

With so many ships now available in the published games, and the custom ships found here, the possibilities for a 'living 'Verse' are only limited by your preferences.
 
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Michael Statarius

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gwek wrote:
Mike - addressing the first part, are you suggesting that each player would create a crew that THEY could find and recruit, or that ANYONE could find and recruit? (Either idea has promise.)

Thankfully, with this game the door is open for whatever works for each person/group.
I imagine I'm not the only one who has - or would love to create - a particular crew for a particular Leader, but of course fairness and balance among the participants must be considered.

In my solo variant, my Leader can hire at supply planets (like we do normally), or roll a 6 at non-supply planets to pick up one of his kindred (weakest first, and so on).

SimGuy wrote:
Alternately you could place a token/marker at various locations to signify that one of your custom crew has been seen there. You could either pick up said Crew there or make a roll:
Straight 2+ finds the Crew -or- Negotiate: 6+ finds them

Depending on your preference, the token can either signify a rumor, and the Crew is not present (replace the token at a new location), or it is a solid lead and you can make more attempts, using a Work or Deal action.

Lots of possibilities.

With so many ships now available in the published games, and the custom ships found here, the possibilities for a 'living 'Verse' are only limited by your preferences.

I really like the 'starting point' and "rumor" ideas, having a fixed location for where to start looking and gathering leads at each planet that give the Leader +1 for each failure! It will bring the pace back up to snuff.
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