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Firefly: Fistful of Credits» Forums » Reviews

Subject: This is not my best game ever. rss

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T.J. Martin
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On a Tuesday before a weekend devoted to board gaming, I wandered my local game store for final acquisitions. As would be the case with any self-respecting Browncoat, the fiery scrawl of the word "Firefly" caught my eye. I wondered if it was another expansion for Firefly: The Game. The subtitle read "A Fistful of Credits." Intrigued, I picked up the box and read the back. "A Firefly Co-op game," I said, holding the box up to my friend, "I guess I have to get this." That weekend I was excited to dig into it. I got my crew together and we started in on the rules.

That's where the trouble began.

The rulebook is organized in a relatively unclear fashion. The structure of turns was mostly left to be inferred by the reader. For example, it did indicate that you are supposed to roll a die on your turn, but it was mentioned as one of those "You'll do this at some point" statements in the midst of descriptions of what the cards look like and what the bad guys do. I will not dwell on this topic, since this would not be the first time a rulebook appeared to be missing a number of pages.

Once we got the general gist, we jumped into it. A fun mechanic in the game is that each of our beloved crew can be a "Big Damn Hero" or a sidekick for said BDH. Each player picks two characters and designates one as their hero and one as their sidekick. Depending on which version is chosen for a character, they will have different abilities. I was very excited to have Simon as my BDH and Jayne backing him up. A delightful vision for those who love the characters.

That's when things started getting bad.

The board is a square-grid with rooms and corridors. Placed randomly around the map are face-down tiles that can be objectives, cash, equipment or enemies. The basic overview of the gameplay is that you roll a six-sided die on your turn, move your character that many spaces and if pass over a tile, you reveal it. If it's cash, you pick it up. If it's equipment, you get a random equipment card, if it's an objective, you do the scenario-specific action and if it's a baddie, you fight it and end your turn.

The scenario board has a countdown track and any time you roll a one for your movement, it drops a spot. If it hits the end, you lose.

Combat is dead simple other than the myriad scenarios which are not adequately described by the rules. You roll whatever die is indicated on your BDH's sheet (six-sided, eight-sided, etc...) and compare it to the strength of the enemy you are fighting. If it's higher, you win and the enemy disappears. If you tie, you re-roll. If you lose, you take a damage and either re-roll or retreat. If you lose a health and re-roll, you trigger the enemy's "special attack" (more on this later). Retreating apparently means "Move some spaces wherever you want". We had a number of instances where we retreated toward the enemy. Characters each have an ammo bar that starts at max. You may modify your roll by expending any amount of ammo and adding that amount to your roll.

That's about 75% of the game right there. It felt not unlike Firefly-themed Candyland.

There were a number of more advanced mechanics, but all of them led to a good deal of head-scratching. If you don't want to read my rant on rules ambiguity, you can skip to my conclusions on the game.

1. You may call for backup if both your hero and another player's can see your target. In this case, you may not use ammo. You combine your rolls and use the same rules about comparing attack vs. enemy strength. The rules also indicate that you may not retreat in this case. Since you can't add ammo and you can't retreat, it would appear you are stuck re-rolling and taking damage until you win or you die. It's possible that you battle over multiple rounds and decide whether to call for backup on each. The word "Round" is only used once in the battle rules, referring to starting a new round when your roll ties the enemy's strength.

2. Enemies have special attacks that trigger in certain conditions. If you remember from above, this is supposed to happen if you take a damage and re-roll. However, each of the 4 enemies that have special attacks detail the trigger for the attack. These triggers appear unrelated to the "Trigger if you re-roll" rules. The only kind of enemy we faced in our scenario was the Reaver Scalper. Their special attack happens when they "defeat you" (their word for not rolling high enough). Another enemy triggers their special attack only when you retreat. In fact, none of the special attacks have a trigger that meshes with the "trigger on reroll" scenario.

3. You can regain health and ammo in the starting area for the players (The "LZ"). If you want to get health back, you don't roll so there is no chance of the scenario timer running out. We all decided to head to the LZ to heal up infinitely while our reaver friends waited patiently for us.

4. The reaver special attack moves it to the next player in turn order and "immediately forces a battle". From another forum post, I guess we are to interpret that as "Since the reaver will be on top of the next player on the next turn, that will force a battle because that's what the rules say". It's also questionable what happens if you go after a reaver with 2 players at once. Does it trigger twice? It's especially confusing when consider the "reroll triggers special attack" because the reaver just darts away and you have nothing to re-roll against.

5. At certain points on the timer track, enemies are supposed to spawn at designated points around the board. Let's review the entirety of the text detailing this process. "Enemies are placed face-up on red Spawn Zone icons all over the board". I feel somehow like the word "each" could make an appearance here. Later, when talking about the spawn zones themselves, it says it's where previously defeated enemies spawn (presumable as part of that timer track event). So I guess only defeated enemies spawn. Book has an ability that keeps them dead forever. That would be useful if it weren't for the next clause: "If there are not enough defeated enemies to fill all Spawn Zones, use the extra tokens provided". I don't... what...?

6. Let's compare some equipment cards.
-"Munitions Pack: Play during turn. Reload all player's Ammo to maximum"
-"Ammo Half-Clip: Play during turn. Immediately reload up to 3 Ammo. Discard after use"
So you can get 3 ammo for yourself once or you can get infinite ammo permanently. Your call.


Conclusion

I was very excited to play this game, and was appalled at the design when I got a chance to do so. The mechanics were shallow, inadequately described and poorly considered. It appeared to have minimal playtesting and after the first 5 minutes of excitement over the theme, no one in the group was at all invested beyond asking "What is the fastest way we can get this over with?"

I regret that my first ever BGG review is so negative, but I was compelled to write it since I saw no other reviewers warning unsuspecting Browncoats away from a product that is a far cry from re-creating our beloved 'Verse.
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Greg Byrd
United States
Ocean Grove
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Thank you! I've been waiting for a review of this game. Unfortunately, I am not surprised. On to Kalidasa, Browncoats!
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Steve Cohn
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Racine
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I have to admit I was hoping this would be better than it sounds. A fully cooperative Firefly game? When I don't have 3-4 hours for the GF9 version? But, from reading the rules, and then a near-complete lack of buzz...*sigh* Thanks for the review, TJ!
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Daniel Schorr
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That's a pretty accurate review, if not a little gracious. Bottom of my list of games.
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Stu Glennie
Canada
Regina
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How Wrin Bu Lai, Whai Wrin Bu Jwo!
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Thanks for the review.

In the thread found here: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1450133/rules-questions one of the designers talks about some of the things you brought up in your review (the Ammo Supply card DOES get discarded, how Book's ability is supposed to work, etc.) and he says there will be a FAQ coming to clear things up.

It looks as though I'll be keeping this one on the shelf until the FAQ comes out.

Nice reference in the title of the review by the way. Shiny!

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richard spangle
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well, I guess it could be a good prop resource for the RPG
 
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Jon

Arizona
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Seems we are all beta testers for a half developed game. I was so excited to get the game board, tokens, and even standee characters. But the game just does not seem complete. The bad guys are tough but in a room of 7 guys they will wait their turn to fight you, at least I think so maybe I am playing all wrong.

Vague rules and cards leaves a lot to interpretation - makes the game too hard or too easy depending how you interpret the text. The firefights are not dynamic or fun - there is something there just beneath the the surface but the game does not bring it out.

The only way to make this fun is a massive home brew overhaul. If I buy a new game I want a complete polished game, not this. I think there are redeeming qualities if the rules get a boost - but too many cards that need text adjusted in a big way. Unless they send corrected cards to all the early adopters there is no way for us early buyers to get their monies worth.

I love firefly, I love board games - but no matter how much I tried to love it I could not. Please post your homebrew rules to make this game worthwhile.

First BBG review/ comments - stay away from this version of the game.
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Dave B
United States
Tigard
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Thank you for the review! Now I'm glad I didn't pick up the game when I had a chance today.
 
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chris s.
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thx. this kept me from investing in this. i love the serenity board game, and therefore hoped this would be worth the money, but i' ll now steer clear,thx again
 
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