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Subject: Ideas to make the game quicker rss

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George Krubski
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I love Firefly, but one of the issues is that the game can take too long. The Blitz is an interesting set-up to help speed things along, but I'd like to explore some other variations.

I'm not really looking to mess with the story cards, but rather with set-up. I find that the game moves at the right pace once you're ready to roll, but the build-up can take a while. So, here are a few ideas. Please comment and provide your own!


1) CAREER OPPORTUNITIES: This is a house rule I've played with before and I would say it takes 15-30 minutes off the average game. The idea is that most careers offers a unique convenience-related bonus:

 


The two biggest drawbacks I've seen are that it reduces the "raggedy edge" feeling a little, and if someone gets the right Crew early, it can be unbalancing. I played a game where my opponent got 2 or 3 Grifters and a Soldier and camped on Persephone to hunt for supplies, making $500 or more per round of Make-Work.


2) STARTING RESOURCES: In the game, you are a lone captain on an empty ship. But even Mal started with Zoe and a few guns. The more you start with, the less you need to hunt for, and the quicker you can get moving. This is part of the idea behind the Blitz, but I think there's room for variation. Some possible ideas:

* "Packages" are available and can be purchased of bit on as part of set-up. Any packages not purchased may be dumped into the discard piles, so there are a lot of good resources to start.

* Each player starts with a First Mate, or with a crew of 3-4 (similar to the Solo rules). The challenge here is keeping things balanced and fast-moving. When I play Solo, I prime the pumps first and draw my crew from those available, replacing cards as I go. Maybe something like that would work?

* Each player draws 1 card from each supply deck and gets to keep or pay for X of them to start. (I've tried this before and it works pretty well, but can lead to some unbalanced results).


3) BETTER LUCKY THAN GOOD: Getting Crew, Gear, etc. is really just to let people get to work quicker, so why not simplify it and give folks a flat bonus to skill checks? +2? +3?

Too much? I might to with something like this:

Begin the game with a +2 to all skill tests except SHOWDOWNS. Reduce this bonus by 1 for each Goal token you claim.

This lets you start early, but become more "independent" over time.


I'm sure there are many more ideas. Thoughts?

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Fred Buchholz
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I like playing the Brown Coat Way (paying for ship and fuel/parts, pick captain, pick starting location) set up. My take on a faster game was give each player $1000 more in money ($13000 at start) and the picking sequence continues after the first three things are done (ship, captain and location). Next prime the supply decks, then you can purchase one item from any supply deck, this follows the sequence already established (so last one to get a location gets first pick for crew and gear). After you purchase a card, draw another so there will always be 3 per discard pile. Any item/crew that costs "0" costs $300 instead (you won't be paying them in the future for jobs, and we need to balance some of these like River Tam). Also captain "discounts" don't work in these buying rounds so no free crew, discounted guns, etc.
You get to start with up to 3 gear/crew, and going later in a round of buying might be beneficial as other items appear.
It can be unbalancing if some one spends all their money on this but it does speed up the game play.
once buying is done THEN deal starting jobs if any and prime the jobs decks. Thus you have to buy crew/gear without knowing what jobs you have or will be out there.
 
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April W
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I like the ideas posted here. When my husband and I play we actually have to modify the rules to make the game last longer, because we play it so often we've gotten pretty quick. But when we play with others, especially people who aren't as used to playing, it's nice to do things to speed it up. We once had an eight player game that lasted eleven hours! I do like The Blitz for a speedier play through. Something that could be interesting to try is each player picking two captains (one would be your primary captain, and the other your first mate). Of course, there would be some details to work out in order to make such a setup playable, but it would give a huge boost at the start of the game.
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Roger BW
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My problem with Blitz setup is that it can leave a big gap between players right at the beginning, and this is notoriously a game in which it's hard to close that gap. I think anything based on existing crew (such as your ①) doesn't help with that.

For ② I like the look of standard packages.

How about a Blitz-like setup where you draw a bunch of supply cards and then auction them? That might be a bit more even than paying standard prices.
 
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Carl Hanson
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Soleia wrote:
Something that could be interesting to try is each player picking two captains (one would be your primary captain, and the other your first mate). Of course, there would be some details to work out in order to make such a setup playable, but it would give a huge boost at the start of the game.


I think that you could be on to something here. It is a level boost to all players, and you could just add another round to the snake draft for "First Mates" to make sure the first few players don't monopolize the best leaders. Simple, quick, and balanced--my favorite kind of rule change.
 
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Mark McG
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I still think the easiest is to have each player draw one card from each market, buy what they want and can afford, and discard the remainder to prime the pump of each market.

What I would like to see is how to make the game play faster between turns when there are 4+ players. Decreasing the down time between turns would increase the entertainment level. I keep meaning to try having 2 dinosaurs, each doing 1 action, so there could be up to 2 active players simultaneously. Not sure that would work.
 
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George Krubski
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To me, the only problem with the "drawn one from each market" is that, like a lot of these ideas, it's based on randomness.

Not so great when one player gets Bree, Wash, and Jayne, while another gets Booby Traps, a Knife, and a Hill Folk...

I haven't played with large groups often, but the trick to keeping things moving seems to be table management and focus. Give everyone a job (one player is Banker, another flips Nav Cards, another hands out supply decks, etc). The biggest slow-down to me has been when it's someone's turn and they aren't prepared.
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Mark McG
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gwek wrote:
To me, the only problem with the "drawn one from each market" is that, like a lot of these ideas, it's based on randomness.


which is different to the normal game because...?

there are always actions that take longer, flying or misbehaving because of the choices (based on random draws). I don't regard that as a problem with the game mechanics, but not exciting for the other players.
 
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Ralph Stratford
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I haven't tried speeding up any of the games I've played as I quite like the idea of spending some time to get the crew, gear, etc to set yourself up. But I'd be inclined to keep any speed up simple.

I would suggest something along the lines of priming the supply decks with X number of cards (based on the number of players) and then letting each player choose and purchase any items in the discards piles (one per player each time) until all players choose to stop spending their starting funds (or have spent them all).

So, for example, in a game with 3 or less players you prime each supply deck with 3 cards, in a 9 player game each supply deck is primed with 9 cards. Then players pick in order (starting with the player who will take their first game turn last) any one card to purchase for its face value going around as many times as necessary until no players wish to, or can, make any further purchases.

There may be some issues with ship balance which may need to be considered, but I'd be inclined to just give everyone $3,000 no matter what ship they use and see how it plays (meaning the Jetwash and Esmeralda wouldn't start with their ship upgrades).

This eliminates the randomness of just picking cards off the top of the supply decks. It also allows players the choice of picking the most suitable cards that match their ship, captain and intended play strategy.

It also means that Persephone and Space Bazaar (and perhaps Beaumonde) won't provide the advantages they do now if you manage to start their as some of their good cards may already be gone!

The last part, which I'm not sure is good or bad, is deciding whether to then shuffle all of the discarded cards back into their supply decks and then also if you do that whether to prime the decks or not.

I'd be inclined to shuffle the discards back in and not prime the supply decks.




 
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Brett Lamb

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I could see something similar to your #1 (gwek), but re: part one, if you have that much crew just get a job and do it. Make work isn't meant to be a career.
Re: Part two, the fact is that not every planet has fuel, parts and a companion (that's the 'verse we live in). I would think any of the core planets should, and maybe a few others that aren't already supply planets, but certainly not every.

#2 My main question is whats in the packages? And are they balanced by dollars or skill points or something else (or not especially balanced at all)?

#3 I don't like at all. What's the point of even playing if you're just going to skip to the end?
 
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George Krubski
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Harbinjer wrote:
I could see something similar to your #1 (gwek), but re: part one, if you have that much crew just get a job and do it. Make work isn't meant to be a career.


I think perhaps you misunderstand the intention behind the house rule. This isn't a way to win the game, but rather a way to potentially build up some more resources to help move the game along a little more quickly.

Interestingly, the idea now exists, to some extent, with the introduction of the Barker (who lets you take an extra $100 every time you Make-Work) and Holder (who lets you grab a Fugitive that you might use elsewhere).

To some extent, I feel that this counter-balances the high value of Persephone and the Space Bazaar as starting planets. Okay, you can deal with Badger in your off-turn, but I'm over at Regina looking for resources and I've got two Mercs, so I can pull in extra money while I finish shopping...

Ultimately, it's probably going to earn a player an extra $500 to $1000 per game, which helps grease the wheels, but not much more.

Harbinjer wrote:
Re: Part two, the fact is that not every planet has fuel, parts and a companion (that's the 'verse we live in). I would think any of the core planets should, and maybe a few others that aren't already supply planets, but certainly not every.

I respectfully disagree. I believe every destination planet on the map is populated and/or has moons that are populated. Might not be too many places to relax and unwind... but a good Companion can find them. Could be there's only a little fuel, but an experienced pilot will be able to sniff it out. And where there's folks, there's something a savvy mechanic can use to fix the ship.

Again, the intention here is not that these abilities are earth-shattering, but that they help make things a little more convenient, which may save an action or three, cutting the length of the game a bit.

[q="Harbinjer"]#2 My main question is whats in the packages? And are they balanced by dollars or skill points or something else (or not especially balanced at all)?


A good question, for which I have no answer. We've discussed packages before, and different folks have different opinions. Personally, I think it's the value of the cards that should be balanced, not the cost, although cost may help with fine-tuning. For example, if a captain is looking to do primarily legal work, a package of expensive but high quality crew does them less good than a package of Hill Folk and some decent gear. On the other hand, there's no reason you couldn't try to do both.

For example, I might see some packages looking like this:

CHEAP CREW: Stark, Elder Gommen, Hill Folk, GJ Flashkill Pod Grenades (Fight 5, Talk 2, Cost 1100)

MORAL PILOT: Wash, Helen, Early's Pistol (Fight 2, Tech 1, Talk 2, Cost 1000)

NOT-SO-MORAL PILOT: Jesse, Enforcer, Pistol, Knife (Fight 3, Tech 1, Talk 1, Cost 1000)

Or something. That's just a starting point with a few minutes of research. Although I stuck with pulling from a single planet, there's no reason you couldn't mix and match, but I think it's more complicated and potentially unbalancing to do so.

In retrospect, although I used Wash, I'm not sure that I'd put Serenity crew or other "super-stars" in packages.

Harbinjer wrote:
#3 I don't like at all. What's the point of even playing if you're just going to skip to the end?


You're not skipping to the end. You're skipping the first few rounds of shopping. This is really not very different from #2 above, just more blatant about what's happening. WHY are we talking about giving players extra Crew or Gear? So they can finish shopping quicker and move on to Misbehaving or whatever. So why not call it what it is and just give people an edge early on?

Note that, with the suggesting of the bonus eroding as the game goes on, you can't just rely on this bonus. It's just a quick way to start, earn some money, then buy yourself something pretty that will provide skill points long-term.
 
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April W
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turambur wrote:
I think that you could be on to something here. It is a level boost to all players, and you could just add another round to the snake draft for "First Mates" to make sure the first few players don't monopolize the best leaders. Simple, quick, and balanced--my favorite kind of rule change.


Yes, just what I was thinking. But this could make getting money wildly easy-- imagine some of these team-ups:

Zoe/Nandi - hire soldiers for free then never pay them.

Sash/Jubal - a fierce piracy duo.

Burgess/Murphy - Load a cargo after shipping jobs then get a +100 bonus when selling cargo.

Corbin/Marco - half off firearms and ship upgrades/cores.

Malcom/Monty - Pilot + Mechanic, +500 per Crime and Smuggling jobs.

Wright/Womack - Immoral madness!

Nandi/Atherton? - Possible way around his no companions rule, if house rules would allow.

OR, so as not to make the advantage too crazy, first mates' special abilities could not count, maybe just their keywords.
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Carl Hanson
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I wouldn't worry about crazy ability combos. For the most part, players will have to decide between shoring up weaknesses and building up strengths when picking a First Mate; and by spacing out the selections via the snake draft format you would give other players the option to "counter" draft a leader to prevent broken combos.

Of course, if any combos are proven to be too strong through play then you could consider some restrictions.
 
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George Krubski
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With a first mate, one thing I would consider is that the captain could be killed (at least until you have only one leader card left).
 
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Nathan Christianson
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More for fun than anything else, when my wife and I play we actually choose a single Serenity Crew member (Simon, Wash, Zoe...etc) and that just about sets our strategy for the game, because they are each so different. Then we choose leaders to compliment our single Serenity Crew member.

Even just starting the game with one top tier crew member can drastically reduce the overall length of the game.

Throw-in a little extra starting cash, and you have reduced the game time by 30min easy and not started with an unbalance.

"Make Work"
When using the right strategy, "make work" can be very over powered with only making $200. Such as when a length of space needs to be traveled, stay within planetary sectors as much as possible and "make work" as your second action. If you are camping Osiris or Regina or Meridian, for something specific, buy + "make work". Personally, I have removed the aspect of "make work" or limited it to Contact Sectors only, just to make the games a bit harder.

I really like the idea of starting the game with +skill bonus and then reducing that as the game goes. Small aspect but vital for a shorter game. I will have to implement this the next time I play a quick game.
 
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Chuck Cooley
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1) CAREER OPPORTUNITIES:

I really like these, and generally play with them. Unfortunately, I've forgotten the "with a Pilot" part often enough that my table kinda thinks they can buy fuel anywhere. Ooops.

Evidently, you think Medic and Lawman are valuable enough without a similar boost? Not disagreeing, just asking.

2) STARTING RESOURCES:

I've been mostly introducing people to the game, and noobs tend to get overwhelmed by too many initial choices. Choosing a Leader (based on the picture) and a color of Firefly is about all they can handle. I use GWEK's "free upgrades" making all Firefly classes roughly the same cost/value.

The next time I play, I should have people who have played before, and I want to try a 7 Wonders style draft:

Take the top N cards from each Supply deck -- where N is the number of
players -- shuffle them together and then deal them face down in N piles.

Each player takes a pile, selects one card from it, and passes the rest
to the player on their left. This draft continues until all the cards
have been selected. Players then purchase as many of the cards they
selected as they wish from their starting funds. Unpurchased cards are
sorted into the Discard piles. Fill out any short Discard piles to 3 cards.


I plan to start folks with $3,600, which happens to be one bill of each denomination.

3) BETTER LUCKY THAN GOOD:

I see what you are going for here, but having bonus sitting out there not linked to a card doesn't sit right with me. I'd be losing the feeling of "leveling up". Some players I know would be like "Wait, why I am I penalized for reaching a Goal?" (even though that's not the intent of the rule).
 
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Buckley Jones
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My group starts the game with a draft as well. Ours is a little different than mentioned above, but the effect is the same. It skips most of the early buying rounds, players figure out their strategies, and misbehaving can get underway.


I really like the idea of having a First Mate. Perhaps those could be part of the draft as well. Either way, I will try that out next time I play.




 
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Steve Cohn
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Soleia wrote:
But this could make getting money wildly easy--


This! And not just money, but as you pointed out, all the other things that could be combined by pairing leaders with leaders.

I'll throw my hat in the ring with two ideas from two other 'quick start' threads that I was reading recently: starting cards from each supply deck, and a draft.
Select Captains and/or Ships and starting locations as normal (whatever 'normal' may be for any of us on these variant/modifications forums)
One, every player gets one card from every supply deck as part of their starting 'hand'.
Two, draft, each player selects one card to keep, passing the rest clockwise. Repeat, one draft-round per supply deck used.
Once the starting cards have been drafted, players may buy these cards from their starting $3k (or $12k-less-ship-expenses if using the pay-for-your-ship-first starting cash), up to a max of 3 (or 4?) cards--or perhaps set a $ limit, max of $1200 or $1600 or the like.
Left-over, unpurchased cards go back to their respective discard piles
Double-prime the Pump (if necessary) to get each Supply planet discard pile to six face-up cards.

I've got the game and all expansions set up and eager to try this variant this weekend to see how it goes. I'm guessing it could shave 30-45 minutes off the game.

~Steve
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Roger BW
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Interesting - Blitz requires you to pay or abandon each card immediately as it comes up, and I think this would be an improvement.

But as George said, "Not so great when one player gets Bree, Wash, and Jayne, while another gets Booby Traps, a Knife, and a Hill Folk..."
 
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George Krubski
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It seems like the "Seven Wonders" style draft (whatever that means!) of everyone drawing one from each deck, picking one, passing another, etc, than paying for what they want might be the best case scenario of all drafts.

While it's possible that the cards could completely work against you, and you MIGHT get Booby Traps, a Knife, and a Hill Folk, law of averages says that even if the other guy gets Bree, Wash, and Jayne, you'll probably get closer to Scrapper, Merchant and Bandit.

I do, however, still see a potential discrepancy in the last stage where you "pay for what you want." Personally, in most story cards, I think that cash is a means to an end rather than an end in and of itself (even in cash grabs, EARLY cash is often used as an investment to grease the wheels).

Thus, someone who draws and pays for five good cards out of seven still have a huge theoretical advantage over players who've only drawn and paid for two or three good cards out of seven, even though they're starting with less coin in hand.
 
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Buckley Jones
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I'll say that I used to really dislike drafts because I thought they had the potential to be really unfair as well, until I realized that by and large the other players only get as good of a starting hand as you allow them to. In your example, if we are only playing with 2 players, If the other guy got Bree, Wash, and Jayne, it is only because I passed on those cards when they rolled around. If for some reason I chose Booby traps, knife and hill folk, well, that's my own fault. For the most part, you split the best cards, and you split the garbage. The chances of one sided drafts gets further mitigated with more players.

I played a lot of Agricola with the minor improvements and occupations, and even with a group that was new to drafting, they seemed to really like it, and it forced us to extend ourselves into some diverse strategies. Before we played with the other cards, we tended to all go for the known optimal strategy, but when it became clear that someone was doing it better, the other players had to switch to something else midway through the game. By drafting, everyone had a strategy from the get-go, and it was not often that our strategies overlapped. Furthermore, when drafting, you tend to see what others are taking by seeing what cards they are passing on, which can allow you to possibly scoop up a second minor/backup strategy. Also, if the other players are competing for (and consequently splitting) the best cards of a known best strategy, you may just end up picking up all of the best cards for an otherwise less-viable strategy.

For those of you who think the game starts a little slow, my suggestion is to give drafting an honest try. I hated it when I was first exposed to it (Agricola, Sushi-Go!, and Seven Wonders at first), but after a little experience I have grown to really love it. In Firefly it is an awesome way to get rolling with the game. You may end up skipping some cheap shipping jobs or whatever, but that wasn't a problem for us because we never did those anyway. For our group, we just love doing the misbehaves, so after our 10 min draft we were into the real meat of the game.

However, I don't know how you would do this single player.

You may consider drafting jobs as well, or even including "first mates" into the draft, with the caveat that you are only allowed 1 first mate (and any other restrictions that you think are appropriate).

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George Krubski
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On First Mates, I could see implementing it in two ways:

1) FIRST MATE IS A SECOND LEADER

I had actually played with this a while ago as part of my "First Mates & Mutiny" rules. Without getting into mutiny, I would think:

a) You get the First Mate for Free.

b) You must pay your first mate for jobs - $500.

c) Given that having a second leader is a powerful advantage, you're Captain is no longer immune to being Killed. If you ever have only one leader, he becomes immune to being Killed.

d) You can never have more than two leaders on your ship. If you have two, there's a mutiny and one is removed from the game. Alternately, perhaps the First Mate is immune to being traded or bought off with "a better offer."

e) If your First Mate leaves your ship... should they be removed from the game?


2) FIRST MATE IS REGULAR CREW

Not sure how they would be selected, but they should stand out from regular Crew, so:

a) Hired for free.

b) Immune to "a better offer"
 
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Chuck Cooley
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gwek wrote:
1) FIRST MATE IS A SECOND LEADER

I had actually played with this a while ago as part of my "First Mates & Mutiny" rules. Without getting into mutiny, I would think:

a) You get the First Mate for Free.

b) You must pay your first mate for jobs - $500.

c) Given that having a second leader is a powerful advantage, you're Captain is no longer immune to being Killed. If you ever have only one leader, he becomes immune to being Killed.

I like this a lot! I gotta try it next time.

gwek wrote:
d) You can never have more than two leaders on your ship. If you have two, there's a mutiny and one is removed from the game. Alternately, perhaps the First Mate is immune to being traded or bought off with "a better offer."

e) If your First Mate leaves your ship... should they be removed from the game?

I don't see how d) fits in with the first three (but maybe that's in your unseen Mutiny rules).

I wouldn't remove First Mates from the game (unless they get killed). Drop them in the nearest discard pile for someone else to pick up. Or am I missing something?

gwek wrote:
2) FIRST MATE IS REGULAR CREW

This option doesn't seem nearly as interesting to me.
 
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George Krubski
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I should have stated that the rationale behind d and e is that two leaders is already VERY powerful (albeit somewhat mitigated by the disadvantage that your leader becomes killable, which changes certain tactical decisions).

THREE leaders on your crew is ridiculous... and with no additional disadvantage. I wanted to prevent any situation where a player might have, say, Murphy, Mal AND Nandi!
 
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Carl Hanson
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So long as all of the players are paying or not paying their first mates the same amount, I don't think it matters much either way.

I can see the argument that they would demand a high price, considering their abilities. I could also argue that if the point of first mates is to speed the game up, not paying them accomplishes that better than paying them $500 per job.

I agree that their should be rules to prevent any player from getting three leaders on their crew at any time. I would propose this:

1. First Mates will not accept a better offer.

2. If dismissed from the crew, First Mates are returned to the box.

3. Leaders are not considered "very lucky" so long as they have First Mates. (Having two members of your crew that can soak up deaths by disgruntling would take the sting out of events that kill crew.)

4. If either the Captain or First Mates receives a second Disgruntled token, the player must choose one of the leaders to be dismissed with the rest of the crew under the "You're all ruttin' fired" rule. (This represents an irreconcilable difference between the leaders, and one of them setting off to find their own way in the 'Verse.)

5. Leaders can not be traded, sold, or otherwise placed on another player's crew for any reason. (Just to cover our bases.)
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