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digi holic
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So, some friends of mine managed to grab a copy at GenCon and we played the first scenario yesterday. A bit of background, we've been playing Legendary Encounters at our weekly game night for the past few months now, and were excited for some new content. I'm not as familiar with Firefly as I was with Alien/Predator, but I'm not completely in the dark about it. With that said, on to the review.

The Good

- Side Jobs are much more fun than Drones and Young Bloods. They all have unique "clear" conditions that usually take multiple turns to complete. It's nice to be able to contribute on low-combat turns by completing objectives instead of fighting.

- Ship strikes and upgrades add a new layer of complexity in a good way. You can refine your playstyles with upgrades to try to pick up the slack in areas where you are missing, and ship strikes can lead to some tense situations when the wrong one comes up at the wrong time.

- Inevitable cards give the game a hard time limit and can lead to games that end in a few climactic turns instead of slowly as the last few players die out over a few more turns.

The Bad

- Basically no way to crossover any cards with Alien/Predator. There's too many new mechanics that you'd need to houserule a whole lotta stuff to even so much as use the other game's Avatars. Disappointing when we were hoping for an exponential increase in possible game setups.

- The "Main Character" mechanic is just awful. More than half of the cards do basically nothing if you don't happen to have the right Main Characters in play, an utterly binary situation that the players have no real control over. Color Combos could be built around, but there's nothing that can be done to make the Main Character cards work mid-game. They add absolutely nothing to the game in terms of decisions and strategy, and make some cards worthless for the sake of flavor. Alien/Predator knew when to make something thematic without it being completely pigeonholed into one thing. In Legendary Encounters: Alien, you could have situations where Ripley gets captured by the Queen and you have to rescue her, which still makes you think "Hey, this is like when Ripley goes back in to save Newt!", while the Firefly cards will happen exactly like it did in the show. In Firefly, you'll have situations like "Remember when Dobson shot Kaylee? Well, here Dobson will shoot Kaylee and always Kaylee and never anything else". It sacrifices versatility for flavor, making most of the cards useless and the other half feel unfair. In the game we played, our Kaylee player was already taking heavy damage, and opted not to scan on her turn to avoid getting an event or something that could cause trouble before we could heal her up, and the next player wound up accidentally scanning Dobson and killing her.

The Ugly

- The art is awful, but we all already knew this.

All in all, the game is fun. The new mechanics are mostly well thought out and add a lot of depth. There's one mechanic that almost ruins it, to the point we're considering a houserule to just ignore all of the Main Character requisite effects and just letting all the effects happen all the time. The effects seem to be factored into the costs of the cards, and even if they are a little too powerful, we'd also be taking all of the negative effects of the Episode decks as well.
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Sean B
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You could change the "character in play trigger" to a combo effect like the ones the Nostromo crew have, as in, the "character in play" effect triggers if you play any other serenity crew beforehand. Should keep it nicely balanced.

Haven't played it yet myself but I was admittedly concerned about the main character mechanic, still interested in seeing how it plays out for my group.
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Jay Johnson
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digiholic wrote:
More than half of the cards do basically nothing if you don't happen to have the right Main Characters in play


It is the "uncommon" cards that have the Main Character tie-ins.
So 3 out of the 14 cards (21%) in each mini deck.

Each of those cards will always provide 3 Recruit or 3 Attack, with their purchase cost being 5 or 6. So it isn't like they're totally useless if their MC trigger isn't present.

Don't forget that there are always 5 "Main Characters", regardless of the number of players. But the non-player MCs pretty much just stand around doing nothing other than triggering certain card effects or getting knocked out by certain themed episode events.
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Jason Sesta
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digiholic wrote:


- The "Main Character" mechanic is just awful. More than half of the cards do basically nothing if you don't happen to have the right Main Characters in play, an utterly binary situation that the players have no real control over. Color Combos could be built around, but there's nothing that can be done to make the Main Character cards work mid-game. They add absolutely nothing to the game in terms of decisions and strategy, and make some cards worthless for the sake of flavor. Alien/Predator knew when to make something thematic without it being completely pigeonholed into one thing. In Legendary Encounters: Alien, you could have situations where Ripley gets captured by the Queen and you have to rescue her, which still makes you think "Hey, this is like when Ripley goes back in to save Newt!", while the Firefly cards will happen exactly like it did in the show. In Firefly, you'll have situations like "Remember when Dobson shot Kaylee? Well, here Dobson will shoot Kaylee and always Kaylee and never anything else". It sacrifices versatility for flavor, making most of the cards useless and the other half feel unfair. In the game we played, our Kaylee player was already taking heavy damage, and opted not to scan on her turn to avoid getting an event or something that could cause trouble before we could heal her up, and the next player wound up accidentally scanning Dobson and killing her.



While I don't necessarily disagree that it stinks to have cards come up that make it arbitrarily harder just for the sake of keeping the episode in tact, the rules on page 23 do suggest which 5 main characters you should use that played greater roles in that episode if you are playing the episodes chronologically. This should largely solve your problem to some extent. I just look at picking random mains are sort of a difficulty level proposition.

As far as the support player cards interaction with other main characters I feel most of the cards where you can't trigger the effect are still quite useful for the cost but just get crazy powerful if you have the right main character.

Nice review!
 
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Steve Crow
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JayJ79 wrote:
digiholic wrote:
More than half of the cards do basically nothing if you don't happen to have the right Main Characters in play


It is the "uncommon" cards that have the Main Character tie-ins.
So 3 out of the 14 cards (21%) in each mini deck.


There are also Episode/Objective cards that have Main Character tie-ins. In the aforementioned Dobson card, Kaylee is specifically mentioned.

For the "Shindig" Dance card, Inara and Mal are both tied in. If neither one is a main character, it's a pretty boring event to resolve.
 
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Steve Crow
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digiholic wrote:
The "Main Character" mechanic is just awful. More than half of the cards do basically nothing if you don't happen to have the right Main Characters in play, an utterly binary situation that the players have no real control over. In Firefly, you'll have situations like "Remember when Dobson shot Kaylee? Well, here Dobson will shoot Kaylee and always Kaylee and never anything else". It sacrifices versatility for flavor, making most of the cards useless and the other half feel unfair. In the game we played, our Kaylee player was already taking heavy damage, and opted not to scan on her turn to avoid getting an event or something that could cause trouble before we could heal her up, and the next player wound up accidentally scanning Dobson and killing her.


Without having it in front of me, I'm pretty sure that Dobson has wording of the "If Kaylee isn't a main character, give to someone else" variety. So it's not like Kaylee will always get hit with it: only if she's in the game as a Main Character.

The situation you describe where Kaylee has to be hit is indeed unpleasant. But most similar situations could have caused the same outcome. If the card said, "Attach to the Main Character with the least hit points" Or "Attach to the Main Character whose turn it is" or something similar, Kaylee would have been just as dead.

Our main gripe is vaguely related, in that scanning is such a two-way street. You want to scan, to avoid Side Jobs going off without the chance to resolve them. And to get the jump on certain cards. But there are other cards, like Dobson, Alliance Soldiers, and Patience's Snipers, who hurt you quite a bit if you do scan.
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Steve Crow
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The "Main Character" tie-in mechanic seems intended primarily to appeal to fans of the show. Just like there are 15 episodes based on the 15 specific episodes in the show. It's a game for people that want to recreate the show, rather than people who want to play a wide-open environment.

Marvel is a wide-open environment. You can just as easily have five characters who have never seen Magneto in their comic book lives fight Magneto, as have five X-Men fight him.

Ditto for Big Trouble to some degree. There are only 9 characters, but I don't remember "Henry Swanson" with the Pork Chop Express. You can mix and match a bit and make your own movie.

Alien/Predators had some mixing and matching. If you want to team up Harrigan and Dutch, or Parker and Dillon on Hadley's Hope, go for it even if it didn't happen in the movies.

In Firefly, you've got 9 characters and they all worked together to some degree or another. And while you can mix and match episodes, each episode is self-contained. You can't "build" an episode the way you can "build" a movie in A/P by mixing objectives.

So while I think Firefly is different than the Legendary games that preceded it, I don't think it's necessarily better or worse.
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Jay Johnson
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True, there are episode cards/objectives that have character-specific tie-ins (some good, some bad). And if you follow the "suggested main crew" from the rulebook, you'll get most of them (but not all). But that lineup is only a suggestion, not a requirement. Plus, if you are playing the "campaign mode" by the book, you have to keep the same crew for all 5 games. (of course, you can always houserule it).

I don't think there are any particular character-specific events that are terribly brutal (or crucial), but it can add to the struggle if that character happens to already be having a bad day.

And the scanning thing can be frustrating, but it adds to the variety of the game. In some situations, scanning early and often can help give you more opportunity to deal with things, but in other situations it can hinder (ranged characters being able to attack more, or certain objectives requiring a higher cost to acheive the further right in the Verse that they are). That spices things up as opposed to having the same mechanic in every situation.

If it really bothers you, you can scan through the episode cards before setting up the board (adding side jobs and shuffling) to try and determine a scan strategy for that episode, but that kind of spoils the surprise for some players.
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Steve Crow
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JayJ79 wrote:
I don't think there are any particular character-specific events that are terribly brutal (or crucial), but it can add to the struggle if that character happens to already be having a bad day.


The kiss event in Our Mrs. Reynolds is pretty brutal.
 
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Trevor S.
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I have to agree with one point in particular from the original poster - the issue with who is or is not a main character. The point is spot-on and was that nagging little thing I just couldn't name that bugged me about this game in a way the other two (Alien and Predator) didn't. Yes, sometimes the effect means nothing and sometimes it can end the game. Also - only 5 Browncoats? Why? It was perfect in the other two, and the change here can really impede some games in the beginning if a bunch of expensive ones or just combat cards are available early.

I liked the flaw/talent mechanic quite a bit as a way to differentiate the players in new ways - great idea (although why did you pick the worst art in the game for those cards???). Enjoy having another Legendary Encounters game, so can live with some small disappointments. Still very fun and still hoping for more!
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Jay Johnson
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saint1012 wrote:
Also - only 5 Browncoats? Why? It was perfect in the other two, and the change here can really impede some games in the beginning if a bunch of expensive ones or just combat cards are available early.

If you have the other LE games, you can easily import some Sergeants or Commanders to supplement the Browncoat pile. I believe the class icons are the same, and they have Coordinate and provide the same 2 Recruit points. Personally, I'm planning on adding 5 (one of each class), shuffling the 5 imported cards, with the 5 shuffled Browncoat cards on top (so that the Browncoats are purchased first, and the imported cards will follow if needed). The 5 Browncoats seems sufficient for the 2 player campaign I'm currently on, but the pile quickly ran out when I played 5-player games earlier.

Thematically, I don't find it that far-fetched, since the Browncoats are all ex-military anyway. Also, when they made the TV show, the production crew re-used spacesuits and other props from previous movies. (it might have even been props from Alien or Predator, I can't remember right off hand)
 
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Trevor S.
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JayJ79 wrote:
saint1012 wrote:
Also - only 5 Browncoats? Why? It was perfect in the other two, and the change here can really impede some games in the beginning if a bunch of expensive ones or just combat cards are available early.

If you have the other LE games, you can easily import some Sergeants or Commanders to supplement the Browncoat pile. I believe the class icons are the same, and they have Coordinate and provide the same 2 Recruit points. Personally, I'm planning on adding 5 (one of each class), shuffling the 5 imported cards, with the 5 shuffled Browncoat cards on top (so that the Browncoats are purchased first, and the imported cards will follow if needed). The 5 Browncoats seems sufficient for the 2 player campaign I'm currently on, but the pile quickly ran out when I played 5-player games earlier.

Thematically, I don't find it that far-fetched, since the Browncoats are all ex-military anyway. Also, when they made the TV show, the production crew re-used spacesuits and other props from previous movies. (it might have even been props from Alien or Predator, I can't remember right off hand)


Yeah, I added a sergeant of each color. I am just thinking balance purposes. It seemed perfect with 10 sergeants.
 
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This game is tough to rate. I like the theme, even with the poor art work I am completely drawn in. I like the legendary encounters system and this game builds and enhances that system. I love the idea of ship, inter-mission tasks, and that you can keep going if you fail an objective.

The problem for me is it seems as if the game was never play tested. There seems to be sever balance issues and many of the added mechanics make it impossible to actually succeed. Yes all other LE games are challenging, but this one is darn near impossible.

Here are the issues I have experienced.
1. In ability to recruit useful cards and in some cases any cards.
2. Very little ability to use cards synergistically.
3. Using game recommended characters so far has resulted in very poor crew decks. In Aliens doing this resulted in cards with abilities that were useful together, in Firefly not so much. It's difficult to get powerful enough cards to recruit better cards or battle average enemies. Forget it if a tougher enemy shows up.
4. Side Jobs are ridiculously expensive to complete and so far have been a mechanic that causes a steady stream of flaws to enter my decks.
5. Flaws seem much more powerful, have more dramatic game effects, than talents.

All in all a game I was very excited to play has become frustrating and impossible to win. That is also true when doing two prep rounds. I actually tried that in one game with three players and the way the cards came out we recruited only 4 total cards between us. Some of that is luck, but it seems more likely to have bad luck in this game. It seems every turn I end up with all attack and need recruit, all recruit and need attack, or an even mix and can't do anything at all. Then when you finally get something goin, enter a flaw to ruin it, or worse an event occurs making anything useful you had in hand useless as it ends up getting discarded.

Maybe it's just my luck so far, but I have to say the difficulty in this game is ten times more difficult than alien encounters. Almost to the point were playing the game isn't even enjoyable.

PS: Just played another game. Decided to do prep rounds until each character was able to recruit 2 cards, any two they can afford. That took four prep rounds. Then the first turn after for each player none (3 total player) were able to recruit, scan, or attack with there hands. This is what I have found to be typical.
 
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Christian van Someren
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Quote:

Maybe it's just my luck so far, but I have to say the difficulty in this game is ten times more difficult than alien encounters. Almost to the point were playing the game isn't even enjoyable.


I'm surprised to hear people having so much difficulty with this one. So far I've played 7 games 2 handed using the recommended characters and I've only lost once, playing The Message, and in that case it was largely my own fault for building my deck incorrectly. To address your points:

1. If you focus early on getting some Browncoats into play you shouldn't have trouble recruiting. And remember, it's not always best to recruit the most expensive card on the Bridge.
2. It's important to stack decks to use card synergies - If Wash can trigger a Tech class combo, make sure he recruits as many Tech cards as possible. And again, Browncoats come in useful here.
3. I disagree, I find the recommended decks to work very well, bearing in mind that the objectives and how you should build your deck can vary wildly in each episode.
4. Side Jobs can be a pain, but they really emphasize the importance of scanning to see what's coming. Sometimes it may be better to scan some cards than to defeat an enemy in the combat zone. It's usually pretty easy to heal, but Flaws can ruin you.
5. Flaws suck, but I find they're mostly avoidable. Book has some good cards for this, as well as his main ability.

Don't give up yet, I feel like this game has a steep difficulty level, but having won every mission, I find it to be a tense, dramatic experience which really makes me feel as if I'm reliving the old TV show.

Also, I recommend using the variant where you can trigger non-player Main Character Talent abilities when you play a Talent card, and trigger a random Main Character Flaw when one of those comes out. I'm not sure it makes the game easier, but it definitely makes the game more interesting and gives you more options on your turn.
 
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Adelin Dumitru
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"The game is easy".
"I recommend using the variant that makes the game easy though."

Ok.
 
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Christian van Someren
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Quote:
"The game is easy".
"I recommend using the variant that makes the game easy though."

Ok.


If you're going to quote me, at least use actual quotes. I actually said:
Quote:
I feel like this game has a steep difficulty level

Quote:
I'm not sure [this variant] makes the game easier


I've only used the above variant once in the games I've played and thought it might be something for the OP to try.

Also, I don't think this is a game you can master on your first run through (my first few wins were by the skin of my teeth), but I find that the more I play, the better I am doing, so it gives me hope that this is not a total luckfest and that there are strategies and character combinations which will help you win each mission.
 
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Jay Johnson
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PeeWrinkle wrote:
The problem for me is it seems as if the game was never play tested. There seems to be sever balance issues and many of the added mechanics make it impossible to actually succeed. Yes all other LE games are challenging, but this one is darn near impossible.


I like this game for the most part, but I do get the feeling that perhaps it was rushed to try and get it available for GenCon. Seems like it maybe didn't get as much playtesting or proofreading (card texts, rulebook).

I haven't yet found any mechanics that make it impossible, but there are times when if the wrong cards Episode cards come out early in a episode, or if a particular Flaw is triggered at a critical time, or if you have an unfortunate mix of player Avatars for a particular episode, then there really isn't much you can do no matter how good you are at strategizing.
 
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