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Subject: To Build This Business Up From Nothing rss

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Roger BW
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(Inspired by a GM discussion with ilPapa.)

I like the early phase of Firefly play, when you're trying to choose between mining, easy low-paying jobs, and taking risks.

Blitz setup removes this. I want the option of extending it, possibly by removing some of the endgame.

So the obvious approach is to have a setup card where you start with no cash. But there are various things to consider round that:

- should you still get starting fuel/parts?
- what's to stop you mining for a really long time at the start of the game? A 20-turn limit, as in Time's Not On Our Side? Many Stories simply won't be completable in the time, though I'd say that in that case "most goals wins" rather than "most credits wins".
- what about starting jobs? It would be tempting to offer one from each contact, maybe even more, in order to give players a wide selection of things to try.

Thoughts?
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Carl Hanson
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If you are looking for ways to get players to take the low paying jobs early in the game that are usually skipped, then starting with no (or less) cash (but with starting supplies) should do that. It seems like working a low paying Harken or Amnon Duul job with a light crew would be more turn efficient than Making Work for several turns.

One side effect that may come up is that Jubal may become stronger than he already is, since he will be able to work higher paying bounties from the start with his bonuses and possibly get a jump on the rest of the players. But since bounties are an inconsistent strategy in the early game, it may not be too bad.
 
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George Krubski
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I think Carl's note re: Jubal and Bounties rings true, but I'll go one step further: taking money away is an option that, potentially, rewards risk greatly. Early on, you don't have much to lose with a medium-risk, well-paying job, and one lucky break could well put you ahead of folks who are scrambling to take Harken jobs.

I guess how you tweak the game depends on what type of experience you're looking for.
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Roger BW
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One problem there is that a player who takes risks will win if the risks pay off, and lose if they don't; so the player who doesn't take risks may win or lose, but neither through his own actions.
 
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Bill Saunders
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You could split each contact deck in two: one Easy batch, one Hard. Hard jobs can only be chosen if you are Solid with the contact? All the high paying jobs would go there, so it would make you take low ones for a while.
 
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George Krubski
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Firedrake wrote:
One problem there is that a player who takes risks will win if the risks pay off, and lose if they don't; so the player who doesn't take risks may win or lose, but neither through his own actions.


Yeah, I guess that's sort of what I was trying to get to.

In the initial post, you posit that the early game is often a choice of three tactics:

1) Easy, low-paying Jobs
2) Building up a Crew via mining
3) High risk, high reward

While I can't disagree with that assertion, I don't necessarily agree that all of these tactics are of equal value. In my experience, except in very specific circumstances, #1 is the weakest option. In most cases, you can ship the easy Jobs, build up a Crew, then do some work. Or, if you're lucky, you can reverse the order - doing some work first THEN building up a crew after successful risk-taking.

The weakness to #3 is that you may be competing against folks doing #2. If you risk big and win big, you're ahead, but if you fail, you're behind the steady #2 players.

With option #2 removed, that risk seems largely mitigated. Let's say you're doing Harken Jobs while I decide to risk a well-paying Badger or Patience Crime Job (with 2 Misbehaves). Unless you luck into tasks, it's going to take you 6, 8, maybe 10 turns to make the money that I can make in one. So if I gamble, I can fail 5 (or maybe more) times and still be ahead of the game. Sure, I may collect a few Warrants, but so what? I've got no initial money to lose.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'm concerned that just removing or limiting money might move the situation in unforeseen directions.
 
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George Krubski
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phideaux1 wrote:
You could split each contact deck in two: one Easy batch, one Hard. Hard jobs can only be chosen if you are Solid with the contact? All the high paying jobs would go there, so it would make you take low ones for a while.


Or maybe "You can't work Illegal Jobs until X" (not sure what X is). Of course, that STILL won't make people work for Harken, when Amnon Duul and Magistrate Higgins are perfectly good alternatives.
 
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Gerald Bocook
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What about looking at the "First Time in the Captain's Chair" story card for inspiration? You get a loan from one of the contacts and have to pay them back (by working Jobs worth enough to pay off the loan) before you can start working actual Goals?
 
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Ralph Stratford
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How about Goal 1 is having to get Solid with Harken by completing at least 2 of his Jobs and every player is dealt only Harken Jobs at the start of the game (say 3 each?).

If necessary you can add some rules around Harken's Immoral Jobs and Piracy Jobs (for example, remove these from the Deck, deal starting Jobs and then shuffle them back in).

Until you are Solid with Harken you cannot deal with any other Contacts (and maybe also require you to have completed the 2 Harken Jobs before you can do any Bounty hunting or steal bounties off other players).

This should keep a balance between getting on with the Harken Jobs or building up a Crew first which is generally not required for his Jobs. However a few of Harken's Jobs require Fight Skill so I guess Leader choices may be affected by that (or you take a risk that you won't be dealt 2 or 3 of those jobs at the start if you have no Fight skill).

Another set up variation could be that players cannot choose to start at the Alliance Cruiser's location at Londinium. This ensures that all players start equally.
 
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David Maine
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gwek wrote:
phideaux1 wrote:
You could split each contact deck in two: one Easy batch, one Hard. Hard jobs can only be chosen if you are Solid with the contact? All the high paying jobs would go there, so it would make you take low ones for a while.


Or maybe "You can't work Illegal Jobs until X" (not sure what X is). Of course, that STILL won't make people work for Harken, when Amnon Duul and Magistrate Higgins are perfectly good alternatives.



"X" could be a solid reputation. If you are a new captain with an untried crew, why would Mr. Niska or Badger even offer you an illegal job right off the bat. You need to help the game treat these patron with respect. The show's writers were pretty good breathing life into even single episode characters. A little card manipulation is a small price to pay to make a game mechanic into something better.
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Darin Bolyard
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Some contacts are clearly more lucrative to deal with than others. Harken is squarely at the bottom, then Duul and Patience going up. So why not designate these three as "starter" contacts? Each one allows you to gain experience in two different types of jobs in order to work further jobs of these types for any other contact.

Harken: shipping or transport
Duul: transport or smuggling
Patience: smuggling or crime

-You must complete a shipping job from Harken in order to accept a shipping job from any other contact.
-You must complete a transport job from either Harken or Duul in order to accept a transport job from any other contact.
-You must complete a smuggling job from either Duul or Patience in order to accept a smuggling job from any other contact.
-You must complete a crime job from Patience in order to accept a crime job from any other contact.

During setup, draw from each of these three contacts only. Draw until you have one of each of the allowed types from each of them. Discard other job cards drawn this way. Choose 3 of these 6 jobs to keep and discard the rest. Once each player has done this, shuffle all discarded jobs back into their decks. Piracy jobs may only be accepted after completing either an illegal or an immoral job (you've proven yourself willing to do some unsavory work). Bounties may be claimed as usual. Mr. Universe is fair game at all times except during setup.

When you complete a "starter" job, place that job card face up at the top or your ship card to show both your solid status with that contact and your "resumé." If you lose solid with that contact, place the job card elsewhere to show that you still have the experience to take on further jobs of that type from any contact.

When dealing on site with contacts, you may draw until you receive at least 1 job you are allowed to accept, discarding any beyond your normally allowed 3 (or 4 with Badger's hat or Patience's bonus) draws.

A low starting cash amount would probably work best.
----

This may draw out the game, but it would likely reward the slow and steady player more often than the heavy risk-taker. Most players are going to go for at least one Harken job at this point, since there are shipping jobs in nearly every other contact deck. And while a bounty may be completed any time, including early, it doesn't advance your experience. This mitigates the considerable boost a player can gain early on from a lucky bounty. And piracy absolutely cannot be the first job someone completes. This at least frees all players from getting assaulted by a lucky player right out of the gate.
 
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Kevin Rush
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If I am understanding correctly you basically want the opening to pay several turns longer (from 6ish to 9+) and the end game to not really happen? You appear to be defining the opening as gathering a few crew and doing easy jobs, but come across the issue where a Captainn can take a crazy risk and jump straight to the middle game. I have four thoughts on how to curb the high risk gambit.

1 - The Great Recession/Depression: all jobs pay is cut in half. While the proportionally makes jobs across the board weaker, it makes the higher paying jobs a bit less appealing because the risk reward ratio is cut. Compared to easy jobs where there is little to no risk and the ratio changes less.

2 - Crime Doesn't Pay: all illegal jobs pay $X less. Directly removing the reward and slowing down the amount of money people get.

3 - Crime Does Pay... And Everyone Wants Their Cut: pay crew double for any illegal jobs. This has a similar effect as number 1 but specifically targets illegal jobs and lowers their ratio while keeping regal jobs intact.

4 - Big Brother Alliance: After completing an illegal job receive a warrant. This makes doing multiple illegal delivery jobs harder, but doesn't affect Crime jobs too much. On the other hand this makes working for Niska riskier since you are guaranteed to lose a crew.
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Roger BW
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Krushhhhh wrote:
If I am understanding correctly you basically want the opening to pay several turns longer (from 6ish to 9+) and the end game to not really happen? You appear to be defining the opening as gathering a few crew and doing easy jobs, but come across the issue where a Captainn can take a crazy risk and jump straight to the middle game. I have four thoughts on how to curb the high risk gambit.

1 - The Great Recession/Depression: all jobs pay is cut in half. While the proportionally makes jobs across the board weaker, it makes the higher paying jobs a bit less appealing because the risk reward ratio is cut. Compared to easy jobs where there is little to no risk and the ratio changes less.

2 - Crime Doesn't Pay: all illegal jobs pay $X less. Directly removing the reward and slowing down the amount of money people get.

3 - Crime Does Pay... And Everyone Wants Their Cut: pay crew double for any illegal jobs. This has a similar effect as number 1 but specifically targets illegal jobs and lowers their ratio while keeping regal jobs intact.

4 - Big Brother Alliance: After completing an illegal job receive a warrant. This makes doing multiple illegal delivery jobs harder, but doesn't affect Crime jobs too much. On the other hand this makes working for Niska riskier since you are guaranteed to lose a crew.
I like options 3 and 4 in particular, and will think about this further. (I'd say Niska's rule doesn't cut in - the Pound of Flesh is for getting a warrant while working a job, i.e. the job didn't get done. Niska cares about the job getting done, not about whether you got out of it with clean hands; he's happy to let you twist in the wind.)
 
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Jack F
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gwek wrote:
phideaux1 wrote:
You could split each contact deck in two: one Easy batch, one Hard. Hard jobs can only be chosen if you are Solid with the contact? All the high paying jobs would go there, so it would make you take low ones for a while.


Or maybe "You can't work Illegal Jobs until X" (not sure what X is). Of course, that STILL won't make people work for Harken, when Amnon Duul and Magistrate Higgins are perfectly good alternatives.


OK this is probably derailing the thread a little but what's suggested here might be a way to get people going for Goals earlier in the game: no 'hard' Jobs until you've got a Goal token. (It could even be broken down a little further such that maybe 'hard' Badger and Niska jobs need 2 Goal tokens... but I'm really not sure about that one.) What's a Hard Job? Perhaps something needing 3 or more consecutive Misbehaves.

How that ends up playing really depends upon the Story card... would people feel the need to do more low end building to get through a first Goal and the easier Jobs? For some stories, the first Goal might not be difficult - more of a gradual accumulation. Perhaps those need no Jobs with more Misbehaves than Goal tokens. That would force Legal play initially.

Another thought is perhaps all Jobs are available to take into hand as normal but they cannot be made Active until X (e.g. Goal tokens again).
 
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I too find the crew building phase the most enjoyable part of the game and feel somewhat responsible for this discussion : ) so here's my take on it.

Recently there was another thread that addressed the issue of more cards in the decks making it harder/too hard to get to those cards that you wanted.

My take is the opposite. I find that it is much too easy to become, if not invincible, powerful enough to just get inconvenienced by the game mechanics. You have a pilot and mechanic, or even worse the reaverflage or whatever, to ignore the Reavers, and you have enough skill spread out over your crew and gear to pass 95% of all the misbehaves. Cruise control.

Sure, you don't start out with all the crew/gear (or maybe you do via the blitz...) but if you mine for long enough you'll get there. Recently I played a pbf here where the players mined for ten turns and thereby getting unstoppable. And this is not a unique occurence. This summer I played an 24-hour session with some new players and that playful and spontaneous jump out in to the Verse for the first hours switched to turn mining in the last. And maybe that's just the way it is, I mean you have to crew up to handle what the Verse throws at you right?

But what I would like to get back to is that pioneering spirit; where money is scarce, your crew is thin and work is hard to get. Where you may not agree with the policies of the Alliance but you sure respect their power and you are really really afraid of the Reavers. And when you get that money you feel true joy and know just what you want to to with it and which holes to fill. Wouldn't this make for a much more fun game : )

Maybe these ideas aren't suitable for a pbf but I'd sure like to try them out anyway, be it a pbf or f2f.

 
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Gerald Bocook
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I'd like to hear rules for how a 24-hour session worked! That seems fun!

What about just limiting the amount of times you can farm a supply planet? I've done this myself, just to keep things flowing, where I'll only let myself spend one, maybe two if I'm desperate or found something I really want but already bought two, turns hitting the deck. I haven't won all of these games, but they felt more... realistic to me. That job had to get done; ain't got all day for the perfect gun to get in stock or the perfect person to wield it.
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George Krubski
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I've tried different things to try to add minor fine-tuning.

Two house rules I've implemented from time to time (either alone or together):

SLOW START: Rather than $3000, you begin play with $1000 and 4 Cargo. This is still enough coin to do SOMETHING, but not enough to fully flesh out your boat right off the bat. When you get Solid and can sell that Cargo, it's a pretty sweet day!

DEBT TO NISKA: At the beginning of every turn, pay Niska $100 or he collects his Pound of Flesh. This one forces you to get rolling sooner rather than later... but how long you take is still up to you.
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Nathan Christianson
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For starting the game I prefer only starting the game with cash, and then having to purchase everything including your ship and then outfitting it. Similar to "The Browncoat Way" Setup Card. When you only begin the game with your leader and cash, you can adjust the amount of cash you start with in order to make the start harder or easier.

I have even played with an altered version based on the idea from "Ten Percent of Nothing" where you begin the game with like 4,000 and a leader and that is it. You purchase your first ship which you can only afford a dinky Firefly series 1 (really small). You do a few jobs, toss your starter ship and then upgrade to a bigger one.
This really gives the feeling of having to scrape tooth and nail to get by but I think gives the greatest reward when you succeed. This is how I prefer to play all of my games, I like the RPG style. With such a large focus on the early game, and not so much on the end game. This alternative start also, forces every player to rely on LEGAL jobs to start.
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