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Subject: Alternate Set-Up - Starting with Crew (various options) rss

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George Krubski
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This steps in part from my "a la carte set-up" thread. Given that one of the options is starting resources, I started thinking about what some different options might be.

So...

First Mate - During Set-Up, select one Crew as your First Mate. Your First Mate is not subject to A Better Offer and if your Leader fires the Crew, Disgruntle your First Mate instead of firing them. Your First Mate may still be Killed or Jump Ship as normal.

A Fine Bunch of Reubens - During Set-Up, select up to four Crew.

A Full House - Use the First Mate and A Fine Bunch of Reubens during Set-Up to round out your Crew.


Now, the second part of the equation is how do you select Crew?

I've come up with three options.

1) When placing Ships, hire any Crew (so the last player to place picks first). If you are hiring more than one Crew, keep going back and forth.

This will likely produce very powerful Crew, as players compete for the very best Crew in the game. On the up-side, players will be able to put together the crew that works the best for them. Down-side? Crews will probably be VERY powerful right out of the gate, reducing challenge level of the game.

2) Same order as above, but take this step after the Priming the Pumps. You may only hire Crew that have already been Primed. When you hire a Crew, replace the card with another one from the same Supply Deck.

On the up-side, this method maintains a lot of the random variability of hiring your crew throughout the game, and and also leaves room that, sure, you've got a Crew, but maybe you'll want to upgrade throughout the game. As a secondary element, it may help get a few more cards in play.

On the negative side, it could potentially produce some very powerful combinations if the cards fall just right for someone. Yes, powerful Crew generally cost more, but $1200 is a small price to pay for great Crew when your opponent has been shafted with some Hill Folk and Med Staff.

More importantly, it's possible that Priming the Pumps won't produce sufficient Crew, especially if with larger numbers of players. (This suggests an alternate rule for Priming the Pump, where you take out a variable number of cards per deck based on number of players.)

3) The most radical option: Pick a Supply Deck. Flip over cards until you draw a Crew. Hire that Crew member. (Inspired by the Loot Crate promo card.) You might get Jayne or Zoe as your First Mate... or you might get some random Hill Folk! With the arguable exception of Beaumonde, every Supply Deck has great Crew and clunker Crew.

In this case, I would recommend an amendment to Priming the Pumps, since it's pretty likely a number of cards will be flipped: Only Prime the Pumps for Supply Decks with less than 3 cards showing once Crew hiring is complete.

This method shares many of the advantages and disadvantages as #2, some to a more extreme degree.
 
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Mudd Grizzly

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My first thought is that method one gives Zoe a boost. She can put together a solid crew of Soldiers without much (if any) competition.

If there is any option to hire crew before the game, I suspect most players would feel that they HAD to take advantage of it. Even if you only got a mediocre crew, it's shaving Buy actions off of your game.

I really like the First Mate rule. I'd be curious to see who gets picked. Serenity crew, for sure. Companions. Cortland? Fess? Maybe Zoe picks Stitch? I'd end up picking Zoe and Wash each time, just to see them together.
 
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Mudd Grizzly

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Oooo. The Middleman could be an interesting First Mate to Murphy for the Beaumonde/Persephone run. Risky being Wanted though.

Depending on the Story Card, Helmsman could be amazing.

Agent McGinnis for Bounty Hunters. Yikes.

I find Dalin's ability to be one of the strongest, but again you risk having a Wanted First Mate.
 
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Roger BW
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I've found Blitz setup can sometimes be very frustrating and unbalancing, so I'd be inclined to offer free picks from any deck, but with restrictions on total value.
 
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Fred Buchholz
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I have a variation of this:
Use Brown Coat Way set up, after the third round picks:
Rule 1: Captain bonuses etc. are "null and void" during this initial buy phases. (you got these people and or items before your true talents manifested themselves or any other justification you need- it balances things)
Rule 2: (optional)you get "X" extra $ (depends on players) - usually $500 or $1000
Rule 3: Prime the supply decks, you get to "buy" gear, crew, or upgrade that is showing in the discard piles. Minimum is $300 for any given item (so "0" amounts still cost, think of it as the trouble you had to go through to get that item from wherever)
Rule 4: Depending on desired length of game we either do 1 or 3 rounds of buys Starting with the person who just had the last decision in the Brown Coat Way set-up.(usually 3 as we play weeknights at a local store and it closes at 9).

There is no replacing the primed discards until after that last buyer is done. Then you replenish any to their starting quota based on scenario card (i.e you may need to shuffle and re-select and so on.. Note: When we play with this fast start rule we always only get to know the scenario After all of this is done. So I might start with Caley and Wash but be on the wrong side of the verse to be working Goals for the scenario. It is very entertaining for us and keeps us from camping too much.
This lets you customize your start with out too much power creep, and speeds up game play takes about 15mins to set up saves us from 45 minutes to an hour in actual game play.
 
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Nick Jones
Australia
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A note on the First Mate idea.

The way we play is that everyone chooses a second leader card as first mate. It's very fun and accelerates the early game.

We say that leaders can be killed and if they do, the first mate steps in as leader and you don't get another first mate. That situation has never actually come up for us though.
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