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Subject: "Missing" cards in Firefly: TheGame rss

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Bryan Stout
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After getting Firefly and a couple of expansions I made a spreadsheet to enter all the cards into, and added to it when more sets came out. Among other benefits, it helps me see the patterns in and between the different decks.

Even without doing something that detailed, one cannot help noticing that there are gaps in the available cards. Obviously, expansion N cannot have cards for expansions N+1, N+2, etc., but often the later expansions don’t make up the gap; and an expansion may not extend its patterns as far as they could.

So, I have compiled a list of all the “missing” cards from Firefly. I have looked at each set released and asked myself, what else would this include if everything else were already in print when it came out? And what patterns are there that could be extended?

I start with the two mapless sets first, their missing cards being the most obvious. At the end I comment on it all.


Breakin’ Atmo

Breakin’ Atmo added 5 new Supply Cards for each Supply Planet, and 5 new Job Cards for each Contact – which all had skill-based pay, not seen in other sets. But this was released when only the Core set existed, so to complete Breakin’ Atmo we need to add similar things to the newer Contacts and Supply Planets from Blue Sun and Kalidasa:

Job Cards
- Lord Harrow: 5 cards
- Mr. Universe: 5 cards
- Magistrate Higgins: 5 cards
- Fanty & Mingo: 5 cards
Supply Cards
- Meridian: 5 cards
- Beaumonde: 5 cards
Total: 30 cards


Pirates & Bounty Hunters

Pirates & Bounty Hunters includes 5 identical Piracy Jobs for each Contact, Bounties on all Wanted Crew, and Cortex Alerts for several generic types of Crew. Also, there are 6 new Supply cards for each Supply Planet, each of which gets a Lawman and/or a means of protecting Wanted Crew. As with Breakin’ Atmo, this could be updated to cover Blue Sun and Kalidasa:

Job Cards (Piracy)
- Lord Harrow: 5 cards
- Mr. Universe: 5 cards? (perhaps a Challenge for Piracy cards, or a new type of Piracy just for Mr. U)
- Magistrate Higgins: 5 cards
- Fanty & Mingo: 5 cards
Bounties
- The Middleman (Blue Sun): 1 card
- Busker, Holder (Kalidasa): 2 cards
Cortex Alerts
- Gun Hands (Blue Sun): 1 card
- Barkeeps (Kalidasa) 1 card (maybe; there are only 2 Barkeeps)
- Mudders (Kalidasa) 1 card (with a lower reward since they already get you $500 each)
- Crew with Wanted tokens (Crime & Punishment) 2-3 cards (I am thinking that when Crew get Wanted tokens, a Wanted token could be placed on the current planet as well if one isn’t there already. Crew with Wanted tokens can be turned in at any planet with a Wanted token, after which the planet’s token is removed.)
Supply Cards
- Meridian: 6 cards
- Beaumonde: 6 cards
Total: 35-40 cards


Core Set

The Core set's Job cards have two patterns that I have seen: 1) Each criminal Contact (Patience, Badger, Niska) has a Job to specifically hurt each other contact – or in Harken’s case, to hurt the Alliance in general. 2) Each Contact except Harken has one or more jobs at the Motherlode. I perceive no pattern among the Supply Cards that needs continuing with other sets.

Vindictive Job Cards
- Patience: 2 cards. (vs. Higgins, Fanty & Mingo)
- Badger: 2 cards. (vs. Higgins, Fanty & Mingo)
- Niska: 2 cards. (vs. Higgins, Fanty & Mingo)
- Mr. Universe: 0 cards. (He doesn’t need any. No one knows about him to target him, except Harken who has a couple of Jobs to check out subtle oddities at his Cortex Relay station. And Mr. U’s not the sort to have Jobs targeting anyone in particular.)
- Lord Harrow: 0 cards. (He already has all the vindictive jobs needed, since Blue Sun includes Jobs for Patience, Badger and Niska that specifically target Harrow, and Harrow has jobs that smuggle things into each Contact’s HQ, which is probably about as vindictive as he would get.)
- Magistrate Higgins: 6 cards? (vs. Amnon Duul, Patience, Badger, Niska, Harrow, Fangy & Mingo) (These could be Mudder Grabs on each of their HQ planets.)
- Fanty & Mingo: 6 cards (vs. Amnon Duul, Patience, Badger, Niska, Harrow, Higgins)
Motherlode Job Cards
- Mr. Universe: 0-1 cards
- Lord Harrow: 1 card
- Magistrate Higgins: 1 card (needs a distant drop-off since he’s right next to the Motherlode)
- Fanty & Mingo: 1 card
Total: ~20 cards


Blue Sun

Blue Sun includes 5 new Jobs for each previous Contact, in addition to 25 Jobs each for Lord Harrow and Mr. Universe. Each Contact except Harken and Mr. Universe have a Smuggling Job to Miranda, and each Contact except Mr. Universe does a Smuggling or Transport Job to Shadow, which is Good Deeds. For symmetry these need to be extended to Kalidasa’s Contacts. There are several jobs involving the Uroboros Belt, but they are all with Lord Harrow so there is no need to extend that pattern. Blue Sun does not have extra Supply Cards for any Supply Planet except the new Meridian.

Job Cards
- Magistrate Higgins: 5 cards
- Fanty & Mingo: 5 cards
Total: 10 cards


Kalidasa

Kalidasa has 5 new Jobs for Core Contacts, but not for Lord Harrow or Mr. Universe. Of the two new Contacts, Magistrate Higgins has 7 Jobs involving the Blue Sun map, but Fanty & Mingo have none (oddly enough since they have several jobs at the far edge of the Core map). Many of F&M's Jobs include a Bonus Drop-off, but of the other Contacts only Niska has one Bonus Drop-Off. Higgins has Dirt Nap Jobs which require good reps with each other Contact willing to stoop to aiding and abetting kidnapping into servitude.

Kalidasa has 5 new Supply Cards for the Core Supply Planets, but not for Meridian. Beaumonde’s Supply Cards include Labor Contracts with each other Supply Planet except Osiris (in Alliance Space), and Meridian (in Blue Sun space).

Job Cards
- Lord Harrow: 5 cards
- Mr. Universe: 5 cards?
Supply Cards
- Meridian: 5 cards
- Labor Contract: 1-2 (Meridian, maybe Osiris)
Total: 11-17 cards


Crime & Punishment

Crime & Punishment has new Misbehave Cards, new Alliance Alert Cards, and Wanted tokens. The Wanted tokens open the possibility of a new Cortex Alert, as described above under Pirates and Bounty Hunters. There is no other obvious “missing” element, no asymmetries in relation to different sets. The Misbehave Cards fix the imbalance in the number of cards with each suit symbol from the Core set. It’s possible that there are some patterns among the Misbehave Cards that could use some fleshing out.

Total: 0 cards

Grand Total: up to ~115 cards


Are there any patterns in the cards that I have missed?


================

Now, what could we do with all this?

One answer is "Nothing," and there are reasonable arguments for it:
- None of these are essential. FtG is a lot of fun as it is.
- Rim planets don't have as much traffic as Alliance and Border worlds, and so don't need as many Supplies or Jobs.
- Adding more cards dilutes the decks and makes it more difficult to find the cards you need.
- Mr. Universe is different from the other Contacts and doesn't need more Jobs.
- Fanty & Mingo are too far away from Blue Sun to make Jobs there profitable.

But there are also counter-arguments:
- Done well, adding the missing cards could make the game even more fun.
- Rim Planets may not need as many cards, but allowing more cards adds possibilities for more cool stuff.
- There have been proposed solutions to deck dilution, such as changing the rule to "Consider 4, Take 2", and double-seeding the decks with certain cards.
- Perhaps we can think of new types of Big Damn Challenges for Mr. Universe to issue, and a new purpose to Piracy that would serve his goals.
- Fanty & Mingo have Jobs to planets pretty close to Blue Sun. Thematically there is no reason they wouldn't be interested in the farther worlds if the profit were good; in game turns most Jobs out there could be Crimes and not require long round trips.

At the very least, I think we should have Bounties for the newer Wanted Crew cards, since they were originally meant to be complete. And probably new Cortext Alerts for the new groups of identical Crew. Vindictive cards among all the criminal Contacts seems good. And so on, etc.

So if someone were to make a "Missing Cards" deck, I'd probably get a copy of it and use it. Or, I might even try to do it myself someday.

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Steve Cohn
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We played the game twice since receiving Crime and Punishment last weekend, and in setting the game up, my wife and noted similar (but not nearly as detailed, well done)...discrepancies? Lack? Thinness?

The Rim decks, both for supplies and for work, are noticeably thinner compared to the Core decks. That got me to thinking along the same lines, not as heavily trafficked, so is it needed?

In the end, I vote yes, it's needed. It would give players more reasons to get out there. I usually get out to one side or the other during a game, but rare to do both.

We also noticed a discrepancy in the number of "named" gear between characters. Mal seems to have the most at 4 (Pretty Floral Bonnet, Sniper Rifle, Brown Coat, Mal's pistol). Jayne seems to have the least (note Vera is not "named" as Jayne's, though I would argue it's his...), heck, even one-episode characters such as Mandy and Sash have as many "named" items as Jayne does!

So, sure, let's add more cards! With the new Alliance Alert Cards, that brings the deck count to, what, 22 decks? I've still got room on the table, let's see it!
 
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Jay Johnson
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I wouldn't say they are "missing", but more that it was a design intent.
Having the Rim decks (contacts and supplies) being thinner means that if you go there looking for something in particular, it is easier to find.

And there is also the practical notion of not having one expansion relying on other expansions being present. Yes, there are a few cards in Kalidasa that require Blue Sun, but I think they purposefully tried to keep it minimal. I do think including additional Bounty/Cortex Alerts with their respective expansions (Blue Sun and Kalidasa) would have been a nice touch, but I don't think it's that big a deal to do without them.
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Darin Bolyard
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There's definitely some things "missing" (bounty cards). But the thickness of the rim decks surely isn't a problem. It only becomes slightly "imbalanced" when a player begins there, as trips to the rim are costly in the way of time and turns. Starting there is another story. But I don't think bloating them to match the other decks is an answer.
 
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dbolyard wrote:
There's definitely some things "missing" (bounty cards). But the thickness of the rim decks surely isn't a problem. It only becomes slightly "imbalanced" when a player begins there, as trips to the rim are costly in the way of time and turns. Starting there is another story. But I don't think bloating them to match the other decks is an answer.


Actually in my group we disallow starting near rim planets.

Overall I agree that the imbalance of card count between decks is not actually an issue. The more cards you have, the more randomness you have. In all honesty, the notably thicker decks in central regions are actually worse for the game balance, since it can be unforgiving in how it affects balance.

But of course MORE CONTENT is always welcome. I love this game and universe
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George Krubski
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I go back and forth on this. As a few people have noted, the decks are not really create equal, so they don't need to be equal.

For example, looking at the contacts, there's a very specific progression among the five core game contacts:

HARKEN offers low-paying, exclusively Legal Jobs.

AMNON DUUL adds Illegal Transport and Smuggling Jobs into the mix but is still somewhat low-paying.

PATIENCE introduced Crime, and may be the best balanced among all Jobs types, making her sort of a jack of all trades, master of none.

BADGER is one of two core game contacts to focus on Crime (and Illegal work in general, despite a small amount of legitimate work), and is generally the last best stop for Moral crews.

NISKA is like Badger on steroids, all Illegal, much Crime, but also a lot of Immoral Jobs.

Among these five, there's a definite "ladder" in difficulty and payout.

The other contacts exist outside this clear ladder, but similarly represent specific elements: Harrow is the Smuggling kingpin, the Twins bring Crime and Transport (and, alongside Niska, are the second fully-Illegal contact in the game), and Higgins mixes all non-Crime Jobs, but favors those with generous Cargo Holds.

In the case of the "expanded" Contacts, more Jobs would generally be more of the same... and could, potentially, unbalance the game as a whole (with, for example, a flood of Smuggling Jobs).

Same thing with the Supply Planets. Each serves a purpose. You go to Silverhold for fightin' folk, firearms, and maybe transportation. Osiris has upgrades, Medics, and a decent amount of Tech and Talk... Beaumonde and Meridian are designed differently, in that the core decks are places where you shop for specific resources, the Rim worlds are places where you shop for a specific crew. Doubling the size of those decks will change the function of them, as well as their usefulness.

Barliman wrote:
After getting Firefly and a couple of expansions I made a spreadsheet to enter all the cards into, and added to it when more sets came out. Among other benefits, it helps me see the patterns in and between the different decks.


I certainly get it if you want to do it yourself, but you know we already have a spreadsheet for the community, right?

Barliman wrote:

Breakin’ Atmo


The Breakin' Atmo Jobs, I think, represent a very specific thing. They are highly situational, but if you have the right crew, they are worth their weight in gold. Honestly, for the five core contacts, these jobs are often among the best they have to offer.

I guess the question comes up, then, do the other Contacts need the same kind of boost? I'm honestly not sure. When I deal with, say, Badger, I'm gambling. He has some good jobs, some great ones, some that are mediocre. These jobs help sweeten the pot. On the other hand, if I'm dealing with one of the newer contacts, I pretty much know what I'm getting, and it's less of a gamble.

Barliman wrote:

Pirates & Bounty Hunters


Do we need Piracy for the four expanded contacts? I don't know. I also don't know if it's appropriate to the nature of some of them. M&F, probably. Higgins - sure, why not? Not Universe and Harrow?

As for Bounties, I don't necessarily agree that we're "missing" bounties on the Rim characters. GF9 has explained why The Middleman doesn't have one (although I'm not sure that I buy the justification) and the various Mudder characters can already be turned in for a "quasi-bounty" at Harvest. That leaves the non-Mudder Barkeep and Holder. a Barkeep Cortex Alert would make the Mudder Barkeep the most-wanted Crew in the game (which seems silly!), although I DO feel like Holder deserves one.


The Core set's Job cards have two patterns that I have seen: 1) Each criminal Contact (Patience, Badger, Niska) has a Job to specifically hurt each other contact – or in Harken’s case, to hurt the Alliance in general. 2) Each Contact except Harken has one or more jobs at the Motherlode. I perceive no pattern among the Supply Cards that needs continuing with other sets.

Barliman wrote:
Vindictive Job Cards


Again, are we really missing anything, though? I like that there's a competition between Patience, Badger, and Niska, and that they're willing to mess with other contacts, but does that mean that everyone needs to be involved in the competition? Aren't the Rim contacts arguable too remote, too concerned with their own well-being, to get involved in this?

Barliman wrote:
Motherlode Job Cards


This is a bit arbitrary. I mean, I think it's more accurate to say (as you do in your Blue Sun comments) that all the core contacts have a Shadow Job, or that most of them have a Miranda Job, so M&F should too.

The Job design in the core game is, I think, intended to "spread the wealth" across the map. If there's any focus on Motherlode, it's because of Heavy Load Jobs, and (except for Mister Universe) all of the new contacts have those.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there aren't gaps to be filled, or even that unfilled gaps might not be fun, but I think assuming that all decks should be created equal could lead to some needlessly bloated decks.
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Bryan Stout
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Thanks for the responses, and especially for your analysis, Gwek.

I hope it was clear that I was not suggesting that the different Contacts and Supply Planets be identical in anything except perhaps in size. I am aware of their different nature, and any cards added to fill gaps should be true to them.

You make a good point about balancing types of available Jobs, such as too much Smuggling. I wouldn't want any gap-filling to make such an imbalance.

I wasn't aware of the community spreadsheet, but I probably would have done my own anyway.

In general, I agree that none of the gaps really need filling, and listed the reasons why at the end. I think those are good reasons, and should be considered if more cards were added. But I also think that most of those gaps could be filled in ways that both minimize problems and enhance gameplay.

Breakin' Atmo: I suspect that if a Breakin' Atmo-like expansion came out now, it would have cards for all the Contacts, not just in the Core. In any case, I think coming up with appropriate BA-like cards for the other places would be a good creative exercize.

Piracy: If even Harken and Amnon Duul have Piracy Jobs, I see no reason why the later Contacts can't have some too, except maybe Mr. Universe.

Bounties and Alerts: I suspect the FAQ answer about the Middleman is not the real reason, too. I agree that the Mudders have a quasi-contract already, and I did say "maybe" about the Barkeeps. What do you think about adding a Cortex Alert mechanism for Crew with Wanted tokens?

Vindictive Jobs: This pattern was extended between the Core Contacts and Lord Harrow, and I see no reason why it couldn't be extended between them and Fanty & Mingo and even Higgins, too, since they already have jobs all over each other's neighborhoods. F&M have no Jobs at Blue Sun so one can conclude that's too far for them to care.

I'm not assuming that all the gaps should be filled, but I am listing the gaps I could find so that we could think about them, and experiment with filling them if so inclined. I think it's possibly cool, but if I were to try it myself I would try to keep all concerns in mind, so as not to decrease the fun of the game.
 
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George Krubski
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I hope I didn't come off as argumentative or arrogant. I spend way too much time thinking about this stuff and am waaaaay to happy to share my opinion!

If you're so inclined, you can find my master spreadsheet here:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/140286/firefly-refere...

If you look at it and see any errors, please let me know so I can update. A new version, including CRIME & PUNISHMENT and a few other changes, is forthcoming, hopefully in a week or so.

If you're interested in some of my analysis (some of it out of date), scroll down to the ANALYSIS section of this thread for some links:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1686869/whats-gwek-been...

Clearly, I'm more than happy to add new content to the game myself!
 
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Chris Poor
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Gwek,
This post of yours brought to the surface a thought that's been bubbling in my mind for awhile. To wit: with all of the custom cards that you have made, when you play the game, how big are the decks? You speak here about the problem of possibly diluting the function of some of the decks with extra cards, and I have had some of my players complain about this because of all of your cards that I use. (I don't understand their complaints, because I just love all of your cards.)
None-the-less, got me wondering, what do you do when you play? How do you keep the decks from becoming dilute to the point at which, say, you can't find Simon and River Tam because the deck is just too big?
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You ask a straightforward question to which I have no straightforward answer.

Most of the time, when I play, I'm either playtesting something or officially putting something new into play. Sometimes, I play with everything, sometimes not.

I have spoken to a few folks about my grand plan for what I call "the full GWEK," which will likely encompass ACES & EIGHTS, THE BLACK MARKET, SYFY'S FRIDAY KNIGHTS, 3-4 ship packs, the Dark Horse Character Pack, The Operative as a Contact, and either one or two other "kitchen sink" projects. At the end of the day, it's a LOT of stuff, and is likely to shift the core decks to 60-65 cards and the Rim decks to 40-45.

Along with this, though I will likely offer a recommended "Full GWEK" set-up, which will probably involve double (or even triple!) priming, and some other options.

I also intend to seed various projects with cards that will help you move through the decks more quickly, along the lines of the Loot Crate. For example, the Leith Bazaar with have some sort of "Killjoy Intel" Gear that you can take to the appropriate Supply Planet, spend an action and flip 3-5 cards. If one of them has an open bounty, you can attempt to apprehend.

Right now, though, I definitely understand the frustration, but one of the things I'll be trying to balance in the long-run is how long it takes to get through each deck.

if you're looking for a short-term solution, try this: Rather than priming the pump 3 or 6 cards, prime 20% of the deck. So, for a 25-card deck, it's 5 cards, but for the larger decks, which are between 40 and 50, you'd be starting with 8 to 10 cards. This gets more stuff out in play at the beginning of the game, which, hopefully, leads to a quick start. Down-side: Since people have more options to begin, they're less likely to need "three of the top" for the first few rounds, which may cause a bit if a slowdown... but nothing is perfect!

Bill also had a really interesting idea that works well for games with a low number of players: at the end of every round, flip one card from each deck that doesn't have a player there. This gets more stuff visible, and might even cause players to change their plans as, say, they run to Silverhold to pick up Jayne or Zoe. Downside: It's very easy to forget to do this!
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Thanks for the reply, and the suggestions. Keep up the great work, and we'll keep playing with your cards!
 
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gwek wrote:
Bill also had a really interesting idea that works well for games with a low number of players: at the end of every round, flip one card from each deck that doesn't have a player there. This gets more stuff visible, and might even cause players to change their plans as, say, they run to Silverhold to pick up Jayne or Zoe. Downside: It's very easy to forget to do this!


I love this idea!
 
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