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Subject: One action per turn -- would it break the game? rss

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PK Levine
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The only real problem we have with Firefly is the downtime. In a larger game, it sometimes takes forever for your turn to come around, and there's not much to keep your attention when that's happening.

The big problem is that two of the most time-intensive actions (Buy and Deal) are also boring to watch (unlike Work, which is either fast or involves some fun Misbehavin'). Now, if your second action is Buy or Deal, that's not a problem -- you just pass the dino. But if your first action is Buy or Deal, everyone has to wait the full time for you to do it, after which you take your second action.

So what if we changed things to one action per turn? That way, no one will ever take forever to Buy or Deal; they can always just pass the dino. I can't imagine I'm the first person to think of this -- who else has suggested and tried this? Has it worked? Is there any downside that I'm missing?
 
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Mark McG
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I've often wondered about having 2 dinosaurs moving around the board, each allowing 1 action. I've never tried it though.

As an incentive, if the dinosaurs are ever held by the same person simultaneously, one is passed immediately to the next player (and ergo a action is skipped by the sluggard).
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Nathan kilgore
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Minedog3 wrote:
I've often wondered about having 2 dinosaurs moving around the board, each allowing 1 action. I've never tried it though.

As an incentive, if the dinosaurs are ever held by the same person simultaneously, one is passed immediately to the next player (and ergo a action is skipped by the sluggard).



Er Slugosaurus I imagine this is in games of 5 or more players?
 
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Dave Rowley
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Here are mine...

 
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Bone White
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It would make PvP/Piracy jobs very difficult to pull off.

If you don't play with those rules, then it should be fine.
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Jochen Balzer
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If you change the game to 1-action-per-turn everything will be very predictable. So there is no chance of "stealing" a good crew member from a discard pile just by trying to race to a planet and buy that guy.

Also - as Bone White already mentioned - you have no chance to make a Piracy job. Your victim just flys away every time and you don't have any chance.

I really don't like the idea of reducing the number of actions from 2 to 1.

But if you look at the possibilities of the actions, there are only 4:
1) Buy (searching) a special card
2) Buy -> Move
3) Buy -> Work
4) Buy -> Deal

@1
This is the worst case because the player wants to wait until he finds "his" card. So in this case you have to wait until he finished.

@2
If a player wants to Buy and Move, just play it as first move and than he may search the deck. Just as if he first searched and than moved. The only constrain is that he isn't allowed to take back his Move if he didn't find anything good and wants to search again in the next round.

@3
If a player wants to Buy and Work, the order of actions doesn't really matter. If he wants to improve his crew before starting his Work it doesn't matter if another player already starts his turn.

@4
Same as @3
 
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Roger BW
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Something that we've found helpful is, if you're planning to Buy/Deal as your first action, you can look through the discard piles before your turn. It's obvious where you are, so that's no surprise.
 
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Jay Johnson
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Firedrake wrote:
Something that we've found helpful is, if you're planning to Buy/Deal as your first action, you can look through the discard piles before your turn. It's obvious where you are, so that's no surprise.

This makes the most sense. You can have your 0/1/2 cards that you want to "consider" from the discard pile picked out before the dino gets to you, then when it is your turn, you just pull the 3/2/1 cards from the draw deck. Shouldn't take that much time to decide after that.

Dealing may take a bit longer, though, since there is more detail on each card to evaluate (1, 2, or possibly 3 different locations on each card to map out. job requirements, calculating cost/benefit analysis, etc.)
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Jochen Balzer
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Firedrake wrote:
Something that we've found helpful is, if you're planning to Buy/Deal as your first action, you can look through the discard piles before your turn. It's obvious where you are, so that's no surprise.

As the rules state out it is always allowed that you look through every single discard pile.
So you could search for your favorite cards even in discard piles you can't reach this turn.
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Roger BW
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Agreed; but sometimes players don't like to do that because it gives away where they're going.
 
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Fred Buchholz
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Firedrake wrote:
Agreed; but sometimes players don't like to do that because it gives away where they're going.

Just about every game of this I've played, Wining was more of an "oh look I win" or "Oh look I can win", While we know what will "win the game" we aren't as cutthroat as to try and jump a planet just to buy something or steal a job from someone just because they went looking in the discard pile.
Guess we don't see this game as such a competitive thing, more of let's have fun for a couple of hours in the verse. Then as we start to get tired of playing we "rush" the objectives etc.
We like the "Atmo" more than caring about who wins.
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Charles C
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Firedrake wrote:
Agreed; but sometimes players don't like to do that because it gives away where they're going.


An opportunity for your opponent to infer information about your plans is an opportunity to imply misinformation about your plans. Look at one supply planet's deck and go to another. Look through several supply decks. Look through a supply deck when you plan to do something else altogether. Look through a different supply deck each round, just to keep track of what's out there.
 
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George Krubski
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I don't think moving to one action per turn would break the game... but I also don't know that it would reduce player downtime. The change, while seemingly minor, would have some subtle effects.

As noted, this would really gut the player-vs-player aspect of the game, which many folks already feel is too weak. How you feel about this change will be impacted by where you fall on that spectrum.

But there's other stuff.

Early in the game, many players take part in a "build up" period, where they will typically Shop and either Deal or Make-Work. Eliminating the second action means no Deal or no Make-Work. No Make-Work means that players have less to spend, which means their crews will not be as good, which means more risk for failure - which prolongs the game. Similarly, not Dealing means less jobs get flipped over. This has two potential downstream effects. First, the game gets longer because people now need to spend time revealing new jobs. Second, with fewer jobs, there are fewer choices, and luck - happening to get the right job at the right time - can play an outsized factor.

To me, all of this translates to potentially longer games, and potentially more runaway leaders, neither of which will necessarily increase player engagement. Downtime each turn will be reduced, sure, but it will still be spread out across the game, which will, I suspect, last closer to an average of 45-50 1-action rounds as opposed to 20 2-action rounds.

All of which is to say that going to a single action won't break the game (except the PVP aspect) but may have unforeseen side effects.

As a few folks have mentioned, the best way to keep the game on track is to have players manage their downtime. If you're first Action is going to be a Deal or Shop, you should be looking at the cards beforehand. That way, you can move quickly once your turn rolls around. If your SECOND Action is a Deal or Shop, pick up the cards, and tell the next player you're okay with them going.

This is much easier earlier in the game, when everyone is building up, but can be challenging once some players start doing something more interesting... although in a case like that, presumably there's only limited frustration with down-time.

If you have players of different experience levels with the game, it can also help to have the more experienced players help manage the table and perhaps offer suggestions to the less experienced players. "Hey, Player 2... Player 1 is planning to Fly with their first Action. I don't know if they're headed your way at Persephone, but if you're thinking of Shopping or Dealing, you may want to see what cards are available."
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PK Levine
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Since BGG doesn't have a multi-quote option for some reason, I'm going to break this up by issue raised instead of by specific person, in no particular order.

"Someone who wants to Buy/Fly should Fly, then Buy"

Sure, except frequently your second action is predicated upon your first. For example, let's say I want to work a job that requires Combat, but I don't have enough. So I need to Buy and hope for Combat crew/gear. If I get it, I'll Fly away, but if I don't, I need to Buy against and hope I get luckier.

Even more commonly, one frequently wants to Deal and then either Buy the things needed to work that job or Fly to the planet on which one can begin that Job.

I'm not raising this point as a hypothetical. We do ask people to Fly first, and do whatever second, but not knowing what your second action will be until you take your first action comes up a lot.

"It will slow down expansion, building crew, etc."

No, it won't. If everyone takes X actions over the course of Y rounds, that's identical to taking X/2 actions over the course of Y*2 rounds with the duration of Y being halved.

Or, for the non-math geeks, with this rule change, going around the table twice is now the equivalent of what used to be going around the table once. Only the sequence of actions changes, from:

Ada (1st), Ada (2nd), Bob (1st), Bob (2nd), Carla (1st), Carla (2nd), Dan (1st), Dan (2nd)

to:

Ada (1st), Bob (1st), Carla (1st), Dan (1st), Ada (2nd), Bob (2nd), Carla (2nd), Dan (2nd)

Everyone gets the same number of actions in the same time frame, but no one has to wait on first-action Buys and Deals. So there's just as many opportunities to Deal, hire Crew, and Make Work.

"It ruins any PVP and Piracy, and makes it almost impossible to snipe supply cards."

. . . . . . . . . crap, you're right.

Basically, this is where this idea falls apart. Unfortunately, I can't think of a better option, and I'm starting to regret picking this game up, because the huge amounts of downtime mean that everyone is hesitant to play it.

We might try the "two dinos" method, though that seems unfair to the player stuck after the slowpokes.
 
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Jim Kiefer
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Since a buy action As the first action seems to be the problem why not require that if a buy action is your first action a buy action must also be your second action. I know that's breaking the rule of only allowing one action of a type per turn.
 
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tony peacock
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The only way I could see to make 1 turn work with pvp is to make anything requiring a boarding test a free action? That way players could still fly upto a ship and board it for either a bounty or a piracy job. Hiring disgruntled crew from another player is already a free action Iirc and that's all the pvp interaction I can think of covered.

Also while yes mathematically you get the same number of actions, you don't have the same options available to you in a 1 action turn, you have more. The rule "any 2 different actions per turn" essentially turns into "any 2 actions per turn" as I'd be able to re attempt a botched job as every action rather than every other action, same goes with shopping and dealing with contacts.

It'd also put "make work" almost entirely out of the game. Usually people do it when they have a spare action after shopping, dealing with a contact, or notching a job.

Single action turns would also make disgruntling your crew rather than paying them more risky, as you wouldn't be able to immediately give them shore leave after disgruntling them so another player could swoop in and hire them before you have a chance to do anything.

One thing I will say is after your group gets a few games under its belt, things speed up significantly. We've played around 12 games now and our games go pretty quickly, or at least with little downtime. Early on the biggest problem was, as you said, 1st action dealing/shopping. But now it's not really a problem. Every game people learn a little more about what is sold where, who has which missions and bit by bit the game speed increases. We usually have 4 players and I'd say we're quite close to matching the time printed on the story cards. In our early games I'd say it took us twice as long.

Is it that the games as a whole run on too long, or just the downtime between turns? How many players do you usually have?
 
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George Krubski
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pkitty wrote:

"It will slow down expansion, building crew, etc."

No, it won't. If everyone takes X actions over the course of Y rounds, that's identical to taking X/2 actions over the course of Y*2 rounds with the duration of Y being halved.

Or, for the non-math geeks, with this rule change, going around the table twice is now the equivalent of what used to be going around the table once. Only the sequence of actions changes, from:

Ada (1st), Ada (2nd), Bob (1st), Bob (2nd), Carla (1st), Carla (2nd), Dan (1st), Dan (2nd)

to:

Ada (1st), Bob (1st), Carla (1st), Dan (1st), Ada (2nd), Bob (2nd), Carla (2nd), Dan (2nd)

Everyone gets the same number of actions in the same time frame, but no one has to wait on first-action Buys and Deals. So there's just as many opportunities to Deal, hire Crew, and Make Work.


Respectfully, what you're saying isn't correct.

Yes, on the surface, the simple math is right... but it only holds true if all actions are equal, which they are not (as Tony has implied).

Firefly is, at its core, a race, and the player who can most efficiently leverage their actions is, all other things being equal, the winner. With that in mind, actions exist on a scale of "I must absolutely do this" to "Well, if I'm here anyway..."

Giving players only one action per turn make it all the more vital for each action to be a "must have," which means that the optional actions (like Make Work or searching for a better job when you already have one) fall to the wayside). It may not be easily quantifiable, but that means that players will be less prepared and more likely to fail throughout the game, with each failure prolongs the game.

The game designers knew what they were doing when they forced us to come for the shopping but stay for the make-work.

Is this a game-killer or game-breaker? Nope. But it WILL change the pacing of the game in a way that's worth being aware of.
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Thorfinn Skullsplitter
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Ultimately, the best thing to do is to try it out. Switching to one Action doesn't break the game any more than allowing 3 actions per turn would, but it does change it for reasons already mentioned.

Also, as mentioned, familiarity and experience brings rapidity. When people have a few games under their belt, and they star getting familiar with the Supply decks, they don't need to read all the cards in the discard in such depth. "...ok, Zoe, a Pistol, Fast Horses, and hmmm, what's this one do?"

Additionally, with more experience, players tend to plan a little farther ahead, and so can be looking at that discard pile right after they finish their turn (while the next person goes) instead of waiting for their next turn to look at it. That way when their turn comes, they already know what they want to consider, and can move through their turn very quickly. People even start looking through discards of places they aren't near because they're planning to head there or might plan to head there. In short, instead of creating downtime for other players, they use their own downtime more efficiently.
 
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tony peacock
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On the other hand if it's total game length that you're wanting to shorten, you could try a house rule that helps speed things up. If we're playing a game and we want it sped up a little we roll the dice, half and round down, result is movement without needing to draw a Nav card. We also often give each player 1 card from each Supply Deck then discard down to the number of players. So in a 3 player game you'd get 3 starting cards. It does shorten the game quite a bit as it let's players skip ahead to harder jobs nd such.
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Matthew Sanchez
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I'm glad I came across this topic before it got too old. At this point I have around 20 plays in firefly and I have every expansion available. Most of my games are between 4 and 7 players. Downtime is no longer an issue even with new players. Here are the ways that we manage it.



1. You can Burn then Mosey. I know technically you can take only one move action in the game but this does keep the game moving and it's a minor change. Plus thematically it works.

2. As mentioned above when it's not your turn decide what you are doing. If that involves going through decks for shopping or jobs then do it. If you are shopping/job hunting as your first action do it before your turn if it is your second action do it after your turn. The time of your turn should just involve flying and making mischief. This will result in the occasional conflict where someone moves and then shops at a location where someone is waiting to shop. Just communicate and work things out in the right order.

3. If you have nothing to do then you are flipping cards for other people.


4. This is not time to discuss the weather, work, school, star wars ...etc. If someone is taking a lot of time on their turn it drags the whole game to a halt. If you are chatting about non game things you are likely going to take longer on your turn. The game should be plenty engaging for your conversations to involve what other people are doing thus keeping things moving forward.


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