I am a huge – HUGE – fan of the short-lived television series Firefly (as well as the movie, Serenity, and all Firefly things). If you’re not familiar with Firefly, then I’m going to need you to sign off of here, get your ass on Netflix, and watch every single episode back-to-back. Stat.
I’m not joking.
Type: Competitive Tabletop
Number of Players: 1 – 4
Release Date: 2013
Publisher(s): GaleForce 9
The premise of this game is your fairly standard privateer / freelancer setup: each player is the captain of their own ship (and, yes, one lucky devil gets to captain Serenity herself!), and each captain has his or her own skills and bonuses. To begin, you’ll draw a random primary mission – typically a heist or some such – and that mission sets up the remainder of the game. The first crew to complete this objective is the winner. Which sounds easy enough and like it wouldn’t take longer than a nanosecond to complete, except for the fact that the primary mission is going to be dangerous and it’s going to sprawl all over the multiverse. I don’t care what ship you have or who your captain is – you’re going to need badass gear and badass upgrades, and the only way all of that’s going to work is if you have a badass crew… and the only way to do all of that is to amass a crap-ton of money and a badass reputation of your own, which means what? That’s right! Get to questin’, son!
Oh. And watch out for the Reavers. If they take your ship, they’ll rape you to death, eat your flesh, and sew your skin into their clothing. And if you’re very, very lucky, they’ll do it in that order.
(1) As a fan, I really appreciate the nods to the series. Besides phrases from the show strewn throughout, there are the obvious threats from both the Alliance and Reavers, not to mention some of the less than savory characters you may run into during a playthrough (I’m looking at you, Niska!). And there’s a dino on the dashboard… cuz… yeah.
(2) We’ve been playing for a while now, and it’s still really, really fun! There is enough variety in the scenario cards to keep things interesting, and some of the situations you run across can change the course of the game radically.
(3) This goes hand-in-hand with complaint number two below, but it’s also a win for me once the initial shock wears off: the two-hour game time on the box is a vicious lie, but once you know that, you can gleefully lose yourself in the ‘verse for hours and hours and hours!
The Bantha Poodoo
(1) It’s marketed for “one – four players,” but in reality it’s not that great flying solo. A lot of the fun with this game is being able to compete against other players for missions and money, and playing by yourself removes the competition and risk of losing. Which kinda defeats the purpose, if you ask me. It is possible to play a solo game, don’t get me wrong… but I’d only recommend it for hardcore fans who are dedicated enough to possibly write some of their own scenarios to diversify their situation a bit.
(2) On the flip side of that, if you max out your players at four you might be playing for quite.some.time. The game is marketed for an average of two-hours of actual game play, but our real average is more like three-to-four hours. And this is an excellent segue for number three, which is…
(3) To build on number two, each player can take two actions on their turn, which is great unless someone who’s not you picks an action that has multiple steps – which is more frequent than you’d think. This can lead to a lot of periods where other players are just sitting around twiddling their thumbs, waiting… waiting… waiting…
Expansions & Supplements to Date
Artful Dodger (2013): this booster adds an additional player (to the original lineup of four) as well as a new ship model, a set of Firefly dice, and unique upgrade cards and a profile sheet. Unlike the Jetwash and Esmeralda ships (more on them below), the Artful Dodger is built for speed.
Breakin’ Atmo (2013): this expansion includes nine new Crew cards (including the supremely helpful Merchant, Accountant, and Helmsman), sixteen new Gear cards (Alliance Body Armor makes it all worth it), and twenty-five new Job cards (five for each Contact). This set also includes cards that allow you to remove Disgruntled from your entire crew without having to dish out for Shore Leave, and cards that allow you to get a look at the top three Misbehave cards and put them back on top of the deck in any order you want (which is great for manipulating the next few turns in your favor). There’s also a Gambling card, which allows you to take a chance for cash.
Pirates & Bounty Hunters (2014): the name pretty much gives it away, but this expansion provides you with two extra job types: piracy and bounty hunting. The former grants you the ability to attack another player’s ship and steal cargo, parts, or contraband; the latter is… well… bounty hunting. Along with these jobs come new Crew and Gear, as well as two new ships and leaders.
Blue Sun (2014): this is a full expansion, which includes a new add-on game board that brings new planets, solar systems, and shopping opportunities to the ‘verse. Also included are two new Contacts (Lord Harrow and Mr. Universe), Mal’s revolver (squee!), a couple of new Captain and Story options (including Start-Up), new Reavers – yes, plural, added Nav cards, and even the opportunity to visit Miranda.
Esmeralda (2015): this booster adds an additional player (to the original lineup of four) as well as a new ship model, a set of Firefly dice, and unique upgrade cards and a profile sheet. Unlike Artful Dodger and Jetwash, Esmeralda is geared towards passenger transport.
Jetwash (2015): this booster adds an additional player (to the original lineup of four) as well as a new ship model, a set of Firefly dice, and unique upgrade cards and a profile sheet. Unlike Artful and Esmeralda, Jetwash is fitted with a larger hold for increased cargo transport.
Kalidasa (2015): this expansion includes a new add-on game board containing a new supply planet, two new Contacts (Magistrate Higgins and the twins, Fanty & Mingo), a new Alliance agent, new Set Up and Story cards, as well as new Rim Space, Alliance Space, and Border Space cards to add to your existing decks.
Whole Damn Verse (2015): You can always opt for this combo-expansion, which combines the boards from the Firefly standard base game with the add-on boards from Blue Sun and Kalidasa. But make some room, kiddies, cuz it spreads out to about 4 ft. x 1.5 ft, and don’t get too excited: it’s just the boards combined in one handy-dandy vinyl mat – you still need to buy the expansions if you want the perks and pieces.