I was a late comer to the Browncoat party. I saw the commercials for Firefly when it first aired, and although intrigued, life didn’t allow the opportunity to watch it. Then it was gone. It wasn’t until summer of 2005, when I convinced my wife to go see this movie called Serenity, that we both became hooked. Shortly after seeing the movie for the second time (or was it the third?) I discovered that it was based on a show. I remember telling telling my wife, "There's more.” By the end of that day my Netflix queue had Firefly at the top (this was before streaming, you know when you had to actually wait for the discs to arrive in the mail?). Since then we have been proud members of the Browncoat fandom.
When I first heard that Gale Force 9 was making Firefly the Game, I was both leery and excited. But as more and more information was released, the more excited I got. It looked like they may have gotten this one right. The game hit the shelves in the Fall of 2013 but I didn’t get it until Christmas. Since then I have shared this game with everyone I could and have seen several friends buy their own copies. My copy shows the signs of a much loved game as the corners have been rounded from carting it from place to place.
After setting up the game for the first time the comment was made that there is no way we could hate this game because it is “so...very...pretty.” You can tell that the game was, as the cliche goes, made by fans for fans. Every part of the game does a fantastic job of capturing the theme of the show.
At its core it is a pick up and deliver game; with the base game it provides very little player interaction. The gamplay is fairly basic. There are four actions available to each player on their turn: Fly, Work, Buy and Deal. On a turn you can do only two of the actions. That’s it in a nutshell, but there are so many nuances to each of those options that it provides a great deal of depth.
The objective of each game is determined by the Story Card that is selected, either randomly or chosen. Each Story Card consists of some flavor text, special set-up rules (if applicable), the goal(s), and the win condition. For example, the King of All Londinium Story Card requires the players to collect three Goal Tokens by completing three tasks at three different planets across the ‘verse. The first player to collect three Goal Tokens wins the game.
The base game comes with four Firefly class ships. They are all identical except for the name and each is color-coordinated with the mini that represents them. Each ship is represented by a card that the players keep in front of them. The Ship Card tells you how many crew it can hold (6), the type of engine it has equipped, how many upgrade slots it has, and how much cargo/passenger space is available.
When you take the Fly action you can either Mosey, which allows you to move one sector without any cost or risk, or you can do a Full Burn. When you do a Full Burn you must spend the amount of fuel indicated by the engine you have equipped, and then you can move a number of Sectors equal to the speed of your engine. Doing a Full Burn is not only costly (fuel doesn’t grow on trees) but it can be risky. When you do a Full Burn you must also flip over the appropriate Nav Card, depending on if your ship is in Alliance or Border Space. Most Nav Cards tell you to “Keep Flying”, but some will throw a wrench into your plans.
At the start of the game all you have is your ship and your leader (Captain). That is it. In order to get some help getting your jobs done, you need to hire some Crew, buy some Gear or get a Ship Upgrade or two. To make a Buy action you need to go to a Supply location and then choose what you want to buy from the corresponding Supply Deck. There is a limit on each type: you can only have so many Crew members on-board at any given time, each Gear item needs to be carried by a Crew member in order to be useful, and if you want to get a Ship Upgrade you need to have an available Upgrade Slot.
Each Supply location provides a variety of options, but some locations specialize in a particular type. For example, if you want guns or people who know how to use them, go to Silverhold. Looking for the best Ship Upgrade, go to Osiris. You can still get guns and Ship Upgrades almost anywhere, but those locations have a better chance than others to give you what you want.
OK, so you have a ship, you found a Crew, now you need to find a Job. At the start of most games you will take a Job from each of the five Contacts. You can only have three Jobs in your hand at any time, so you will have to discard some of them. In fact, if you don’t like any of the Jobs drawn you can discard all of them. If you are at a Contacts location during the game, you can take the Deal action to look at the available Jobs offered. Just remember you can have no more than three Jobs in your hand at a time.
There are all sorts of Jobs to be had in the ‘verse. Some are legal, some are immoral, some are easy, and some will get your Crew killed. You are not obligated to take a Job, but once you start working it there is no easy way to get rid of it, so take care which jobs you accept. Once you have completed a Job for a Contact you are then considered Solid. When you are Solid with a Contact they are more inclined to help you out in various different ways. However, if you get a Warrant while working a Job, you will lose your Solid status with that Contact. This is usually just inconvenient, as you can just complete another Job to get it back. But not if it's Adelai Niska. If you get a Warrant while working one of his Jobs, you are going to have to pay the price in blood.
Now that you have a Job or three, you have to head out into the Black and start working those Jobs. In order to start Work on a Job you have to be at the right location, and then you must take the Work Action on your turn. Many of the Jobs are pick up and deliver: Jobs that only require you to load Cargo and then deliver it, plain and simple. Other Jobs are a little more interesting and require you to Misbehave. The Job will tell you if, and how much, Misbehaving is required to complete the Job.
If you must Misbehave, you flip over a card from the Misbehave Deck and resolve it. Sounds simple right? Of course it’s not that simple. Most Misbehave cards have an automatic Proceed option, like Companion. If you have a Companion on your Crew, proceed. If not, you are going to have to work for it.
Your Leader, Crew and Gear will provide you with Skills you can use to complete Jobs. The Skills are Fight, Tech and Negotiate. Each Misbehave Card will have two options that will require the use of Skills. For example, you may have a run in with a rival crew and you can either talk your way out of it (Negotiate) or shoot them (Fight). You get to choose which option you want to take, count up the number of Skills your Crew has, roll a single dice, and add them together. If you meet or beat the target number, you pass. If not, well, I hope you didn’t like that one Crew member too much.
Once you complete the requirements of the Job you get paid. Don’t forget to pay your Crew! Otherwise, they become cranky.
There is a lot more to the game than what I’ve laid out here, but this will give you a good overview of what the game is about. If you want to read the rules you can download them here. There is also a FAQ that further explains some of the rules.If you are Firefly fan, you will not be disappointed with this game.
Playing Time: 1+ Hours
Publisher: Gale Force 9