Find a crew, find a job, keep flying – Firefly: the game

20140927_193631Before he directed the Avengers, Joss Whedon was known for his TV shows like Buffy, Dollhouse and Firefly.

A kind of sci-fi Western, Firefly was a major hit with fans, but still got cancelled after one season in one of those WTF television decisions that happen too often.

Fan support meant the show and its great characters were brought back for a movie, Serenity.

More recently, we got Firefly: the game, a strategy game which sees players traveling the ‘verse in a ship, building a crew and carrying out jobs for a range of unsavoury characters.

Gameplay

You don’t have to be familiar with Firefly the TV show to appreciate the game. It’s a good one in its own right.

This is the first game I’ve played which is based on a TV or movie property and I’m guessing some just don’t age well. I’m sure there are lots of people regretting that Twilight Saga card game they bought (if one exists and, let’s face it, it probably does).

I can see this lasting as a key part of a game collection for years. Everything in the box is great quality from the large board (made even larger by the latest expansion) to the small spaceship playing pieces. We were playing with the small, Breaking Atmo, expansion – a set of extra cards. Further expansions are available that add considerably to the game.

The basic premise is simple – find a crew, find a job, keep flying. These are the three main elements of the game. Crew members bring with them certain skills in engineering, fighting and negotiation which are needed to complete jobs. Crews can also become disgruntled if you carry out jobs not appropriate to their character – ‘immoral’ ones, for instance.

Jobs are sought from various characters on different planets scattered around the board. Completing these jobs involves flying around the board, dropping off cargo and passengers, and collecting cash and reputation in return. Ships require fuel and spare parts, and can be upgraded.

Each time you play you select a goal card which tells you what players must ultimately do to complete the game.

To make this premise tougher there is an Alliance cruiser also in play (back story – the Alliance won a civil war in which our heroic captain, Malcolm Reynolds, fought for the wrong, or at least the losing, side).

There is also a Reaver ship (bad, bad, bad guys). Both of these ships will aim to slow you down, cost you money or even kill your crew as you move your own ship.

And that’s largely it. It’s easy to be put off by the scale of the game. Set up and packing away take a bit of time. But once ready its great fun.

Joss Whedon is a great writer and his humour shines through in this game. The various cards you collect to upgrade your ship or crew have some great touches. ‘Fancy duds’ cards for instance.

Cruising the ‘verse in your ship can be nail biting. Each sector you move sees cards being turned over. Some simply say Keep Flying. Others, well, don’t.

Our game finished in around two hours but I know people who say they played for eight and hadn’t completed all the goals.

One element I wasn’t too keen on were the Misbehaving cards. These must usually be completed in order to complete a goal, and I found them a little random. It was hard to plan for the requirements of the cards and completing a goal often took multiple attempts. I’m sure as my knowledge of the game increases, though, preparing for these will become easier. Building the right crew helps.

But is it good for two players?

For me it was a great first foray into what I consider ‘real’ gaming. A strategy game which takes commitment to play and real immersion into the theme. I’ve now played it a few times and even won it on one occasion.

My wife wasn’t too sure about the game, mainly down to her being unfamiliar with the TV series . We’re currently Netflixing our way through them, so maybe that will change as she gets to know Mal, Wash, Jane and the crew a little better.

I’ve played this game as a two, three, and four player game, and it stands up well as a two player. Because of the Alliance and Reaver ships circling the board, you have opposition which adds extra depth to the game, and a third player isn’t really needed.

Any doubts? I would suggest visiting your local game store and trying it out before buying, if you’re lucky enough to have one near you with a decent games library.

Further information

Visit the game’s official site here.

 

 

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