Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats Review

Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats Review

WadeMonnig     
 
3.0
1061   1
Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats Review

Thrillin' adventures indeed. 

Building on the goodwill they created with Firefly: The Game and it's cavalcade of excellent expansions, Gale Force 9 presents Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats. Just as the name implies, it truly puts the adventure into Firefly. For those familiar with the original board game, it's like the Aim to Misbehave cards have come to life, complete with the iconography and skill tests with which you are already familiar.

The Brigands and Browncoats box comes stuffed with items: preassembled buildings, enemy miniatures, all manner of markers and two miniatures of each of the Firefly crew. Why two? Because one of the key elements of the game is acting in either Casual or Heroic mode which is reflected in the miniatures pose and color. If you think of Mal and Zoe impersonating newlyweds in "The Train Job" as casual and the scene where Mal kicks Niska's henchman into the Engine intake as Heroic, that is pretty much dead on.

The game uses a timeline to determine action order, which will be instantly identifiable with anyone who has ever played an old school video game RPG or strategy RPG. Each action a character takes uses a set number of "moments" which moves a marker on this Timeline . It provides an ever shifting but always logical order in which the next character actions will take place. The Timeline also doubles as timer for the missions. Jobs need to be completed before reaching the end of the Timeline, presumably that is when Fox cancels the series (Too soon?). The timing mechanism also triggers "Events" that toss fresh challenges or rewards into each mission.

Despite being fully cooperative, as opposed to the competitive nature of Firefly: The Game, the same Fight, Tech and Negotiate skills and skills test are at the core of the game. It's a quality system and manipulation of dice rolling via cards/characters/equipment is familiar and solid ground. The Mechanics of the game are solid, but it's the other aspects of the game where things get sketchy.

The Instruction manual is laid out as a good overview but fails miserably as a proper reference guide. Moreover, you'll find yourself searching every page of the manual mid-game for a rule explanation that likely doesn't exist.

Each Story/Mission is set up so that you can play it as a one off job or part of a storyline. Either you fail a mission or you win. The only difference on how successful a mission is judged is how much money you made. Not only does that not feel at all "Firefly" it is essentially using a High Score scoring system that went out of vogue with 80's Arcade games (Play again and try to get a higher score!). This isn't just limited to the one off jobs, the storyline mode puts a simple winning condition of "have 10,000 credits at the end of three jobs" as the one and only true goal. It almost feels like Fox's decision to bypass airing the 2 hour Pilot "Serenity" and going with "The Train Job" as the first episode. Sure, it provides action but it lacks a flow.

It is missing a reward system where you gain something (or anything!) to further the storyline. The aforementioned storyline mode consists of 3 of jobs of which there are a total of 4 included in the game. Let me do the math here: four stories, divided by three, carry the nothin'... The box has 1 and 1/3 storylines included? Gale force 9 has promised more jobs on their website but as of this writing, none are available. On the plus side, there is good diversity in the jobs, just when you think you have a strategy that will always work (such as being stealthy, avoiding any detection) you come across a job that almost requires you to go in with guns a blazing. 

Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats is billed a cooperative game for 1 to 5 players. I really can't imagine anyone wanting to play it without the full five crew members but you can play time adjusted rules if you would care to play with less. I personally suggest you split the crew among how many people you have playing to avoid situations where you need a handy mechanic but you have only brought brawn. I also heartily suggest your first spin with the game be in solo mode. If you try dropping this on the table and "learning as you go" it is going to grind to a halt every few minutes as you sort out the details of the rules. This is because none of the 4 stories included act as a tutorial to ease you into the flow of the game.

Not considered in the total player count is an overlord variant that allows someone to step in and play as the Goons. Consider it an "expert" mode and, currently, it is the games saving grace when it comes to replayability. Speaking of "overlords", due to the buildings and use of plenty of tokens and markers, you are going to spend an awful lot of time on your feet, overlooking the game board, to take all of the information in.

If you are looking into this title, I am assuming you are a fan of the Firefly Series. If the only thing Browncoat means to you is a poor fashion choice, then you can knock one star off this review. The most equally exciting and infuriating part of this release is that all the pieces are present to make a great game but somehow it never reaches that potential. Gale Force 9 can still make that happen with additional in-depth stories with an enhanced rewards system.

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Editor rating

(Updated: July 17, 2018)
WadeMonnig
Rating 
 
3.0

Summary

Game Name
Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats

Just as the name implies, it truly puts the adventure into Firefly.


Wade MonnigSubscrive to Wade Monnig Follow Wade Monnig Message Wade Monnig

Board Game Reviewer

In west Saint Louis born and raised
Playing video games is where I spent most of my days
Strafing, Dashing, Adventuring and Looting
Writing reviews between all the Shooting
When a couple of guys reminded me what was so good
About playing games with cardboard and Wood,
Collecting Victory Points and those Miniatures with Flair
It’s not as easy as you think to rhyme with Bel Air.

Wade is the former editor in chief for Silicon Magazine and former senior editor for Gamearefun.com. He currently enjoys his games in the non-video variety, where the odds of a 14 year old questioning the legitimacy of your bloodline is drastically reduced.

“I’ll stop playing as Black when they invent a darker color.”

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Posted: 17 Jul 2018 07:24 by Josh Look #277750
Josh Look's Avatar
I really like this complete mess of a game, but the process of learning it knocked a star off for me, and what few scenarios there are greatly vary in quality which isn’t helped by how wildly swingy the game can be. The core of the game is really fun though, I’ve always liked that time system in other games and it tells some fun stories. However, if I’m looking to spend some time in the Verse, I’m always going to reach for it’s big, by far superior older brother.
Posted: 17 Jul 2018 07:34 by ubarose #277754
ubarose's Avatar
Unfortunately, I mostly agree with you on this one. Firefly:B&B has the potential to be a really great and unique "dungeon crawl" style game. It is particularly interesting because it doesn't rely as heavily on the hack & slash - kill everything - model of most other dungeon crawls. It also does a good job of evoking it's IP and the characters.

However, the rule book is a mess, and there aren't enough scenarios. Also, the 3D buildings are gimmicky and end up being rather annoying in play, blocking players view and sliding around quite a bit.

Gale Force 9 can indeed make this game realize it's full potential with a revised rule book and more scenarios. However, seeing that this game has been repeatedly put on sale by various online stores in the few months since it was released makes me think that it is not selling well, and makes me worry that this game will not see the support that it needs from Gale Force 9.
Posted: 17 Jul 2018 07:41 by charlest #277755
charlest's Avatar
It definitely needs more scenarios. I like the game quite a bit, but at the same time, I haven't reached for it beyond my first several plays to review it myself.

I love the 3D buildings but they are a pain. I wouldn't want to get rid of them though and sacrifice the personality.
Posted: 17 Jul 2018 07:43 by Sagrilarus #277757
Sagrilarus's Avatar
You mention five characters, which from the show are not included?

This sounds interesting to me, and I'm really not a fan of cooperative games. But the nature of Firefly's aiming-to-misbehave mechanic is that you press your luck and hope for the best. If that's the running gear on this game as well then having a cooperative nature won't be as much of an issue, because any joker that browbeats you into doing something rash will get appropriate negative feedback from the die rolls in short order. With a dose of luck after the decision cooperatives become much more interesting.

So this has no mechanical connection to the original game, right? They're not designed to coordinate or be incorporated into each other?

Sounds like Gale Force 9 needs to get half a dozen more scenarios out right quick. If they don't, it's an indication they've moved on.

Thanks for the review. Well done.

Point of order -- will all reviews on ThereWillBe.Games have just the one image in the upper right? This one sure could have used a couple of snapshots of the game set up on a table to aid in understanding of it.

S.
Posted: 17 Jul 2018 07:47 by Sagrilarus #277758
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Oh, and I'll mention there are two expansions announced that bring the crew up to nine, but each has only two new scenarios to play out. That's a total of eight. Still not many.
Posted: 17 Jul 2018 09:09 by ubarose #277763
ubarose's Avatar
Sagrilarus wrote:

This sounds interesting to me, and I'm really not a fan of cooperative games. But the nature of Firefly's aiming-to-misbehave mechanic is that you press your luck and hope for the best. If that's the running gear on this game as well then having a cooperative nature won't be as much of an issue, because any joker that browbeats you into doing something rash will get appropriate negative feedback from the die rolls in short order. With a dose of luck after the decision cooperatives become much more interesting.

Also, in the spirit of Firefly, it is possible to completely blow it and shoot a fellow hero by accident. Oops.
Posted: 17 Jul 2018 10:31 by Josh Look #277773
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The game is at its best when things are going wrong.
Posted: 17 Jul 2018 11:57 by SuperflyTNT #277776
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This sounds like a really fun little skirmish game
Posted: 17 Jul 2018 14:15 by WadeMonnig #277786
WadeMonnig's Avatar
charlest wrote:
It definitely needs more scenarios. I like the game quite a bit, but at the same time, I haven't reached for it beyond my first several plays to review it myself.

I love the 3D buildings but they are a pain. I wouldn't want to get rid of them though and sacrifice the personality.
Ahh, that's what I wanted to mention in my review and forgot. Blue Tack! I use this silly putty type stuff to hold the buildings in place. Stops the annoying sliding of buildings.
Posted: 17 Jul 2018 14:47 by WadeMonnig #277789
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Josh Look wrote:
I really like this complete mess of a game, but the process of learning it knocked a star off for me.

This is exactly why it needs a tutorial mission. I have literally been thinking about making one up. I have it all in my head, just need to put down on paper and draw up the maps. Can you imagine a tutorial "The Battle of Serenity Valley?" Hell, I got excited just TYPING that. With real in-game rewards that you carry over to your first game. *Eyes up his copy of Colt Express* For a second mission,I'm thinking "The Train Job." Thanks for the feedback Josh!
Posted: 17 Jul 2018 14:54 by WadeMonnig #277790
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Sagrilarus wrote:
You mention five characters, which from the show are not included?

Mal, Zoe, Wash, Jayne and Kaylee. The mentioned expansions will add a pack for Simon and River and a second pack for Book and Inara.
Sagrilarus wrote:
So this has no mechanical connection to the original game, right? They're not designed to coordinate or be incorporated into each other?

Not really. It comes with promo cards that go into the original game. I've heard talk of people wanting to use it as an away mission simulator for the first game but I honestly can't see that happening based on Table Space and Time concerns.

Sagrilarus wrote:
Point of order -- will all reviews on ThereWillBe.Games have just the one image in the upper right? This one sure could have used a couple of snapshots of the game set up on a table to aid in understanding of it.

S.

I usually take some pics of my game when it is set up. I know there has been talk of using them on Instagram. I'm not sure if they will be added to reviews but I'm sure it will be considered.
Posted: 17 Jul 2018 16:34 by ubarose #277795
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WadeMonnig wrote:

I usually take some pics of my game when it is set up. I know there has been talk of using them on Instagram. I'm not sure if they will be added to reviews but I'm sure it will be considered.

You can add additional images to your reviews by inserting them in the email that you send to Barnes.
Posted: 17 Jul 2018 19:44 by KingPut #277801
KingPut's Avatar
The game has potential I love the building and some of the Gaming concepts but I totally fucked up the rules the first play because the rules were so screwy. I haven’t been able to stomach playing it again.