It Came From the Tabletop! - Firefly: The Game

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It Came From the Tabletop

Podcast Details

Episode
Firefly: The Game
Description
Join Josh and Al as they talk about what games they just played, going well beyond mere reviews and into mechanics, genres and where games fit in the hobby itself.
Topics
Firefly: The Game

Josh and Al hit the black this week and talk about Firefly: The Game from Gale Force 9.  Shiny!

Special thanks to The Minibosses!

There Will Be Games It Came From the Tabletop
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Mantidman's Avatar
Mantidman replied the topic: #289406 08 Jan 2019 09:07
Thank you Gentlemen for an excellent listen. Though I have had the game and all its expansions for years, I hadn't played it.
My oldest son has become interested in the Firefly 'Verse and we have completed four games while he has been home over the holiday break. Loads of fun, enhanced by viewing all the episodes in between games. Quite a few stories will be told about the events in those four games.
We had not been using the Kalidasa expansion due to table size, but I think I will bring in a card table for card piles and tokens. We also did not use the Pirates and Bounty Hunters expansion for the reasons you discussed. It is a difficult game without the other players gunning for you.
Firefly: the Game has quickly become a favorite!

On a side note, do you have opinions about the fan-produced, "Local Color" expansion?
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #289408 08 Jan 2019 09:37
Awesome, glad you got the game to the table and that you enjoyed it.

I only just came across Local Color yesterday when I was looking on BGG for any good variants to speed the early game up. Haven’t had a chance to look into it but I will be.

Speaking of variants, I came up empty handed on my search. I forgot to mention on the epsiode, we do not start with the reshuffle cards in the decks even though the expansion rules tell you to do so. I’m not sure if that’s the right move since we never reshuffle the bigger decks, but that’s how we do it. I guess you could bury it in the last 1/4 of the deck and you could be alright.

I do think that some adjustment should have been made to the shop decks once the expansions came out and bulked them up. I think an easy fix would be to have a bigger starting discard pile, maybe 6-9 cards instead of 3.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #289452 08 Jan 2019 20:35
Great episode covering a great game. Your observations on it being both pick-up-and-deliver and adventure and that entangled relationship were really insightful and I’ll lean in even further — Firefly’s pick-up-and-deliver is not merely enhanced but uniquely defined by the source material. Delivering isn’t just a challenge in Firefly, it’s hard. It ain't Merchant of Venus by any stretch. Firefly executes the concept in a very different way than what you expect when you first open the box. It's not about delivering, it's about delivering and making it stick.

Al, the next time Josh uses the trite phrase "overstayed its welcome" smack him. An appropriate level of negative feedback will break him of such bad habits, and you guys can't redefine the genre by sounding like everyone else.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #289462 08 Jan 2019 22:46
It lasts longer than it needs to?
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #289465 08 Jan 2019 23:02

Josh Look wrote: It lasts longer than it needs to?


Much better.
Legomancer's Avatar
Legomancer replied the topic: #289648 09 Jan 2019 08:55
I'll listen to this but boy did I dislike the game.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #289657 09 Jan 2019 09:32
That’s because you didn’t play it with us.
Legomancer's Avatar
Legomancer replied the topic: #289678 09 Jan 2019 16:25
I enjoyed the Firefly TV show. I'm not one of the die-hards who think it was a masterful piece of brilliance untimely ripp'd from the broadcast screen, but it was fun.

The times I played Firefly, it wasn't fun, it was a slog. It was just moving, looking at cards, moving. Having the cards be something I also once saw on a TV show wasn't enough to excite me. And, in fact, coming across things like missions I'd automatically fail unless I have River (the character I disliked most on the show, by the way) was demonstrably un-fun. Seeing nonsense like the incredibly overpowered Jayne's Hat (which of course you HAVE to have because lol Jayne's Hat) just wasn't fun.

For me the game represented the absolute worst excesses of IP games. If I want to watch an episode of Firefly I'll watch an episode of Firefly. I don't want to play a game and have things be unbalanced or frustrating because "that's how it was in the show". I don't want to recreate something that already happened. (This is a large portion of why, almost as a rule, I avoid IP-based games, even if I like the IP in question. The temptation of the designers to value fan service over solid play is too tempting, mostly because the fans will almost always prefer the former. But my anti-fandom in general rant is for another day.)

Basically, in Firefly I guess I felt like the things which other players might enjoy were intrusive and shackling. And that navigating around them just got me to a pretty humdrum adventure/puad. I've got Xia coming to me soon and I think I'd rather that then see a card that reminds me of a thing on tv.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #289679 09 Jan 2019 17:20
People play IP games specifically because they want to participate in and simulate that IP. Stripping out the IP specific quirks and "nonsense" defeats the point of having a game with the IP.

It's similar to how wargamers want to play simulations of historic battles. You don't just strip out the hill in a Battle of Bunker Hill game because it gives one player an advantage over the other.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #289680 09 Jan 2019 18:11
Finally was able to listen to some of this today while waiting for my son in the Dentist office. We usually play the alternate rules for a "Full Burn" which is that you roll a die and can ignore flipping over travel cards for that many spaces of a full burn. It made the first few plays go faster while learning the other ins/outs of the game. Have you guys ever used this rule or, since flipping the cards is something you really enjoy, something you never bothered with? (Also, I got all the custom dice colors as a Christmas gift a few years ago, so everyone has their own dice to roll instead of any passing around). Also, you mentioned the paper money, have you guys opted for the over sized paper money add on?
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #289681 09 Jan 2019 19:05

WadeMonnig wrote: Finally was able to listen to some of this today while waiting for my son in the Dentist office. We usually play the alternate rules for a "Full Burn" which is that you roll a die and can ignore flipping over travel cards for that many spaces of a full burn. It made the first few plays go faster while learning the other ins/outs of the game. Have you guys ever used this rule or, since flipping the cards is something you really enjoy, something you never bothered with? (Also, I got all the custom dice colors as a Christmas gift a few years ago, so everyone has their own dice to roll instead of any passing around). Also, you mentioned the paper money, have you guys opted for the over sized paper money add on?


Yeah, we really enjoy the card flipping so we never tried it. Plus, with my luck, I’d consistently roll a 1 or 2.

Oversized money? That’s really a thing? Doesn’t the game take up enough space already?
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #289684 09 Jan 2019 20:03
I think the game would stand on its own without the IP, as long as you understand that the heart of the play is your shit going wrong. You gotta plan for failure.

My first couple of encounters I was frustrated until I realized they were par for the course. Granted that won't appeal to some people. But I enjoy it.
n815e's Avatar
n815e replied the topic: #289687 09 Jan 2019 21:02
We play this as an adventure game, not a competitive game. Got an afternoon or evening to kick around the stars as the captain of a dinky, little transport ship? This is great. The open world, choose your own path, narrative style of this game is fun. Sure, someone eventually “wins” the game, but this is a game to play for the ride.

I think the variant movement rules would only work for me if the Big Black cards are removed.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #289693 09 Jan 2019 23:15
Yea, "big money" is a thing. 100 prop sized bills with extra 5k bills. Look super awesome but, along with big hero's, one of the few add ons I said No to. Need to play this again soon, been way too long. Funny how you you guys agree no pirates and bounty hunters but others swear by it.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #289694 10 Jan 2019 01:35

Josh Look wrote: Awesome, glad you got the game to the table and that you enjoyed it.

I only just came across Local Color yesterday when I was looking on BGG for any good variants to speed the early game up. Haven’t had a chance to look into it but I will be.

Speaking of variants, I came up empty handed on my search. I forgot to mention on the epsiode, we do not start with the reshuffle cards in the decks even though the expansion rules tell you to do so. I’m not sure if that’s the right move since we never reshuffle the bigger decks, but that’s how we do it. I guess you could bury it in the last 1/4 of the deck and you could be alright.

I do think that some adjustment should have been made to the shop decks once the expansions came out and bulked them up. I think an easy fix would be to have a bigger starting discard pile, maybe 6-9 cards instead of 3.


Do you have the Esmeralda expansion? Check out the "Blitz" option or simply download the Esmeralda pdf from Gale Force Nine for how it works. Not sure if it would appeal to you or not.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #289695 10 Jan 2019 06:23
Just looked that up. Thanks, that’s just what I was looking for!
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #289705 10 Jan 2019 09:12

WadeMonnig wrote: Funny how you you guys agree no pirates and bounty hunters but others swear by it.


I'm interested in picking up the pirates and bounty hunters expansion, because it would directly address the game's biggest flaw: low interaction between the players. But first I need to make an effort to get the base game on the table. I have only played once with friends, and the game ran long partly due to looking up rules. I have played it a dozen times by myself, and works well that way due to low interaction.
Legomancer's Avatar
Legomancer replied the topic: #289706 10 Jan 2019 09:28

ubarose wrote: People play IP games specifically because they want to participate in and simulate that IP. Stripping out the IP specific quirks and "nonsense" defeats the point of having a game with the IP.

It's similar to how wargamers want to play simulations of historic battles. You don't just strip out the hill in a Battle of Bunker Hill game because it gives one player an advantage over the other.


I get that, but too often I'm not playing in the world of that IP, I'm just replaying that IP. If Plorb the Mighty HAS to fight the Zagnog and lose his magic hat because dammit, that's how it went in the movie, then I may as well just watch the movie.

I know I'm kind of alone in this. As I said, I usually avoid things like this in the first place. It helps that I was a Doctor Who fan for so long, because all those games are terrible (the newest one isn't bad, but that ship has sailed) so I was okay ignoring them. When the Wallace one came out I briefly got excited but then saw the "jammy dodger" card (as with items in the Firefly game, a card representing a single joke that was referenced once in the show, but had to become A Thing) I knew I was still okay letting them go.

I don't deny that part of my hesitance and annoyance with IP games stems from a general frustration with fandom; that's my own thing.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #289708 10 Jan 2019 09:47

Shellhead wrote:

WadeMonnig wrote: Funny how you you guys agree no pirates and bounty hunters but others swear by it.


I'm interested in picking up the pirates and bounty hunters expansion, because it would directly address the game's biggest flaw: low interaction between the players. But first I need to make an effort to get the base game on the table. I have only played once with friends, and the game ran long partly due to looking up rules. I have played it a dozen times by myself, and works well that way due to low interaction.


I can’t advise against that expansion enough. As much as you think you want it, you do not want how this game handles it.

That expansion is what finally broke what years of being at this site instilled into me, and that’s that all games need interaction. It, like any design choice, should be used where appropriate. This game is not one of those cases.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #289718 10 Jan 2019 13:15

Josh Look wrote: Just looked that up. Thanks, that’s just what I was looking for!


This is exactly the reason I love(d) Gale Force 9. With Spartacus/Firefly/Sons of Anarchy every expansion came with alternate/new/different rules that were presented with simple, straight forward way. "This speeds up the game" "This extends play time but adds a new layer for experienced players". And, by god, every little rule merged right and and gave you EXACTLY what they promised. As I mentioned in the interview with Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks designer, I was hoping for exactly that in the additional Doctor expansions. But, As Shellie mentioned, the ship has pretty much sailed on that at this point. The first expansions were promised a YEAR ago with them trotting out new ones every few months. Now it looks like they will dump them all at once (maybe) early this year.

On the Firefly: The Board Game front: I own the base game, Blue Sun, The Whole Damn Verse' playmat, Artful Dodger expansion, Esmerelda expansion, Jetwash expansion (Zoe as a pilot!), Breaking Atmo, Crime and Punishment, Custom player dice for all expansions, The promo card that came with Brigands and Browncoats for F:TBG, and Pirates and Bountyhunters.

I don't own: The card pack (which includes promo cards like floral bonnet and wash's dinos and Big Damn Hero cards with different stats for the firefly crew), Big Money pack (previously mentioned prop sized money replacement for the smaller cash in the game), and Kalidasa.

I picked up Pirates and Bountyhunters when GF9 restocked all the expansions about 9 months ago. I made a deal with my wife that I would not get Kalidasa right then but I could pick it up after we used ALL the other expansions I own for Firefly. I stll haven't managed to do that.

Edit: I also printed up cards and ordered mini's to add Blake's 7 to the 'Verse, which I do use all the time and if I ever get the expendable cash, I'm going to order professionally printed cards of this fan expansion.
engineer Al's Avatar
engineer Al replied the topic: #289748 10 Jan 2019 20:29

Legomancer wrote: I enjoyed the Firefly TV show. I'm not one of the die-hards who think it was a masterful piece of brilliance untimely ripp'd from the broadcast screen, but it was fun.

The times I played Firefly, it wasn't fun, it was a slog. It was just moving, looking at cards, moving. Having the cards be something I also once saw on a TV show wasn't enough to excite me. And, in fact, coming across things like missions I'd automatically fail unless I have River (the character I disliked most on the show, by the way) was demonstrably un-fun. Seeing nonsense like the incredibly overpowered Jayne's Hat (which of course you HAVE to have because lol Jayne's Hat) just wasn't fun.

For me the game represented the absolute worst excesses of IP games. If I want to watch an episode of Firefly I'll watch an episode of Firefly. I don't want to play a game and have things be unbalanced or frustrating because "that's how it was in the show". I don't want to recreate something that already happened. (This is a large portion of why, almost as a rule, I avoid IP-based games, even if I like the IP in question. The temptation of the designers to value fan service over solid play is too tempting, mostly because the fans will almost always prefer the former. But my anti-fandom in general rant is for another day.)

Basically, in Firefly I guess I felt like the things which other players might enjoy were intrusive and shackling. And that navigating around them just got me to a pretty humdrum adventure/puad. I've got Xia coming to me soon and I think I'd rather that then see a card that reminds me of a thing on tv.


Wow Dave, you sure are passionate about your dislike for this game. I have to admit that when Josh said to me on the show that "some people hate" Firefly, I was kind of shocked for a minute. It's just such a perfect experience for me, hitting on my love for adventure games and science fiction storytelling at the same time. I do have to admit though, that you make a number of good points and I can see where you are coming from. I guess this is a game that either grabs you or it doesn't. Many games are like that, but this one is long. . .

We will NOT make you play Firefly with us.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #289779 11 Jan 2019 08:51

Legomancer wrote: The times I played Firefly, it wasn't fun, it was a slog. It was just moving, looking at cards, moving. Having the cards be something I also once saw on a TV show wasn't enough to excite me. And, in fact, coming across things like missions I'd automatically fail unless I have River (the character I disliked most on the show, by the way) was demonstrably un-fun. Seeing nonsense like the incredibly overpowered Jayne's Hat (which of course you HAVE to have because lol Jayne's Hat) just wasn't fun.

For me the game represented the absolute worst excesses of IP games. If I want to watch an episode of Firefly I'll watch an episode of Firefly. I don't want to play a game and have things be unbalanced or frustrating because "that's how it was in the show". I don't want to recreate something that already happened. (This is a large portion of why, almost as a rule, I avoid IP-based games, even if I like the IP in question. The temptation of the designers to value fan service over solid play is too tempting, mostly because the fans will almost always prefer the former. But my anti-fandom in general rant is for another day.)


Your points about your actual experience playing Firefly are all sound. The game can play at a better pace once players have some familiarity and actively focus on speeding up the game by plotting their upcoming turns out during downtime. A single AP player can tank Firefly. And it's true that there is at least one crime job where you can only succeed if you have River. And the expansion items for the Firefly crew, like Jayne's hat, are too good to be free items.

But your complaint about IP games in general is off the mark for the most part, at least with respect to designs by Gale Force 9. Their games do a great job of capturing the essence of the IP, while not forcing the game to be a close re-enactment (that would be the most popular games based on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings). And Gale Force 9 does a good job of making quality games that are pretty well balanced, given that they design in some assymetry from the start. Compare that with Root, which gradually reveals a strong bias in favor of the Woodland Alliance and the Vagabond.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #289786 11 Jan 2019 09:55
I'm with Dave on Firefly but not on IP games.

This game never worked for me. It's slow (I love/hate the move mechanism), it's all about fishing for people/gear, the economic heart of the game feels way off - worrying about repeatedly paying people and pinching pennies to buy gear, then all of the sudden you explode in cash late game which feels distinctly not Firefly.

I also don't like that the stakes of the game and the focus are not personal. This doesn't feel like the show at all to me, it more feels like you're just messing around in a setting ripped from the show.

I love GF9. All of their other games are a huge hit with me and I still have Homeland, Spartacus, Sons of Anarchy, and Browncoats and Brigands on my shelf. Browncoats and Brigands is a much better Firefly game that actually feels like the IP and creates spontaneous action, fallout, and consequences similar to what we see on screen. It's a much better game.

I see no reason to play Firefly over Merchants & Marauders, Xia, Western Legends, or Dungeon Degenerates.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #289792 11 Jan 2019 10:53
An odd but surprisingly effective way to speed up the game is have the person to your left flip the cards for movement as you move
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #289795 11 Jan 2019 11:00

WadeMonnig wrote: An odd but surprisingly effective way to speed up the game is have the person to your left flip the cards for movement as you move


Better still, make it the player on your right. The player on your left should be planning their next turn, but the player on your right has just finished their turn.