TABLE GAMES REVIEW: Firefly – The Game

In many ways, the universe of Firefly is like that of Star Wars. It’s one that has engendered a massive following and one that offers such a “lived in” feel that it is easy to become engrossed in the narrative, characters and worlds on offer. Other than the short-lived television series and its follow on movie, there are a few ways that fans can get involved in the ‘verse. One of the ways – and certainly the most immersive other than the roleplay game – is to get hold of a copy of Gale Force 9’s board game.

In Firefly: The Game – based on the popular Firefly television series created by Joss Whedon – players captain their own Firefly-class transport ship, traveling the ‘Verse with a handpicked crew of fighters, mechanics and other travelers. As a captain desperate for work, players are compelled to take on any job — so long as it pays. Double-dealing employers, heavy-handed Alliance patrols, and marauding Reavers are all in a day’s work for a ship’s captain at the edge of the ‘Verse. Firefly -The Game is a high-end thematic tabletop boardgame from Gale Force Nine (GF9) and the first in a series of tabletop hobby board games and miniatures games from GF9 set in the Firefly Universe.

  • Publisher: Gale Force 9
  • Number of Players: 1 – 4
  • Play Time (Approx): 60 mins – 120 mins
  • Ages: 13 +

I bought a copy of Firefly – the Game game a while ago but this evening I sat down for a game with my wife and it occurred to me that I hadn’t yet given it a review. Since purchasing the game, I have bought two official expansions – which add new jobs and items to the game (more on these later) as well as a couple of new ships as well as getting hold of a copy of the limited edition “big damn heroes” versions of the Serenity crew. These purchases – and I now see there’s another expansion out – probably give an indication of what I think of this game, but let’s mosey on through and see what occurs.

The game sees players take on the role of the captain of a tramp freighter – generally a Firefly class transport but maybe another vessel. The aim of the game is to achieve the goals set out in the “story” chosen at the beginning of the game. For example, the basic story is that the players have leased their ships. To win, they must get in tight with two job-givers, earn 6,000 space bucks and then head over to the banking system and pay off the ship. Each captain has certain bonuses and these captains represent characters from the television series upon which the game is based.

The board is a representation of the multi-star system that is the setting of the game. Players can move about from planet to planet, buying gear or hiring help from those systems that have a store or picking up work from some infamous characters. Pretty much everything else in the game is represented by cards, or cardboard tokens. This does mean that quite a lot of space is required to play the game, with the board and card decks taking up the majority of the space, but also each player needs room to place all the cards they are using as well.

Firefly - the game

That space requirement is certainly the game’s biggest drawback. There is no doubt that the game would suffer from any other presentation though. The number of stores and the contacts that players can obtain jobs from certainly add flavour. The designers COULD have just had a generic “jobs” and “store” deck, which would have saved space – but the different decks allow different types of items and jobs and this adds to the tactical element of the game play. The game is a balance – and I will admit to not being the best at this – of working out the most expedient routes through the ‘verse to complete the jobs the player has picked up. A job may require certain skills or equipment which means planning your route around the board becomes much more important. Gale Force 9 have certainly managed to produce a game that doesn’t feel like a cash in but actually understands its source material.

Firefly - the game: LeadersI think if I have another negative point about the game it is that the available leaders, crew, items and so on are drawn directly from the television series. In the case of the lates, Blue Sun, expansion, elements from the film are also included. I understand the decision – photos from the source can be used and this does add to the atmosphere, but I think on a personal level I would have liked to have seen some new characters made especially for the board game with some lovely art work on.

The rules are simple enough – each player takes two of four actions (more are available with the expansions) and progresses their way around the ‘verse, around their jobs and ultimately around the story in play. Dice are used to resolve skill based tests and chance encounters. The job system is quite intuitive. Go somewhere. Start the job by assigning crew and gear. Perform the Job “Pick up”. Travel to the destination. Perform the job “drop off”. Each job has different requirements, rewards and risks involved.

For experienced table top gamers, I would say that this game reminds me of Lords of Waterdeep in the way it plays out. It is deeper than that game though, the flavour expanded by the variety of job types, crew and so on available in the box. I would heartily recommend this game to either fans of the Firefly ‘verse or fans of table top gaming. It is simple enough to pick up that after a couple of turns the rule book can be cast aside and referred to only in unique situations. The board, cards and other components are beautifully realised and a gaming session won’t suck in the entire evening. The fact that Gale Force 9 are still expanding the game is also great news, allowing more variety to enter an already variety-filled game.

Head over to http://www.fireflythegame.com/ for more information and to get hold of a copy of the rule book.

For more board game reviews on Geek Syndicate go HERE.

Rating: 4.5 / 5
Reviewer: WedgeDoc

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