You can’t take the sky from me…
Any nerd worth his weight in comics and pewter models recognizes that line from the short lived cult classic show Firefly. I am a big fan of the show and I wasn’t only “late to the party” on the show but also on the board game.
Over 6 years ago I had the flu and was stuck in bed. A friend of mine suggested watching Firefly and loaned me the movie Serenity.Well after the first episode, I binge-watched the entire season and the Serenity movie that day (that was before Netflix and binging was a thing). So I was an instant fan and enjoyed rewatching the episodes over and over ever since. That brings me to a sad fact. For quite some time I had seen the Firefly board game and I avoided it. I couldn’t believe that the game was fun, plus, (at least at the time) I thought it was a little on the expensive side (about $50 bucks for the core game).
Fast forward to last week at FLINTCON, an annual local miniature gaming event. This was my first time attending and while I was there to demo a few games…I ended up having a little time to play in some games myself. The real fun began as I noticed the Firefly board game under a table behind me. I immediately asked the person, Mike, about the Firefly game. I told him I never played it and he asked if I wanted to try it. Oh I’m soooo glad he did. I ended up playing the game with Mike and his friend Nic. They broke down the basic rules of the game, made a few references to the show and then we started playing. After about 40 minutes into the game, Mike had to leave. I was having so much fun, Nic offered to just finish it out with me. I ended up winning the game, but that wasn’t the best part; I actually enjoyed the game. The mechanics, the rules, the setup all put me in the mind of the show. It seemed like the next best thing to actually being on the ship with Mal and Zoe. Okay, maybe not the next best…but it was totally nerdgasmic. I have to admit that some of the characters and show references were lost on me. That was cool though, it just gave me a reason to watch the series again on Netflix (like I actually needed a reason..?).
Here’s how the game works. Setup involves several decks of cards, a board/map of the ‘verse, and a pile of various tokens. This wasn’t that big of a deal; it took all of 5 or so minutes. I’ve played games less fun with way more setup time (koff…Legendary…koff). To start we pick our story card. This is a scenario which outlines the goals of the game and how you win. There are several including a mission that is for a single player. Next it was time to pick my captain. Of those available, I picked Corbin. I honestly had no idea who Corbin was in the show. Nic was able to pick first and he picked Naomi as his captain. Now Naomi I remembered. lady trained as a companion who ran a brothel. I can’t remember exactly who Mike picked, I believe it was Monty. Anyway, next we picked our ships. We got $3000 bucks to start and then it was time to fly through the “black”, hire a crew, and start doing jobs. Nic ended up recruiting Zoe while Mike recruited Simon and Bridget. Late in the game I got to hire Wash.
Game play works like this. On your turn, you have two actions. You can either fly, buy, deal, or work. There are several decks of cards that represent the places you buy supplies from, the jobs you work (legal or otherwise), and the encounters you have as you travel the “black” There is an Alliance ship and a Reaver ship that are the big bads. You don’t want to have to deal with either. These ships move around the board. As you move around the board you flip a “NAV” card for each space you travel. Hopefully you reveal a keep flying card and you can proceed. There are cards that can stop your move, offer you challenges, or serve you up to the Alliance or Reaver ship. If you don’t manage to slip away, you can have to pay fines, lose gear, or kill off crew. Challenges involve dice roles that you add modifiers to based on your crew, their keywords/class/skills, and any gear they have. The SUPPLY decks allow you to recruit crew or buy gear. I missed buying a fake ID and “fancy dudes” that I couldn’t used for several of my challenges. The misbehave deck is for when you are doing illegal jobs and each card from this deck has challenges you must complete to proceed. The tokens come into play with your ship. Fuel tokens are required to move. Your crew can get unhappy and get a disgruntled token (two of these tokens and your crew member quits). Job cards may have prerequisites that are satisfied by crew skills, keywords, or gear.
The gameplay really gave me a feel for the show. Having to balance keeping my ship fueled, doing jobs to get money, keeping my crew happy, dealing with the Alliance, and Reavers, while interacting with specific characters from the show all do the show justice. I give the game an A! I also suggest any fan, even a moderate one, of the show play this game. In fact I almost say its necessary.