What’s in the Box
Let’s talk about the physical bits first. There are a lot of parts. A lot. Starting with cards there are two decks for events while flying (forty cards each), one for Alliance space and one for Border space. There are five decks for contacts to pickup jobs, and five decks for supply planets where you can hire crew and buy gear and ship upgrades (25 cards for each deck). There’s a deck of forty “Aim to Misbehave” cards for use with completing illegal jobs. There’s a small deck of eleven setup cards with ship captains and starting equipment, and there are six oversized an oversized story cards with game goals. That’s two decks for setup and 13 for use while playing. Besides cards, there are also tokens for passengers/fugitives, cargo/contraband, crew morale, parts, fuel, warrants/goals, and a dinosaur marker to pass around to whoever’s turn it is. There’s also money in four credit denominations: $100, $500, $1000, and $2000. There are four ship cards, four ship models, an Alliance cruiser model, a Reaver model, a dinosaur token, and finally the game board itself.
It is a lot of stuff to get out of the box and get set up. Generally it’s been taking me between 15 and 20 minutes to get from opening the box to starting my first turn.
Full four player game setup.
Despite how much stuff comes with the game it is extremely well made. The cards, money, and tokens are all printed on heavy stock. It looks and feels very durable. The art on everything is straight from the TV show and includes quotes to add context. I wanted to specifically highlight the money as it is gorgeously detailed with vibrant colors. As a fan of the show, the game is so well made that I would’ve been happy just as a collector.
The rulebook is eighteen pages, full color, and includes more photos and quotes from the show. The directions are decent although like any game I ran into some details I wasn’t sure of when I sat down to play. GF9 has been super communicative though and has been answering questions on the Firefly forum at Board Game Geek and has published an FAQ on the site for the game (you can also read the rulebook online).
Flying a Firefly
I’ve play four times so far since I picked up the game from GenCon. Three times solo and once with a friend.
My first solo session that game was everything I wanted as a Firefly fan, but when I think solely about the actual game play it’s just a standard pick up and deliver game. So probably not worth getting if you’re not a Firefly geek and already own similar type games.
My first group session was more fun, although it felt a little too short to me. Partly that was because my friend and I were using a newbie friendly Story Card GF9 had on their site [link] which was intended for only an hour session instead of the normal two, and partly because I played the same way in that game as I did in my first solo. Taking legal shipping and transport jobs.
I had a much better time on my third play session (and my fourth). I used the same solo card as the first time but instead of trying to win by finishing 20 turns with $15,000 credits I decided to try the goal where you win by getting solid with all five contacts, meaning you’ve successfully finished a job for each one. Because of this I had to work for Niska and Badger, both if whom I’d been avoiding since all of Niska’s and most of Badger’s missions a free illegal. Doing these jobs required passing challenges from the Misbehaving deck, and that’s really where the fun part of the game is.
Taking legal jobs makes for a pretty basic logistics game. Finding the shortest route, trying to optimize by picking up multiple jobs starting close to one another with destinations along a consistent path. Playing this way you don’t really need much crew outside of a pilot and mechanic in order to avoid Reavers. The illegal jobs however require more planning as you need to try and find crew and equipment to cover all of the different possible challenges that will come up. This means hitting certain planets known for equipment or crew of a certain type, and balancing those expenses against the payouts for the jobs. Hiring crew also means keeping track of if any of them are wanted by the Alliance, and making sure contraband and fugitives are in your stash in case of a customs check. Knowing which crew are moral and handling morale if doing an immoral job. Plus, illegal jobs also pay a lot better. Seriously.
Mal armed with a Pistol & Inara Misbehaving on a Job
If you are a fan of the TV series and like board games, buy it. GF9 did an incredible job translating the experience of being a Firefly captain to a board game. It’s well worth the $50. By the way, there are no references to the events of Serenity which is a major plus in my opinion.
If you aren’t a fan of the show it really depends on what games you already own and enjoy. As a pure delivery game it is pretty shallow until you get into the illegal jobs. If you’re interested in the outlaw side of the fame, I think there’s enough there to keep the game interesting even ignoring the theme. You’re still missing out on a major part of the experience though.