Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Gen Con 2015 Firefly Games I Tried

So as not to delay the games portion of my Gen Con report, here is the first sampling of games I played, namely those based on the TV show Firefly.

Firefly: Out of the Black is an interesting card-based co-operative game where players take on the roles of Serenity's crew (but not the entire crew). The players work together to complete jobs that have Fightin', Flyin', and Thinkin' checks. Different crew members have different levels of each--Wash scores high in Flyin', Jane scores high in Fightin' but not Thinkin', etc. Players boost their characters' attributes with cards from their hand, but can't tell what they are boosting. One player may boost the Flyin' enough and then another player may put it over the top, which can turn out okay because complications ensue when a card is played from the Gorram deck. We players found it frustrating because the intelligence checks were hard to clear, even if we had chosen the smarter crew members. The game is too tough to be fun. We talked about how the crew usually did poorly on their missions which makes for entertaining story telling but not so much for entertaining game play.

Firefly: Out of the Black game

Firefly: Fistful of Credits is a fun, fast dungeon-crawl type game that sees the crew boarding a derelict space ship to find money and disable some traps. The derelict was abandoned because of a Reaver attack and some Reavers are still on board. Actually, a lot of Reavers are still on board. Each player chooses one character as their main character and another as a side kick. Each has a special power, though the side-kick version of a person isn't as good as their main-character version. The main character wanders through the ship finding stuff and fighting Reavers with the side kick's help. We enjoyed playing it even if we didn't win because it was thematic and fun, not frustrating. We came pretty close to winning.

Firefly: Fistful of Credits

My characters

Fire Fly Tall Card is a mixture of poker and mahjongg. The cards have three suits (plum, bamboo, diamond) and three types of dragons (white, green, red). Players are dealt a hand of five cards and have a chance to get the "Tall Card" which will make a suit into a trump suit or a dragon into a wild card. After the Tall Card is taken (if nobody takes it the dealer has to), a round of betting happens. Then players get new cards (though whoever has the Tall Card can only get one new card). The list of winning hands is long and complicated since dragons are worth more than the other cards. Even people familiar with poker had a hard time assessing which hands were better. If you get used to it, I suppose it's a fun game but it has a steep learning curve. I'd rather just play poker.

Firefly Tall Card in play

The box

Firefly Shiny Dice Game is a dice game (duh!) where each player has three turns to earn as much money as they can. At first, the player rolls fifteen dice, a mixture of villains, Firefly crew, and supplies. After sorting the dice, the crew has to fight the villains and complete a mission to keep flying. Players spend their crew to remove the villains. Spent crew are knocked out and not re-rollable for the next round. If the player fails to make it to the end of the round, any cash gained by eliminating the villains is lost. If they player succeeds, they get to keep supplies and have the option to try again with fewer dice (i.e. the knocked out crew dice aren't used but all the villains come back) or to lay low and collect the cash from eliminating villains. The game is a little fiddly. Each mission is in a category (Shiny, Gorram, Sabotage, etc.) and we had to keep referring back to the rules for the special circumstances that apply to each. The game has great components, feels very thematic, and is a lot of fun. I played again on Sunday in a "Play to Win" event where the person who came in first received a copy of the game. I did come in first and got to take the game home! The game doesn't come out for a couple of months, so I may do a more substantial review soon.

The copy of Shiny Dice I won!

Fistful of Credits is not on Amazon--buy it here.

Shiny Dice is not available on Amazon yet, but can be pre-ordered here. Expected release date is November 2015.

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