I admit that I am somewhat of a Firefly addict. Loved the short lived television series, enjoyed the movie Serenity, own Firefly: The Game also from Gale Force Nine along with about 5 expansions (still need to pick up Kaladasa and Crime & Punishment expansions) and when Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats was announced and I found out it would appear at Gen Con 50, it shot straight onto my must demo games. I wanted to share that with you as I want to make sure you know that I don’t feel this look at the game will be an unbiased judgment. I frankly loved the game and had a great time playing it with my friends….and will definitely be buying it as soon as it releases later this fall.
Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats
Once I found out that the game would be cooperative, I got even more excited, as I have loved to try and swindle and beat the snot out of my group members playing Firefly: The Game, but now, how cool is it going to be that we can all work together, as a good crew should, to misbehave?!? The game is billed as a cooperative, mission based, skirmish-level game where players will play as one of the many crew members from the show, including Malcolm (me), Zoë (Alexander), Kaylee (Tim), Jayne (Brum) and Wash. Each of those crew have their own unique attributes and skills and will have to find a way to leverage those abilities to beat each scenario before time runs out.
The game contains two distinct miniature game pieces for each crew member, one in a Casual and relaxed pose, while the other one is in a Heroic action pose ready to take out the bad guys. Players may choose to Act Casual or Act Heroic, switching out their miniatures as a part of that decision, and each of the poses grants a unique set of actions that can be performed on their turn.
These actions require the spending of time as a resource, which is tracked around the edge of the game board and the order of these tokens on that track also determines turn order. So, in the picture below, the Martial Artist will get to go next as he is located last on the time track. If he spends 5 moments in his turn, he will advance up the track and land on spot number 7, which will place him on top of Jayne, who will be unable to act until the Martial Artist takes another action. This was a really cool way of handling initiative and turn order and everyone caught on to this concept very quickly.
Another really awesome aspect of the game is the 3D terrain. The game comes with various buildings that need to be set up according to the parameters of each scenario and can place enemies in hiding behind their walls and also require the heroes to explore the buildings to find various items or equipment. In the introductory scenario used at Gen Con, we had to infiltrate a building at the center of the map that was guarded by Cowboys and whose doors were locked. At a certain predetermined time that was shown on the time track (this was something I didn’t like as I thought this should have been a piece of hidden information), the alarm would sound and automatically lock the doors in the building that we had to get into. We didn’t want this to happen so we had to carefully plan how to attack the situation.
As you can see from these pictures, players must use their character’s abilities to move around the board, interact with NPC’s such as the Cowboys in this scenario by rolling dice to hit or succeed at various checks, etc. In the above and below picture, you can see that we have killed a few Cowboy enemies whose miniatures were replaced with these pretty nifty dead body pieces of cardboard.
Also notice that on the left side of the picture, both Zoë and Mal are in their Heroic poses (the mint green miniatures) as they have shot and killed two unwitting Cowboy guards. Conversely, notice on the other side of the map, just out of line of sight, Jayne and Kaylee are still acting calm, cool and collected (as evidenced by their Casual miniatures which are gray in color) as they are trying to position themselves to knock out the guard, find the keys to the locked building and get in to obtain the goal. I am sad to report that our group eschewed tact and went straight to shooting it out with the Cowboys. While we were fortunate, I can see where this is definitely not the preferred method of attacking scenarios. Words are going to be more powerful than guns I think!
I will say that Gale Force Nine has done a great job with the components in this game as the miniatures are just fantastic (including several different minis for the Cowboys, Eavesdown Docks Thugs and Goons) and very detailed and the various equipment cards, player cards and challenge cards are all well done and very readable with very well done art.
Casual vs. Heroic
I want to give you better insight into the coolest part of the game, the change of posture of your characters. In this first picture, you will notice that Mal is listed as Casual. His stats on the right side of his card are indicative of what he can do while acting Casual and how long those actions will take in moments or time, which is tracked along the edge of the board. Notice that it will take 2 moments to move three spaces, an additional +1 moment to perform a Heroic Speech Test as Casual and he has the ability to heal himself or another Crew member. These actions are all when the crap hasn’t hit the fan and he is acting very coolly. But, when things go bad, the costs of actions, and even what actions are available for use, will change.
When in the Heroic pose, Mal can move a little more quickly as 1 moment gains 2 spaces, which is a bit more efficient and speedy but you will notice that the cost to heal increases by one moment. Its hard to wrap up a wound while you are being fired at! Mal also gains the ability to Brawl but now cannot assist others in their tasks. Finally, you will see that returning to a Casual stance will take some time as he has to calm down, put his gun away, wipe the sweat (or blood) away and take a breath. A very neat and thematic element to this miniatures skirmish game that we all enjoyed.
In the end, we walked through the scenario pretty easily and didn’t encounter too many problems that we couldn’t deal with but the group before us didn’t fare as well. After our play through, I was even more excited about the game. It was fun, interactive, provides for some opportunity for roleplaying, for those that really like to get into character and geek out, and was really a very impressive game to look at on the table, what with the cool sculpted minis, the neat 3D scenery and the great looking character cards. I definitely will be looking to add this game to my collection when it hits retail later this year (fingers crossed). Great job Gale Force Nine with another quality addition to the Firefly universe!