Firefly: Pirates And Bounty Hunters A Review
Just a few weeks ago, Gale Force Nine released the second expansion for their Firefly Board Game. The expansion promised more player interaction and it delivered. In the original game, players rarely had direct interactions with each other, save the opportunity to hire upset employees off of nearby ships. The two powerful NPCs in the game were controlled by players, to a point. The navigation deck randomly gives players the option of moving those dangerous pieces against fellow players, but no real combat is explored in the original box.
Pirates and Bounty Hunters brings in several elements that intend to bring the players closer together, but not in the friendly sort of way. Just like the title of the expansion says, it adds pirates and bounty hunters with ships and leaders that play off those abilities. The expansion highly encourages players to decide which of the following rules from the expansion they want to use and to not lose the original flavor of the game.
Each contact in the 'verse gets five missions added to their job decks that encourage players to take from other ships instead of earning their keep the "legal" way. Once you've picked up one of these jobs, you'll be able to go after other players ships. You must first board an opponents ship. This requires you to choose to use your tech or negotiate skill to weasel your way on to your rivals ship.
Once you've made it on the ship, you have to face off against its crew in a showdown. Each crew picks what they are best at, then rolls off. Thanks to the "thrilling heroics" chance on dice rolls that let's you keep rolling and adding to the total, everyone, even one man has a chance to fend off a whole crew of pirate wannabes.
No matter how good you are at getting past your enemy's crew, you won't have time to steal from their stash; the stash still remains sacred. Be sure to hide your most valuable goods there and don't forget some fuel. Last thing you want is to be alone in space, recently robbed of all your goods and the fuel that could get you home.
Some piracy jobs have a new keyword, "subjective." It creates an odd situation where moral leaders will have an issue with the mission and treat it as if it had the "immoral" keyword. Leaders without moral qualms will have no issues with this new keyword.
Remember all those wanted symbols on your characters in the game? The reason you had to keep characters like Simon and River under the Alliance radar? Now they carry a little more danger because other players will be hunting for them as well.
Unfortunately, this also means that they are fair game for all the other players at the table. The bounty cards will tell you the supply deck the character resides in. You can catch them there if they have not already been hired out. If they are already on a player's ship, you can try to take them off that ship or even turn them in if they are on your own crew.
The bounties pay well. The pay is the best in the game next to the jobs Niska provides. They will attract all the other players, so protect your investments when you take on a bounty.
The other bits
The game also includes several more cards for each supply deck, more ships and leaders for the players to choose from. Among these new options are lawmen. Lawmen are free to hire and keep on your ship, but they will not participate in illegal jobs. They even offer a nice bonus to any bounty you bring in while they are on your ship.
The other additions to the game are subtle, but add to the new mechanics introduced here. The game plays well with the new rules and it doesn't add much to the play time, but adds plenty of solid new concepts that fit well with the already existing game and it still, barely, manages to fit in the original box insert. Now we wait on the next announced expansion, Blue Sun.