Review of Firefly: The Game Pirates & Bounty Hunters Expansion

Posted: March 23, 2015 in Board Games, Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

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So, you’ve had a good time flying around the ‘Verse so far and like playing Firefly: The Game, but now you’re looking for a way to wipe the smug look off your friend’s face as he flies a ship full of contraband over to Niska to sell for insane amounts of profit?  Well, good sir or ma’am, have I got the box for you! Now not only can you steal from your friends for fun and profit, but you can also clean up the scum scattered around the ‘Verse with the Pirates & Bounty Hunters expansion for Firefly: The Game from GaleForce Nine!

 

Before I get going on this review I would like to mention that as Pirates & Bounty Hunters is an expansion to Firefly: The Game, this review assumes you have a basic understanding of the core rules of the base game; a quick overview of those rules can be found in my earlier Review of Firefly: The Game.

The Pirates & Bounty Hunters expansion brings to the game one thing that was missing from the original game–direct player interaction. Pirates & Bounty Hunters brings this to the game by introducing piracy jobs and bounty hunting jobs to the game, as is implied by the name of the expansion. Piracy jobs have been added into all of the existing contact decks. Bounty jobs have their own special deck and can be attempted by any player; there are always three “active” bounties visible and these cycle through as fugitives are captured or when the Alliance Space navigation deck is shuffled.

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Central to both of these new kinds of jobs are the concepts of boarding tests and showdowns. When there is another ship you would like to attempt a piracy job against or a crew member with an active bounty on another ship and you would like to capture them, you must attempt to board that ship either by talking your way onto the ship or by using your mechanical skills to overwhelm their defenses; if the boarding test is successful a showdown happens! Each crew chooses which skill they want to use (guns, wrenches, or negotiate) and then rolls a die and adds it to their total of that skill, highest total wins! If the attacker wins they steal goods or bind the fugitive, if the defender wins the bad stuff on the bounty or piracy job card happens to the attacker (usually warrants or deaths of crew members).

If a wanted fugitive just happens to be chilling in a planet’s supply discard, you can bind them by attempting a showdown with the fugitive–it seems like a rather unfair showdown as you have your whole crew against one person, but I have seen a fugitive roll back to back 6’s to evade capture. Also, if another ship is carrying a bound fugitive, you can attempt to jump their bounty by boarding that ship, beating them in a showdown, and then stealing the prisoner to go and turn in yourself. You can even choose to bind a fugitive you have on your own crew if the money is just too good to pass up, it just makes everyone else on your crew a little bit cranky.

Pirates & Bounty Hunters also adds in new ships to shake things up in the ‘Verse: the Interceptor and S. S. Walden!

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As you can see the Interceptor is crazy fast and doesn’t require any fuel to go places, but it has a very tiny cargo hold, no stash, and a max crew of 4. The S. S. Walden has a massive cargo hold, doesn’t suffer penalties for heavy loads, and treats piracy jobs as salvage ops (which is really handy when you have crew or gear that give you bonus goods when you complete salvage ops), but it is slower moving and has no stash. Both of these ships end up being very situational, but can be a huge boost if used correctly.

Since this expansion came with a couple new ships, you need new captains to fly them!

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Both of these captains are clearly tuned towards completing piracy and bounty jobs; Jubal Early also is tuned quite well to flying the Interceptor with his ability to carry two gear.

And speaking of gear, Pirates & Bounty Hunters brings some new gear tailored to helping in boarding tests and showdown or helps to defend against them. This expansion also introduces Lawmen to the kind of crew you can hire; Lawmen won’t work on illegal jobs, but they tend to give bonuses on turning in bounties or in showdowns.

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Pirates & Bounty Hunters also comes with some new scenarios that focus on the new aspects of the game; these new scenarios are more player vs. player focused and are geared more towards experienced players.

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This expansion really adds a new twist to the game that wasn’t present in the base game; don’t get me wrong, Firefly: The Game was amazing by itself and it didn’t feel like anything was missing, but after having played it with the Pirates & Bounty Hunters expansion I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to playing without it. Having that looming threat of another player going pirate on you changes how gear out your crew and affects the choices you might make–leaving your crew disgruntled suddenly becomes much more dangerous as a captain can hire disgruntled crew members away from you and then go pirate on you with the crew members who just turned their cloaks.

The amount of player interaction expansion adds really depends on who you are playing with and which scenario you are playing. I have played games with friendly players where piracy jobs or seizing members of other crews only happen when it when the benefit of the job outweighs the amount of angst that other player will give you later, and usually in those circumstance we tend to apologize for doing what we had to do to get by in the ‘Verse. I have also played games with much more aggressive players where piracy and jumping bounties is a mater of course and happening constantly because it’s a cutthroat universe. Ultimate the level of player vs. player conflict tends to work itself out to the level that the group really feels like playing.

The Pirates & Bounty Hunters expansion really expands the universe of Firefly and adds some depth and breadth to a game that was already one of my favorites.

I give this expansion 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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