Firefly: Pirates & Bounty Hunters

Firefly: Pirates & Bounty Hunters 

From: Gale Force 9

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck

Firefly: Pirates & Bounty Hunters is a new board game expansion from Gale Force 9.

As I have mentioned previously, the Firefly base game has virtually no in-game player interaction. Admittedly, you can occasionally snatch a Crew card from another player or steer the Alliance Cruiser or Reaver Cutter towards them under the right circumstances, but otherwise it’s multi-player solitaire all the way. The Pirates & Bounty Hunters expansion seeks to provide options in that regard.

From the back of the box:
Aggressive new leaders specialize in anti-social strategies while Lawmen reward those bringing justice to the ‘Verse.

At the heart of this expansion are the mechanics for Boarding Tests and Showdowns. A boarding test allows a player to use a Work action to gain access to another ship on the same space. This involves making a tech or negotiate roll of six or better (the former reflecting the hacking of the target’s security systems, and the latter reflecting bluffing the target into allowing you aboard). Once aboard, a showdown is initiated by both players rolling the skill of their choice. Though not explicitly required, players should probably be encouraged to come up with a rationale on how some of the more unusual skill combinations interact. If the boarding player gets the higher result, he takes what he came for. If the defending player has the higher result or there’s a tie, the boarding player risks getting crew killed.

Before you commit any piracy, an appropriate Contact card must be possessed. Depending on which contact it was obtained from, there may be restrictions on what sort of ships it can be used against. Once you’re in the same space as an eligible target, a boarding test followed by a showdown can be attempted. If successful, the pirates may take the amount of goods listed for the job. However, the smash and grab nature of a pirate raid means that anything kept in the target ship’s stash is off-limits. Not only is this thematically appropriate, but it also gives the stash a real purpose. In the base game, the only time the stash would come into play was with a Customs Inspection encounter, and that could be ignored by simply being Solid with Harken.

Bounty hunting is more varied in how it can be conducted. Throughout the game, a set of three Bounty cards will be on display to indicate which crew cards have a reward being offered for their capture and is reset whenever the Alliance Cruiser card is drawn. The most risk-intensive method occurs when the fugitive is part of another ship’s crew. Capture requires a successful boarding test and showdown. If the target happens to be in a Supply card discard pile, you must go to the appropriate planet. Once there, all that is required is a successful showdown against the target’s best skill. The easiest occurs when the fugitive is part of your own crew. Simply go to the Drop-Off location and collect the reward. However, this method comes at the price of all your crew becoming Disgruntled (how would you feel about the possibility that your captain might turn you in if the money was good?). However the capture is made, the bounty card is claimed and replaced with a new card in the line-up. It’s then all a matter of getting to the listed drop-off location and collecting the reward, at which point the crew card is removed from the game. Until you make it there, though, other ships may attempt to jump your bounty by successfully boarding your ship and engaging in a successful showdown. A successful bounty jump also provides the option of having the fugitive join your crew (assuming there’s an available space) without having to pay the hiring cost.

From the rulebook:
If boarding rivals’ ships, stealing their stuff and bushwhacking their crew, sounds like fun to you, read on! A pirate’s trove of shiny bits and dirty deeds awaits. If these cut-throat methods don’t appeal to your delicate sensibilities, you may want to put this rulebook down and crawl away like an itty bitty bug.

It’s not just new mechanics and cards that are included. Two new ships are introduced in the form of the Walden and the Interceptor (which appeared in the TV episodes Out of Gas and Objects in Space, respectively) for those bored with a plain old Firefly. The Walden is geared towards piracy, as it has lots of cargo space for looted goods. It also comes with a special ability allowing for the collection of additional goodies from a successful piracy job. However, the sluggishness of its drive core makes it a real tub speed-wise. What’s more, it can’t be swapped out for a better one. The Interceptor is blindingly fast and fuel efficient, as well as having an easier time making boarding tests. It also has fewer crew and ship upgrade slots, cutting back on potential versatility. Even more limiting is the minimal cargo space, making most delivery and piracy jobs infeasible. Anyone flying in this ship will be sticking to crime jobs and bounty hunting.

In conclusion, the multi-player options provided are very much geared towards players comfortable with regular backstabbing. If such an aggressive approach doesn’t turn you off, Pirates & Bounty Hunters is one of those relatively rare expansions that manages to enhance the base game as well as add to it.

Rating: 18

Product Summary

Firefly: Pirates & Bounty Hunters

From: Gale Force 9

Type of Game: Board Game Expansion

Game Design by: Sean Sweigart and Aaron Dill

Design Direction by: John Kovaleski

Graphic Design by: Gale Force Nine Studio

Game Components Included: 30 Supply cards, 25 Contact cards, 20 Bounty cards, 2 Leader cards, 2 Starting Drive Core cards, 2 Ship cards, 3 Story cards, 5 Cargo/Contraband tokens, 5 Passenger/Fugitive tokens, 5 Parts tokens, 10 Fuel tokens, 4 Disgruntled tokens, 5 Warrant/Goal tokens, 7 Haven/Destination tokens, 1 Walden model, 1 Interceptor model

Retail Price: $29.99

Number of Players: 2-6

Player Ages: 13+

Play Time: 2 hours


Reviewed by: Sitting Duck