Firefly: The Game – Starter’s Guide, Part 4 – Supply Planets & Supplies
Welcome to Part 4! This contains a look at the various Supply Planets and their respective deck make-ups, examples of Supplies and some extra details, an explanation of the mechanics when it comes to buying, and the acknowledgements for all the folks who helped in putting this guide together.
The above 5 images are the card backs for each Supply Planet’s deck. The board contains big signs so we can see precisely where they are, but attentive readers (and those with a good memory…) will recognise that the Space Bazaar is also where one of our Contacts, Amnon Duul, is located.
During game-setup, and after everyone has chosen their starting place, each deck will be given a discard pile of 3 cards straight from the top of the deck. This gives us a chance to see clearly what Crew, Gear and other items are up for sale right away and decide if we want to make a beeline over to those Supply Planets (assuming we haven’t chosen to start at one) and grab any before other players can, keeping in mind that certain pesky Nav Cards could impede progress.
Consider 3, Purchase 2
Now, there is a small system with regards to drawing from the Supply Planet decks. Whenever we wish to Buy, we consider (or ‘declare our interest in’) up to 3 cards but may only purchase up to 2 of those. These 3 cards for consideration can come solely from the discard pile, all drawn blindly from the deck itself, or a mixture of the two; as long as the balance is never more than 3.
To go with an example, if this is the start of the game, setup rules means all Supply Planet discard piles will already have 3 cards in them. This means we could simply consider just these 3 that we can already see and purchase up to 2 of them. However, if we don’t like some or even all of these cards, we can opt to consider less than the required 3 and blindly draw the balance from the top of the deck. If we like 2 of them, we can draw an additional 1 from the deck; if we like just 1, we can draw an additional 2 from the deck; and if we’re simply not interested in any of the cards in the discard pile, we may draw 3 brand new cards from the deck. Whichever way we make up these 3 cards for consideration, and even if we like all 3, we can still only purchase up to 2 of those, with any cards we don’t purchase then going into the relevant discard pile for all to see.
Note: If there are ever only 1 or 2 cards in the discard pile, and we simply wish to buy 1 or both of those, we are not required to draw a third from the deck.
It may seem a confusing way to go about things, but in game terms, it means there’s a constant flow of Crew, Gear and other items being drawn, and no player has the ability to scoop up all of them in a single turn. Plus, whenever a player draws more cards, they’re exposing more options to others while taking a chance that the new cards still might not be entirely useful to them.
And this same ‘Consider 3, Take 2’ system goes for Jobs, except while they don’t cost anything to take, we can only keep up to 3 of them in our hand – where they’re known as Inactive – and we may only discard these Inactive Jobs whenever this limit will be exceeded (though we choose which to discard). Again, another reason for us to decide which Jobs we deem viable and look to starting those, as well as managing what we’ve got lined up in our hands. If we’re really crafty we could even snatch up and hold onto Jobs that we think might benefit others more, discarding them much later only when compelled to.
Anyway, onto the Supply Planets themselves. Each has its own ‘flavour’ with regards to what we might find. In some cases, the names on the card backs give us a general idea, but otherwise we can read the short descriptions printed on the ends of the bottom half of the game box. For a general overview, however, it’s something like this:
Osiris: Medics and Legally-oriented Ship Upgrades
Persephone: Assorted things, but a good spot for Mechanics and Mercs
Regina: An assortment of Mercs, Gear and more Illegally-oriented Ship Upgrades
Silverhold: Weapons, Soldiers and Hill Folk
Space Bazaar: Assorted things, but a great place to find Pilots
And to go further, we’ll look at 3 cards from each Supply Planet deck and go through some extra details.
First up, Osiris. This is a thoroughly Alliance-controlled world, so we shouldn’t expect to find many illicit goods or unsavoury characters here (not to say there aren’t one or two…)
1. On the left we see a Drive Core. This increases the default Full Burn range by 1 sector while using the same amount of Fuel, increases the Mosey range by 1 and also makes sure the Ship will never suffer from Breakdowns found on Nav Cards. It’s safe to say that this would make for a very useful purchase, and its price tag as seen in the bottom right-hand corner reflects that. The game contains various Drive Cores with different attributes. For example, another removes the need for Fuel when travelling Full Burn but reduces that range to 4.
2. In the middle is Cargo Hold, which provides us with some extra Cargo space. Depending on playstyle, certain Leaders might see a tidy sum to be made off of loading a couple more pieces of Cargo/Contraband when the occasion arises, or even when Jobs allow us to load Passengers or Fugitives with no limit. That $600 could pay itself off pretty quickly.
3. And finally, on the right, is a potential Crew member, Med Staff, who carries that Medic Profession. The card is structured almost identically to those of Leaders; we’ve got the portrait, the Skill Points (1 Tech), the Profession label, the Moral label as well as the ability written out there (all Medics have this ability even if it couldn’t fit on the card due to other information). The big difference we see is that he also carries a price tag in the bottom-right. Earlier, it was mentioned briefly with regards to Zoe and Job Payouts but we’ll clarify further. This is both the cost for hiring them as well as the cut of the money they expect to be paid whenever a Job is completed, regardless of whether or not they were directly involved. So, while putting together a big damn Crew is always a good idea, it would also be wise to weigh up how much it will potentially cost us to complete a Job should we wish to pay everyone afterwards.
And let’s take a moment to clarify a few details on the Medic Profession. As we can see by the Medic Check ability, they have a chance to save Crew members from Death and, therefore, permanent removal from the game. Provided we have a Medic on the team, we may make this roll whenever Crew are said to be Killed (Niska’s ‘special rule’ included). A Medic may even attempt to save themselves. So, if multiple Crew members are targeted in one instance, including the Medic, we get to decide the order and may (nay, should) roll for the Medic last. Essentially, they could still save others before succumbing to their own wounds. If we recall the Reaver Contact example with Mal and Zoe (from Part 2), the Medic’s presence wouldn’t contribute to the Fight Skill Test score, but they could attempt to save anyone marked to be Killed. Also worth mentioning is that, should we have more than one Medic among our Crew, we can still only make one Medic Check per Crew Killed.
And lastly, the wording ‘Return Crew to Ship’ is Work Action-specific. If a Crew member is spared from being Killed during a Nav Card or Contact event, there’s nothing to worry about, but should that occur during a Job Attempt, that Crew and their Gear will be gone from the rest of that instance. So, yes, it might be handy that we saved a Crew member’s life, but if they were our main source of Tech Skill Points, they won’t be able to help when it comes to something like ‘Crack the Safe’ that we saw on one of the Job cards earlier (let’s hope another Crew member brought Explosives, eh?)
Next up, Persephone. As a major port between Alliance and Border Space we can expect all sorts of people, goods and other items to gravitate here.
1. A Cry Baby is handy if we are an Outlaw for any reason and wish to avoid that nasty Alliance Contact event, and is especially useful for Smuggling Jobs should we choose to Full Burn right through Alliance Space. Thematically, it’s a decoy that sends a distress signal, causing the Alliance Cruiser to reassess their priorities. As we can see, it does take up an upgrade slot but gets discarded when used; I can think of worse ways to spend that $400. There are a few of these about, and they can also be found on Regina and the Space Bazaar.
2. A Very Fine Hat, with a very big price tag. However, as we can see it provides 3 bonuses: 1 Negotiate Skill Point and a ‘Fancy Duds’ Keyword for whoever has it equipped, along with the ability to consider 4 Jobs instead of 3 (but still only taking up to 2). We know how Skill Points work, and we certainly know how useful Keywords can be, both for Misbehaving and for Job Needs. Plus, it is a very fine hat.
3. Gun Hand. Being Mercs, there are a few of these about, and that ‘special ability’ means they’ll stay readily available. Plus, that $100 asking price means they make for comparatively cheap labour, and can come in useful for certain playstyles. Due to their general abundance, ability and costs, we might not be so worried about losing them or even paying them. And we can always outfit them with Gear in order to boost their Skill Points and/or give them Keywords without worrying about losing those items should they die or quit. Obviously, there are downsides to having too many Mercs, but it can still work as a temporary, perhaps one-Job, strategy when we’re trying to stay flexible.
Onto Regina. Being a planet in Border Space means there is no Alliance oversight, making it a place where all sorts of illegal goods and ship upgrades can be found.
1. First up, Kaylee’s Reprogrammer. A simple piece of Gear that gives us 2 Tech Skill Points along with that ‘Hacking Rig’ Keyword, of which we’ve already seen a use on that Security System Misbehave.
2. And then we have the lovely Kaylee herself. Same card setup as characters before, 3 Tech Skill Points, Mechanic Profession, Moral label, Cost, and a special ability that allows a reroll on Tech Skill Tests. Mal would find her a most useful Crew member for pulling a Crazy Ivan in order to avoid Reaver Contact. Hell, most players would find her a great addition to the Crew.
3. And then Bridgit. We’ve got 2 Negotiate Skill Points and 1 Tech Skill Point along with 2 Professions, making her a decent addition to our Crew. However, since she’s a crafty character with other identities (one on Osiris and another on Silverhold), that special ability means we’d need to watch out for the possibility of others hiring her while on a completely different part of the board, robbing us of a Crew member.
Silverhold. A world known for mining and arms manufacture, here’s where we’ll find Soldiers, Hill Folk and plenty of guns and other destructive Gear.
1. Here’s where we’ll find Zoe, who we saw earlier when looking at Skill Tests (in Part 2). The one thing we haven’t fully covered since that first example is the little symbol to the left of the purple tab. This marks her as Wanted by the Alliance (due to her involvement in what they consider a terrorist group, post-war) and means that any Ship she’s on is automatically classed as an Outlaw, along with all that entails.
2. Then we have some GJ Flashkill Pod Grenades. They add 2 Fight Skill Points along with that ‘Explosives’ Keyword; definitely useful things to have. In other cases, there will cheaper forms of grenades, but those require discarding in order to earn the benefits and so can’t be relied on in quite the same way. Say for example, we used them to fulfil a Job Need or on a Misbehave but then found we required them for the last stage of a Job.
3. And, finally, “Vera”. In the show, this was its owner’s ‘very favourite gun’ and it’s not hard to see why (especially since they didn’t have to pay that $1600 either). This would give us 2 Fight Skill Points, 1 Negotiate Skill Point and 2 Keywords. Its long-range capacity as a ‘Sniper Rifle’ can be very useful for ending trouble before it starts when Misbehaving.
Then finally onto the Space Bazaar. Another major hub with an assortment of goods along with plenty of capable Pilots looking for work.
1. And right away we see one such Pilot, Wash (dinosaurs not included). We won’t go over all the details again, but we can see his special ability means we would get to travel an extra sector beyond what our Drive Core shows when Full Burning.
2. Next, we have the 4WD Mule (Wash included for display purposes only). This doesn’t contribute any Skill Points but it does contain that ‘Transport’ Keyword along with a special bonus. This particular item is ideal for this Job.
3. And, finally, the “Bona Fide” Credentials, which shows us the ‘Fake ID’ Keyword. We didn’t cover any examples of where this comes up, but rest assured, with the Alliance about, it is very likely to come in handy.
And there we have it. Hopefully that covered nearly everything a new player should know, but the game still has plenty more surprises and things in store. Please feel free to share your feedback or ask me about anything you’d like clarifying.
Massive thanks to the folks over at the game’s section on BoardGameGeek, for the support, the general discussion, the handy references and help with clarifications.
A big thanks to Jason Pounsett for the photos. They were most useful.
And, of course, thanks to Gale Force Nine for the great game and for continuing to listen to their community, especially when it comes to clarifying some rules/ambiguities.