This week’s Monday Night Gaming: Firefly Shiny Dice Review
Publisher: Upper Deck Entertainment
# of Players: 1-5
Best with: 2 players
Playing Time: The box says 30 minutes. For 5 players playing the first time, it took us 3.5 hours to go 2 of 3 rounds.
# of Expansions: None yet
This game is a Firefly themed “Push-Your-Luck” game, though I suspect they created the game and threw in the theme as an after thought.
General Mechanics: This game lasts three rounds. Whoever has the most points at the end, wins.
Players roll fifteen dice. 7 are brown crew dice (people like Mal, Zoe, etc.), 3 are white passenger dice (people like Book, Simon, etc), and 5 are black villain/bad guy dice (Niska, Saffron, and Badger.). The dice are then placed in the correct spaces on the player mats–Crew members and passengers go into Serenity while the bad guys go on their spaces.
Each crew member and passenger has a special skill that makes it easier to defeat the bad guys. Wash, for example, allows you to reroll a certain number of dice. This is handy because having too many of a particular bad guy can hurt everyone–not just the current player. Having a variety of crew members and passengers can also help defeat bad guys so rerolling is important.
After rerolling (if the player chooses to do so), the player reveals the mission. If you complete the mission (e.g. have the dice needed to do so), then you can gain money, supplies, or other perks to help defeat the bad guys. Missions may also have particular types like “Bushwacked,” “Gorram,” or “Shiny.” These may force a player into something they don’t want, such as playing another turn, ending their turn, etc.
After the mission, the bad guys have their turn.
- Badger takes supply dice from the cargo hold (which is bad as supplies are never at risk when pushing your luck and give you points)
- Saffron moves crew and passengers into the cargo hold, which makes you unable to use them to defeat bad guys
- Niska kills or “KO”s a crew or passenger, again taking them out of the battle.
After the bad guys go, players use remaining crew/passenger dice to defeat the bad guys. It’s a 1 dice does 1 point of damage style system unless using special abilities. If you defeat all the bad guys, you gain victory points, which go into the “at risk” pile. If you fail to defeat them, you clear the turn and move to the next player. All points earned are lost.
If you defeat them, you clear the turn and can opt to push your luck. All points stay in the “at risk” pile, but supplies aren’t–you get to keep those. In some ways, that makes them more important than the actual victory points. In fact, our friend who won, did so because even though he lost all his money by pushing too far, he had supplies.
If you win your 2nd turn, you can push again or stop. The challenge here is that any crew/passengers that were KO’d, are gone. You’ll be trying to meet missions and defeat bad guys with fewer dice.
Once you stop, any victory points are given to you. (Though if another player rolls too many Saffrons, you may lose some of your points.) This continues until the player chooses to stop. After all players have gone, the game moves to the next round.
How to Win/Lose: After three rounds, whoever has the most victory points wins.
What I Liked: This felt like the Firefly board game reduced to a “push your luck” dice game, in that you had missions, bad guys, and characters from the show and game.
What I Didn’t Like: The makers claim they play tested this game, but they didn’t. OMG they didn’t. There were many aspects of the mechanics that weren’t clear at all–such as one mission that requires you to have Saffron in Serenity. Saffron’s a bad guy. She’s never in Serenity. She stays in her own box on the mat. Little things like that made playing this game the first time really difficult, especially with 5 players. The first round was achingly long and convoluted. Unnecessarily so because the manual feels like it was written by a bureaucrat rather than a game designer/technical writer. It’s 1/2 over-explained and 1/2 “you’ll figure it out–good luck!”
Overall Rating/Impression: I really want to like this game and I will probably play it again, but it’s rough. Way too many times we had to consult the Google to figure out something unclear in the instructions. Having five players felt like way too many. By the time 5 people have done all the steps, figured out their strategy, and pushed their luck, an hour or 2 has gone by. We only made it through 2 rounds because it was taking way too long. This game would be better as a 1-2 player game, or more if they have played the game many, many times.
All in all, this feels like a game someone made and slapped the Firefly theme on there so they could make a quick buck. 4/10.
Monday Night Gaming is a bi-weekly series reviewing tabletop and video games. Articles are posted on the 1st & 3rd Monday.
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