I love expansions that don’t fundamentally change a game, but rather actually simply expand upon the base. Too often an expansion is a “fix” in the designers’ minds, to kind of take the game where they originally wanted to go but couldn’t afford enough play testing to get it there or something. Firefly is kind of that game, because without Pirates and Bounty Hunters, it’s just kind of lacking in the sense that it had the tendency to be a long, giant, multiplayer solitaire experience where you could literally have all the players playing at the same time and there would be no impact on the game to speak of, other than someone finishing the race to the end first.
Pirates was definitely a “fix” expansion, because it took the game from a race kind of game into a far more dangerous, interesting experience that changed the dynamics between players, whereas Breaking Atmo was an actual “expansion” that simply gave you more of what you had so that you wouldn’t end up with the same cards during two plays. There are a ton of cards in the base game, so some might argue that it was unnecessary, but I am a huge proponent of games that provide cheap, smaller expansion packs that add to replay value without breaking the bank. Enter Blue Sun, a sort of mid-priced expansion which falls a little into the “fix” and “expand” categories equally.
On the “fix” side, the Reavers finally matter. Before, they were this sort of bogeyman that shambled about around the periphery of the board, rarely causing anyone anything but a minor inconvenience via navigational course corrections, so to speak. Now, they’re a real pain in the ass, and can be used effectively as a deterrent by players. There’s three of them, instead of just the one in the base game, and when they move, they leave behind this little beacon token that acts sort of like a sonar buoy that tells them you’ve passed through, forcing you to roll a die and potentially have a nasty encounter with them. The Alliance does the same thing, mostly, but there’s still only one of them, and they still are limited in where you will encounter them. In short, I think this change is probably the most profound, and I think while it makes the game last a little longer than it would normally, it’s a good thing because it forces your hand when plotting where you want to go and how you want to get there a little more.
On the “expansion” side, there’s more cards, some of which are more powerful and expensive than the original and prior expansion cards, so while I worry a bit about power creep, I think that my fears are a little overblown because they’re not game breaking. The new board kind of reminds me a bit of Talisman in scope, where it doesn’t really change too very much, but it adds more room to move around, so that it’s not so cramped, especially when you’re playing with 5 and with the Pirates expansion. In addition to the board, there’s two new dudes to give you jobs, although one is more of an “augmenter” because he doesn’t give you jobs, per se, as much as enhance an existing job. If you remember the movie, “Serenity”, he was that tech-dude living with a sex robot wife, sort of the Firefly version of Ed Snowden. Once you’re “solid” with him, you can accept his little kickers to your jobs from anywhere, although they make completing the jobs a little harder because they tack on extra icons needed, meaning you’re tying up more crew to your jobs if you hope to succeed. The other guy who gives out jobs is nothing special, just another dude to get solid and cash some checks with, although they focus a lot more on moving large amounts of cargo, which make you a juicy, ripe target for other players when using the Pirates expansion.
The last thing about the expansion worth mentioning, and that falls again into the “expansion” portion of of the expansion, are the three new scenarios. The thing I like about Gale Force 9 is that they don’t generally do things like many other companies, which is what I like to call, “being lazy bastards when designing scenarios”. For instance, The Great Recession is fun and very different because no starting jobs are dealt and only 5 jobs per contact are dealt; this makes the game a little more intense because you can’t afford to be as picky, and you have a much greater impetus to screw other people over. Patience’s War is pretty standard, to be honest, but Any Port In A Storm makes up for it because you start on the Alliance’s bad side and any time you go to a port in the inner sphere of planets, you have to make an encounter roll because the game starts with Alliance beacons on all the ports.
All in all, this is a solid expansion, with the real winner in the bunch being the new Nav cards and beacons which make the Alliance and, moreso, the Reavers a much more potent element to the stories you create whilst playing. That alone makes it worth owning, and for posterity, I wholly recommend owning this, but the other stuff is just some icing on the cake. The Mr. Universe kicker job bonuses kind of change the dynamics, and the two new scenarios that are different are quite good. If I have any complaints, it’s that I wish the side board for the Blue Sun region was just a hair smaller, because at this point, with all the cards and everything set out, and with room for the players’ stuff, we’re talking about a huge footprint. I’d caution you that if you are the kind of person who plays a lot of solo Firefly, this might not be for you primarily because this expansion really pushes the game further away from being truly conducive to solo games because of all of the opportunities created for interaction. Other than that, this is a wholly solid expansion that does a lot of really nice things to take a really great game and make it even better.
Why You Can’t Take The Sky From Me:
– Two of the three new scenarios are really unique
– Two new Reavers and the new beacon tokens make the NPCs much more dangerous
– Mr. Universe’s kickers to jobs give you new ways to make some coin
– More space for 4 and 5 player games to spread out
Why Mal Is Short For Malfunction, Not Malcolm:
– If you’re a solo person, the new stuff wasn’t meant for you
– The size of your table is becoming more important to Firefly
– Power creep might start becoming an issue down the road
All I know is that if I ever develop a fictional universe that becomes hugely popular, I want GF9 to be the ones to make the game about it. If you never read my Firefly review, read it now, then go buy that, and then this.
Learn more about Firefly: Blue Sun here: