While I felt the base game of Firefly was a fine offering that didn’t quite get over the hump to wow me, I had a little voice in the back of my skull whispering lustful comments about expansion content. The design was clearly framed with additions in mind and the mechanisms included are ripe for extension. Kalidasa is perhaps the last in a long line of new Firefly content and it’s no surprise that it comes across as extremely refined and full of purpose.
Variety is key in adventure games because much of the excitement is derived from experiencing the unknown. By adding a huge side board, tons of mission content, new scenarios, and even new mechanisms, Kalidasa seriously ups the variety. The extended board in and of itself is not a huge boon, more so in how it is employed. New jobs mixed into contacts from the base game will have you hopping across the outer rim and swapping tales of Beaumonde and Djinn’s Bane.
The new jobs themselves inject a greater deal of chaos and vitality into the base game structure by offering some serious payouts for greater adversity. I’m also a huge fan of the new Bonus Drop off mechanism which allows you to complete an optional third step during a run. This is effective in that it mixes up your typical risk/reward analysis and has you reacting on the fly just a bit more often. Keeping you on your toes and unsure of the best approach is the lifeblood of the adventure title.
The concept of the nested dice roll also appears on some of these new jobs, forcing players to make a successful roll and then randomizing an outcome. This tree of branching results is noteworthy because it elevates the tension even amidst success. It also packs extra weight to the relatively simple typical decision process and will cause you to perhaps reassess the odds and take greater care in following through.
The new AI controlled Operative Corvette is also a flavorful injection of mayhem that can bite you when you least expect it. It moves via the inclusion of new Nav cards mixed into all decks and will seize all non-stashed fugitives and force the discard of one wanted crew. The hard-knock emphasis on law is pounded home with the new Alliance Alert tokens which can pop up around the Verse and mean bad news for the not-so-law abiding citizens out there. Moving into an alert sector triggers an opportunity for an Alliance ship to come crashing down on your position to seize your outlaw duds.
Including additional Nav cards for the base game travel decks is fantastic. Travel is much more risky and dangerous, which gives a stronger sense of what we see in the Firefly television series. It keeps you back on your heels and makes the Mosey action just slightly more enticing. Wild swings and crazy events are what bolster a strong overriding narrative and it’s great to see this philosophy included here.
The Verse is huge
Kalidasa also offers new setup cards that can be mixed with different stories to alter the starting situation. It provides an interesting change of events to everyone’s footing by mixing up starting jobs or assets. Again, more variety and unique situations means more opportunity for surprise and excitement. This isn’t earth shattering but it’s an element I’d want to use in most of my plays to vary it up.
And let’s talk about those new Story cards. “The Well’s Run Dry” seeks to rectify my complaint about the base game regarding the huge influx of money ships experience in stark contrast to what see in the Firefly IP. Mal and company finally have it hard and have to contend with a limited amount of liquid cash in the Verse.
“The Scavenger’s Verse” is even more noteworthy as being one of the most fantastic inclusions I’ve seen thus far in this game series. This Story features an objective set that is loosely defined via poem and is intended “For Experienced, Friendly Folk”. Some may have a problem with such loose structure but this is the type of creative risk taking in design that I eat up. With the appropriate group I’d be tempted to put all of the rest of the Story cards back in the box and only use this one every single play.
Overall this new expansion is a whole lot of quality. Excitement and chaos is packed into the open spaces in the design and everything feels much more lively and energetic. Firefly is anything but mundane and this expansion is a large leap in achieving a greater dynamic sense of adventure.