Tag Archives: Merchant of Venus

Firefly The Board Game – A Written Review

firefly_board_game1

“You think you’re better than other people.” – Badger

“Just the ones I’m better than.” – Mal

Firefly carries with it such heavy connotations and influence in the realm of geekdom that it’s simply amazing Gale Force Nine were able to score this license for their second board game release. It’s hard to believe that was only two years ago as the interim has seen the fantastic Sons of Anarchy, Homeland, and WWE Superstar Showdown all release to great fanfare.  Way back in the day when Firefly first hit the board game streets, I have to admit that I wasn’t moved or impressed to even a fraction of the magnitude as provided by the rest of Gale Force Nine’s catalogue.  I felt like an outsider as everyone around me was gobbling it up and all I wanted to do was still battle it out in the arena and yell “Are you not entertained?”

With some distance between that initial release, and a bevy of expansions later, I’ve returned to the Verse to get a definitive take and re-evaluate my stance. This fresh perspective in the context of the company releasing a huge onslaught of magnificent follow-up titles has really challenged me to dig into Firefly and assess it with renewed spirit.  Unfortunately, the outcome hasn’t really changed.

Firefly is a big damn game with a sprawling board, multiple decks of cards, and a wide vision. It simulates a sightseeing adventure through our beloved show as you take on jobs and hire crew, outfitting your ship with numerous assets.  The core mechanism is earning money through these jobs which are accomplished via a nuanced pick up and deliver system.  From a wide lens you’re going through similar motions to the trading in Xia: Legends of a Drift System or Merchants of Venus.

 

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What makes the job system interesting is that you’re employers consist of regulars from the television series. You can hit up Badger and partake in the lovely Train Job, venture to the far reaches for Niska, or even fly by the seat of your saddle with Patience.  Combine this with picking up crew members like River Tam or Jayne and you have a powerful formula that hits you right in that nostalgic gooey part of your brain.  It continually puts a smile on your face and you nod along like you’re cranking a killer tune and flying down the street with your windows down.

The problem arises from the fact that this is Firefly the board game but this is not Firefly the poorly handled Fox television series. The heart of this intellectual property is the friendship and sense of family forged in the heat of crisis.  It’s the bond of the crew, one small leap from the beloved Millenium Falcon, and camaraderie and virtue triumphing in the face of ugliness is woven throughout the series.  Undoubtedly the focus should be on the crew and they should be the center of the game.

Gale Force Nine’s crack design team does realize this as the disgruntled mechanism is a standout element. If you fail to divvy a crew member their cut after a successfully job they receive one of these tokens.  This puts them at risk of desertion or being scooped up by another player in your sector space, one of the only ways players can interact in the base game.  This is a smooth and enjoyable mechanic but it doesn’t quite extend far enough and it places the focus of crew management around economic satisfaction.

The second issue I have with this title is the fact that money comes too easily and the struggle is nonexistent. Firefly, like Cowboy Bebop, was always about eking out just enough of a living to scrape by.  This release takes a rather traditional approach to its economic engine giving players successively large outputs of capital for completing missions and pushes that tight squeeze of poverty outside the design space.  Once you’ve succeeded on a couple errands you’ll be able to buy pretty much whatever you’d like and have a wide range of upgrades in manpower and equipment at your fingerprints.

The end result of these two nitpicks is that we’re left with a game that’s a pretty standard pick up and deliver type game within the Firefly setting. Fortunately there are a number of really clever mechanisms here that help to give the game an identity.  The missions boast skill requirements that are seeded on characters and include wild romps through a sweetly titled misbehavin’ deck.  This proficiency system requires players to keep a keen eye on their recruitment options as you don’t want to be overloaded with just brutes or mechanics.  You’ll want a crew with a skillset as varied and animated as that of the Serenity.

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While the actions you take in any particular session are similar, the ultimate goal of play is left up to the variable story card that you select. This slick little addition does provide for some setting influenced variety.

When scooting round the Verse you also have two nifty movement options. For those who cruise below the speed limit you can Mosey and move a lowly one space.  This option is always available and you avoid having to draw from one of the deck of nav cards.  More commonly you’ll burn a unit of fuel from your cargo hold and move a number of spaces equal to your upgradeable drive.  The catch here is those nav decks, one for the core and one for the outer rim.  Things are most interesting when burning the jets and flying without a seatbelt as you’ll run into clever events, see Reavers hot on your tail, and get involved in legal entanglements.

I’m also a huge fan of the legality accompanying the job system. Some missions will require you to haul contraband and you run the risk of being jumped by the authorities and losing your precious cargo.  You’ll feel the jitters of Han Solo and Mal Reynolds as the Alliance cruiser bears down on your location or an unexpected boarding action occurs.  The effect is not always shiny on your budget but it is always fantastic in narrative appeal.

Overall this is a solid sci-fi adventure game wearing a ragged brown coat. The task of designing a Firefly game is a monumental one, and this may be the best possible way to conquer that mountain.  It has some clever touches and an endearing setting which is enough for most, but I have a hard time justifying it hit the table over the likes of Xia or even Merchants and Marauders when jonesing for some smuggling action.

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Stronghold Games Press Release And Early Order Discount!

Stronghold Games Logo

PRESS RELEASE:

The Revolver expansions are HERE! 

PREORDER now, and get

delivery in 2 weeks!

(and of course 30% off on preorders!)

…and  we continue the…

***LIMITED RELEASE ***  

Space Cadets: Dice Duel

signed by Sydney and Geoff Engelstein

now available for purchase!

…plus, pick up a copy of gaming history with…

Merchants of Venus

signed by the great designer

Richard Hamblen

very few copies – now available for purchase!

With Origins, WBC, Gen Con, Essen and BGG.CON planning… we almost forgot to do the PREORDERS for the 3 new Revolver expansions! So… announcing:

The new Revolver expansions are here!

And all 3 are ready to ship *now*!!

You can preorder these 3 new expansions now, at the usual 30% off of MSRP, and have them shipped to you with the next 2 weeks!

Click here to order Revolver 1.3, 1.4, 1.5… NOW!

New to the great game of “Revolver”?

Well, we also have a special offer for YOU too!
How about a special “package deal” on Revolver, PLUS the 2 original expansions, so you can get into this great game!

What’s new for Revolver in these 3 expansions?

Revolver 1.3: Vengeance on the Frontier 

In Revolver 1.3, we introduce the “Frontier Deck”.  This is a new deck of cards from which either the Colty player or the McReady player may draw!  Players pay for these cards using the included “Dollar Coins”!

 

New Frontier Card from
Revolver 1.3: Vengeance on the Frontier

Revolver 1.4: The Tarnished Star
In Revolver 1.4, three new modules are introduced, which can be played collectively or individually!  You can also challenge your opponent to a duel at Rattlesnake Creek to prevent a hostage taking!  Of course, we give you more Frontier cards and more cards for both McReady and Colty decks.
New “Open Range” card in the Frontier Deck from
Revolver 1.4: The Tarnished Star

 

Click here to order Revolver 1.3, 1.4, 1.5… NOW!

Revolver 1.5: Death Rides a Horse
In Revolver 1.5, we give you 3 more modules, additional Frontier cards, an Ambush card, more tokens, and of course more cards for both the Colty Player and the McReady Player to customize their decks!
Not everyone is as cute as “Kittens Mackenzie”. Here is “Gertrude Spacks, Soiled Dove” from
Revolver 1.5: Death Rides a Horse

Click here to order Revolver 1.3, 1.4, 1.5… NOW!

 
*** LIMITED RELEASE ***
Space Cadets: Dice Duel

signed by Sydney and Geoff Engelstein

now available for purchase! 

  

Space Cadets: Dice Duel

 

A *LIMITED RELEASE* of “Space Cadets: Dice Duel“, signed by Designers Sydney and Geoff Engelstein, has been made available for purchase, only on the Stronghold Games website!

Space Cadets: Dice Duel, which was a SOLD-OUT, SMASH HIT at Gen Con last week, is now available in a Limited Release!

 

Be one of the first in the world to own this great game, signed by both Designers, Sydney and Geoff Engelstein, well before the general release (Street Date) of the game, which is now slated for late October 2013!

 

AND… your SIGNED copy will be shipped out to you within 1 week! No waiting!

 

There are a very limited number of these signed copies available now before the Street Date, so get yours now!

 

Click here to get yours now!

Space Cadets: Dice Duel …get your SIGNED, LIMITED RELEASE copy today!

Click here to get yours now!

 
Merchant of Venus
 signed copies by the great Richard Hamblen
are now available!
A piece of gaming history!
 

Richard Hamblen, the designer of Merchant of Venus, made his first game convention appearance in THIRTY YEARS at this year’s WBC (World Boardgaming Championships) in Lancaster, PA.

 

Mr. Hamblen was kind enough to sign copies of his recently reprinted great game, Merchant of Venus.

 

And Stronghold Games has several of these copies still available for sale on our website!

 

Secure yourself a piece of gaming history by purchasing an autographed copy of Richard Hamblen’s Merchant of Venus!

 

Click here for more information and to purchase a signed Merchant of Venus!

 

Merchant of Venus — copies signed by

RICHARD HAMBLEN

now available on the Stronghold Games website!

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Merchant of Venus (Video Review)

Box

 Merchant of Venus uses many elements which come together to form a very interesting game. Players take on the roles of space traders who move their ships through interconnected systems discovering new alien worlds to trade with. As players start to make money delivering commodities in a unique supply-and-demand system, their earnings can be used to purchase better ships and equipment (shields, lasers, engines, etc…) and construct their own spaceports (which speed up trading) and factories (which create better commodities). Variations included in the rulebook allow for inter-player combat. The player who first acquires enough total value ($1000, $2000, $3000, $4000) in cash and port/factory deeds, takes the day.

~ Avalon Hill

Intro

 

 

Review

 

 

DAR

 

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Merchant of Venus (Video Review)

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Merchant of Venus uses many elements which come together to form a very interesting game. Players take on the roles of space traders who move their ships through interconnected systems discovering new alien worlds to trade with. As players start to make money delivering commodities in a unique supply-and-demand system, their earnings can be used to purchase better ships and equipment (shields, lasers, engines, etc…) and construct their own spaceports (which speed up trading) and factories (which create better commodities). Variations included in the rulebook allow for interplayer combat. The player who first acquires enough total value ($1000, $2000, $3000, $4000) in cash and port/factory deeds takes the day.

For the 2012 edition of Merchant of Venus from Fantasy Flight Games, the company promises that this revision “remains true to its magnificently campy core while updating the map and game components and expanding game play in surprising ways that will cause even the most hardcore fan to celebrate.” That said, the player count has been lowered from six (in the Avalon Hill edition) to four, with the four races in the game being Human, Whynom, Qossuth, and Eeepeeep.

~ BoardGameGeek.com

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Stronghold Games Accepting Preorders For……Merchant of Venus (wow!)

PRESS RELEASE:

Stronghold Games

 

 Stronghold Games is pleased to announce that Preorders for these highly-anticipated games are now OPEN:

  • CO2
  • Space Cadets
  • Core Worlds: Galactic Orders
  • Revolver 2: Last Stand at Malpaso

   … and a “free shipping” bonus if you order:

  • Merchant of Venus (wow!)

…plus…

Want a FREE BADGE for BGG.CON

in Dallas, TX next week?

… Just come help us in our booth, of course…

…plus…

Space Cadets “Training Videos” posted on the Stronghold Games website!

Preorder these games now, get 30% off, shipped to you

first, AND the coolest Promos!

Yes, it’s finally that time!  PREORDERS are open for:

CO2

Space Cadets

Core Worlds: Galactic Orders

Revolver 2: Last Stand at Malpaso

…and… if that is not enough… you can get FREE SHIPPING in the USA (discounted to Canada/Mexico) if you order:

Merchant of Venus(*)

(*) very limited quantity available.

Any order or preorder from our website that includes Merchant of Venus will get:
FREE SHIPPING for USA Customers.  Use this discount code at checkout:

  • eric-summerer-is-right

$15 DISCOUNT ON SHIPPING for Canada/Mexico Customers. Use this discount code at checkout:

  • tom-vasel-is-wrong

And the PROMOS!
With every purchase of these games, the indicated promo/expansion will be given for FREE:
CO2

  • – “Arctic Mini-Expansion”

Space Cadets

  • – “Experimental Equipment and Crystals” Promo cards
  • – TWO starship miniatures

The Ship of The Line (gray plastic mini)
The Flagship (blue plastic, Limited Edition mini)

Core Worlds: Galactic Orders

  • – “Buono Core World” mini-expansion

Revolver 2: Last Stand at Malpaso
– “By the Gun They Died” expansion

Click here to go to the preorder page now! 

Stronghold Games:
“Ultimate Geek” Sponsorship at BGG.CON!
 
Wanna be part of the team? 
Come help us in our BGG.CON booth! 
We’ll get you a Free Badge!

Stronghold Games is going LARGE at BGG.CON!

We are ULTIMATE GEEK sponsors at BGG.CON!  That’s the highest level of Sponsorship for BGG.CON, which will be held in Dallas, TX, next week, Novemeber 14-18, 2012!

Stronghold Games is very proud to be sponsoring BGG.CON at this highest level.  We feel a great degree of kinship, not only with BGG the website, but with all of the fans of BGG, which are of course are our core demographic!

You guys are the “Alpha Gamers”, the ones that not only go out and buy games for your friends to play with you, but you evangelize great games, and you have done a great job doing this for Stronghold Games over the past several years!  Thank you very much for your help in that regard!

For our booth at BGG.CON, we are looking for some “Knights of The Stronghold” to help us out!

If you would like to be part of the team at BGG.CON, spending some time in the Stronghold Games booth, demo’ing and playing games with the other fans, we would love to have you!

Don’t have a Badge for BGG.CON, you say?  Well, we can get you one…if you spend time in the booth with us, demo’ing and helping out, of course.  Just let us know if you need a badge when you contact us!

Booth Staff will be treated to various nice things for their help.  Depending upon the amount of time that you stay in the booth with us, we can give you games (duh! :)), food, drinks, and even the aforementioned badge to BGG.CON…again, all depending upon the time commitment you can make to us.

So, please email us at info@strongholdgames.com if you are interested in being part of the team at BGG.CON!

Not sure what the “Space Cadets” thing is all about?  Well, see for yourself!

Designer Geoff Engelstein has created a series of 8 Tutorial Videos for the game.  Each video shows you one of the bridge stations that you will be manning when you play Space Cadets.  They are quick videos, each of approximately 2 minutes long.

There is a video for each of these bridge stations:

  • Captain
  • Engineering
  • Helm
  • Sensors
  • Weapons
  • Sheilds
  • Tractor Beams
  • Jump Drive

Click to watch one or all of the videos!

Let’s leave you with some cool pics of the games, since the above was void of game boxes and pics (but big on announcements!)…CO2 box top

 

Space Cadets boxtop

 

Core Worlds: Galactic Orders boxtop

 

 

 

Merchant of Venus boxtop

We thank you for supporting great games!
 
Sincerely,

Stephen M. Buonocore

President

Stronghold Games LLC

ALSO!!! Survive is being worked on for iOS and Android! More information when it’s available!
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