25 January 2023
Back in the verse two decades on
Joss Whedon’s space-western Firefly first hit television screens back in 2002 only to disappear later the same year. But if there’s one thing to be learned from the short-lived show and its cult status, it’s that fans don’t forget their fandoms. It was fans who helped secure Firefly’s DVD release and generate enough post-airing interest to expand Whedon’s cherished ‘verse’ through the 2005 film Serenity. Later, in the board game sphere, fans boosted the longevity of products such as Gale Force Nine’s Firefly: The Game and Upper Deck Entertainment’s Legendary Encounters: A Firefly Deck Building Game with custom scenarios and content. Thanks largely to these two decades of unwavering adoration, here we have the latest tribute to the franchise; Firefly: Misbehavin’.
Sub-headed as A Factions Deckbuilding Game, Firefly: Misbehavin’ may initially give the impression of being exactly what one would expect: a Firefly themed, by-the-numbers game of gradually playing and scooping up cards as players assemble decks tailored to guide them toward an objective. And whilst this isn’t entirely wrong, employing a touch of lexical semantics reveals Gale Force Nine’s intentions of having the game stand out in the genre. The key word here is Factions; a word not only suggesting a purely competitive style of play, but, more importantly, portending a level of asymmetry rarely seen in deckbuilding.
Players will still be starting with the seemingly industry standard ten card deck and a hand of five, but interestingly, each faction’s starting decks are unique. Where Niska’s deck typically guides players toward early aggression, Serenity players will excel at sneaky evasion and efficient card-drawing. Of course, players will still be obtaining cards from a shared market, but through specialised use of Verse’ tokens - typically spent for additional actions – play styles will vary. How these are obtained and used differs between factions: In the case of The Alliance, Verse’ tokens can be spent to issue Warrants, effectively locking out Character Card abilities, whilst Eavesdown’s talents lie in snatching Credits from opponents.
Another novel idea are players’ tableaus. These boards (again, subtly unique) can be filled out with various characters and assets, granting abilities and crucial Power points. Their most interesting function though is merely as a means of thinning out and optimising your deck. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to end a game with less cards than you started with.
In standard mode players are racing to possess a certain number of power points at the start of their turn as indicated by the power levels present in their tableaus. Whilst this is a fine introduction to the game, it’s not uncommon to see what should be a climactic finale descend into a clumsy and repetitive trading of blows whenever someone hits that power target and is subsequently shot down. Thankfully though, there’s a generous amount of Episode cards, each detailing different setup and end game rules. Some are still prone to similarly slow finales, but nonetheless add an excellent amount of replay value thanks to how they subtly adjust the dynamics of the game’s flow.
For fans of Firefly and deck-building in general, Misbehavin’ is an alluring prospect, and with its excellent Quick-Start Guide it’s a breeze to get into. Ultimately, I would be very interested in seeing the Factions Deckbuilding system tackling more themes and franchises in the future.
PLAY IT? YES
With its touches of asymmetry amidst the usual trappings of the deck-building genre, Firefly: Misbehavin’ gets away with feeling comfortably familiar whilst still remaining engrossing across many plays.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED FIREFLY: THE GAME...
It may be less expansive but it’s a good choice for those open to more of Gale Force Nine’s interpretations of the Verse’.
Designer: Jack Reda
Publisher: Gale Force Nine
Time: 60+ minutes
What’s in the box?
- 4 Player boards
- Market board
- Supply board
- 200 Cards
- 64 Tokens
Looking for more?
Find reviews, news, and features in Tabletop Gaming Magazine, which is home to all of the latest and greatest tabletop goodness. Whether you're a board gamer, card gamer, wargamer, RPG player or all of the above, find your copy here.Get your magazine here
A game that hooked a thousand gamers, it's 40 years of Fighting Fantasy! We take a look back at some of the titles and that changed a generation of gaming, and how it became the behemoth it remains.40 Years of Fighting Fantasy
Sign up to be in the know
Be the first to hear about the things we're excited about, whether that's new games and launches, our own magazine, gaming news and interviews or a few surprises, you'll be the first we tell if you sign up to our newsletter.Sign up here
Have you visited our game store? We have everything from mystery boxes, to games and accessories, so you're bound to find your newest favourite. Head over there now to claim it for yourself!Visit the Game Store
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products