Battleshed Diaries

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Back in the Groove

I was quite looking forward to a welcome and restorative return to gaming back at my local club yesterday, after a difficult few weeks for me personally, but found myself in a bit of a quandary. What to play? I felt I needed to play something that was familiar so I could enjoy a game without rule thumbing and which also didn’t require too much preparation. And preferably a game that was a good multiplayer and a laugh to boot. Quite a considerable number of gaming systems sprang to mind with that rather vague proviso!

So, whilst dithering through the Battleshed rule library (OK, rule pile), my eye was eventually drawn to the tottering stack of board games. A nostalgic theme tune popped into my head and before I knew it I was making arrangements with one of my gaming buddies to put on demo game at the club.

Firefly, the board game. Yep, an old fall-back that I’ve had great fun playing on and off for a couple of years now. My gaming buddy, Jamie, rode shotgun with me on the trip up to Falkirk. A confirmed Firefly aficionado, sporting his Browncoats t-shirt and armed with his big plastic storage box containing the base game and all the expansions. He was keen to literally roll out his shiny new GF9 Vera, the whole damn ‘verse, gaming mat too!
GF9 'Vera' edition Game mat

Even though I’ve played many a game of Firefly, it’s been a while since the last adventure in the ‘verse, so I watched a few of the ‘how to play’ vids on YouTube, just for a quick reminder. Especially as we had three or four potential players at the club wanting to give Firefly a try. Lucky I did, as I’d forgotten about one of the key elements of playing Firefly. Time. 

Multiplayer Firefly games can take up a lot of it. The various Story Cards all include an estimated guess at how long an average game should take to run through a particular scenario – my experience is these suggestions are often wildly conservative unless you are so expert that you wear Jayne's hat for real. Outside. In public. Not that I know anyone like that…

Jayne's Hat. Shiny!

Anyway, advice taken on board, I suggested it was probably best to just play the base game and also use the recommend starter Story Card, ‘First time in the captain’s chair’, which is downloadable from the GF9 website and is helpfully designed to learn the ropes without gettin' all discombobulated.  Perfect for those rookie multiplayer games. I say multiplayer because Firefly can be played solo too. Yes, I’ve even lost to myself!

The chosen Story Card had three straightforward objectives – be Solid with two different contacts (no problem, as only two were being used - Harken and Amnon Duul), obtain $6000 in hand and then finally head over to Ezra in the Georgia system with your solid reputation and cash stacked neatly in crisp notes. Most importantly though was that the guys playing, all new to the game, had a good chance of both learning the core rules and completing the scenario within a couple of hours. And it worked a treat.

I’d hoped to replace the cheap and vaguely Firefly shaped coloured meeples suppled with the base game with the rather superior and detailed ‘customisable’ resin miniatures available from GF9. But my order arrived too late for me get a paint brush to them. And looking online there are some excellent paint jobs that helpfully stayed my hand at rushing out some botch work just for this club demo. I’d rather take my time and do them properly. With me, it’s often the urge to paint something random that helps me pick up the brushes again and these little Firefly miniatures will be just the job.

My latest miniature 'project'. Also Shiny!

The game went rather well I feel. Firefly can seem rather daunting for newcomers when setup. It has a big footprint. However, the rules are fairly easy to pick up and a few turns in our three new players were soon getting the hang of it. Jamie and I - assisted by another Firefly player (thanks Sarah JC, 'Keeper of the Nav Deck') - decided to step out of the game to simply enjoy guiding the rookie pilots as they each worked out their strategy to achieve the three objectives first. 

They were soon off to shopping for new crew, ship upgrades, kit and weapons at the various trading systems. Harsh lessons in the many dangers traversing the ‘verse by way of a few tense customs inspections from the Alliance cruiser and run-ins with the cannibal-infested Reaver ship had some of the unfortunate pilots having valuable contraband confiscated, or forced to sacrifice crew out of the airlock to distract the Reavers and make their escape! 

The game concluded in just under two hours with one of the pilots, David of Lead Warrior, shrewdly docked at Ezra, the final objective location, whilst he quietly collected quick and easy work jobs over three turns just to top up his funds to the required $6000, whilst his rival pilots where still distracted, busying themselves trying to complete full blown contacts for Harken of Amnon Duul! 

Firefly provided just the type of game I was looking for, even though I was only ‘advising’ on this occasion. I’ve now got my first Firefly class resin miniature on the paint table and the paint is about to be applied. It’s been months since my last painting burst. I wonder how much of a dent into my longstanding painting queue I’ll make this time before brush-lassitude sets in again?
The gaming schedule is quickly filling up again too, a return to normality at last. The regular Wednesday evening gaming session with Sam Pate is due to resume this week with a look at the gladiator game, Red Sand Blue Sky from 2HourWargames. 

I’m reliably informed I don’t have to paint anything as Sam has all the muscle men he needs in his shed, apparently.
This weekend will also see the resumption of the monthly ‘family board game night’ where mine and Sam’s family all get-together. 

I’ve long wanted to play Pandemic, so I’ve purchased a copy of the original game for this occasion. 

Disease control on a Saturday night. Hmm, look forward to it.
Penciled in too is a go at the new Conan game from Monolith. Jimboba of Warchest finally has his hands on a copy and has offered to run a game at the Falkirk club Monday coming – assuming he’s not on dad-taxi duties for Halloween. I know it’s just part of his campaign to get me to ‘turn’ to 15mm though.

Actually, Jimboba’s campaign has been subtly successful as I’ve gone and pre-ordered the forthcoming Rogue Stars from Osprey due in December. A character-based science fiction skirmish wargame. It’s slippery slope I know. I can foresee a 15mm painting mountain joining its 28mm big brother.  

Work on my Faustus Furius chariot racing track has also resumed in the Battleshed. Something I must get completed, if only to free up table space. I’ve even compiled a fresh and prioritised list of all my half-completed and unstarted projects. And pinned it to the Battleshed wall. Hopefully, this will provide some visual incentive as the winter months’ roll in. It’s usually a good time for me, hobby wise, as the dark evenings curtail some of my non-gaming hobby activities. I’ll no doubt be armed with a long tally of project essentials by the time I head up to Kirriemuir for Targe 2016 in November.

So, onwards and upwards!

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