2021 Top 10 Solo Skirmish Games Countdown : #7!

#7 : Firefly Adventures - Brigands & Browncoats

I’m a big Firefly fan. Not obsessed… but definitely a fan. The world building, the characters… all came together to make its sum more than the parts.

Jumping up two spots from last year's #9, the Firefly Adventures core box comes with most of the original crew (sans Inara), 10 bad guys and (rarity of rarities) 3D buildings. It does use a gridded board, making it more like a skirmish/board game hybrid… but there’s nothing to stop you from using a tape measure instead. Game play doesn’t live or die by the grid.

And what you get is a game that is narrative mission driven, that has a very unique turn sequence. Each action costs a slice of time, which is tracked on a time tracker, and your character advances along that time tracker. Your character’s position on that time tracker determines when they can act again. Take an action that costs 6 time and it could be quote a while before you can act again. Meanwhile the bad guys could swarm you because they took less time for their actions, enabling them to act twice to your once.

Your characters also have 2 modes. Casual and Heroic. In Casual mode, you can walk right in front of the baddies. They will ignore you. In Heroic mode, they will attack. Certain actions can be performed in Casual mode… but most will be Heroic.

The game play doesn’t just consist of shooting/chopping up the bad guys. You can hack terminals, break into a building, even lure the unsuspecting bad guys around a corner where your crew mate is waiting to knock them unconscious… and you can drag their bodies into a building to hide them from view of other bad guys, so the bad guys won’t activate.

Does all of this sound interesting? Read on!

If you’re a fan of the show, the fun comes in role-playing their characters as you play the game. Their abilities are all character appropriate and the dialogue will pop into your head (in the characters voices even) as you play.

5 missions come in the box. Another 5 are downloadable from Gale Force 9. And there are about a dozen fan-made missions on Board Game Geek. All of them give you lots of deployability, especially if you get the only 2 expansions that’re currently available.

The game will shine if you play a mini campaign, though. In 2022, I’m going to take the solo mission available for Firefly The Game (Niska’s Holiday) and play that mission, flying from planet to planet and then choosing the appropriate mission to play once the Serenity lands.

If you’re a Firefly fan and you like skirmish games, you definitely owe it to yourself to check this out.


Exploit Zero (nee Hardwired Cyberpunk)

This was in my Top 10 last year at #3. Again, it's an Honourable Mention this year because it didn’t hit the table in 2021 despite my best intentions. 

Despite that, it’s still a great solo cyberpunk game that’s mission and objective oriented so it rewards narrative gameplay. If you’re looking for a solo cyberpunk game you can’t go wrong with this one.

You have 4 PCs with defined roles (Ronin, Hacker, Medic etc.) and you undertake a series of narrative missions, hoping to win the campaign. You get to sort of level up along the way, but that's not the main aim of the game.

The AI is basic but it works. 3 varying levels of SecFor (Security Forces) come at you every turn, the easiest first graduating to the hardest in the last 2 turns. They move into cover, then come after you during their turn.

Given the basic (but effective) enemy AI, the game shines if you put in the effort to build your scenario, with properly defined goals (hack the computer and upload a virus, escort a VIP across town, kidnap a VIP etc.) and you can build it into your ongoing campaign where the story is the star.

Being minis agnostic, you can use your favourite minis (just be sure you have enough for the SecFor who come in waves of 4 per turn) and 2 sets of the cheap Infinity Red Veil cardboard terrain (if still available) is surprisingly effective in depicting Hong Kong's Tsim Tsa Tsui in the late 21st century.

If cyberpunk is your thing but you don't want to get into the deep, deep well that is Reality's Edge, Exploit Zero could be just the thing.