If you are a fan of the Firefly TV series, you’ll probably enjoy Shiny Dice. As press your luck dice games go, this is one of the more rules heavy ones I’ve played, though it is still easy to learn. Shiny Dice immerses you in The ‘Verse, allowing you to take control of the crew of Serenity, complete missions, and hopefully beat up Niska, Saffron, and Badger, misbehaving, and banking money and supplies. Each player gets three turns. At the start of your turn you roll all 15 dice included with the game, 5 for the bad guys and 10 for the Serenity crew and passengers. The dice faces contain icons for the different characters from the show. Each character and bad guy has special powers that they bring to gaming table. For example, Wash allows you to re-roll his die along with another crew member. Jayne can cause two points of damage (removing two dice) to a single bad guy. River can be used to re-roll a bad guy die or she can cause one damage to all of the bad guys in a fight. You can even pimp, err, I mean, “companion” Inara out for $100 a pop. (eww, is that where that saying came from?) Anyway, you get the idea.
Once you assemble your crew, you draw a mission card. Missions contain dice icons on them. If you have those same icons on your dice you can complete the mission, gaining any rewards or avoiding any penalties that would have occurred had the mission been a failure. Failing a mission may keep you from taking any more actions or possibly force you to keep flying even if you don’t want to, putting any loot you got this turn at risk if you fail the next mission. The mission cards are a random luck of the draw, but it’s a dice game, so you kinda sign up for that already. In a game designed for quick play, I am perfectly fine with how the mission cards effect the game. Plus, they provide flavor text and still shots from the show that add to the immersion.
After working your mission, any bad guys attack your crew and passengers. If there are any Niska dice still on the table, one of your dice must be removed from the ship. For each Saffron die on the table, you put that many of your dice in the cargo hold and they can’t help you unless and until you decide to keep flying and release them. Badger dice are just annoying, stealing supplies until you are able to defeat him. Once the above casualties are assessed, you get to use your remaining crew to fight back. As in Dungeon Roll, maximizing your crew’s various strengths is key to getting the few extra bucks a turn that can bring you a satisfying victory over your opposing captains. It’s press your luck, so if you can’t defeat all the bad guys or escape with Book’s help, your turn is over and you lose any cash or supplies you didn’t bank. If you manage to defeat the bad guys then you can decide to bank points and end your turn, or keep flying.
I really like Firefly SD (can I call you that, SD?). It takes about thirty minutes for a two player game, yet it feels like you are squarely in The ‘Verse. I really like Firefly, the board game, by Gale Force Nine, but it takes 2-3 hours to play and I don’t always have that kind of time. SD is a good occasional replacement and also a nice gateway game to introduce non-gamer-Firefly-fan friends to the hobby. The components in SD are top notch and even come with two attractive mouse pad mats that act as game boards. The only complaint I’ve heard component-wise is that Mal and Zoe have similar icons on the dice (revolver and shotgun) that make it hard to differentiate. I can see that, but it is a minor setback at most.