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Get All of String Railway, Firefly: The Game, and the New-and-Improved Cyclades

by W. Eric Martin

• To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Firefly: The Game, publisher Gale Force Nine is releasing…wait for it…Firefly: The Game – 10th Anniversary Collector’s Edition — although this item won’t be released until 2024, which will be the 11th anniversary of the game.

This collection, which is being funded on Gamefound through June 2023, includes every expansion and promo card ever released, as well as a new Stay Flying expansion that is also available in a still swanky, but not quite as large upgrade kit.

• Later in 2023, UK publisher Play For Keeps will crowdfund The String Railway Collection, which collects two titles from designer Hisashi Hayashi: String Railway (2009) and String Railway: Transport (2011), both now with new artwork and refined rules.

In String Railway, players first set up the environment by laying out a large circle of string, then placing a mountain and river (both also made of string) inside, along with each player’s main station. On a turn, a player draws a station card, places it in the circle, and uses string to create part of a railroad network. Over time you attempt to build a connected network to earn points from linked stations.

String Railway: Transport uses a similar set-up as String Railway, but all of the stations start the game in play. Each turn you place a string in the playing area as part of your network, then you spend action points to upgrade your engine and move goods cubes through the network, scoring them when they reach a station of the same color.

• In February 2023, I wrote about Cyclades: Legendary Edition, for which designers Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc have revamped the base game and its expansions to “make gameplay more dynamic and fluid”.

Updated front cover

I missed it at the time, but Cathala wrote a long post on his website (in French and English) that details why this edition exists and what’s changed from the original design. An excerpt:

In summary, from 2009 to 2016, we had the opportunity to develop a whole universe around Cyclades.

A universe that we wanted to be modular. Each group of players being free to choose, before each game, if that night they wanted to play with Hades + Heroes, or 6 in teams of 2 players, with artifacts and Monuments or… in short… lots of possibilities.

As time went by Ludo & I felt an intense desire to propose a new vision of Cyclades.

A sort of “designer’s cut”, that is to say, keeping only the ones we liked the most from the modules described above.

And then finally, from reflection to reflection, with a desire to make the game as dynamic as possible for the most intense gaming experience, we ended up interweaving our desires and changes so much that we ended up with something that is… another game. Another Cyclades, which is so much more suited to our actual preferences. And of course, all this while maintaining the original Cyclades’ DNA.

In short, Cyclades: Legendary Edition features modular game boards so that you are constantly challenged as to “how to exploit the specificities of the unique topography to your advantage”, updated bonuses from the gods (specifically, free buildings to accelerate growth, while the victory threshold has increased to three metropolises), bonuses for building a metropolis and for having someone steal one from you, a new god (Hera), and updates to heroes, creatures, and the two-player mode.

No upgrade kit will be available since pretty much every element has been touched in some way, and no single-player mode will exist. I appreciate Cathala’s honesty here:

Cyclades is primarily a bidding game. It would have been perfectly possible to offer a single player mode using the Cyclades material, but without recreating the game experience that is so important to us. So even when the single-player mode’s big specialist offered his services, I preferred to say no, with no regrets, even if I clearly know that this will prevent some people from pledging.

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