Thursday, 4 October 2012

Battlestar Galactica the board game, thoughts

So I played a game of Battlestar Galactica the board game on Tuesday night, all around I thought it was a lot of fun.

Rules summary

The aim of the game is to get to 9+ in total distance (this brings the fleet to the new earth basically).

Loyalty cards are dealt at the beginning of the game. The loyalty cards have 3 options, not a cylon, you are a cylon or you are a cylon sympathiser.

A sympathiser must reveal themselves immediately and depending on the direness of the Battlestars damage (loyalty cards are also dealt halfway through the game) will either end up in the brig (if Galactica is badly damaged) or immediately moves to the Cylon Resurrection ship. 

A Cylon can remain hidden, but if they choose to reveal themselves they get a "super crisis" card (basically and even the crew can try to avoid or something nasty happens) If found out some other way then they loose the chance to gain a super crisis card (this as far as I can tell is the only way to get one).

Players can perform one action every turn, either on one of the rooms on Galactica (or the presidents ship) a also characters have other actions they can perform, e.g. Pilot can fly a Vyper, the Admiral can fire nukes, and other such special actions. 
 Players also draw ability cards to keep in their hand (which you pick every turn based on you specialities and skill levels (e.g. Adama takes 3 leadership and 2 tactics cards per turn)). These cards have a number in the top left corner which is used to "bid" against crises and a colour which denotes their speciality (e.g. purple = tactics cards, blue = engineering, etc.) Some ability cards are actions, others can be used to positively affect actions or perform other tasks (e.g. repair damaged rooms on the ship or help when bidding against crises).

Crises befall the crew after every player turn, these have a difficulty number that must be equalled or beaten to avoid the crisis. Some crises also have tiers of negative effects based on what was scored, or another option (e.g. roll a dice on a 4+ this happens instead). Each crisis card has specific skill colours which denotes the types of ability cards which players can bid to defeat the crisis (by adding up the number in the top of the ability cards). Colours NOT on the card instead add to the difficulty level of the crisis (or deduct from the total of all the positive skill cards, however you want to look at it).

When a crisis occurs the first thing that happens is 2 cards are drawn from a randomly created "destiny deck" of ability cards (which are discarded into the standard decks of ability cards and then replaced whenever the deck gets empty) which adds to the random element (and helps disguise the cylons (or the number of them at least). All players then bid up to 2 action cards from their hand face down. All cards are then shuffled and then the totals are calculated.If the crisis is not avoided then you must suffer the penalties.

Just to add insult to injury however, weather avoided or not the effects indicated by icons on the bottom of the crisis card take place..... These effects will either be cylon fleet related (e.g. move raiders on the board or attack with the base stars) or will further the Galactica's jump track (once this gets to 5 Galactica jumps automatically, which is one way to gain distance cards).

When the Glactica's distance card total has reached 4 (distance cards are numbered 1-2 I think (certainly that's all we got)). Another round of loyalty cards are dealt.

Our play though

Initially it seemed really harsh to me, loads of cylons on the board and the vypers were not getting anywhere fast enough to do much, the ships guns fired so few shots, etc. However by the time we had got to the 1st jump we had only taken a -1 population (I could have prevented it but the crisis target looked too high to me so I strategically had hung onto my cards (The benefit of hindsight...), I was beginning to think it was all a bit too easy (but then of course we didn't know that we had no cylons in play then).

Things quickly started to go wrong with 2 crises in a row where we had no option to bid against them at all, both of them large quantities of Cylons, in fact I believe we had every cylon model and base star provided in the initial boxed set in play.... O.O we quickly started taking hits to food, pop, morale and fuel

Panic started to set in as Galactica took a pounding. By the time we reached distance 4 for the second round of loyalty cards we were near the red on a couple of things Morale and Food in particular.

On the 2nd round of loyalty cards I ended up being a sympathiser and immediately moved to the Cylon Resurrection ship (I assume someone found Colonel Tigh out (my character) and quickly dispatched him. Only one other Cylon was dealt we found out at the end (there were 5 players so potentially there could have been 2 Cylons and me as a sympathiser in play).

Once you are "outed" as a cylon you only get 2 ability cards a turn to attempt to sabotage the crisis bidding with. I didn't get to have a major impact on the crises as the ones that came up after I got the card were mostly cards in Tigh's skills (leadership and tactics), meaning if I bid I would have been helping, however I made good use of the actions the cylons can perform to cause some damage (one option is to look at a players hand and then steal a card, on a 5+ you also damage Galactica, the only other option as a sympathiser I could perform was to take 2 crises and then play one on the Galactica discarding the other).

As a Sympathiser I didn't get to do a lot actually which is a little disappointing, I'm very glad I wasn't one right at the beginning of the game as only 2 possible actions would have made for a very limited game for whoever was the sympathiser.

Suspicion and finger pointing
The Cylon player (using the character Helo) on the other hand managed to stay hidden until nearing the 4th jump, sabotaging the bidding where possible, after trying to send the wrong player to the brig the humans finally sent the Cylon player to the brig HOWEVER they did not out him before he revealed himself and went to the Resurrection ship with a super crisis card. 

As there were no Cylon ships in play between jump 3-4 the Cylon player didn't use the Cylon fleet action we both used the action allowing us to pick the crises facing the galactica to throw the worst of the crises at them. 

Between us we managed to reduce all of the damage tracks to the red and get the food and morale down to 1, however the Galactica's had made it's 4th jump and the jump track was 1 away from giving them the opportunity to risk an early 5th jump and they had just enough population left for it not to loose the game....

At this point I managed to get a crisis that couldn't be bid on, one of the cylon attack cards and the the next crisis ended up being base star attack (meaning the base stars roll a D8, on a 5+ they damage galatica and a random token is picked for the damage)..... there were 2 base stars on the board by this point so that meant two attacks, and BOTH ROLLED A HIT!!!

... So this could be the end of the game, we only needed to get food or morale down one point.... so of course the first damage token picked was fuel lol. The next one however was the FTL drive!!, we took out the jump drive, buying us a bit more time....

The engine was of course fixed in the next play but the following crisis wasn't a jump.... the play was handed over to the cylon player who finally played his super crisis card, which was (among other things) -1 food, the crisis was not avoided so we finished off the galactica for good.

It ended up being a long session with 5 players not knowing what we were doing we were there for 3+ hours until the end of the game, We didn't have to look up the rules much but there are a lot of cards to layout when you haven't the faintest idea what to do with them all LOL.

I really enjoyed the game, the whole "who is, who isn't" guessing game meant that we had NO idea there wasn't a cylon in play at the begining and, as I said one failed attempt to put an innocent human into the brig (by another human (it was Bathasar though so very fitting considering LOL)).

Anyway, overall great game, re-playability looks good too seeing as we barely made it past half way on the crises, there are a LOT more super crises cards to suffer (plus of course 2 expansions, though I hear one isn't really worth picking up).

This isn't going to turn into a review site, but I would definitely give it a 7/10

Anyway, have you played Battlestar Galactica the board game, with or without expansions?, did you enjoy it? any thoughts on the expansions? 


Me :)

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