Having had my weekend plans scuppered by the dreaded lurgy I figure I might as well make good use of my free time and do some blogging. So without further ado. Battlestar Galactica is a game based on the tv series of the same name( the re-imagining not the original or the, best forgotten, Galactica 1980)
It’s a game for 3 to 6 players with the usual Fantasy Flight quality finish. The players choose characters to play who are divided by role Military,Political and Pilots (with Chief Tyrol in a separate category of his own), all the major ones are included here Adama, Roslin, Starbuck et al. The aim of the game is taken from the first series, The Galactica needs to achieve enough jumps to escape the Cylons who are pursuing them from the ruins of Caprica. This task is complicated by the fact that one or more of the players is , in fact, a Cylon and will try to sabotage their efforts.
The board consists of the Galactica and Colonial 1 (surrounded by 6 space segments where the Cylon raiders and basestars appear from time to time. The characters by and large move between various areas of the Galactica and Colonial one which allow them to perform specific actions (for example Weapons control allows a character to fire the Galacticas weapons at a Cylon Ship or possibly even a Viper if the player is a Cylon?)
On each players turn he/she gets a certain number of Skill cards based on his/her character. These have certain actions in themselves but also have another purpose which I will revisit. The player can then take an action from an area on the Galactica or from their cards ( If they have launched themselves in a viper they can also attach cylon ships). Some actions require a skill check (which I will also revisit) in order to apply the effects , this skill check mechanism is also used for the last card revealed in the turn, The crisis card.
At the end of the players turn the top card of the ‘crisis deck’ is revealed this card occasionally has a simple choice on it both are usually bad for the Galactica crew, most cards however require the skill check I mentioned earlier, the mechanic behind that is as follows. The card will have a target number and a colour or colours that match certain skill cards, the players have to contribute cards from their hand to a pool . Which is started with two random skill cards from a separate ‘destiny deck’ , once all cards are in the values on the cards that match the colours are added to the total, values on cards that do not match subtract from the total. It is in the skill check that any hidden Cylons have the best oppurtunity to upset things. The main crisis action having been resolved there may be a cylon fleet action indicated on the card ( deploying new basestars or fighters, activating Raiders or Heavy Raiders, firing upon the Galactica). Finally there is an oppurtunity to move the ‘jump prep’ scale up one, the crisis cards are the only way to create the opportunity to jump, and Jumping is the only way to win the game.
There are several ways to lose the game, various crises cards affect the fleets vital statistics : Population, Morale,Food and Fuel. If any of the aforementioned go to zero the cylons win.
Thats the basics of the game but there is plenty more detail to get stuck into BTW revealed cylons, the role of the President and admiral, manned and unmanned vipers etc. I’ll not get into all that here. I’d rather discuss how the game actually plays for a bit. First off our game had the minimum players (3) and one of us was a cylon from the start. The Game took about 4 hours to play all in and the Cylons were victorious in the end. I think general opinion is that the game is slightly swayed to the Cylon side in that arrangement ( at least if the Cylon chooses his opportunities well and manages to keep hidden) but is still very playable. From the very outset there is a feeling of very strained resources and having to make difficult decisions ( do we jump now and risk losing vital population points or hang tough and risk being pounded by the basestars and losing vipers!). Co-operation is absolutely vital to succeed but with a possible traitor present its sometimes tempting to try go it alone. The fact that you face a crisis card every single turn really puts the pressure on, you sit there hoping for the lesser evil to come up!
On our first round we had 2 basestars and a group of raiders attack us , we lost several vipers and many more were damaged. Things looked pretty bleak, but we struggled on to the first jump and managed to grab some breathing room. It very much reminds me of the first episode of the series where they need to jump the ships every 33 minutes, after a jump there are a few moments respite and then the cylons are back.
I’m quite a big fan of the players co-operate against the board genre and I think this is one of the strongest I’ve played. Its more complex and I think difficult than Shadows over Camelot which would have been my favorite of that type of game previously. I’m keen to get back and play with the maximum number of players, I think it will make for a more interesting game. I definitely recommend.