Friday, 20 April 2012

Battlestar Galactica: the Board game

Rightio, you've had the summary of my first play through of Battlestar Galactica the board game, now time for some reviewing.

First impressions
As I said in my summary I know next to nothing about Battlestar. As such while my friend has spoken of it with glowing praise and lamented he rarely gets to play it, I wasn't much interested. (sorry friend!)

Very pretty. The artwork is very nice. Depicting the ship Galactica flying through space with different rooms inside (as well as a sort of admin shuttle thingy) its well laid out and instructions are easy enough to read and follow. I do like the design of the fuel, food, moral and population discs at the top of the board. Its a clear indicator of how screwed the humans are, as well as making it easier which resource you want (and don't want) to risk.

Character creation
Very simple: pick a character card and that is you. You get a little token that you place on the board of your character that you can move. Sometimes you even get to fly space ships. Each character card has on it a different skill set that are used to indicate which skill cards and how many you draw at teh start of each turn. Each character has two bonus abilities and one flaw. One of the bonus abilities can be used throughout the game while the other is a one off and usually pretty shiny. The flaws range from having to discard two skill cards from your hand to use a room action (due ot 'terminal illness') or discarding your last card if you are only left with one in your hand (because you're an 'alcoholic'). Loyalty cards also indicate if your character is a cylon, sympathiser or just plain human. Sometimes you can even be a sleeper agent, which is fun.

Game mechanics
Each, or most, crisis cards. Better with larger groups, we played with four and it worked well. At the start of your turn you draw your prerequisite skill cards. You then get one move and/or one action. Moving lets you move to different areas on Galactica or fly around in space. The action turn lets you use a room's action ability, whether that is firing Galactica's guns or sending someone to the brig. Alternatively, you may choose to activate the action on one of the cards in your hand, such as repair or give someone an executive order, letting them perform either two actions or move and then perform an action. After this is done, you draw a crisis card. These range from food shortages, to riots, to a strange visitor to holy-hell the-cylons-are-attacking-aaaaaarg! You can try to negate the effects of these crisis cards by playing your skill cards. If you can, the crisis card will tell you a score you have to reach and which coloured cards you must use to reach it. Each skill card is colour coded depending on its type (engineering are blue and piloting is red, etc) and has a number in the top corner ranging from 1 to 5 - this indicates how much that card is worth in the check. However, in a check if a card is submitted that is not one of the colours needed for the check it adds to the total score needed to be reached in order to pass. For example, a strange woman has arrived on Galactica. If we fail to make the check, we will lose 1 moral and the current player will be sent to the brig (from experience, I know that it is really hard to get out of the brig once you're in). The check we need to pass is 9 on yellow politics and green leadership. Two cards are drawn from the destiny deck (a mix of two of each skill card for added potential jeopardy and to help mask the moments of hidden cylons that might be trying to sabotage), then clockwise from the person who drew the crisis, everyone who wants to or can adds cards to the check, face down. The last person to add is the person who's go it is. The cards are the revealed. they manage to make a total of 13 over their cards, though two red cards bump the difficulty of the check up to 12, so they still pass. Some crisis cards force one of the two leadership players to decide action to be taken for the crisis and some allow you to make a dice roll on a d8, rather than make a check. Crisis cards also can move Galactica up the jump track, allowing you to make jumps to get to the final planet where the humans win, and the cards can activate cylon ships that are nearby.

If you know Galactica, I think you will really quite enjoy this. Especially if you try to think of each turn as a different episode or something. Plenty of things to make in jokes about. If, like me, you are not a fan, then its a highly enjoyable board game set in space with evil robots that everyone keeps calling toasters. Defiantly look it out if you can. There are also expansions to the board game, one of which apprently involves an airlock....

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Item: One space ship, slightly battered

A vague summary of my first playing of the Battlestar Galactica board game.

I would like to say now I know NOTHING about Battlestar Galactica. Other than its in space. And you fight robots. And they sometimes look human, just to confuse you. As such I can't remember the names of all the characters we were playing, so I shall refer to them by their roles. If one of the guys from today would like to fill in the blanks for me, it would be appreciated!

It began in the middle of battle. A cylon base star was baring down on us and had raiders deployed. Our crew consisted of a pilot, a military guy who was his father and our admiral, an engineer and myself, a scientist and the president. It could have been worse - I wasn't the one with control of the nukes...

EDIT: Thanks to a fellow player I can now identify the characters! Pilot = Lee Adama, Admiral = William Adama, engineer = 'Chief' Gylan Tyrall, scientist = Gaius Baltar

We fought back against the cylons, eventually managing to jump away to a different planet. Suspicions and tempers were frayed as we faced crisis after crisis, eventually somehow losing all but one of our scout ships. Things got worse when we faced food shortage after food shortage, causing the crew to lose faith in their current president. As such, when the engineer ran for office, he easily took it. The scientist went back to staying in the lab. After a few more jumps, the food shortage was still a problem and fuel wasn't looking healthy either.

More crises were faced and the admiral and pilot spent an awful lot of time in sick bay due to these. The engineer president attempted to try and solve the food problems but ultimately failed. The scientist was then revealed as a cylon sympathiser and thrown in the brig. As such, he was unable to help when a large cylon fleet complete with two base stars attacked. The pilot fought valiantly, taking out many raiders but many ships were damaged in the skirmishes.

Then we were faced with a new horrific discovery - the engineer was a cylon! After shooting the Admiral in the back as the cylon fleet arrived and attacked, he fled back over to his side to help coordinate their attacks against us. Galactica took damage as the base stars fired on us and we were boarded. Our plucky pilot managed to destroy one of them while nuke saw to the other. We managed to jump away to a new planet, away from the cylons.

After a lengthy stay in the brig, the scientist-president was released and immediately helped out with the boarding parties, aiding in fighting them back. This was done successfully, however more crises hindered the remaining crew. Once the boarding parties were well in hand, repair work to the ship began and not a moment too soon - a new cylon fleet attacked. With most of the vipers out of commission there were very few ships left to defend the civilian ships and take on the hoards of raiders that were screaming in. Luckily, we had an awesome pilot who took on the ships valiantly. But even he was soon overwhelmed and his ship destroyed. Luckily, he was rescued and moved once again to sick bay (it was like a second home to him by this point). Before the cylons could turn their guns on the remainging civilian ship or us, we managed to jump away. We were almost at our final destination.

But it was not meant to be. Out in deep space, that final jump to escape used up the last of our fuel and we could find no way to gain more. We were drifting in space with no way to escape the cylons if they attacked us again and even then our other resources were severely diminished.. We had lost the fight and with it, all hope of escaping and defeating the cylons.

To follow: Thoughts on the Battlestar Galactica Board game and play system.