Thursday, October 6, 2011

Game of Boards: Battlestar Galactica


Whether you're a fan of the TV show that this is based off or not, you will love this game.  The premise of the game is that you are a military ship named Galactica and you are protecting civilian transport ships as you make hyperspace jumps to get to your destination planet of Kobol.  However, along the way your enemies the Cylons are trying to make you fail.  There might be traitors in your crew or wave upon wave of Cylon fighters trying to kill your population, break your morale or destroy your food or fuel supplies.  When one of these things hits 0 it is all over.

Q: I had never seen the original TV show nor the updated version, and I have to say Josh is spot on the money. I didn't know my Kobols from Cylons, or the assortment of characters from Gaius Baltar to Admiral Adama. Regardless of my knowledge of the universe, the BSG board game was a great way to be introduced to the series, which I will be watching sometime in the near future. This game will make you laugh. It will make you accuse your friends of being "a dirty Cylon." All for the sole goal of "doing a massive Hazza."

The game board and all it's bits.
Bits and Pieces:

Amazing production value here from the board to the playing pieces to the little fighter ship models and to all the cards.  There are plenty of bits and pieces here.  There is a playing token for each character (8 in total), little model space ships, tokens representing damage to the main ships and a lot of cards too.  There are skill cards that are smaller than a normal card size, destiny cards, destination cards, crisis cards, super crisis cards and loyalty cards.

The board and the assortment of cards and figurines are all of a high quality. While it may sound like there is a lot of stuff going on in writing, it is an amazingly simple game to set up, only taking a few minutes of time (most of which is sorting cards if you haven't put them back properly!). Set up during the game itself is also easy, with cards dictating where you should put the items. The back page of the instructions features important go-to information. 


One of the character sheets.
The action unfolds with a dice roll to see who will be the first player to pick a character. Then, the dreaded "loyalty cards" are doled out, which determines who is the traitor on board. Each character has a certain specialty, either military, politics, pilot, or support. There has to be one of each in the game (except support), and special abilities come with being the Admiral or President. Each character also has skill sets in 2 or 3 of 5 categories (Politics, Leadership, Tactics, Piloting and Engineering), and you draw these cards at the start of your turn. These enable you to perform certain actions. Your turn involves things such as moving around the Galactica, performing actions such as playing skill cards, launching Vipers, drawing extra skill cards, attacking with the Galactica, drawing Quorum cards and many others.

At the end of your turn, you must draw a "crisis card," which has a set of conditions and must be met with a skill check, or have consequences chosen by a player. During a skill check, the skill cards you drew at the start of your turn are used, as they have a number value attached to them. Depending on if you pass or fail, nothing may happen, you may gain a place on the jump preparation track, Cylons may activate, or you may lose food, fuel, population or morale. As mentioned earlier, if any of those categories hit zero you lose. But, continuing to propel yourself up the jump preparation track means you make leaps with Galactica, and get ever closer to Kobol. This is done by drawing "destination cards," and the Admiral chooses between two locations to go to. These cards also have a number value which denotes how far you've jumped, and the further you jump the more fuel might be used. Once you've gotten a total distance of 8, you jump one more time and succeed in getting to Kobol. 

But before you get the magical total of 8 you have to go through a sleeper phase which entails another round of loyalty cards to be dished out to each players (and even 2 cards to certain players).  This is when the real fun starts.  At the start of the game you might not have a Cylon player yet but now there is definitely one out there.  More people are thrown into the brig at this stage when the accusations are thrown around even more.

Luck or Skill?

A game based mainly around the luck of card draws and dice rolls but also there are plenty of tactics here to decide when to play the right card and when to reveal yourself as a Cylon.  The human players can get royally screwed over with a few bad card draws in a row but that adds to the fun of the game and makes every game different.

There are certainly more tactics on the Cylon side of things, but the humans do get a chance to influence the game too. Having a mix of characters with different skill sets enables you to add actions or launch spacecraft to defend civilian ships. The luck really comes in with the "crisis cards," and as Josh mentioned you can get a bunch of Cylon assault cards in a row. Conversely, you can also get cards with minimal damages and a jump, launching you closer to your goal. 

A close up of the game board with a game in play.


An amazingly thematic game that takes you deeply into the sci fi show.  Even if you haven't seen the show you can appreciate the story of betrayal, politics and survival.  (it tells you right there on the box)   Even though the game can screw you over at times and you rely on a bit of luck to survive, it is still an amazingly fun game.  A great part of the game is the fighting among players when trying to find out who the Cylon is.  There is nothing funnier than throwing as many players in the brig as possible.  Amazing game.  9 out of 10 for me.

I can honestly say this is one of the best board games I have played. It has its ebbs and flows, and one minute you can be comfortably heading towards Kobol and the next you're surrounded by a Cylon invasion fleet, with one of your fellow game-players leading the assault. The moments when you get screwed can even be entertaining, with card after card conspiring against you. The mystery surrounding which if you is the Cylon is the highlight of the game, and throwing people into the brig rightly or wrongly is always amusing. A funny, intense and brilliant board game. 9 "Throw him in the brig!" out of 10. 

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