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How do you rate the characters, post-Exodus?


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#21 Kushiel

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 07:00 AM

ronsen_04 said:

I'm getting the feeling that most of you not only pick their character at the beginning of the game (as per the rules) but you tend to have the same set of characters in every game. I'm also getting the feeling that you rate characters for their abilities rather than their fun factor.

I almost never see people choosing the same characters, or even the same group of characters, from game to game, and that experience has repeated itself across many different groups of players. I also haven't often seen people choose characters based on how good they think they are, or at least the commentary that people frequently make when choosing a character hasn't reflected anything about power levels.

Keep in mind that anyone posting on these boards is a fairly hardcore (at least!) player of the game; the vast majority of people who play the game don't bother coming here to read or post anything, so anything you read on these boards is likely to have a tendency to skew towards overanalysis. :)

ronsen_04 said:

Earlier in this thread I posted a house rule we use to broaden our horizon a little and it really works. Yes, we sometimes decide against a specific character because we think he sucks in comparison to another. But by limiting the roles to choose from we make for very different and very interesting session.

I would like to know what your take is on that.

A friend of mine proposed a similar idea (http://blog.tornsign...-character.html), and I'm looking forward to trying it out, but I haven't played BSG since he came up with it.



#22 Holy Outlaw

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 07:31 AM

ronsen_04 said:

 Judging by what people stated in this forum, however, I just got the feeling that people will pick Tier 1 characters over Tier 2 characters almost all the time. Why would anyone settle for a less than perfect character if they had the choice to choose any character they wanted? And that's where I draw the line of what's fun and what's not. My perception is that some characters become more powerful because of a specific situation in the game while others become less powerful in the same situation. And some characters will work fairly well together and become more powerful in the process. And I'm getting the feeling that people don't appreciate or realize this.

 Ronsen, I agree with your observation that our playgroups probably approach the game differently, which has something to do with why I wasn't able to offer much in response to your initial post, which I did find interesting.  On the one hand, you offered all the OP asked for.  Yours is an example of a group that has not left any characters behind as the power curve has shifted right with the expansions.  Character selection, in your group, is a time of fun and mystery.  The new characters, even with their obvious winners and losers, broaden your horizons, rather than narrow them.  I'm glad to hear that and somewhat intrigued to learn about your group's approach to the game, which is clearly different from mine.

On the other hand, I harbor real reservations.  When it comes to the fleeting excitement of flipping over that card and not knowing who'll be staring back at you from the other side, what's it really worth?  For my money, the tingly feeling of walking into a blind date is a poor trade for the very real possibility you'll wind up stuck spending an evening with someone whose company you won't enjoy.  Like Sam Anders, for example, who is a very selfish lover.

In all seriousness though, I think your idea of semi-randomizing the starting lineup is interesting and maybe worth a shot.  I know a lot of people on these boards like Arkham Horror, which uses random character selection, and your modification would make this more like that.  So I'm okay with the idea, even while I concur with Skowza that I enjoy choosing the team.

And then there was your big question: Are we reducing the fun and variety in the game by taking considerations of relative character value into account?  My answer would be a categorical "no."  I believe that considering the relative strength of a character when making initial selections is rational and responsible.  Doing so reflects a recognition of, and respect for, reality, not a dearth of creativity.  The cumulative effect of all this rational behavior is that the starting lineups begin to reflect a homogeneous quality, but I don't think the solution to that is for players to stop behaving rationally.

By way of analogy, if I could pick my starting hand in Texas Hold 'Em, I would very frequently pick A-A because it is the strongest possible hand.  I would not always pick it, because there are a variety of factors in poker, as in BSG, that reward dynamic behavior over static behavior.  Other hands I would frequently choose would be A-K, K-K, A-Q and occasionally Q-Q or J-J.  I might even mix in a low-to-mid pocket pair or a suited runner-runner just to keep opponent's guessing and have a distant shot at stealing a surprise pot.  The important point I want to make here though is that, if I could choose my hand in Texas Hold 'Em, I would very rarely, maybe even never, 2-7 off suit.  I say this not because I lack the imagination to consider that the flop might come 2-2-7, but because I'm rational enough to take into account all the other possibilities that the table might present for which I'll be unprepared as a result of my poor hand selection.  

One could look at the above analogy as an expression of a too-narrow thinking process.  I certainly can't argue that in the strictest sense of the word, applying calculations of expected value to decisions is "formulaic."  But I can tell you that I could play Hold 'Em for hours, days, weeks at a time, just as I could for BSG.

To be totally honest, I see my approach as an evolution from yours.  At some point I outgrew looking for variety in the fleeting, superficial difference between, for example, looking at Saul Tigh's picture all night vs. Helena Cain's.  Once I was liberated from looking for trivial distinctions between this game and the last, I began enjoying, *and creating* meaningful ones.  There's plenty of variety in all the explosive and unpredictable events that arise from a dynamic board full of real and imagined threats, with an unknown number of hidden enemies seeking to deceive and destroy me.  I don't feel I add much to the equation by trying to create superficial variety through making suboptimal choices for no other reason than I chose optimally last time.



#23 Holy Outlaw

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 12:42 PM

 Aargh!  I tried to edit the above post because of weird formatting and somehow my first paragraph went into the quote box.

 

 



#24 napoleonWilson

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 06:15 AM

I STRONGLY oppose randomization of characters.  First of all, I don't like being forced to play characters I don't like.  That takes away from my fun.  I hate Starbuck and Roslin.  I hate Starbuck cause I hated her on the show, I hate Roslin cause I hated her on the Show and I think she is in the race for worst character in the game.  Regardless of one of those reasons being simply asthetic and one being more pragmatic, If I don't enjoy playing the character it is infringing on MY having fun playing. 

I get the idea behind any game is to have fun.  For my group however, in BSG, the humans nearly always get demolished.  Humans have not yet one a game since the Exodus expansion.   The game itself so slanted to the cylons that despite best efforts it seems that the cylon players dont have to do much to insure a victory.  Now,...while playing the game is fun, being constantly crushed almost to the point that it is a for-gone conclusion that you will loose takes alot of fun away.  It is still a game, and the goal of any player in a game is to do their utmost to win no matter what point or what the odds are.  This I believe starts at game setup including character selection.  In some six player games we have had some players pick a military guy in the first 4 picks and then players pick one or 2 more extra military people.  That is almost throwing the game in my opinion.  Having randomized characters, (you get 2 to pick from)...could very easily lead to a glut of one colour that is quite frankly extraneous.  Or it could lead to a set up like, Roslin, Tigh, Anders and Dee.  If that is a starting lineup your going to war without bullets.  Add to this that at some point the humans are going to be losing 1 or 2 (depending on the game size) characters to the cylons.  If the humans loose a lynchpin character it can be devestating.

Fun is the most important part to any game, but it is a game and part of the fun is the chance of winning.  If the outcomeis are nearly gauranteed or have to depend on a total cosmic alignment in order to win that takes away from the fun of the game.  We see some different faces, there are some good characters that get picked that are not, "THE" starting lineup, but we try to keep it to one per game or else the humans are just giving themselves another handicap.

If all of your group wants to do the randomization thats great, but if even one person doesn't want to they should not be forced to.  If you want yours random go for it, nothing is stopping you, but I think for the sake of "fun" all the way around if a player likes choice,...hand over the whole pack of dudes to em.

Napoleon

 

 



#25 Keithustus

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 07:24 AM

It is against the rules for three players to all have the same category of character, except support, unless you're playing a 7-player game, in which case if the first and last players both choose the same, then someone in the middle may also have chosen that as well, so long as no one chose support.  If you're finding that there are too many military or too many pilots or whatever in your game, I recommend you go back to the rulebooks and review how choosing a character makes that class off-limits for the next few players to pick.



#26 Holy Outlaw

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 03:52 PM

Keithustus said:

 It is against the rules for three players to all have the same category of character, except support, unless you're playing a 7-player game.

  

Yes, but it's a worthy point, right?  Random character selection advantages cylons by leading to weaker teams and players in roles they're not suited for.  Setting aside the "fun factor," if a group's already seeing a cylon advantage in their games, this idea should give them pause.

To be fair, Ronsen did say he uses sort of a hybrid system where they start with randomization and then let players trade or even swap out for one in the box, but then that's another problem, isn't it; to defend a rule by saying it's better if you don't enforce it?



#27 napoleonWilson

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 04:25 PM

we usually have 6 player....first four pick...poli, mili, pilot, support(hopefully they pick support,...this gets worse here if they pick mili)...2 more people to go...but all requirements met....5th person picks mili,...6th person picks mili ...now have 3-4 mili with 1 pilot and one poli....I have SEEN this happen and it is most annoying.

And that is,..."by the rules"...dont think i need to revisit rules but thanks.

Napoleon.



#28 napoleonWilson

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 04:32 PM

hmmm...ok....I see. The most plentiful character bit threw me...very well Touche...



#29 Keithustus

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 03:14 AM

napoleonWilson said:

...5th person picks mili,...6th person picks mili ...

And that is,..."by the rules"...dont think i need to revisit rules but thanks.

 

 No, that is clearly against the rules and results in a ******-up, unbalanced set of characters for the game.  That's why they have the rule against doing that.  The sixth person CANNOT pick the same class as the fifth player because the "second round" of classes have not been picked.

What you're saying is like if  there is one civilian ship in every space except the one space that has two civilian ships, and you as the CAG try to place another ship into that space that has two.



#30 Kushiel

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 09:55 AM

napoleonWilson said:

we usually have 6 player....first four pick...poli, mili, pilot, support(hopefully they pick support,...this gets worse here if they pick mili)...2 more people to go...but all requirements met....5th person picks mili,...6th person picks mili ...now have 3-4 mili with 1 pilot and one poli....I have SEEN this happen and it is most annoying.

And that is,..."by the rules"...dont think i need to revisit rules but thanks.

I think you understand now that this isn't actually playing by the rules, but just to make it easier in your future games:

A good way to keep track of which classes are available to any given player is to initially arrange them in three columns, with the support characters set to one side. (You can also use these columns to indicate president/admiral/CAG succession without needing to have everyone keep checking the lists in the rulebook). This way it's clearly visible which classes are available to be chosen and which aren't - any column which is shorter than any of the others isn't a legal choice.



#31 VladislavGoldakovsky

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 08:17 PM

I use cool program from BoardGameGeek site for random crew selection. It shows skill set of the generated team and if every player agreed with it, then we take this team and have another roll if they're not.



#32 blanco

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 10:26 PM

VladislavGoldakovsky said:

I use cool program from BoardGameGeek site for random crew selection. It shows skill set of the generated team and if every player agreed with it, then we take this team and have another roll if they're not.

Could you post a link to this cool program - thanks



#33 napoleonWilson

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 08:36 AM

yes...i see that now...thats kinda what the "touche" implied....HOWEVER....i still stand by the statement that enforcing an even stricter doctrine of character selection is not going to empower the, "fun factor" for all players.



#34 VladislavGoldakovsky

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 12:40 AM

blanco said:

Could you post a link to this cool program - thanks

boardgamegeek.com/filepage/60430/bsg-random-character-selector-tool



#35 JAGONAUT

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 10:21 PM

 What's interesting here is that the essential criteria for one character being better than another is that so and so "has something to contribute to the fleet." On the other hand the most poorly rated  characters such as Sarek, Tigh, and Gaeta have the most autonomy. So what if they have less to contribute its not as though you're definitely going to be a human and if you are a human you can still end up being treated unfairly by other human players. These characters are selfish but they can give and take a lot when it comes to the power struggles of the game.

I used to play BSG strictly, swamping on anyone who wasn't doing the best thing (as far as I was concerned) for the fleet. Then I played with my crazy friend who decided to be Baltar and behave like Balter. He did unhelpful things (like steal the presidency) even though he wasn't the cylon as a role play, it made me furious. I've found that being too demanding group-strategy-wise has only lead to people not enjoying the game as much (why? because it takes away their autonomy) so I've changed tact and become much less, "if you don't do this you're a cylon." Rather I silently observe, bide my time and try to determine who the cylon is based on body language and behaviour. then I try to do something out of the blue like execute them, send them to the brig or take the presidency, which can upset everyone but if I'm right I've saved the game. If it gets me executed I'll just pick Cally as my new character and execute them right back. This is why I like characters like Sarek because they allows me to play in this manner whilst being protected from the worst consequence: being stuck in the brig.

In conclusion I''ve come to value characters that can take the game into their own hands and bully others whilst protecting themselves from being bullied and it only makes the "experts" furious. Especially when they realise that I am actually a human. I believe this is the intended way of using these characters and closer to the intended spirit of the game. It seems like many others are playing too safe. To me its no longer primarily a strategy game, it is primarily a bluffing/discerning/back stabbing/politics game embedded in a strategy game. That is why I still like the more autonomous characters even if they have less to offer the fleet.



#36 Holy Outlaw

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 02:57 PM

JAGONAUT said:

 What's interesting here is that the essential criteria for one character being better than another is that so and so "has something to contribute to the fleet." On the other hand the most poorly rated  characters such as Sarek, Tigh, and Gaeta have the most autonomy. So what if they have less to contribute its not as though you're definitely going to be a human and if you are a human you can still end up being treated unfairly by other human players. These characters are selfish but they can give and take a lot when it comes to the power struggles of the game.

I used to play BSG strictly, swamping on anyone who wasn't doing the best thing (as far as I was concerned) for the fleet. Then I played with my crazy friend who decided to be Baltar and behave like Balter. He did unhelpful things (like steal the presidency) even though he wasn't the cylon as a role play, it made me furious. I've found that being too demanding group-strategy-wise has only lead to people not enjoying the game as much (why? because it takes away their autonomy) so I've changed tact and become much less, "if you don't do this you're a cylon." Rather I silently observe, bide my time and try to determine who the cylon is based on body language and behaviour. then I try to do something out of the blue like execute them, send them to the brig or take the presidency, which can upset everyone but if I'm right I've saved the game. If it gets me executed I'll just pick Cally as my new character and execute them right back. This is why I like characters like Sarek because they allows me to play in this manner whilst being protected from the worst consequence: being stuck in the brig.

In conclusion I''ve come to value characters that can take the game into their own hands and bully others whilst protecting themselves from being bullied and it only makes the "experts" furious. Especially when they realise that I am actually a human. I believe this is the intended way of using these characters and closer to the intended spirit of the game. It seems like many others are playing too safe. To me its no longer primarily a strategy game, it is primarily a bluffing/discerning/back stabbing/politics game embedded in a strategy game. That is why I still like the more autonomous characters even if they have less to offer the fleet.

It's not clear to me how we're defining "selfish" vs. "unselfish."  The way I look at it, it is my selfish desire to win the game.  I XO teammates and suggest optimal play decisions out of that selfish desire.  It is this same selfish desire that often leads me to pick a character with a useful ability (say, Helena Cain) over a character with a corner case ability (say, Saul Tigh).  I suspect you'd categorize the characters differently, calling Helena Cain selfless for jumping the whole fleet, while Saul Tigh would be seen as selfish for taking a title for himself?  I find little merit in drawing that type of distinction.  

Like you, I'm unlikely to say "If you don't do this you're a cylon!"  But I am likely to say something like "If you do this, you will further the human chances of victory, build trust, and earn my gratitude."  If a player routinely declines such olive branches, particularly if these refusals coincide with suboptimal play decisions (and I'm not one to mystify the idea of optimal play with caveats and qualifiers as if good and bad play are subjective measures dependent on perspective), I eventually grow to doubt either their loyalty or their aptitude.  Players who routinely behave this way at the table tend to wind up isolated (e.g., they receive fewer XOs from teammates, their suggestions tend to carry less weight).  It's not hard to imagine what the cumulative effects of multiple players behaving this way would be, is it?

So is it a strategy game or a bluffing game?  Can it be played by five individuals or do you need to coalesce into a team?  To me, these questions beg a third: how often do humans win when all five play independently of each other?  At my table, the answer to that question is that without trust, without teamwork, without frakking XOs, the cylons win more often.  And it is precisely this paradox that creates the most vital tension in the gamewe players need each other, but we cannot trust each other.  It's tempting to retreat from that dangerous dance and rely only on the one person I can positively trust, but what happens if everyone does that?  

The answer: you wind up being a real team player after all, only the team you're so selflessly benefiting happens to be the opposing side.



#37 JAGONAUT

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 02:14 AM

 By selfish I really mean that they have more power to do what they want to do. Cain, for instance, is obliged to use her extra jump to the benefit of the fleet but what if you pick her and you become a cylon in the sleeper phase. If you were Tigh you could reap havoc. I've also had plenty of experiences where I could have won the game for the humans if I had been Tigh. But the main point is that , if you're Cain, you don't get to decide when you use your opg, everybody else does. Its not your special skill its the groups (a bit like Adama's every turn ability). In contrast, Boomer (another unpopular character) and Helo's opg cain be used when you want to use them, for good or evil. So the criteria that is being overlooked when rating characters is one of autonomy: will you be able to use your opg and other abilities how and when you want to?

I guess these characters do encourage players to trust themselves first and teamwork later but I think that's the intention behind them. For me personally, losing is not the worst outcome in the game, being stuck in the brig turn after turn is, and Tigh, Gaeta, and Zarek either protect you from the brig or put others in there.

I'm not saying that these characters are better than others (like Cain). Initially I was just noticing the criteria that was used to rate characters and I was trying to figure out what annoyed me about it. In the end I have concluded that non of you are cylons.



#38 napoleonWilson

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 07:52 AM

That is correct....at the beginning of the game at character selection NONE of us are cylons, and that is the point.  The game is very hard against the humans.  Humans need to work together and make a good team.  That means the team building starts at character selection.  If you have people picking "lower tier" characters, the humans NEED some "higher tier" characters to pick up the slack.  Just like with any sports team, typically you don't start game one of the finals with bench warmers.  It's true the stakes of playing a game of BSG vs. game 7 of the stanly cup finals are a bit different, however I believe in playing to win at any game, otherwise why play.  I know ultimatly the point is to have fun but if nobody cares about the game and people nearly work to throw the game, I'd rather just sit around and socialize.  BSG is a team game and a team comes first.  Thats where the original "rating tree" comes in.  If you have, Anders, Tigh, and Dee...humans are going to be in for a real rough ride unless the next 2 or 3 picks are some super stars. 

Picking characters is super important to the game.  I get that people want to to try new characters and see some new blood and thats fine but the team has to come first.  If you pick first and pick a donkey, then people after need to make up for it.  If you pick last and they picked a doughnut then you need to pick up the slack, thats just the way picking order works and why going first has it's advantages.  If you pick last and people have chosen some bada***es then that might be the time to blow the dust off ol' Roslin.  To pick the character you want to play regardless of what others have chosen and what role NEEDS to be filled for the good of the team,....THAT is the very definition of selfishness. 

Napoleon



#39 Cifer

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 11:17 AM

 @JAGONAUT

I'm curious: What's your ratio of wins vs losses? Considering humanity's chances are slim if everyone's working together, I can't imagine what they are if humanity tears itself apart...



#40 JAGONAUT

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 03:04 AM

 @Napoleon

I play with players who hope to become cylons and pick their characters accordingly. That changes the whole dynamic. It doesn't mean they are playing to loose they are just hedging their bets on winning for the cylons.

 

@Cifer

I'd say about 1 in 3 human victories. It comes close to evening out if you consider that's pretty much the same ratio as the chance to be a cylon and as a cylon win 2 in 3 games. Any given player wins 45% of the time.






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