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First game and first impressions!


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#1 El Mariachi

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 04:41 AM

 Hi all,

After getting Battlestar Galactica and its expansions for Christmas and having spent a lot of time reading through the rules and the various forums across the internet, I was finally able to get in my first games of BSG last night! Due to wanting to keep it simple to begin with and the fact that one of our group has not seen past the first season yet- it was pure vanilla BSG (although we did use the plastic basestars from pegasus).

Overall we had two games, the first one was five player (which I was really keen for as this is the supposed sweet spot for numbers of players) and the second one was four player as one of our group had double-booked himself that day (which wasn't a bad thing as we were able to try out the much maligned Sympathiser card).

In short, we loved it. We really enjoyed ourselves and the game played really well. For a fantasy flight game it was surprisingly rules-lite but there was a lot of depth to it as the game is obviously designed around the social interaction between players. It was also a reasonable length for our play group at about 4 hours for a game (some might consider that long but my group regularly plays 10 hour Twilight Imperium sessions so it was nice to play something that you could conceivably fit into an evening).

The point of this post is to sat what we learned from playing the game and I'm interested to hear your comments to see if your experiences match ours. So with that said, what did we find?

I'll start with balance. From reading the forums I pretty much found an equal number of posts stating that either the humans can't win, that the cylons can't win or that it's about 50/50 with the base game which lead me to believe that at least with the base game, it must be balanced to a degree. Balance is not something I'm particularly bothered with as my group is a very relaxed group- as long as the balance isn't obviously completely out of whack. From our 2 games (and I understand this isn't a huge amount) I would say that we found the balance about right- it wasn't too hard or easy for either side and there was plenty of tension.

The first 5 player game was a victory to the Cylons, but boy was it close! I played as human and we managed to do an alright job- we got to 6 or 7 distance on our first attempt before we ran out of food and starved! (I think we were influenced too much by reading on the net that you rarely ever run out of food). We actually almost ran out of fuel- before we realised the use of Launch Scout and did what we could to delay the jump until we found a Tylium planet. Character wise we used: Adama, Apollo, Starbuck, Laura Roslin and Chief Tyrol. They all felt pretty true to the series and we enjoyed using them. The only character I saw as a bit weak perhaps was Roslin- being able to scout the Crisis deck was useful (and probably would be even more useful as a cylon which incidentally was starbuck and adama in this game), but her weakness seemed really quite crippling. Nevertheless, I think she will be taken again in the future by different players as we tend to like playing with characters we like from the series, rather than for their in-game effects).

The crisis deck is an interesting beast. There are definitely some tests that its better to fail so you can save your skill cards for the really crucial events but the events are nicely thematic and because we had it well shuffled, the cylon attacks were fairly consistent throughout the game without massive periods of silence or overwhelming odds.

The 2nd game was a very different experience from the first but just as enjoable although we had to use the sympathiser card as we only had four players (more on that in a second). I don't know what happened to the crisis deck in the half hour between games, but damn if things weren't hot at the start! Before we had managed to make our first jump we literally had everything on the board. All the cylon plastic playing pieces were on the board, fighting off against all of our Vipers which were trying to protect all the civilian ships (every last token) which had spawned on the board thanks to repeated cylon attack cards showing up! This was really tense and exciting and we managed to survive without much loss (i think we had 2 damaged vipers before we jumped). This situation really highlighted the importance of the Communications location action so you can move civilian ships out of harms way and within your Vipers's protective screen. XOing the person sat in communications helped out no end! In fact, I would have to agree with the general consensus that using Executive Orders properly is vital for the humans to win as it allows you to do much more.

Moving on to the sympathiser card...I can see why people don't like it. The forced reveal seems quite artificial and actually semi-annoyed the player who got it. Thankfully it didn't ruin his playing experience as he wanted to remain human (he was a cylon in our previous game) and he ended up helping the human side (the crisis literally just before sleeper tipped one of the resources into the red- i was convinced until then that we were going to have deal with two cylons)!. Whilst I don't think the card is quite as bad as some people make out (I don't think it's as bad for the game as say, for example, the original Imperial strategy card for Twilight Imperium)- I don't think it's ideal. It highlights why the game's sweet spot is 5 players but having read through the pegasus expansion- I think the cylon leaders option should be a worthy alternative in future 4/6 player games). With the sympathiser revealed, our cylon knew he was on his one-sies and as we on the verge of brigging him for suspicious behaviour, he decided to reveal. As a revealed cylon he was definitely able to do a bit more damage to us (he was Gaius 'Mother Frakkin' Baltar out of interest) but it was definitely a bit more difficult for him because the humans knew there was no longer a traitor in our midst, so we could concentrate on pure team work which does make things harder for the cylon and I feel, strong evidence against the 'reveal early' strategy although I suppose future games might change my mind things happen differently. The 2nd game ended as a good win for the humans with only fuel in the red.

I really, really enjoyed Battlestar Galatica. I'm a big fan of the show but the tabeltop banter and paranoia makes the game a fairly easy sell for anyone, even those not familiar with the show. I think the balance for my gaming group is good, although I could see the base coming easier for the humans over the course of many games (which is why I have the expansions waiting in reserve!). 

 

Cheers,

 

El!

 



#2 Skowza

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 07:16 AM

Glad to hear your group liked it so much, two games in one night, awesome!

El Mariachi said:

The first 5 player game was a victory to the Cylons, but boy was it close! I played as human and we managed to do an alright job- we got to 6 or 7 distance on our first attempt before we ran out of food and starved! (I think we were influenced too much by reading on the net that you rarely ever run out of food). We actually almost ran out of fuel- before we realised the use of Launch Scout and did what we could to delay the jump until we found a Tylium planet. Character wise we used: Adama, Apollo, Starbuck, Laura Roslin and Chief Tyrol. They all felt pretty true to the series and we enjoyed using them. The only character I saw as a bit weak perhaps was Roslin- being able to scout the Crisis deck was useful (and probably would be even more useful as a cylon which incidentally was starbuck and adama in this game), but her weakness seemed really quite crippling. Nevertheless, I think she will be taken again in the future by different players as we tend to like playing with characters we like from the series, rather than for their in-game effects).

Running out of both Fuel and Food sounds like maybe you didnt jump fast enough?  Unless you take quite a few hits on Fuel, you can usually make it to the end without stopping at a 1-distance planet, and in our games we usually acquire at least one additional Fuel somewhere along the way.  I think maybe Pegasus add some help there, Fuel was a little more troublesome in the Core.
That's a pretty good selection of charaters, good human team, and it should have resulted in a pretty balanced game unless both the Pilots ended up as Cylons.  Roslin should avoid using the board and focus on XOing others and taking advantage of any Politics cards that help; her ability to draw the two Crisis cards is what really makes her shine.

El Mariachi said:


The crisis deck is an interesting beast. There are definitely some tests that its better to fail so you can save your skill cards for the really crucial events but the events are nicely thematic and because we had it well shuffled, the cylon attacks were fairly consistent throughout the game without massive periods of silence or overwhelming odds.

 

A good mix of attack Crisis cards definitely makes for a better game.  I remember many a game with the Core when we drew into either no attacks until we had gone 6+ distance (boring, makes it much more difficult for Cylons) or a whole series of attacks back to back paired with Crisis cards with no jumps (gets really hard for Humans unless your pilots have stocked up and prepared).  Sounds like you saw some of that in the second game though.

El Mariachi said:


Moving on to the sympathiser card...I can see why people don't like it. The forced reveal seems quite artificial and actually semi-annoyed the player who got it. Thankfully it didn't ruin his playing experience as he wanted to remain human (he was a cylon in our previous game) and he ended up helping the human side (the crisis literally just before sleeper tipped one of the resources into the red- i was convinced until then that we were going to have deal with two cylons)!. Whilst I don't think the card is quite as bad as some people make out (I don't think it's as bad for the game as say, for example, the original Imperial strategy card for Twilight Imperium)- I don't think it's ideal. It highlights why the game's sweet spot is 5 players but having read through the pegasus expansion- I think the cylon leaders option should be a worthy alternative in future 4/6 player games). With the sympathiser revealed, our cylon knew he was on his one-sies and as we on the verge of brigging him for suspicious behaviour, he decided to reveal. As a revealed cylon he was definitely able to do a bit more damage to us (he was Gaius 'Mother Frakkin' Baltar out of interest) but it was definitely a bit more difficult for him because the humans knew there was no longer a traitor in our midst, so we could concentrate on pure team work which does make things harder for the cylon and I feel, strong evidence against the 'reveal early' strategy although I suppose future games might change my mind things happen differently. The 2nd game ended as a good win for the humans with only fuel in the red.

 

As I'm sure you've read, the Core Sympathizer mechanic really didnt work as well; the Sympathetic Cylon from Pegasus was a much better option.  The worst part of the Core card in my opinion was getting it when you are already a Cylon, in which case it makes you... well, a much crappier Cylon.  The Cylon Leaders don't necessarily keep the game balanced and can be difficult for new players to use properly, I would suggest trying the Sympathetic Cylon mechanic first.
The "reveal early" strategy probably works best in larger games since no one can be sure there aren't more skinjobs out there.  It does not work well in a 4-player game since the Humans immediately know they can trust one another.  Its also most effective when your reveal ability really fraks the Humans over, like "we just jumped and immediately drew into an attack and then our first Pilot revealed and tossed the second Pilot in the brig with the reveal ability" - that sort of thing really hurts, especially if the first Pilot revealed off an XO or was Lee who jumped out into a Viper on someone else's turn.  Your second game does sound a little unbalanced if most of your Resources weren't threatened, though in games with Core Sympathizer card the humans should try to push a resource into the red before Sleeper and an unrevealed Cylon should strive to keep them all blue so he/she gets a partner (another reason I don't like the Core card).

Overall it sounds like a good pair of games, hope the next ones are just as good!



#3 El Mariachi

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 09:48 AM

 Thanks for the reply!

In our first game we definitely did stop at a 1-distance destination although I can't remember if it was the fuel planet or not; I don't remember at stopping at more than 1-distance card but suffice to say in our second game we decided right from the off it was best to play this as a sprint not a marathon and when we could take the hit to resources, jump as far as possible.

I've now gone through both the Pegasus and Exodus expansions in greater detail and I can't wait to try them although it will be a while yet before I do (mainly because I more people who want to try the game and I want to keep it simple but also because a number of players have yet to see the whole of the series). I've read the new Sympathiser card and it definitely seems a bit better. Not enough to stop 5 players being the sweet spot but just enough to make a 4 player game seem more viable without deciding to play another game. Either way, it definitely looks like an improvement to the original card.



#4 Holy Outlaw

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 03:51 PM

El Mariachi,

Glad to hear you had a good first experience with the game. It's definitely richest when you're a true fan of the show, which it sounds like you are. As for your report, I think you came to a lot of accurate conclusions about game balance and the relative importance of different components. I'd concur with Skowza about how Roslin is actually kind of awesome despite her horrendous drawback. She's bad at the things that all the other yellows can do, but her card draw is great and her once per turn ability is tremendous. If she XOs nearly every turn, and uses the rare XO she's granted to Consolidate Power (maybe into purple, in order to Launch Scout), she's little affected by her drawback and can really shine. Admittedly, if you really begin to crave a proper President to take advantage of the Quorum deck, she's not your best play.

Anyway, thanks for the report. It was a great read! 



#5 El Mariachi

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 06:20 AM

Holy Outlaw said:

El Mariachi,

Glad to hear you had a good first experience with the game. It's definitely richest when you're a true fan of the show, which it sounds like you are. As for your report, I think you came to a lot of accurate conclusions about game balance and the relative importance of different components. I'd concur with Skowza about how Roslin is actually kind of awesome despite her horrendous drawback. She's bad at the things that all the other yellows can do, but her card draw is great and her once per turn ability is tremendous. If she XOs nearly every turn, and uses the rare XO she's granted to Consolidate Power (maybe into purple, in order to Launch Scout), she's little affected by her drawback and can really shine. Admittedly, if you really begin to crave a proper President to take advantage of the Quorum deck, she's not your best play.

Anyway, thanks for the report. It was a great read! 

 

You're welcome 

 

Thanks for the views on Roslin, I can see where you guys are coming from and I'm glad she has an ingame use such as that. Whilst we're the kind of group that will always pick a character based on how much we like them in the show, it's good to have some idea of how to play Roslin effectively should someone feel a bit bummed about her drawback. Another character I hear a lot of 'meh' views about is Dee, however whilst her OPG ability doesn't look great- her 'efficient' action would have been incredibly useful in both of the games we played as our defensive strategy involved the moving of a fair few civilian ships! When I bust out Pegasus I'll have to give her a go.



#6 Holy Outlaw

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 04:26 PM

 Yes, I'm one of those who would probably say "meh" about Dee, but I wholeheartedly agree with you about picking characters you enjoy. While it's true her OPT can sometimes be a game-saver, her card draw is pretty weird and her OPG is very weak. Still, there's nothing awful about her and her drawback is actually very mild. She sees occasional play in my group when players just want to see her walk around the ship, and I'll even play her once in a great while. 



#7 redsimon

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 05:49 AM

I think with Cylon Fleet Option of Exodus Dee has her use. Without she doesn't.



#8 Skowza

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 01:26 PM

redsimon said:

I think with Cylon Fleet Option of Exodus Dee has her use. Without she doesn't.

Agreed, she was relatively useless with Pegasus since the additional guns kept the Cylon fleet at bay pretty well.






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