My gaming group has played probably 10 base games. Of these games the humans have won *once*. 3 of these games, including the human victory, were close - the rest have been cylon whitewashes.
Now the close ones we could argue could go either way. The cylons won them (and the human victory was our second game, our cylon made a bad mistake staying in the brig, AND while in there was drawing crisis cards… so really that game probably should even count because we didn't know the rules. That brings human victories to a fat zero.) but ok, a close game is the ultimate goal.
The whitewashes - well, we could chalk some of them up to "that's the way it can roll sometimes" - I mean, we have lost straight after the sleeper phase to briggings mostly. A sympathiser and the right sort of cylon = 2 in the brig. VERY hard to get them out, and human then lose. Some times that stuff happens… but 7 out of 10 games? Why does this not seem to happen to other games I read about here on the forums? When I read expansion rules they seem to buff cylons more than humans….
Anyway, I have since learned that's probably not true. On a board-member's advice I picked up Exodus. I did this mostly to give the revealed cylons a bit more to do. I was told it was so "pilots wouldn't hate the game"… but again, this is something that seems different in our group. No-one hates pilots… why would people hate pilots? If anything Exodus has made piloting boring, but I'll explain that in a second.
So we picked up Exodus and have played 3 games with the Cylon Fleet Board (CFB.) What I have read here is that this:
1. Makes the cylons more powerful
2. Gives the pilots a lot more to do
3. Improves the gameplay in general
We have found the. exact. opposite.
1. Since adding the board the humans have won all 3 games. The upshoot to this is that the games now seem perfectly balanced. I mean the humans have won these games, but they have literally been down to 1 resource in multiple pools, no resource above 4.
We changed a number of human tactics in these games as well in an effort to stem the flood of cylon victories. For example in these three games we basically never took a turn on our turn. We literally XO'd every single turn, barring a small handful. We also used IC on every single skill check barring (without exaggeration) maybe 2 a game.
Furthermore Exodus has given the humans many subtle buffs. Nukes are buffed (and with strategic planning have been stupidly powerful so far.) Character abilities such as Gaetor's have made jumping at -3 a no-brainer. The CAG card is straight up human buff. The viper VIIs are straight up human buff.
Perhaps this is because the CFB is supposed to be very powerful and would swing things towards the cylons… but we have found it to be just incredibly weak. What we find is this:
As soon as a basestar hits the main board, the CFB pursuit track just STOPS. It can now ONLY move if a cylon activates it, and then it only has a 5/8 chance of moving forward. Because of the 3/8 chance of moving the human track backwards, it's risky activating this location when the humans are at the beginning of the jump track. Of course, if you don't, the humans will almost certainly be close to the -3 spot of the jump track by the time you can activate it… and if they are and the fleet jumps in, they'll simply activate the FTL location and jump away sending the fleet back to the start of the pursuit track. This wouldn't be THAT big of a deal, if it weren't for the aforementioned basestar issue.
One lone basestar is PREFERRED by the humans. They CHOSE the "cylon ambush" destination so they could get a measily basestar out and stop the CFB from being a factor. By just controlling the couple raiders with the powerful CAG ability and escorting the civilian ships away at a rate of 2 a turn (via CAG and XOs) there is just no real threat by a lone basestar. The odd launch of raiders or what have you does not present any threat. Another time the humans chose a "add base star to the board" option on a crisis card. They cheered when it came up, because it wasn't just a "free" option, it *prevented the otherwise powerful fleet from jumping in.* Another time a super crisis was played (Fleet Mobilisation.) Awesome card, right? Everything activates. A loaded CFB board, let's bring the lot across! At last all these ships that have been languishing on the CFB will have their reckoning! Wait, what? Basestar activates. Jumps across by itself. Launches 2 raiders and one heavy, then another 3 raiders. Doesn't. Even. Shoot. Galactica. Yes, 5 raiders is a bigger threat than the humans have realistically faced all game, but it's hardly going to do anything when there is only 1 civvie hidden at the back of Galactica and the pilot is running around in a VII !!!
Now this wasn't a one off. I even "simulated" a game to quickly churn through a session to see how often we could expect the pursuit track to succeed. Conclusion: Once per game. It was just FAR too common to have a basestar activate and jump across by itself. Once across, it cock-blocks all CFB activations. This perhaps would not be so bad if the buffs the humans received didn't make dealing with a lone basestar so trivial!
2. Pilots are now SO BORED. With attacks generally less problematic - the CFB seems to, at BEST, be about as dangerous as the cylon attack crises but now with the VIIs and CAG and escort ability (this one in particular) the humans simply pack away the civvie ships lickity-spit - leaving one as bait - and dispatch the raiders when they get a bit close (not killing them early of course - that'd just activate the CFB!) Who needs to shoot raiders when you can just use one action to escort a civvie away? Why use maximum firepower when that only lets you kill FOUR measly raiders when you can use a single action to make as many raiders as you want useless. Surrounded by 18 raiders? No problem. Escort. Raiders must now move slightly next turn. (Or perhaps shoot the viper, not a big deal. Especially since it'll likely take 5 or 6 shots to connect.)
3. See above, basically. It has actually made the game more balanced, but gimping the cylons and buffing the hell out of the humans… but boy is it frustrating to play as a cylon now! We have basically come to the conclusion to not both with activating the CFB. I mean, yes, if the humans happen to be at position 2 on the jump track, the CFB is loaded up, and it is the cylon's turn… well then you might as well move the tracks (either up or down.) But otherwise, you're MUCH better off activating Caprica. Since you never see the dangerous fleet attacks like in the base game (just dribbly-drabbly lone basestars which help the humans more than hinder them) then activating the fleet is MUCH weaker than it used to be. By activating Caprica the cylons have a really good chance of throwing a crisis at the humans that doesn't move the jump track - this means they are just staring at wasted resources for no gain. Any other cylon options are, nearly always, just going to be a wasted turn for the cylons. The most frustrating part is you have this whole fleet ready to go. Could even be 1 place from jumping… and find you just CAN'T get them to jump in! Even if they did, they'd only be contending with one civvie to protect anyway…
So the rant's TL;DR:
Why does everyone else seem to find the Cylon's only winning 50-60% of their games? How do these games play out? Do you do the extreme tactics of XOing and ICing every single time, or do you find humans can win sometimes even without that?
Why does everyone seem to think the CFB improves gameplay? Do you not find lone basestars appearing (via a number of possibilities) that then completely halts the CFB's pursuit track? Don't you find it frustrating that it's in humanities best interest to draw out a basestar?
PS: We don't have pegasus. Don't really like the sound of Pegasus and some of the rules therein… but perhaps there is something from that expansion that I'm missing that would help? Perhaps we're doing something wrong with the CFB? Perhaps our 3 CFB games were anomolies and usually pan out differently?