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Negative feedback loop


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#1 Wrapped

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 01:39 AM

 

 

 

 

Okay, so I bought the game and have played it about 10 times now with various groups.

My impression of the game for now is that it lacks a few vital parts to keep players interested in the long run.

 

1. There really isnt much to do for human players in the downtimes. 
For cylons, yes, but for human players the general impression is that pilots go back to Galactica and loiter around hoping for new cylon ships to appear, the president draws and plays a few corum cards but has a main function of discarding skills so crisis cards wont be as bad. Same with the Admiral. He just waits stuff out, counts his remaining nukes over and over (1, 2… 1,2… 1,2…) and discards skills to prevent negative effects. Are my Cylon players too inactive, too good at keeping their cover or what's going on here?

This leads to the next conclusion:

2. There are no (or close to none) positive feedback loops.

Contrary to popular game design theory players are in no way rewarded for making good choises. There are no cards (or at least very few) where a player can take preemptive actions. Neither are there many actions that make you feel important in the strategy of the game. Most of the actions that can be made by one player can just as well be made by any other player (and in a combat situation it is better for everyone to man the stations instead of focusing on their specific area of expertise). The players are limited to waiting for the next crisis and a decision between 2 different bad situations. In this context the players are stranded on a sinking ship and all they can do is watch the ship sink, while every now and then choose between options that makes the ship sink at different paces (in a best case scenario). Do further expansions allow the players to positively affect the resources or the chances of  human victory by taking character- or title specific actions?


As the creator of Farmville put it when asked about the secret of it's successes (and God knows people were really curious about that one):
- "I guess people just like to watch things grow."



Suggestions:

1. Characterization of Player Relations: I know that the TV show doesnt contain very much of a positive feedback loop either, but in the show the script acknowledges the problem and try to throw in a speck of sunlight event every now and then (mostly through love stories). In a boardgame there isnt much use of those actions. Or are there? maybe some mechanics that give players the option to work on relations to other characters (trusted friends, loved ones, marriages and parties) that would give significant benefits (imagine Kara Thrace being a trusted friend with Boomer and as such gain +1 to all combat rolls as long as both are piloting vipers during her turn) or Bill Adama being allowed to draw a politics skill card if he is in a relationship with Laura Roslin).

2. Positive Feedback Skills: Another way to allow players to make important decisions in peace time would be to allow the Admiral to increase morale and resources (through labour) by putting Galactica in non combat mode, but at risk of being unable to defend against a cylon attack during a round or two. Or for the president to call for democratic positive choises every now and then (should we allow abortions for +1 morale or ban them for +1 population?). Pilots could hang out with the crew and arrange boxing games for morale increases and Engineers could form unions to increase productivity.

3. Characterization of Actions: Suppose that all rooms actions costs a skillcard of a specific type to use. So that Laura Roslin has to leave the killing of Centurion boarding parties to the players that has piloting or tactics cards (representing combat training). This is at the moment mainly represented by pilots, but the game would benefit hugely from a similar characterization of the other player roles as well. People wants to feel special and needed. Maybe this drawback would even balance out the positive effects of suggestion 1 and 2 if impremented?



Either way, I think the lack of agendas out of combat is the biggest threat to human players. As the game so strongly suggests; 

if morale hits the bottom your crew will be pretty much screwed. This also applies to every other aspect of life that I can think of. Including my BSG group. 



#2 dwightsboardgame

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 07:41 PM

Have you played with both expansions? They greatly change the pacing of game with regards to space combat.

Giving too much synergy to particular player interactions sounds like it would make it difficult for cylons to remain hidden because they'd almost be forced to engage in the highly beneficial activity, otherwise they'd be suspected/brigged.



#3 Wrapped

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 10:22 AM

That is true, unless there would be a similar negative effect to your loved one or trusted friend being outed as a Cylon (like most of the characters in BSG the TV show also experiences). Let the +1 to all flight combat rolls become a -1 if your best friend turns out to be gunning for the wrong team and let Adama spend his days away from the political offices once the interior of Colonial One is a constant reminder that the love of his life was a fracking toaster.



#4 Skowza

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 04:41 PM

Wrapped said:

1. There really isnt much to do for human players in the downtimes. 
For cylons, yes, but for human players the general impression is that pilots go back to Galactica and loiter around hoping for new cylon ships to appear, the president draws and plays a few corum cards but has a main function of discarding skills so crisis cards wont be as bad. Same with the Admiral. He just waits stuff out, counts his remaining nukes over and over (1, 2… 1,2… 1,2…) and discards skills to prevent negative effects. Are my Cylon players too inactive, too good at keeping their cover or what's going on here?
 

There shouldnt really be much downtime; just because you're not currently in the middle of a battle doesnt mean there is nothing to do.  Winning the game for the Humans usually comes down to a combination of how quickly you jumped to the end and how many skill checks you lost along the way, so Humans should spend their downtime drawing cards and Launching Scouts to rush to endgame.  It can get boring for the pilots since they don't have much to do sometimes, but they'll be the ones passing skill checks if the Admiral and President are using XOs and playing their roles properly.  The pilots also did get some really powerful and game-changing once-per-game abilites compared to the ones they gave Military and Political characters in the core.

 

Wrapped said:

2. There are no (or close to none) positive feedback loops.

Contrary to popular game design theory players are in no way rewarded for making good choises. There are no cards (or at least very few) where a player can take preemptive actions. Neither are there many actions that make you feel important in the strategy of the game. Most of the actions that can be made by one player can just as well be made by any other player (and in a combat situation it is better for everyone to man the stations instead of focusing on their specific area of expertise). The players are limited to waiting for the next crisis and a decision between 2 different bad situations. In this context the players are stranded on a sinking ship and all they can do is watch the ship sink, while every now and then choose between options that makes the ship sink at different paces (in a best case scenario). Do further expansions allow the players to positively affect the resources or the chances of human victory by taking character- or title specific actions?

This is a game where bad things are constantly happening and simply mitigating disasters should be considered "making good choices."  As dwights previously stated, the expansions add a lot of mechanics and change some important aspects of the game, but even in the base game there are definitely ways for players to take actions that are strategically useful, the best example off the top of my head is Launch Scout.  Expansions add combos such as "regain a Morale after destroying a basestar" and "name a Resource at the beginning of your turn; reduce losses to that Resource by 1 for the remainder of the turn" but this is a very social game, requires good teamwork to win and no one player needs to feel that they just made the game-winning play for their team; its about winning as a team in the end.  That may require Roslin to go kill Centurions while pilots fight Raiders and the Admiral scouts for a better destination; its true that the same thing could be accomplished by the pilot fighting Centurions while the Admiral mans the guns and Roslin scouts, but its the combination of what actions the whole team takes that will win or lose the game. 

If you like the game but want it to get more interesting, I'd say pick up a copy of Exodus, it adds quite a bit of new mechanics whereas Pegasus is more of an expansion on the existing mechanics plus the addition of the horrible New Caprica alternate win condition.



#5 Wrapped

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 03:07 AM

The addition of conditional positive action cards sounds awesome! God knows they are needed. In what expansion can I find those?



#6 Skowza

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:44 AM

Theres some in each expansion; I'd say start with Exodus since parts of Pegasus aren't so good (New Caprica, Cylon Leaders).



#7 KAGE13

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 05:37 AM

Ya sounds to me like your group isn't very cut throat. 

If there is any "downtime" in our games its spent trying to out the Cylons.  I am constantly playing head games with people.  Its more of a social game then a board game.  They board game just gives the means to generate the paranoia. 

I agree with the others, get the expansions.  I forgot in the basegame the Pilots didn't really have to launch until the Cylons show up.  With the Cylon Fleet Board you almost HAVE to play with 2 pilots, and the cylons don't just "vanish" when you jump.  As soon as you jump pilots should get back out there and manage the civilion fleet, and get into good positions based on the CFB.  

But I also think the CFB has to played with Pegasus.  Which also adds the "Air Lock".  Try convincing your group not to Air lock you when you take control of the President and the Admiralty….good luck with that. complice

Just start blindly blaming people for being a cylon, your game will change.  encourage lots of table talk in this game.  Don't just play the boardgame. 



#8 Hannibal_pjv

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 11:42 AM

KAGE13 said:

But I also think the CFB has to played with Pegasus.  Which also adds the "Air Lock".  Try convincing your group not to Air lock you when you take control of the President and the Admiralty….good luck with that. complice

Just start blindly blaming people for being a cylon, your game will change.  encourage lots of table talk in this game.  Don't just play the boardgame. 

 

Yep. This is very bad as a boardgame, but excelent table talk game! You have to talk yourself to the wictory or defeat!

I love this game a lot because of that aspect!

 

 



#9 Lontra

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 12:47 AM

KAGE13 said:

Just start blindly blaming people for being a cylon, your game will change.  encourage lots of table talk in this game.  Don't just play the boardgame. 

We do this even when we're not playing BSG. It was also really funny one time when my friend threw me in the brig for absolutly no reason aside from me bing a cylon in the previous game we played together. You might try doing that to get your players more engaged.



#10 The Schaef

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 10:54 AM

In the base game, there's only so much you can do with the resources available; player interaction is much more critical.

 

In our group, we played New Caprica a few times and went meh, and only hit Ionian Nebula when we want a twist, or some new guy wants to try it, or we're doing a marathon run through all objectives.

 

So our "standard" setup is Kobol with Leaders, Pegasus, CAG and the Fleet Board.  This gives both pilots and Cylons lots to do, and by extension gives the other players more freedom to move about (although Pegasus is a meat shield for Galactica damage 90% of the time).

 

We still fall a bit into a meta trap with this - some consider doing a Personal Goal after the turn to be a soft reveal, and/or increasing the odds of putting the second Cylon in play by virtue of going deeper into the loyalty deck - but we have enough variety with this setup to keep it fairly fresh.

 

We're all very excited about Daybreak, though.



#11 Rogue 4

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 05:24 PM

My friends and I talk so much crap that we borderline hate each other afterwards (not really but it feels like that). We might have some cold beverages to blame to....

But seriously, this game is way more fun once you blindly accuse people of being a Cylon. I have been blamed for being one and we are playing other board games!

I just went online and bought the shirt that reads "And yes, I am a frakking Cylon"






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