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."
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.