“I want to set this fleet on a path to freedom."
Fantasy Flight Games recently announced Daybreak, an upcoming expansion for Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game. With two supplemental game boards and hundreds of cards and tokens, Daybreak invites players to undertake desperate missions, struggle under the constant threat of mutiny, and bargain with Cylon Leaders driven by motives of their own!
As we approach the release of Daybreak later this summer, we’re pleased to begin a series of previews that will look at its new mechanics, characters, and challenges. Today, we’ll start with a closer examination of the all-new “Mutineer” mechanic, which allows Galactica’s crew members to gain a range of powerful new abilities...for a price. We’ll also meet a master mutineer, the duplicitous Tom Zarek, and we’ll take a look at how his alternative character sheet makes him the perfect choice for any player harboring a problem with authority.
Distribution of Power
In many ways, mutiny is a matter of perspective. When successful, it’s the rightful overthrow of a dangerous or tyrannical leader, carried out for the good of the crew and fleet. When unsuccessful, it’s a crime punishable by execution. After all, as Tom Zarek once said, "the truth is told by whoever is left standing."
In the complex, high-stakes political environment of Battlestar Galactica, this distinction is even more vital. At worst, a questionable president or admiral might be a Cylon, secretly biding his time before dealing an irreparable blow to the cause of humanity. But even if your leaders are human, their judgement may become clouded or the thrill of power may go to their heads. With so much on the line, can any one person be trusted to lead?
Inspired by the events of the fourth season of the television series, the Mutineer mechanic represents the fleet’s unraveling command structure in the face of overwhelming tension and desperation. This new system replaces the sympathizer rules from the base game, and primarily consists of two new components: a deck of twenty-two Mutiny Cards, and the “You Are the Mutineer” Loyalty Card.
Let’s look at that deck of Mutiny Cards first. Mutiny Cards provide special abilities that players may perform as an action. The catch is that each Mutiny Card also includes a negative effect (negative for the humans, anyway). Send a Message requires that its player damage Galactica to take a powerful shot at a Cylon boarding party, while Necessary Risk buys the fleet some precious food . . . but it also places a basestar and three raiders uncomfortably nearby. With Make a Deal, anyone can enjoy a privilege once held solely by the president, and as a final example, The Strong Survive can move the fleet forward at the cost of a civilian ship! In some ways, Mutiny Cards can be thought of as Quorum Cards for the average Joe. We can’t all be president, but we can occasionally taste that same power.
Moderation in All Things, Including Mutiny
Then why not just load up on Mutiny Cards and use them as you see fit? It’s not quite that simple. The illicit dealings described on Mutiny Cards must be undertaken carefully, away from the prying eyes of those in charge. Successful sabotage, even sabotage for the good of the fleet, must be carried out with discreet, carefully measured movements. Too much insurrection (or even discussion of insurrection) all at once means unwanted attention from those in command, and that in turn means a trip to the brig.
Accordingly, each player may only hold one Mutiny Card at time (with the exception of the Mutineer, a role we’ll discuss a little later). As soon as a player draws his second Mutiny Card, he must choose and discard one, then his character is sent to the brig on charges of conspiracy. Mutiny Cards, therefore, offer a tempting risk/reward proposition. The potentially helpful effects they grant humanity cannot be ignored, but to hold onto one is to live with the constant threat of incarceration. Unfortunately, playing Mutiny Cards is one of the few ways to discard them, but there are plenty of ways to draw them...whether you want to or not.
Crisis Cards in Daybreak often force players to draw Mutiny Cards as part of a penalty. Rallying Support, for example, can result in the current player drawing one Mutiny Card and one Treachery Card, and Secret Meetings can inflict this fate on an innocent bystander! Treachery Cards can also result in an unexpected Mutiny Card draw, so given the fact that anyone can be forced to draw one at any time, cautious players know that the safest number of Mutiny Cards to possess is zero.
Problems with Authority
Some crew members want to bring their leaders down, and they don’t care who knows it. These malcontents live on the edge, wearing their contempt for authority on their sleeves. They may have humanity’s best interests at heart (or not), but they’re fed up with the current command structure and what they view as life-threatening negligence or incompetence.
A new Loyalty Card, entitled “You Are the Mutineer,” represents an agitator who’s a little more comfortable with insubordination than his fellow crew members. This rabble-rouser is willing to take matters into his own hands, and he’s more adept at avoiding the consequences.
When constructing the Loyalty Deck at the start of any game that uses the Daybreak expansion, the players include the new “You Are the Mutineer” Loyalty Card in lieu of the “You Are a Sympathizer” Loyalty Card. And since the Mutineer immediately draws an additional Loyalty Card (after his Mutineer Loyalty Card), he can still be either a human or an unrevealed Cylon! This means that compounding their challenges, the human team will have to grapple with yet another dilemma: there’s a mutineer in their midst...but is his rebellion motivated by a genuine concern for humanity’s well-being, or is that just a convenient cover for his underhanded Cylon agenda?
Either way, the Mutineer can draw one more Mutiny Card than anyone else before he’s sent to the brig, meaning that at any given time, he benefits from the options they bring while enjoying relative safety from their consequences. On the other hand, the Mutineer draws these dangerous cards at a significantly increased rate; whenever the player with the “You Are the Mutineer” Loyalty Card draws a Crisis Card bearing the “prepare for jump” icon (on his turn), he must immediately draw another Mutiny Card!
The Ultimate Mutineer
Whereas some players might find the “You Are the Mutineer” card to be a burden, others will surely relish the role. For players of that mind, we present the ultimate mutineer, Tom Zarek. Notorious for his political cunning and ambition, Zarek returns here as an alternative character sheet – a “Military Leader” version of his former self. Zarek’s “Necessary Steps” gives him an unparalleled command of the Mutiny deck, while his “Abuse Power” once-per-game lets him play a just the right Mutiny card (for good or ill) at a crucial moment!
The stakes have never been higher, and there’s no room for failures of leadership. When you can’t trust your commanding officers, isn’t mutiny the only option? Find out when Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak Expansion releases early in the third quarter of 2013!