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Holy Outlaw

How do you rate the characters, post-Exodus?

97 posts in this topic

Keithustus said:

 It is against the rules for three players to all have the same category of character, except support, unless you're playing a 7-player game.

  

Yes, but it's a worthy point, right?  Random character selection advantages cylons by leading to weaker teams and players in roles they're not suited for.  Setting aside the "fun factor," if a group's already seeing a cylon advantage in their games, this idea should give them pause.

To be fair, Ronsen did say he uses sort of a hybrid system where they start with randomization and then let players trade or even swap out for one in the box, but then that's another problem, isn't it; to defend a rule by saying it's better if you don't enforce it?

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we usually have 6 player....first four pick...poli, mili, pilot, support(hopefully they pick support,...this gets worse here if they pick mili)...2 more people to go...but all requirements met....5th person picks mili,...6th person picks mili ...now have 3-4 mili with 1 pilot and one poli....I have SEEN this happen and it is most annoying.

And that is,..."by the rules"...dont think i need to revisit rules but thanks.

Napoleon.

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napoleonWilson said:

...5th person picks mili,...6th person picks mili ...

And that is,..."by the rules"...dont think i need to revisit rules but thanks.

 

 No, that is clearly against the rules and results in a ******-up, unbalanced set of characters for the game.  That's why they have the rule against doing that.  The sixth person CANNOT pick the same class as the fifth player because the "second round" of classes have not been picked.

What you're saying is like if  there is one civilian ship in every space except the one space that has two civilian ships, and you as the CAG try to place another ship into that space that has two.

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napoleonWilson said:

we usually have 6 player....first four pick...poli, mili, pilot, support(hopefully they pick support,...this gets worse here if they pick mili)...2 more people to go...but all requirements met....5th person picks mili,...6th person picks mili ...now have 3-4 mili with 1 pilot and one poli....I have SEEN this happen and it is most annoying.

And that is,..."by the rules"...dont think i need to revisit rules but thanks.

I think you understand now that this isn't actually playing by the rules, but just to make it easier in your future games:

A good way to keep track of which classes are available to any given player is to initially arrange them in three columns, with the support characters set to one side. (You can also use these columns to indicate president/admiral/CAG succession without needing to have everyone keep checking the lists in the rulebook). This way it's clearly visible which classes are available to be chosen and which aren't - any column which is shorter than any of the others isn't a legal choice.

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I use cool program from BoardGameGeek site for random crew selection. It shows skill set of the generated team and if every player agreed with it, then we take this team and have another roll if they're not.

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VladislavGoldakovsky said:

I use cool program from BoardGameGeek site for random crew selection. It shows skill set of the generated team and if every player agreed with it, then we take this team and have another roll if they're not.

Could you post a link to this cool program - thanks

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yes...i see that now...thats kinda what the "touche" implied....HOWEVER....i still stand by the statement that enforcing an even stricter doctrine of character selection is not going to empower the, "fun factor" for all players.

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 What's interesting here is that the essential criteria for one character being better than another is that so and so "has something to contribute to the fleet." On the other hand the most poorly rated  characters such as Sarek, Tigh, and Gaeta have the most autonomy. So what if they have less to contribute its not as though you're definitely going to be a human and if you are a human you can still end up being treated unfairly by other human players. These characters are selfish but they can give and take a lot when it comes to the power struggles of the game.

I used to play BSG strictly, swamping on anyone who wasn't doing the best thing (as far as I was concerned) for the fleet. Then I played with my crazy friend who decided to be Baltar and behave like Balter. He did unhelpful things (like steal the presidency) even though he wasn't the cylon as a role play, it made me furious. I've found that being too demanding group-strategy-wise has only lead to people not enjoying the game as much (why? because it takes away their autonomy) so I've changed tact and become much less, "if you don't do this you're a cylon." Rather I silently observe, bide my time and try to determine who the cylon is based on body language and behaviour. then I try to do something out of the blue like execute them, send them to the brig or take the presidency, which can upset everyone but if I'm right I've saved the game. If it gets me executed I'll just pick Cally as my new character and execute them right back. This is why I like characters like Sarek because they allows me to play in this manner whilst being protected from the worst consequence: being stuck in the brig.

In conclusion I''ve come to value characters that can take the game into their own hands and bully others whilst protecting themselves from being bullied and it only makes the "experts" furious. Especially when they realise that I am actually a human. I believe this is the intended way of using these characters and closer to the intended spirit of the game. It seems like many others are playing too safe. To me its no longer primarily a strategy game, it is primarily a bluffing/discerning/back stabbing/politics game embedded in a strategy game. That is why I still like the more autonomous characters even if they have less to offer the fleet.

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JAGONAUT said:

 What's interesting here is that the essential criteria for one character being better than another is that so and so "has something to contribute to the fleet." On the other hand the most poorly rated  characters such as Sarek, Tigh, and Gaeta have the most autonomy. So what if they have less to contribute its not as though you're definitely going to be a human and if you are a human you can still end up being treated unfairly by other human players. These characters are selfish but they can give and take a lot when it comes to the power struggles of the game.

I used to play BSG strictly, swamping on anyone who wasn't doing the best thing (as far as I was concerned) for the fleet. Then I played with my crazy friend who decided to be Baltar and behave like Balter. He did unhelpful things (like steal the presidency) even though he wasn't the cylon as a role play, it made me furious. I've found that being too demanding group-strategy-wise has only lead to people not enjoying the game as much (why? because it takes away their autonomy) so I've changed tact and become much less, "if you don't do this you're a cylon." Rather I silently observe, bide my time and try to determine who the cylon is based on body language and behaviour. then I try to do something out of the blue like execute them, send them to the brig or take the presidency, which can upset everyone but if I'm right I've saved the game. If it gets me executed I'll just pick Cally as my new character and execute them right back. This is why I like characters like Sarek because they allows me to play in this manner whilst being protected from the worst consequence: being stuck in the brig.

In conclusion I''ve come to value characters that can take the game into their own hands and bully others whilst protecting themselves from being bullied and it only makes the "experts" furious. Especially when they realise that I am actually a human. I believe this is the intended way of using these characters and closer to the intended spirit of the game. It seems like many others are playing too safe. To me its no longer primarily a strategy game, it is primarily a bluffing/discerning/back stabbing/politics game embedded in a strategy game. That is why I still like the more autonomous characters even if they have less to offer the fleet.

It's not clear to me how we're defining "selfish" vs. "unselfish."  The way I look at it, it is my selfish desire to win the game.  I XO teammates and suggest optimal play decisions out of that selfish desire.  It is this same selfish desire that often leads me to pick a character with a useful ability (say, Helena Cain) over a character with a corner case ability (say, Saul Tigh).  I suspect you'd categorize the characters differently, calling Helena Cain selfless for jumping the whole fleet, while Saul Tigh would be seen as selfish for taking a title for himself?  I find little merit in drawing that type of distinction.  

Like you, I'm unlikely to say "If you don't do this you're a cylon!"  But I am likely to say something like "If you do this, you will further the human chances of victory, build trust, and earn my gratitude."  If a player routinely declines such olive branches, particularly if these refusals coincide with suboptimal play decisions (and I'm not one to mystify the idea of optimal play with caveats and qualifiers as if good and bad play are subjective measures dependent on perspective), I eventually grow to doubt either their loyalty or their aptitude.  Players who routinely behave this way at the table tend to wind up isolated (e.g., they receive fewer XOs from teammates, their suggestions tend to carry less weight).  It's not hard to imagine what the cumulative effects of multiple players behaving this way would be, is it?

So is it a strategy game or a bluffing game?  Can it be played by five individuals or do you need to coalesce into a team?  To me, these questions beg a third: how often do humans win when all five play independently of each other?  At my table, the answer to that question is that without trust, without teamwork, without frakking XOs, the cylons win more often.  And it is precisely this paradox that creates the most vital tension in the gamewe players need each other, but we cannot trust each other.  It's tempting to retreat from that dangerous dance and rely only on the one person I can positively trust, but what happens if everyone does that?  

The answer: you wind up being a real team player after all, only the team you're so selflessly benefiting happens to be the opposing side.

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 By selfish I really mean that they have more power to do what they want to do. Cain, for instance, is obliged to use her extra jump to the benefit of the fleet but what if you pick her and you become a cylon in the sleeper phase. If you were Tigh you could reap havoc. I've also had plenty of experiences where I could have won the game for the humans if I had been Tigh. But the main point is that , if you're Cain, you don't get to decide when you use your opg, everybody else does. Its not your special skill its the groups (a bit like Adama's every turn ability). In contrast, Boomer (another unpopular character) and Helo's opg cain be used when you want to use them, for good or evil. So the criteria that is being overlooked when rating characters is one of autonomy: will you be able to use your opg and other abilities how and when you want to?

I guess these characters do encourage players to trust themselves first and teamwork later but I think that's the intention behind them. For me personally, losing is not the worst outcome in the game, being stuck in the brig turn after turn is, and Tigh, Gaeta, and Zarek either protect you from the brig or put others in there.

I'm not saying that these characters are better than others (like Cain). Initially I was just noticing the criteria that was used to rate characters and I was trying to figure out what annoyed me about it. In the end I have concluded that non of you are cylons.

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That is correct....at the beginning of the game at character selection NONE of us are cylons, and that is the point.  The game is very hard against the humans.  Humans need to work together and make a good team.  That means the team building starts at character selection.  If you have people picking "lower tier" characters, the humans NEED some "higher tier" characters to pick up the slack.  Just like with any sports team, typically you don't start game one of the finals with bench warmers.  It's true the stakes of playing a game of BSG vs. game 7 of the stanly cup finals are a bit different, however I believe in playing to win at any game, otherwise why play.  I know ultimatly the point is to have fun but if nobody cares about the game and people nearly work to throw the game, I'd rather just sit around and socialize.  BSG is a team game and a team comes first.  Thats where the original "rating tree" comes in.  If you have, Anders, Tigh, and Dee...humans are going to be in for a real rough ride unless the next 2 or 3 picks are some super stars. 

Picking characters is super important to the game.  I get that people want to to try new characters and see some new blood and thats fine but the team has to come first.  If you pick first and pick a donkey, then people after need to make up for it.  If you pick last and they picked a doughnut then you need to pick up the slack, thats just the way picking order works and why going first has it's advantages.  If you pick last and people have chosen some bada***es then that might be the time to blow the dust off ol' Roslin.  To pick the character you want to play regardless of what others have chosen and what role NEEDS to be filled for the good of the team,....THAT is the very definition of selfishness. 

Napoleon

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 @JAGONAUT

I'm curious: What's your ratio of wins vs losses? Considering humanity's chances are slim if everyone's working together, I can't imagine what they are if humanity tears itself apart...

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 @Napoleon

I play with players who hope to become cylons and pick their characters accordingly. That changes the whole dynamic. It doesn't mean they are playing to loose they are just hedging their bets on winning for the cylons.

 

@Cifer

I'd say about 1 in 3 human victories. It comes close to evening out if you consider that's pretty much the same ratio as the chance to be a cylon and as a cylon win 2 in 3 games. Any given player wins 45% of the time.

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So,....if they don't become cylons they basically throw the game to the cylon players cause everybody chose so poorly in the hopes of becoming a cylon.  Jeesh, why play if your players just want to watch the cylons win?  Just deal out the loyalty cards and whoever gets the, "you are a cylon" cards wins.  Better yet just reverse the amount of "you are" and "you are not" cards so that way almost everybody can be a cylon and you can all win together. 

Picking a lame character in the remote hopes HOPES of becoming a cylon and having a built in excuse as to why you can't do anything to help is so counter to the spirit of the game it's baffeling and akin to cheating.  Playing the cylon can be fun, but if everybody choses lame, 'tier 2 or 3" characters and the humans are so crippled because of it that the cylons win that is a pretty hollow win.  It's like whooping on a handicapped kid, "woohoo, I'm such a badass.  I'm king of the retards."  If I am a cylon I want to go against the very best, that way if I win I feel in part that I earned it.  

Five player game, two cylon reveals early.  now you got Dee, Tigh and Roslin as human,...an admirial who can lock up one of his fellow humans real easy, an engineer  who gets one engineering and Laura "don't ask me to help a vote" Roslin.  Yeah they would have been great if you were a cylon, but ya didn't and now the cylons get to walk all over the humans.  Wow,...**YAWN**   epic win for the cylons. 

The  thing about the original list was that the Tier 1 and better tier 2 characters were great for the humans AND if you happened to be a cylon they could be good too, not the BEST but could do something as a cylon..  I think that was part of the criteria in their ranking.  The best cylon characters offer nothing to the humans, so choosing only those characters gives the human team just another handicap they don't need and should not have. 

 Napoleon.

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I tend to choose characters based on the same criteria as Jagonaut, because I don't know which team I'm going to end up on. Similarly, I tend to not pay much heed to character strength analyses that only take into account what a given character has to contribute to the human team, since there's no guarantee that such an analysis will be applicable to any given game. 

I really don't agree with Cifer's statement that the chances of the human team winning are poor if they're working well together, and would find it interesting for him/her to run a full co-op game to see if that's still the case without any cylons (though I totally understand if there's no desire to do so on Cifer's part happy.gif). That the people in Jagonaut's group play to try to end up as cylons is even weirder to me, though I guess that's just my bias against understanding why anyone would play a team game in which they want to be on Team X but don't get to simply choose to be on Team X.

For what it's worth, my win/loss ratio is around two wins per three games, regardless of which team I was on.

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Like Kushiel, I find that the humans win their share; my playgroup has about a 50/50 win ratio, though I've always attributed the humans' "high" win rate at least partially to my group's ability to avoid the prisoner's dilemma that seems, quite frankly, to be ensnaring Jagonaut and others.

But let me suggest another reason for choosing characters with an eye toward human cooperation: the fundamental differences between the cylon and human teams.  The cylon team has no titles, and no specific roles to fill.  All revealed cylons end up looking identical (e.g., blank) and behaving almost identically, as well.  On the other hand, the humans have four distinct roles that need to be capably filled in if they're going to have a reasonable chance of success (President, Admiral, CAG, support), and most of the time there are only going to be three humans by endgame.  Awareness of this fact breeds a healthy respect among my playgroup for the ~60% likelihood that they're going to wind up on a team with more holes to plug than fingers to plug with.  If I wind up on the team that blanks my sheet and doesn't require cooperation to win, then great; that problem takes care of itself.  I really only need one good action, and the Loyalty card generally provides it.  On the other hand, since *most of the time* I'm going to end up on the team where the text on my card actually matters, and where my chances of survival are directly correlated with things like cooperation, trust, teamwork, and strategy, I ought to plan ahead for that. 

On the other hand, it's hard to argue with a 67% win rate, which quite frankly amounts to one player's utter dominance over their group.  I'd say anyone with a win rate like that ought to keep doing whatever it is they're doing, though I'd also expect the other four players, if capable, to at some point take advantage of the wealth of methods that the game provides for kneecapping dominant players.

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Holy Outlaw said:

But let me suggest another reason for choosing characters with an eye toward human cooperation: the fundamental differences between the cylon and human teams.  The cylon team has no titles, and no specific roles to fill.  All revealed cylons end up looking identical (e.g., blank) and behaving almost identically, as well.

This is only true of the cylon team after both cylons have revealed, though. Before they reveal, which is IME usually most of the game, their character sheets matter just as much as the humans'.

Holy Outlaw said:

On the other hand, the humans have four distinct roles that need to be capably filled in if they're going to have a reasonable chance of success (President, Admiral, CAG, support), and most of the time there are only going to be three humans by endgame.

Here you assume that most people play five-player games, or play six-player games and end up with a cylon-biased Sympathetic Cylon. It's probably worth it to consider that not everyone consistently plays five-player games, or at least mention that your experiences of the game are indicative of five-player games (I'm guessing, but that seems to be the case based on what you wrote).

Holy Outlaw said:

Awareness of this fact breeds a healthy respect among my playgroup for the ~60% likelihood that they're going to wind up on a team with more holes to plug than fingers to plug with.  If I wind up on the team that blanks my sheet and doesn't require cooperation to win, then great; that problem takes care of itself.  I really only need one good action, and the Loyalty card generally provides it.  On the other hand, since *most of the time* I'm going to end up on the team where the text on my card actually matters, and where my chances of survival are directly correlated with things like cooperation, trust, teamwork, and strategy, I ought to plan ahead for that.

This is totally useful advice. To be clear, my point isn't so much that I rate character strength without considering how good Character X is if he/she ends up on the human team, just that I don't give much creedence to character strength ratings which don't take into account how good Character X is if he/she ends up on the cylon team.

Holy Outlaw said:

On the other hand, it's hard to argue with a 67% win rate, which quite frankly amounts to one player's utter dominance over their group.  I'd say anyone with a win rate like that ought to keep doing whatever it is they're doing, though I'd also expect the other four players, if capable, to at some point take advantage of the wealth of methods that the game provides for kneecapping dominant players.

Well, I play with rather a lot of different groups, and there isn't any one of them that I'd say I dominate (let alone utterly!). I'm not sure that it would matter if I did, though, since BSG isn't really a game in which it's smart to agitate against any particular player based on their skill at the game, since you often won't know until late in the game if that person is on your team or not. happy.gif

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 Well Kushiel, regardless of whether we end up seeing eye-to-eye at the end of this whole discussion, know that you have my undying respect for successfully layering four separate quotes into an FFG forum post without blowing the formatting all to hell.gui%C3%B1o.gif 

I'll offer my thinking on some of those points:

1) It's true that cylons often lay low and enjoy the powers of their character sheet for a while before revealing, but I'm really struggling to think of a character who can lay low for "most of the game" while actively use their character's abilities to benefit the cylon team.  I agree that if there was an OPT that allowed a character to actively subvert the fleet from within without exposure, it would be foolish not to take that into account when ranking characters.

So for example, the characters most recently suggested in this thread to have been underrated in the OP out of neglect for their cylon value are Saul Tigh, Tom Zarek, and Felix Gaeta.  Has it been your experience that you can actively use these characters' abilities to the detriment of the human fleet without detection?  In my group, using the OPTs or OPGs of these characters in a way that the majority of human players do not want amounts to a pseudo-reveal for the heat it draws on the player, and it's usually a weaker reveal than the one printed on the Loyalty card or the ones that tend to be be provided by game conditions, irrespective of character abilities.

2) On the one hand, it's true that I play almost exclusively five-player games and you detected that, so I guess it's colored my thinking more than I want it to.  But I mean for my comments to be universal.  Is it really only pertinent to five player games to say "most of the time there are going to be three humans by endgame"?  Isn't that true for 4s with sympathetic cylons, 4s with hostile cylons and the last Loyalty card being a cylon, and for 6s with hostiles?  It seems to me that, even speaking in universal terms, three is the number of the humans at endgame "most of the time."  Something I'm missing?

3) Like you, I wouldn't put too much stock in character rankings that don't consider whether someone flips well.  But I believe I did consider that. My Tier 1 ranking of Chief, for example, explicitly states that his strength as a cylon contributes to his high ranking.  Our real difference of opinion seems to me to stem from the different value we put in "selfish" vs "selfless" abilties, and in the fallacious distinction you and others seem to be drawing between someone like Saul Tigh's OPG that takes directly from another player for himself, and someone like Helena Cain's.  

It's been my experience that the players who win the most, human *and* cylon, are those who try to fill a vital role in the human fleet to the best of their ability every time.  Because these players, to borrow the now-infamous language of the OP, "offer a lot to the fleet," when they take away what they're being counted on for in an untimely way, they hurt quite a lot.  On the other hand, those who regularly play as self-interested free agents tend to be marginalized and contained by a competent table of cooperative players, especially over time, and they find that they simply can't do as much to damage or hurt the fleet, regardless of their loyalty.

4) To be clear, I wouldn't suggest that players agitate against whoever seems to be a strong player.  I agree that's a dead-end strategy if ever I heard one.  What I'm talking about is, if you were in my playgroup and winning 67% of the time, I would do the following things to you:

IF I WAS A CYLON I WOULD: 

A) send you all my extra loyalty cards every time (to flip you to my side if I got a double cylon, or throw suspicion on you if I got human)

B) execute you (Cally, Political Prisoner, Quorum stuff, crisis effects, whatever) to put more loyalty cards in your hand, since I want you on my team and to take skill cards out of your hand, since you obviously know how to use them

IF I WAS A HUMAN I WOULD:

A) examine your Loyalty card regularly

B) double-check your Launch Scouts, when possible

C) monitor your cards in hand / skill check participation

D) be wary of posed strategies that consolidate power into your hands, particularly if another player could do the same thing

The important point I want to make is that none of the above is agitating.  It's all rational play from the other players' perspective once one player begins to dominate.  But each of these modification to the others players' strategy hurts your chance of winning, whichever team you end up on.  That's why I'm so startled by your 67% win rate. 

And I'm even more surprised to hear you always play with a revolving cast and you're dominant against each.  I don't know if I'm more impressed by your gameplay or the fact that there are that many competent BSG playgroups in your area.  Is a lot of this PBF?  Personally, I have a solid group of 8 from whom I tend to scrounge up 5 or so once every couple weeks for a two game BSG night, and I've only maintained that through careful cultivation.  I thought I was doing pretty well.  How many serious BSG players do you know?  The way I feel about this game, I might just up and relocate ...

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 First of all I never suggested that every player should select "tier 2 or 3" characters. I merely suggested an alternative criteria by which the characters could be rated, that being autonomy as apposed to what they have to offer the fleet. If you don't like autonomy, for the purposes of team work and human win ratios, then fair enough.  The game is obviously designed, however, to incorporate characters that upset teamwork and create conflict between players (in fact this is its foundational philosophy and the reason why the game is so fun) and so the selection of such characters is IMO legitimate.

And BTW these characters (Tigh being the most extreme) are not only useful as cylons but as humans who know or have a good suspicion as to who the cylons are. They have the power to do something about it on their own without the support of other human players (a situation I've found myself in many times) even if it gets them executed. And for that they are called selfish characters. The fact is, if you can judge who the cylon is by their tone of voice and facial expression instead of just how they play then you have a major advantage by choosing these characters and can help the fleet a lot.

Another criteria overlooked is the fact that players are no longer only picked at the start but also after an execution. These "lower tier" characters are exceptional to use for revenge after having your former character's eyeballs sucked from their sockets.

Also in regards to starting as a human player, I've found that it is almost unwise to share and unleash all your best human strategies with players you regularly play with as it will come back to bite you at some point when you ARE a cylon. Keeping an element of spontaneity in ones general play helps to counteract the effect of other players getting used to you, cylon or not. 

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 First of all I never suggested that every player should select "tier 2 or 3" characters. I merely suggested an alternative criteria by which the characters could be rated, that being autonomy as apposed to what they have to offer the fleet. If you don't like autonomy, for the purposes of team work and human win ratios, then fair enough.  The game is obviously designed, however, to incorporate characters that upset teamwork and create conflict between players (in fact this is its foundational philosophy and the reason why the game is so fun) and so the selection of such characters is IMO legitimate.

And BTW these characters (Tigh being the most extreme) are not only useful as cylons but as humans who know or have a good suspicion as to who the cylons are. They have the power to do something about it on their own without the support of other human players (a situation I've found myself in many times) even if it gets them executed. And for that they are called selfish characters. The fact is, if you can judge who the cylon is by their tone of voice and facial expression instead of just how they play then you have a major advantage by choosing these characters and can help the fleet a lot.

Another criteria overlooked is the fact that players are no longer only picked at the start but also after an execution. These "lower tier" characters are exceptional to use for revenge after having your former character's eyeballs sucked from their sockets.

Also in regards to starting as a human player, I've found that it is almost unwise to share and unleash all your best human strategies with players you regularly play with as it will come back to bite you at some point when you ARE a cylon. Keeping an element of spontaneity in ones general play helps to counteract the effect of other players getting used to you, cylon or not. 

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Holy Outlaw said:

 Well Kushiel, regardless of whether we end up seeing eye-to-eye at the end of this whole discussion, know that you have my undying respect for successfully layering four separate quotes into an FFG forum post without blowing the formatting all to hell.gui%C3%B1o.gif 

 

It's not nearly as difficult as people want you to think it is. When you hit the "quote" button, you'll see the quoted text, preceded by a bracketed string of characters that looks something like this: "QUOTE efidm=473735". Copy that character string (including brackets). For each block of text you want to quote, paste that character string and add "/QUOTE" at the end of the text block, again in brackets. It's important that QUOTE be all caps. Do that for each block of text and you should be fine. (This instructional passage brought to you by much experimentation on my part.)

Holy Outlaw said:

I'll offer my thinking on some of those points:

 

1) It's true that cylons often lay low and enjoy the powers of their character sheet for a while before revealing, but I'm really struggling to think of a character who can lay low for "most of the game" while actively use their character's abilities to benefit the cylon team.  I agree that if there was an OPT that allowed a character to actively subvert the fleet from within without exposure, it would be foolish not to take that into account when ranking characters.

 

Cylon Boomer can often do more damage to the humans without ever revealing than she can with a supercrisis and the cylon locations. (Haven't played her with the cylon fleet option to know if that's still true or not, though). Cylon Ellen can pass off Treachery cards "as a cylon detector," which either hurts the humans or helps the cylons, or can pass off low value non-Treachery cards that won't help much in order to draw better cards to hurt the humans. Cylon Saul can brig folks he thinks/knows are human while claiming that they're cylons. Cylon Baltar can draw colors which are useful to pass the current crisis card skillcheck and then play them on skillchecks in which they hurt the check. Cylon Roslin can make the crisis deck nasty, all while claiming that "the other card was worse." Cylon Zarek can do the same thing as Saul, but in reverse. I'm not going to go through the whole roster of characters, but there are plenty who can disguise their malice while remaining unrevealed.

Holy Outlaw said:

So for example, the characters most recently suggested in this thread to have been underrated in the OP out of neglect for their cylon value are Saul Tigh, Tom Zarek, and Felix Gaeta.  Has it been your experience that you can actively use these characters' abilities to the detriment of the human fleet without detection?  In my group, using the OPTs or OPGs of these characters in a way that the majority of human players do not want amounts to a pseudo-reveal for the heat it draws on the player, and it's usually a weaker reveal than the one printed on the Loyalty card or the ones that tend to be be provided by game conditions, irrespective of character abilities.

 

Well, I think that Zarek, Gaeta and Saul are all weak characters, regardless of which team they end up on, so I'm not sure that I can really answer the question in the way that you're asking it. I can say that if the hidden cylon players have done a really good job, the human team won't have a majority which can weigh in against a given course of action, but will rather be split into two more or less equally populated factions.

Holy Outlaw said:

2) On the one hand, it's true that I play almost exclusively five-player games and you detected that, so I guess it's colored my thinking more than I want it to.  But I mean for my comments to be universal.  Is it really only pertinent to five player games to say "most of the time there are going to be three humans by endgame"?  Isn't that true for 4s with sympathetic cylons, 4s with hostile cylons and the last Loyalty card being a cylon, and for 6s with hostiles?  It seems to me that, even speaking in universal terms, three is the number of the humans at endgame "most of the time."  Something I'm missing?

 

Well, for instance, most of the time I don't play with four players, and I don't often play with Symps of any kind. About half the time that I play, it's 5p, and the other half, it's 6p. So in a 6p non-Symp game, there'll often be four humans at the end of the game.

Really, it's not something I wanted to make a big deal of. Just wanted to point out that it's not a universal way to judge character strength, and that there are better criteria which are more relevant to all games regardless of number of players, presence/absence of cylon leader, etc.

Holy Outlaw said:

3) Like you, I wouldn't put too much stock in character rankings that don't consider whether someone flips well.  But I believe I did consider that. My Tier 1 ranking of Chief, for example, explicitly states that his strength as a cylon contributes to his high ranking.  Our real difference of opinion seems to me to stem from the different value we put in "selfish" vs "selfless" abilties, and in the fallacious distinction you and others seem to be drawing between someone like Saul Tigh's OPG that takes directly from another player for himself, and someone like Helena Cain's.

 

Can you explain the supposedly fallacious nature of that distinction?

Holy Outlaw said:

It's been my experience that the players who win the most, human *and* cylon, are those who try to fill a vital role in the human fleet to the best of their ability every time.  Because these players, to borrow the now-infamous language of the OP, "offer a lot to the fleet," when they take away what they're being counted on for in an untimely way, they hurt quite a lot.

 

I can't argue with your experience. In my own, cylon players who have picked a character who doesn't have anything to offer the cylon team while hidden (like Cain), but can only offer "not helping the humans," aren't as good as characters who can actively hurt the humans with their abilities. The reason for this is simple: if I play Cain and am a cylon, the only way I can use my OPG to hurt the humans (most of the time) is not to use it. But if I'd played Boomer instead, I'd still be hurting the humans just as much as Cain by not having the ability to Blind Jump, but I've also got other abilities which can actively hurt the humans.

 

Holy Outlaw said:

On the other hand, those who regularly play as self-interested free agents tend to be marginalized and contained by a competent table of cooperative players, especially over time, and they find that they simply can't do as much to damage or hurt the fleet, regardless of their loyalty.

 

That's totally cool, but it's straight-up metagaming, which is a non-universal phenomenon. It doesn't really have anything to do with character strength, but rather playstyle and groupthink. That's not to say that it's not a factor in your games, but it doesn't really play a role in the baseline strengths of the characters.

Holy Outlaw said:

4) To be clear, I wouldn't suggest that players agitate against whoever seems to be a strong player.  I agree that's a dead-end strategy if ever I heard one.  What I'm talking about is, if you were in my playgroup and winning 67% of the time, I would do the following things to you:

 

[snip strategies]

The important point I want to make is that none of the above is agitating.  It's all rational play from the other players' perspective once one player begins to dominate.  But each of these modification to the others players' strategy hurts your chance of winning, whichever team you end up on.  That's why I'm so startled by your 67% win rate.

 

No argument from me. All I can say is that I don't think I've ever seen that kind of singling out of a given player based on his past experiences. People are always too worried about what's going on in the current game to do more than joke about that kind of thing ("You're always a cylon! I'm just going to brig you on turn one to get it over with"), but they don't actually act on those jokes.

Holy Outlaw said:

And I'm even more surprised to hear you always play with a revolving cast and you're dominant against each.  I don't know if I'm more impressed by your gameplay or the fact that there are that many competent BSG playgroups in your area.  Is a lot of this PBF?  Personally, I have a solid group of 8 from whom I tend to scrounge up 5 or so once every couple weeks for a two game BSG night, and I've only maintained that through careful cultivation.  I thought I was doing pretty well.  How many serious BSG players do you know?  The way I feel about this game, I might just up and relocate ...

 

Never done PBF; BSG seems really ill-suited to it, and I've got video games for that kind of play. I've got a local group in my town that's made up of seven people, and various members of that group frequently play the game. There's another group about an hour away, which I actually play with more often than my local group, and that one is made up of about fifteen different people, with a core group of about half a dozen and the rest rotating in and out. And I often play the game at the few conventions I go to, and that's obviously with people outside my normal groups.

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Well, Kushiel, both you and Jagonaut have made some important points and I feel I owe you more attention than I'm able to give right now so I won't respond to everything, though maybe the community has some thoughts.  Here are some of the interesting points you're causing me to consider:

1) Jagonaut argues that individual antagonism is part of the "fundamental philosophy" of the game.  He values characters' ability to unilaterally settle scores against other individual players.  On the other hand, Kushiel suggests it's "metagaming" and even "groupthink" to consider a player's past behavior and revealed tendencies when deciding how to respond to them in-game.  I'm leaning toward Jagonaut here but could be swayed.  I'll tell you this, though: it's either a fundamental game element and part of designer intent, or it's an optional outgrowth of playstyle that's outside of the game proper, but it can't be both.

2) Jagonaut says if you play your hardest for humans every time you box yourself in.  He argues that you need to hold back a little something, especially with your regular group, and sometimes play suboptimally and even irrationally, to conceal your tendencies.  I'm inclined to agree, though not sure how to factor this idea into a tier ranking system.

3) Kushiel suggests that it's possible to keep choosing bad crisis cards and burying good with Roslin and Boomer, and for Ellen to spread treachery cards around like a cylon Johnny Appleseed without detection.  The more I hear, the more I think our groups are really, really different.  My group strictly adheres to secrecy rules and I don't believe we're excessively "meta," but I have a very hard time picturing a character pulling off cylon antics like these for any period of time without detection.  What are other groups' experiences?  Are things like this plausible?

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Kushiel said:

 

Can you explain the supposedly fallacious nature of (drawing a distinction between someone like Saul Tight's OPG that takes directly from another player for himself, and someone like Helena Cain's)?

It’s a distinction without a difference.  Since no player can win the game in isolation—you win if your team wins and lose if your team loses—it’s wrong to assign additional value to “benefit me” abilities versus “benefit my team” abilities.  I *am* my team.  On the other hand, it’s entirely rational to do the opposite: to downgrade abilities that take from another, since these may lead to zero sum gains (taking from a team member to give to oneself with Saul Tigh, for instance), and to upgrade abilities that confer a benefit while taking from no one (like William Adama’s OPG, for instance) since I can always use them to net positive effect. 

Don’t get me wrong, if there was an ability that only benefited the humans, that would be a liability as I might wind up a cylon.  But I’m trying to imagine one of those and drawing a blank.  If you can remind me of one, I’d be the first to downgrade the character, but that’s still a separate point from what’s been discussed to date.  People have been suggesting that it’s rational to downgrade an ability that benefits every member of your team equally as compared to one that benefits you personally at the expense of others.  I’m arguing that’s a fool’s errand. 

For example, Helena Cain’s “Blind Jump” benefits the whole team.  For this reason, previous posts have compared her unfavorably to Saul Tigh, and you’ve suggested that the only way to use her ability to hurt humans is to not use it.  This is wrong-headed.  Allow me to pose an alternative.

HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO:

Humans are at 5 distance and just jumped.  There’s a full cylon fleet board, advanced pursuit track.  You, a cylon Helena Cain, remind the fleet that they can keep consolidating power and quoruming, or other such nonsense.  Maybe fix some vipers.  After all, you still have your blind jump that’s about to expire so you might as well use it to get the fleet out of this mess; let’s just keep paddling further down s*** creek.  Someone want to scout that destination deck and make sure it’s a 3?  No?  Well, let’s just keep on scouting it because that’s the only thing that matters.  Never mind the unholy conflagration that just dropped down on us.  What’s that, we got a 3?  Okay, Now!  NOW!  NOW!  WE GOTTA GO!  WHERE’S THAT XO?  At which point you either launch scout to bury the 3 or you nuke a random square full of civvies, and you reveal.

I’m not saying Helena Cain’s going to pull something like that off every time, but that’s devastating—and it’s a strategy that would never be available to someone like Saul Tigh.  “XO me to Blind Jump us out of this mess” simply rings in the human ear a little more sweetly than “XO me to steal the president’s title for myself.” 

In other words, the promise of mutual benefit regularly allows Helena Cain to reap tremendous *individual* advantage.  Show me a character with a strong but “selfless” OPG, and I’ll show you someone who can use that OPG to devastate whichever side they’re not on, leading me to argue for the following simplified formula:

STRONG = selfish

WEAK = selfless

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