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Subject: Almost not as bad as the rating suggests rss

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Ryan Beasley
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College Station
Texas
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Currently the rating for this game is a 3.5 (with 72 ratings), and yet it's not an unbearable game to play. In fact, it's close to enjoyable for at least the first session. If reworked or house-ruled it could probably be significantly improved.

The setup is that in four separate dimensions, the Battlestar spots the same disabled Cylon raider. Each Battlestar sends out a single ship to retrieve the Cylon.

The board has four quadrants (red, blue, green, and yellow), separated by boundary lines. Each quadrant has a docking bay in the outer corner, a wormhole 6 squares from the docking bay, and a purple planet. The players each start in their respective docking bay, and the Cylon starts at the intersection of the boundaries.

On a players turn, they spin the spinner to get a 1-6 result. They may then move their ship that many squares, taking orthogonal steps. Two ships may not occupy the same square. If a ship moves onto the Cylon it ends its movement, picks up the Cylon, and spins again for movement (thereafter carrying the Cylon except when forced to drop it due to cards or battles). If a ship moves onto a wormhole, the ship is then placed on another wormhole of the player's choice (that is not currently occupied) and then spins again for movement. Players must use their entire movement unless moving onto a wormhole or the Cylon, and are allowed to fly in circles to do so.

Players cannot fly past the boundary lines. They can fly onto the boundary lines and must do so to initially enter the same square as the Cylon.

Aside from flying, there are cards and battles. Cards are a limited resource, and each player has a small deck (about 20). At the start of each player's turn, he/she flips over cards until two are face-up (including any cards unused in the previous turn). The active player can use one or both of his/her face-up cards at any time during his/her turn. If used, the card is removed from the game. There are three types of cards in the deck: turbo allows another movement after the current move ends, force field sends one opponent to any empty purple planet, and laser torpedoes have a chance of sending opponents back to their bays. Specifically, spin the spinner to determine the number of shots (1-6), then for each shot spin the spinner to determine the quadrant affected. All opponents in an affected quadrant are sent back to their home bay. The defense to laser torpedoes and force fields is the fourth type of card, evasive actions. Evasive action cards are not in the deck. Instead, each player has three at the start of the game, and they each cancel a single force field or a single hit from a laser torpedo before being discarded.

To battle, a ship must be next to (orthogonally or diagonally) another ship. The active player may then declare battle, both players roll a die and the winner moves the loser's ship to any empty purple planet.

Strategy:
1) The player whose quadrant the Cylon is in has a significant advantage for two reasons. First, after respawning at their bay as a result of laser torpedo, they do not need to take a wormhole to reach the Cylon. Second, if the Cylon is within 6 spaces of the bay, the extra move received from moving onto the Cylon may grant them victory.

1.a) The first player to reach the Cylon has an advantage because the extra move they receive will most likely get the Cylon into their quadrant.

2) The wormholes are obvious points of contention as everyone not in the quadrant with the Cylon wants to go to that quadrant and almost everyone in the quadrant would like to get the Cylon and get to their home quadrant.

3) The only resource in the game is cards. The timing of card use is the most important part of the game (not too difficult when the only other vaguely important part of the game is blocking wormholes). Save the three Evasive action cards until you have the Cylon and think you'll be able to win if you can just hold onto it a turn or two, or until someone else will win if they can just get your ship out of the way.

Use turbos either to be the first player to reach the Cylon (strategy 1.a), to reach the Cylon in general if you think the extra move will get you to the wormhole (strategy 1), to reach a wormhole after picking up the Cylon (strategy 1), or to block another player from getting the Cylon to a wormhole (because the extra move from the wormhole will probably put them dangerously close to their bay). The use of the weapon cards should follow similar rules for usage as turbo cards.

3.a) Do not battle unless the result is unimportant or you are out of cards. Battles have a 50% chance of resulting in your ship being sent as far from the Cylon as possible. Cards do not "backfire" on the active player in such a way.

3.b) Try to be the last player with cards. Other players will be forced to battle if you have the Cylon, and will have fewer options than you will regardless.

The biggest take-home point for me is that using cards can have few results: win the game, bring the Cylon into your quadrant, keep the Cylon in your quadrant, make it easier for you to get/keep the Cylon, prevent an opponent from getting/keeping the Cylon, or be wasted. The tough questions are whether to spend dwindling resources now when they will have some effect, or save them for later, by which time the game may have been won already, but their increased rarity makes them more valuable if the game is still going.

Also, I recommend using six-sided dice for movement as the spinner takes longer to pass around, spin, and then discover that it points to a line and must be spun again. We keep the spinner for laser torpedoes, though.
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Mr. Chris
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While I respect your insight into the game, I must diagree.

This game is horrible. I'm surprised it is rated as high as it is.

The cards are broken, since one barrage of Laser Torpedoes can eliminate all of your "Evasive Action" cards. The use of "Turbo" cards reducing this game to a "who can spin the highest number" contest.

The Battlestar Galactica theme is butchered. Laser Torpedoes? Force Fields? Not in the series. Black Holes? "Purple Planets?" Not in the series. If you made a game about Battlestar Galactica - shouldn't it be about Battlestar Galactica? How about: "Quest for Earth" or "Cylon Ambush."

True, you can "fix" the game with house rules, but isn't that true of most bad games? Heck, I'm a moron and I think I could design a simple chase game that sprang to mind when I typed "Quest for Earth."

Your review is well written and you did an excellent job of describing the gameplay - too bad the game isn't any good.

This game is what you get when you rush a game into production to take advantage of a short-running TV series, which itself was an attempt to "cash in" on the success of Star Wars.
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Ryan Beasley
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I agree with all of your points, but not, I think, your expectations.

It would be difficult to convince me to play this game again, but I enjoyed playing it once. That bit of enjoyment in the first play suggested the title of the review, but I agree that the game is still over-rated.

The game is entirely too much luck for my taste, which is most prevalent when it deals with or comes from the cards (lasers destroying all evasions, or lots of high rolls with turbos). In fact, starting with a couple of turbos and rolling high when moving, it's possible for a player to win on the second turn. So the game is random...but it's not entirely random and I feel that good card play can (sometimes) make a difference in the game.

As for house rules, I feel like there is a sweet spot for discussing them. If the game can be significantly improved by small changes, then the potential is good. Looking at other (more popular) games rated within half a point of this one (Trouble, The Game of Life, Go Fish, Hi-Ho Cherry-O, and Candy Land), I feel like a few new/different rules could make this a much better game. It's not worth my time to come up with those changes, but I appreciate that there's at least enough complexity for such considerations.

I quite agree with your feelings about the theme. It's a shame they didn't make a game that better fit the name on the box.
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Eugene Wong
Canada
Surrey
BC
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1 good reason to come up with house rules and variants is because people love the old show, and would like to play along with the theme.
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mar hawkman
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Hehe, it might actually be a nice game if it wasn't so simplistic.

And yeah, the name "laser torpedo" doesn't bother me nearly as much as the fact that it's a weapon that you can't even point in the general direction of the enemy....

Actually... that's a good idea for a house rule. letting players target an opponent. Hmm... "Choose an opponent, Roll a d6, if it's 3 or higher they go back to their hangar"
 
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