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Subject: Character Tiers & Suggestions for Rebalancing the List? rss

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Dominic Bennetts
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I'm curious to hear from everyone, their opinions on the character tier list as of Exodus. Who are the strongest characters, the weakest? Who are the best balanced ones? I'm toying with the idea of trying to totally rebalance some of the characters to bring them all up to a relative par, since in our games the choices always end up being essentially the same:

1. Cain (or Helo, if a particular player gets to pick first)
2. Cally
3. Apollo
4. Baltar/Roslin
5. Cain (if Helo was first pick) / Gaeta

I don't think I've seen a single game go by where someone has used Dualla, Zarek, Anders or Kat. Possibly not Tory either. It seems like the characters that we don't care for in the show also mostly have mediocre abilities, so there's literally no reason to pick them.

If people are able to elaborate on the flaws of particular characters and some common suggestions/fixes for them, it's be appreciated. I'm really getting tired with our character selection, since I'm generally the only person to vary my character choice (unless I go first, in which case it's always Cain).
 
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Jeff Chamberlain
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Sounds like a bit of group think to me, or people just not willing to explore outside their comfort zone. I'm sure some characters probably are demonstrably weaker than some others, but I really don't think those are the only 5 worth picking.
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Jeff Chamberlain
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As for the list you've never seen anyone pick... I have seen them all picked before, and in particular I think that both Dualla and Zarek have some powerful abilities. Dualla's ability to move that many civilian ships around is certainly powerful in cases where the cylon ships are over whelming your pilots' ability to defend the civies. And Zarek's OPG is really nice, and his weakness is irrelevant if he's the president and is able to stay unchallenged on colonial one.

As for how I pick: I like to pick my character based on whether or not they will be useful to me both as a human AND as a cylon. I do love Kally, but I don't pick her all the time, because I do like to mix it up.
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Dominic Bennetts
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It's pretty much exactly groupthink. The guys feel they have nutted out their ideal combination of characters to cover all bases. Whilst I dispute this to a degree I know that their general consensus is that you're playing suboptimally if you don't pick the number 1 character in each of the 4 character categories. That's partially why I was curious to see people's opinions on tier lists for characters, to see if my group of friends are matching general consensus or not.
 
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Paul W
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At a minimum, I'd say they're underestimating Zarek, Starbuck, and Chief.

More importantly, however, part of the fun of the game (to me at least) is the different narratives the unfold. Personally, I try to pick a variety of characters just to experience BSG from a variety of perspectives and get in character at least a tiny bit.

 
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Angry Augury
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fizzmore wrote:
At a minimum, I'd say they're underestimating Zarek, Starbuck, and Chief.

More importantly, however, part of the fun of the game (to me at least) is the different narratives the unfold. Personally, I try to pick a variety of characters just to experience BSG from a variety of perspectives and get in character at least a tiny bit.



This is how I play as well. Though there are some characters I like more than others, I try to choose those that I have played the least for whichever categories are available to me. I think it's exciting having to approach the game from different perspectives and abilities every time.
 
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Jason Miceli
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My group regularly uses just about all characters, with the exception of the following:
- Dualla - her ability is extremely situational
- Zander - he's just not good; his OPG is so lackluster, especially when you consider Kat can almost do the same thing every turn
- Ellen - never seen her used effectively; her OPG is no where near as good as Gaeta's or even her husband's

All the other characters get pretty regular use. Chief is probably the least among them, but we like him too.

 
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Kenny Renaud
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I've added the fan made cards to the set so no two games are similar but before doing so my group had a lot of fun playing with the lesser used characters.

Dee sits on communications and keeps all of ships in one sector away from the toasters.

Kat hops back and forth between CIC and main batteries or weapon control and command discarding : Ellen's free card

Tory is a broken dirty beast that plays quorums and never runs out of skill cards

Different combinations are very powerful (and then when you add the 30 fan made characters, it opens up a whole new world of fun)

 
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Noel Yap
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jasonmiceli wrote:

- Ellen - never seen her used effectively; her OPG is no where near as good as Gaeta's or even her husband's

I used Ellen very effectively in BSG 219 - A Price in Blood. With the Politically Adroit capability, I was able to churn quickly through the Politics and Leadership decks; I drew State of Emergency three times and Political Prowess once. Her OPG even came into play late in the game as a contingency, in case I didn't draw the right cards. Also, Treachery is very useful to move between ships, the better to be Adroit with different people.
 
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I have tried to write out a character tier list before, and as I did, I realised with a few outliers the list is actually surprisingly balanced. In particular:

Apollo and Tory are way out in front, being generally the most powerful characters regardless of loyalty, with Cain close behind (she's a little less powerful as a Cylon, but brutal as a human).
Anders trails the pack with incredibly situational and not even that powerful abilities, and a crippling weakness. Tigh and Zarek come a little ahead, with abilities that are good, but both too situational.

Most other characters end up somewhere in the middle. I've made suggestions as for balancing the characters, some of which my group have embraced, others which have yet to be tried. Here is a link to my character balance changes etc. if anyone is interested.
 
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Darren Nakamura
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Just wanted to add another vote for people really underestimating Zarek. Aside from Tory, he definitely makes the best President of any of the Political Leaders, because Roslin can't activate the President's Office as easily, Baltar is less likely to be XO'd, and Ellen is better off gallivanting around to meet up with other characters.

And then, even if Zarek isn't the starting President, he makes a great target to sit on the Press Room, taking XOs for huge Politics draws, while still in position to easily take the Presidency should he need to.

Anyway, I don't think I'm well equipped to answer the OP's question about character tiers, because I still haven't had a Pegasus or an Exodus game, but I am surprised to see that your group doesn't consider Tory one of the top-tier characters, considering that she's one of the two characters that regularly gets nerfed in PBFs here.
 
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Dexter345 wrote:
Just wanted to add another vote for people really underestimating Zarek. Aside from Tory, he definitely makes the best President of any of the Political Leaders... and Ellen is better off gallivanting around to meet up with other characters.

And then, even if Zarek isn't the starting President, he makes a great target to sit on the Press Room, taking XOs for huge Politics draws, while still in position to easily take the Presidency should he need to.


This is a point which, ironically, follows from Zarek's weakness, not his strength. He's better as president than Baltar and Roslin, yes, but is he really better than Ellen? Ellen loses out on passing cards around if there's nobody else there, but she's not actually worse as the President than Zarek. And ironically a lot of the Military Leaders are as good Presidents as him. If the presidency is being moved, Zarek has only one strong claim to Presidency: He's not very good elsewhere.

The same argument applies regarding the Press Room. Generally, especially with Pegasus in play, and doubly especially if there's Tory, the Press Room isn't used that much - weakened ICs make it rather tame, and Tory can still get 2 cards with a presidential XO.
 
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Alasdair H
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My playgroup encoutered this problem shortly after Exodus came out, with everyone having a couple of favourite characters that they wanted to stick with. We all agreed that it was growing somewhat boring, and so for almost a year now we've been dealing out character cards at random. Simply deal an appropriate number into the middle of the table, agree whether you're okay with that distribution (ie. veto the 5-pilot group), and then shuffle those characters up and deal them out.
 
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Paul W
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If worst comes to worst, here's a simple fix. In your game box, keep a piece of paper with each player's name and the characters they've played. Make a rule that if possible player cannot pick a character that is already on their list.
 
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ackmondual
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fizzmore wrote:
If worst comes to worst, here's a simple fix. In your game box, keep a piece of paper with each player's name and the characters they've played. Make a rule that if possible player cannot pick a character that is already on their list.
We do this with Cylon Leaders. Problem is, only one person can ever be one, even if that (e.g. 5p games, we opt out of it). At least with the regular crew, you can always pick a backup character for a category, or have a backup category if you're blocked out during the selection process.
 
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Dominic Bennetts
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Hrm, interesting discussion here. I know for a fact that Tory is powerful, it's just that I usually have lousy luck so I'm never Admiral or President. Those are usually snapped up in the first two selections (my player group is insanely power hungry sometimes ). I think I might have played Tory once but it was a bit of a failure of a game so never got to put her to good use, but I do know she's ridiculously good. It's just that everyone who picks president wants to be Baltar or Roslin. Baltar because he's one of the few people most of us can actually get into vaguely role-playing and frakking around with (plus bonus Cylon chances are always good, considering the win/loss ratio currently in our group) and Roslin is mostly because people seem to absolutely love her OPT ability, even though I tell them her negative is crippling.

I've been making a push for using some of the fanmade characters (with adjustments because some have very overpowered or Human-leaning abilities) so hopefully that will spice things up a bit. From the sounds of it the most "powerful" 5 man group is Cain, Tory, Apollo, Cally and then one more character with some mix of Green/Purple/Yellow as their set spread. Is that about right? It's that sort of group I want to avoid.
 
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I wouldn't say Cally, especially not with Pegasus in play. Chief is certainly better as a human, although he's not a great Cylon. As for the 5th character, it's probably someone with engineering OR someone higher than Tory on the president line (which lets Tory psuedo-draw engineering), as that group lacks engineering draw.
 
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ackmondual
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Galen really shines if repairs need to be done. Otherwise, he's still good, but not taking full advantage of his potential. Luckily, CFB starts off with 2 repairs available, which he can get out of the way if XO-ed or on his turn.

Otherwise, Scientific Research really gets a facelift now that Establish Networks is available, and Calculations and Jury Rigged from Pegasus can be handy in a pinch in their own different ways.

For these reasons, I never pick Galen if it's just the base game.
 
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Klaus
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I think Zarek is a good template for a balanced character, all in all. He's got a very good skill draw, his OPT and OPG aren't outstanding, but solid, wether he's cylon or human. His drawback may be a little more noticeable than others, but it's not too hard to work around.

My top unbalanced characters are Cain for her broken OPG, as well as for beating both Adama and Tigh both in regards to the Admiralty ranking AND skill draw flexibility. Tory for her ridiculous OPT and barely noticable drawback, and Cally, for almost completely shutting down soft-revealing.

Ellen's Politically Adroit is a little too strong, imho. Giving away specific cards to specific crew members is huge, and I'm not only talking about handing XOs to Boomer. Gaining one card from it instead of two would be enough, especially since Treachery is pretty toothless when you're not using variant rules.

Apollo is strong, but I think he's only really problematic if you're using the CFB, because of the Command-CAG double spam. Admittedly, he's probably the strongest pilot.

Anders is rather lackluster. His drawback is killer, especially when you consider his OPT is barely better than a Consolidate Power, unless he's got 4+ useless skill cards, which hardly ever happens, due to his drawback. He may be usable if you hit the Press Room in your first few rounds.

The Chief is underrated, even in the base game he's strong. the key to playing him well is stockpiling Engineering cards.
2 - Repair is often better held back to power Scientific Research, rather than used for the free repair action at first opportunity. If you don't have any 1 - Repairs, it's often better to wait for your next turn. His OPT isn't directly useful as a cylon, but you may get the other players to defer repairs, believing you'll take care of it. With Scientific Research and your OPG, you can pretty much auto-succeed on a AQ, Admin or Brig check. Or Airlock, with Pegasus.

Dee is a kind of substitute pilot. He OPT is situational, but she can keep leading raiders around on a merry chase almost indefinitely, provided she receives XOs to move the civvies. When her OPT does come into play, it can be a game-changer, both as a cylon and as a human. Her skill draw is very solid.
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ackmondual
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Hannibal Rex wrote:

My top unbalanced characters are Cain for her broken OPG, as well as for beating both Adama and Tigh both in regards to the Admiralty ranking AND skill draw flexibility. Tory for her ridiculous OPT and barely noticable drawback, and Cally, for almost completely shutting down soft-revealing.
Cain we agree is strong, but as our group hasn't had a human win in months, we're letting that slide. FWIW, Tory is at the whim of the president if she can't get that ti9tel. We've had cases where a president human Tory just couldn't play a Qcard all the time due to them not being needed or actually undesirable (play ABF when there were no physical cylon threat, play Dogsville when Morale was low and Pop was actually fine, etc.). Her weakness I'd chalk that up to like Helo's Stranded weakness. Someimtes it really bites, other times, it don't make much of a difference anyways.

Hannibal Rex wrote:
Ellen's Politically Adroit is a little too strong, imho. Giving away specific cards to specific crew members is huge, and I'm not only talking about handing XOs to Boomer. Gaining one card from it instead of two would be enough, especially since Treachery is pretty toothless when you're not using variant rules.
If you play with IN and she needs to do some "trauma cleaning" then that helps neutralize some of that, as she'll moreso have to choose between visiting an ally, or a character, but NOT both.

For Cally, if you have a crappy reveal power, lousy hand, and/or no titles then it may be worth it to give up the hard reveal. Spike a crucial skill check include losing 2 morale when they're already low, moving the jump prep track by 1, Brigging a known human, or adding more ships to the board. You may be able to wreak more havoc by moving vipers out of position, or using AQ. Then sometimes that works further to your advantage if Cally has to waste an action, and a skill card to move to a different vessel just to use her OPG on you. Then if it gives you a head start at cylon locations and good timing (e.g. you're able to hit BB or Cylon Fleet one turn sooner), all the better. Like Baltar, Cally is sorta hosed if both cylons reveal before she gets a chance to use it, as any other characgter with amore conventional OPG would've been able to do something practical with it.

Hannibal Rex wrote:
The Chief is underrated, even in the base game he's strong. the key to playing him well is stockpiling Engineering cards.
2 - Repair is often better held back to power Scientific Research, rather than used for the free repair action at first opportunity. If you don't have any 1 - Repairs, it's often better to wait for your next turn. His OPT isn't directly useful as a cylon, but you may get the other players to defer repairs, believing you'll take care of it. With Scientific Research and your OPG, you can pretty much auto-succeed on a AQ, Admin or Brig check. Or Airlock, with Pegasus.


Another nice use for Galen and his special is locations that are harmful but damaged don't mean anything to him. He can repair it on his turn and immediately use him. If others want to do this, then it'll require at least a 2-man job, one person to repair it, and then another turn/action/person to use it. If Galen has a Pol. Prowess, then repair the Airlock and go hog wild on the same turn. Otherwise, repairing AQ or Airlock and using either to flush out the group's skill cards, + his OPG to back up that attempt could pay off.
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Kenneth H
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Though I have a personal aversion to pilots, I try to make sure every character gets their chance in the sun. I see Tory and Cain as way too good, but as somebody mentioned, I haven't seen the humans win a face-to-face game in a long time, so I'm starting to be willing to let it slide.

Anders, on the other hand, is unforgivably bad. I think I've only ever seen two players use him in a game I've been in, and they only used one of his abilities once. (Cylon Anders, filled his hand with Piloting cards for spiking, but he was promptly ignored because we didn't need to deal with him to win.) For a pair of questionably useful abilities, he gets a really painful drawback, and has a hard time influencing the game.

The rest of the characters I find pretty balanced. Cally does change the game dynamic, but I've recently had a lot of practice as a Cylon against Cally - either do something dramatic to disable her, or just make sure your soft reveal is more painful than your reveal power. It's surprisingly easy to do.
 
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Kenneth H
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Or, against Cally, play a pilot! You can escape! She can't get you!

And, since we play with the Cylon fleet, I appreciate pilots more. I've been almost wanting to give Anders a try from time to time... but that "unforgivably bad" thing keeps getting in my way.
 
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Dominic Bennetts
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Flamethrower49 wrote:
Or, against Cally, play a pilot! You can escape! She can't get you!

And, since we play with the Cylon fleet, I appreciate pilots more. I've been almost wanting to give Anders a try from time to time... but that "unforgivably bad" thing keeps getting in my way.

Lee loves taking extra actions and helping nuggets out. Kara takes extra actions and can flip a Crisis card for one more suitable for her team. Boomer has a huge downside, but continues to play really well in the Brig, particularly as a Cylon, and both her abilities are great. Kat's once per turn is almost as good as Anders'OPG, and she has a Turkey Shoot as well. Oh yeah, and Helo's a pretty good non-pilot pilot, given he rerolls his attacks and can sabotage/anti-sabotage like a pro.

Anders... why would you pick him? Honestly, the only real benefit to him is that he's got a 2L/3T skill split when things are quiet, and if he really needs to get Piloting quick he can Star Player. Of course, since he doesn't generate extra actions out of his backside like the others, or have massive defensive/sabotage abilities, even that benefit is ridiculously marginal. I cannot see a single situation in which you'd choose him over any of the 5 other piloting characters, so unless you have a situation where Lee, Kara, Kat, Boomer and Helo are already all in play/executed Anders is just never going to see play.

I honestly don't get what the developers were thinking when they created Anders. I'd love to see him rebalanced to be a moderately effective guy, since to be honest the "hoard Purple/Green when it's quiet, then Star Player into Piloting when the Fleet attacks" is actually a really solid strategy, and is what I'd focus any rebalancing efforts around. It's just that his OPG and downside are killer bad.
 
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Klaus
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Well, his OPG isn't impressive compared to Helo's or Kat's OPT, but neither is it bad. Just unspectacular.

His drawback, however, cripples an already lackluster OPT. Star Player is completely dependent on having a large card hand in order to become worthwhile. I'd like to see how Anders plays if he's put on dedicated Press Room duty, with the team sending XOs to him at a constant rate early on. It could work.
 
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Dominic Bennetts
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That's exactly it though. There's no reason his OPG should be only mildly better than an ability they can claim each turn. If he could activate it during any player's turn, at any time, and there was no way to modify/reroll it, then it'd be a worthwhile OPG. It still wouldn't make him amazing, but a damn sight more useful to both Humans and Cylons alike.

Of course, with all this discussion of him I am now tempted to give him a try as a pure card machine in the Press Room. So who knows? Maybe he'll get a use from me BECAUSE he's totally useless.
 
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