Mark L
Singapore
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Battlestar Galactica: Exodus Expansion


Yay, Grace Park.

Another successful FFG product, another expansion released. Battlestar Galactica was so much of a home run that even the complaints about Pegasus couldn’t stop the expansion train for the franchise. Battlestar Galactica: Exodus, covering Season 3, Episode 5 to the end of Season 3, is unlike Pegasus in that it offers “modules” for the game instead of being a mostly “add everything” expansion. This expansion concept is not new but significantly more uncommon, at least for a game like this.

The Exodus expansion offers three optional modules that can be used together as well as on their own, with no special rules required when used together (and with Pegasus, for that matter). I will go through each of these modules on their own as well as when they are used with each other, but first, on to the components.


Components

The Exodus expansion comes with the usual BSG cards - skill cards, Crisis cards, Loyalty cards and the like. These are thankfully exactly the same color and shade as the previous cards in the base game and the Pegasus expansion, unlike some of FFG’s other expansions. It was definitely a good choice to not sleeve the Crisis cards – with these new additions the deck will be approaching atmospheric orbit. In addition to these, the game also comes with cardboard tokens for use with the new characters as well as the Cylon Fleet Board (CFB) and Ionian Nebula expansions. Nothing to complain about here.


All components.

The Cylon Fleet Board itself, however, is prone to warping unless you put it at the bottom of the box where all the components weigh it down sufficiently. A minor complaint, but it’s there. The insert for Exodus is also inexplicably the base game insert and not the Pegasus one, so you can’t fit the character cards inside the slot. Why this is so I have no idea, but if you have both expansions you are not going to fit all components inside one box without removing the insert anyway. Finally, the new MKVII vipers look extremely uninspiring, although that could be said to be in line with the other (non-basestar) plastic models.
Three minor complaints, but that shouldn’t be seen as the components being of poor quality. Everything is nice to use and I especially like the new basestar damage tokens, which are bigger and clearer. You should use them even when not playing with the Ionian Nebula (take out the two extra ones, obviously). The CFB itself also looks pretty neat.



General Gameplay Changes


Exodus, being a module-based expansion, deserves to be reviewed one by one, but there are still a few general changes to the game worth discussing here. The new skill cards introduce a new “Consequence” mechanic – card effects are not activated via Actions or interrupts but rather when they are played into a check. This is a throwback to the Treachery mechanic in Pegasus, although the new cards always trigger without the need for the check to be Reckless. These cards are all 0-strength, so that they do not add (or subtract) to the check directly but only via their effects. This means that a player that draws only Leadership and Tactics can put cards into a YRB check and claim to be helping – something missing before. This adds to paranoia and the difficulty in determining who played what card – of course these cards can come from Destiny as well. A single Red Tape removing 15 points of positive strength is not something you want to see.


Skill cards.

The 6-strength skill cards, though, are something else entirely. They are in just for variety’s sake, I guess, but end up being extremely swingy affairs. There is only one 6-strength skill card in each deck, and some of them do ridiculous things like free Airlocks (Political Prowess), meaning anyone would want to hold on to it until your loyalty is determined at the Sleeper Phase. State of Emergency is not much better, causing extreme rules headaches with jump icons, Executive Orders inside State of Emergency and the like. Scout for Fuel screws up the delicately balanced fuel situation from the base game and Pegasus… and Best of the Best just sucks. Only Build Nuke is, in my opinion, well-designed and offers the usual “play for value or for effect” train of thought to take place.

The new Crisis cards are fine. Nothing ground-breaking, but there are no real problems apart from a few mistakes that have been errata’d. When you add everything in, though, the ratio of Crises becomes extremely imbalanced. Food becomes a throwaway resource because the chance of you drawing a Food Shortage is now half that of the base game. Nearly every other check appears to do something with Morale. The result is a game where your four resources are so imbalanced that Fuel and Food wins become a rarity, except in freak situations. The resources are not supposed to be equally important, but I think Exodus finally crosses the line with regards to the imbalance.

An even bigger problem with the new Crisis cards is that it contains no new Cylon Attack cards, meaning that if you simply add the cards into the Crisis deck you are going to mess up the ratios once again. It is practically essential to remove 34 random non-attack Crisis cards before you start playing, for otherwise you are not going to see as many attacks as usual – and that leads for a boring game for the humans and an extremely frustrating one for the Cylons. I know you have the CFB, but if you are trying for a modular game… then make it modular. More on this later.

The new Quorum cards (3 of them) are uninspiring. Resignation is pretty neat (even if it makes no thematic sense when played by a non-President player) but Establish Dogsville is boring in the extreme and Presidential Order is just stupid. The President should not have a card that card just pass him the Admiral title without any repercussions. The new Super Crises are fine, I guess, even if Human Prisoner is a bit weak – but after the Pegasus precedent (lol Demand Peace Manifesto, lol The Farm) there isn’t much to complain about. Then, two new “You are a Cylon” cards for variety – I like them and they seem fine to add to a base game. Better than the toothless Treachery reveal, anyway. Finally, new Destination cards – they’re fine in a vacuum. Like Lion’s Head Nebula a lot.

The new characters are unfortunately disappointing. Once again, FFG fail spectacularly at balancing their characters and the result is a totally ridiculous card machine camping in the President’s Office. Roslin needs to discard two cards to use the Office? Watch me draw two cards and play a Quorum card at the same time. Now XO me and I’ll do it again… twice. Tory Foster is a bad joke as printed, especially with her not-that-bad weakness. And you don’t even need your OPG. Who needs an OPG? The mechanic in the Hangar Deck that gets free executions. Yes, free executions. Which isn’t so much the problem as the way it completely changes the metagame for the Cylons – the soft reveal is now not even a possibility. So both Cylons reveal quickly and then your OPG is unused. It’s design failure on so many levels, even if her character is probably balanced as is. Then at the other end of the spectrum we have “are you sure I’m a pilot?” Anders, who’s just weak, and “do I have a weakness?” Gaeta, who’s boring. At least the characters from Pegasus genuinely brought something new to the table and were fun to play, even Cain.


Tory for Broken President!

Finally, they changed the execution rules to “fix” the problem in Pegasus: that executions could guarantee the player’s loyalty for the rest of the game at the cost of just 1 Morale. Now, there is always an extra card in the loyalty deck, together with another big deck of “Not a Cylon” cards. Whenever someone is executed, a card from the Not a Cylon deck is added to the Loyalty Deck and a random card is dealt to the executed player’s new character. Therefore, executing a character is no longer a surefire way of determining loyalty – in fact it could be the reason for a new Cylon to be added into the game.

Hold it: I hear you say – doesn’t that mean that the last card in the Loyalty Deck could be a “You Are A Cylon” card? Indeed it can, and when this rare scenario happens, the game becomes an epic waste of time, especially for the poor lone Cylon playing 4v1. Which is a shame, as when the worst-case scenario doesn’t happen the game is actually much improved because of it. No more executing the Admiral (and Ellen, and I guess Gaeta now) before hitting New Caprica. No more randomly tossing the Admiral into an Assassination Plot. It’s an improvement 95% of the time, but when you hit the 5%...


Optional Module 1 (Conflicted Loyalties)

The first optional module Exodus brings is Conflicted Loyalties. This is a set of “You Are Not A Cylon” cards that have effects on them, meaning that humans are no longer the blank faces behind their loyalty cards. There are two kinds of Conflicted Loyalties: Personal Goals and Final Five cards. Personal Goals are objectives of some kind for the humans to try and fulfill that will cause them to exhibit Cylon-like behavior. For example, one card wants the President to be in the Brig, while another wants you to hold two titles or more at the same time – normally events that would draw suspicion. If you fail to complete your goal by the end of the game, you will lose a resource which might make the difference between defeat and victory.

Personal Goals, though, are more of a nuisance for the players than something to work towards. Firstly, the goals are not equally easy to achieve and are certainly easier for certain characters to achieve. Getting Acquire Power as the Chief, for example, is really frustrating as how are you ever going to get two titles without spending so much effort that you lose more resources than just the one on the card? The fact that you need to spend an Action to reveal your Personal Goal is also unnecessarily inhibitive. Because revealing a PG before Distance 6 means you need to draw a new loyalty card, much like being executed, most players would rather reveal their goal only after Distance 6. However, by that point, the Cylons are usually already revealed and pounding on the humans openly. At that stage, no one is going to throw the President in the Brig or even spend a useless Action revealing a PG – there is a greater chance of losing the game because of these actions than simply taking the 1 resource hit, especially if the resource is, say, Food. Because of this Personal Goals should, in my opinion, have been a “free Action”, like the Hangar Deck – but some of the Goals themselves should have been rewritten such that players have more control over them than they currently do.

The Final Five cards, on the other hand, do nothing until a player examines them or they are revealed as a result of execution, then bad stuff happens, from Cylon ships being activated to the examiner being executed. This can make players be very reluctant to let someone see their Loyalty cards – something that was usually reserved for unrevealed Cylons. Although I think these cards unnecessarily nerf Baltar’s OPG as well as cards that let you see Loyalty cards, they overall add a small improvement to the game, even if they rarely come out. It is weird that if you have both a “You Are A Cylon” card and a Final Five card, you can’t do anything special with the Final Five card besides pass it on, but that’s a minor detail.

Overall, I would recommend playing with the Final Five cards all the time, even when playing with new players, but the Personal Goals are very much a better of taste. You might like them or you might not – playing with the “free Action” houserule helps quite a bit to solve some of the issues, in my opinion. But they certainly won’t be missed by me if I didn’t play with them. Your mileage may vary.


Optional Module 2 (Cylon Fleet Board)

The second optional module is the one that changes the most – the Cylon Fleet Board. No more are Cylon attacks randomly drawn from Crisis cards… now they directly pursue you on another board when you jump away, slowly grow, and jump back in after a period of time. This feels appropriately thematic and is a refreshing change from the cards, where an unlucky set of draws could result in an extremely quick loss for humanity. The exact rules of the Cylon Fleet are complicated at first, but feel intuitive during actual play – just make sure you read the rulebook carefully before you get into your first game. The rulebook, after all, is typical FFG quality. Not that great.

Besides the board itself, playing with this module also adds new vipers for the humans, which are harder to hit and can fly faster, new nuke rules that can destroy all ships in the entire sector on a roll of 8, and a new title, the CAG. The CAG is (usually) a Pilot who gets an extra Viper activation every turn (or when he's XOed) as long as he's in space. He also gets to choose where civilian ships are placed due to Crises or when the pursuit track advances. Being a title holder, there are also a few Crisis cards which are "CAG chooses" cards, so he gets to make meaningful decisions, though less frequently than the President and Admiral. And new nuke rules - explosive!

The new rules are sorely needed to counter the increased threat of the Cylon Fleet. It is not uncommon to see all twenty available Raiders on the main game board, especially with the new Basestar Bridge location - a location which revealed Cylons can use to manipulate civilian ships, Raiders, and the pursuit track. If the main game board is clear, every Cylon ship activation results in an increase in the pursuit track, an increase in Cylon ships, and possibly a civilian ship or two that needs to be placed by the CAG. Players, human and Cylon alike, now have much more accurate knowledge about the Cylon Fleet's impending arrival and can plan accordingly, launching vipers into specific space sectors and consolidating civilian ships via Communications so Raiders don't appear right in their sector without vipers to defend them. Heavy raiders become much more of a threat as jumping away just before they board no longer solves the problem, just postpones it.

The Cylon Fleet Board brings many improvements over the Cylon Attack Cards, most of all to Pilots. Pilots were usually a marginalised role before Exodus, with space combat never a big deal as jumping would wipe the board of all Cylon and civilian ships. Now, civilian ships stay on the board even after the fleet jumps, so even when the skies are clear, there's lots to do - grouping or escorting civilians off the board, getting ready for the Cylon Fleet to jump in. They can also vie for the role of CAG, which unlike the President and Admiral titles can be passed to another player as a simple Action. Pilots now feel more fun to play as you cruise in nicer vipers, receive more XOs than usual and having a title is always nice. In general, the shift from random Attack Cards to a Fleet Board is a marked strategy improvement, allowing for more forward thinking and exciting space battles.

The Cylon Fleet Board does, of course, come with its fair share of disadvantages, mainly in how it allows players to "game" the system. Players don't want to destroy all basestars but rather leave one damaged one on the board if possible, so the pursuit track doesn't advance and the humans get an absurdly easy jump cycle. This wouldn't be so bad, as taking down a basestar and damaging another still requires some work with Pegasus CIC, but some Crisis cards, Destination cards and even Broadcast Location simply slap a single basestar on the board, which the humans can then damage at their leisure. This also causes Broadcast Location, a Treachery card, to be helpful to the humans the majority of the time - a thematic and mechanical disconnect. Certain destinations like Cylon Ambush become way too good, and I have no idea how Derelict Basestar saw print in the same expansion as the Cylon Fleet Board module.

On the whole, the Cylon Fleet Board is not an improvement but, much like what Exodus claims to be, an alternative to the Cylon Attack Cards. It really depends on your playgroup: tired of the randomness of the Cylon Attack Cards? Pilots feeling useless? Want a kickass revealed Cylon location that isn't strictly better than the others? Go to the CFB. Don't want a game centered around XOing a guy on Command, a guy on Communications, or the CAG, with the President not having as much to do as before? Stick with the CACs. The CFB is definitely worth at least a couple of tries, though - don't give up after a bad game, as it definitely takes some getting used to. A note: if you play with CACs, make sure you remove 34 non-CAC Crises cards before starting, to maintain the ratio of CACs in the Crisis deck.


Optional Module 3 (Ionian Nebula)

The final optional module is the new Destination choice - the Ionian Nebula. Unlike New Caprica, the Ionian Nebula has gameplay implications throughout the game, not just when you just Distance 7 or 8. It's a much bolder design choice by FFG and has far-reaching implications on how you play the game. Its sheer potential makes it already more promising than New Caprica, which honestly feels anti-climatic more than anything.

The Ionian Nebula brings into play allies, which are scattered all over Galactica and Colonial One (no Pegasus - but it's easy enough to move Cain and Kendra there at least). Each ally has a “benevolent” and “antagonistic” effect, which generally helps and hurts the humans respectively. Three allies are in play at any one time – at first they are randomly benevolent or antagonistic, but after encountering allies players can influence effects of future allies by putting benevolent and antagonistic trauma tokens face-down on them. More on trauma itself later.

Allies are, at the very least, interesting. There are many allies available and you probably won’t see them all over the course of the game, so there’s variety and replay value. They cover a wide range of effects, from card drawing to increasing resources to using Quorum cards to damaging Galactica. Thematically, I guess it makes Galactica feel less of a ghost town, although it’s a bit tough to comprehend why Helo is commanding the fleet when Bill Adama is chilling out in the Admiral’s Quarters. I like that there are allies for the Sickbay and Brig as well – people stuck there now feel less lonely.

Where allies might fail is actually not a gameplay fault but rather on how they can cause immense secrecy rule headaches. Officially, you are not allowed to directly state whether an ally is benevolent or antagonistic, but you can hint as to their effect. But it’s simply ridiculous when people say “Aaron Kelly is in a good mood” and think that this effectively circumvents secrecy rules. There’s nothing actually illegal about such a play, but when the whole crew knows whether allies are benevolent or antagonistic, then the entire point of them is lost – you’re left with locations that you can’t go to (without an XO anyway) because you’ll trigger some bad effect. A better way would be to only allow recommendations on whether to visit allies or not without hinting as to their mood, or like what I do – simply no talking about allies at all. But on the whole, allies are neat. Work out with your playgroup how you want to approach them secrecy-wise, and you’ll be visiting locations you usually don’t visit, experiencing more stuff during your Movement phase, and generally having more fun.

I mentioned trauma tokens earlier. Every player starts with three of them, whether Benevolent or Antagonistic. You get rid of trauma by visiting allies, as mentioned earlier, but you can also gain trauma by spending time in the Sickbay or Brig. Revealing as a Cylon does not get rid of your trauma – you carry it over to the Resurrection Ship and you can manage trauma there if allies are removed from the board by other reasons, such as their location being damaged. Why do you need to manage trauma at all? At distance 8, you enter the Crossroads phase – every player, human and Cylon alike, receives a Crossroads card, which is a bit like an ally but with bigger effects, and you get a final chance to trigger either the benevolent or antagonistic effect. Then, you count your remaining trauma, and if a human has too many antagonistic trauma and vice versa for Cylons, he is eliminated from the game. No, not executed, eliminated from the game.

The elimination clause has caused many strong words to FFG and at the designers and playtesters alike. On the one hand it forces players to take trauma seriously – after all, what is the point of the ally mechanic if you can afford to just make everyone very happy and not suffer consequences? On the other hand, being eliminated after going through 8 distance feels very anticlimactic and unsatisfying for the player, and probably his teammate(s) as well as they have to go through the most critical phase of the game at a disadvantage. Still, this is fine, for if you have failed to manage your trauma so spectacularly over such a long time it is your own fault. It’s true that it is more difficult for Cylons to lose trauma, but they also don’t gain trauma so easily, and this encourages unrevealed Cylons to stay around – a positive in my book.

… Or it would be fine, if not for the awful Crossroads cards. Some of them can force players to draw three trauma tokens, so even if you have managed trauma superbly you can be eliminated through chance at the Crossroads phase. Cards should never make players draw large amounts of trauma at once. The Crossroads cards are also very limited in number – only 7 of them – so after two games you have very likely seen all there is to see. Their effects are way too big – during a typical Crossroads phase you have resources dropping, ships activating (did I mention you bring lots of Cylon ships onto the board?), people getting executed, and if you’re unlucky, player elimination. Way too chaotic and not really fun.

Oh yes, disaster tokens – whenever you draw a trauma token, you have a small chance of being immediately executed. This means that you can actually be executed for entering Sickbay or in the Brig, etc. But the random executions aren’t fun when you get them, especially if you’re an unrevealed Cylon… another reason why allies and cards that make people draw trauma are awful. It’s worth noting that their secondary goals of making Sickbay and Brig more dangerous are mixed as well – Sickbay is still toothless as XOing you out still gets around the trauma thing, and Brig is now unnecessarily deadly, especially if you’re Boomer.

The Ionian Nebula, in the end, is fun once in a while and better than New Caprica for certain. The allies are nice to interact with and I like that the destination has an effect on the whole game, not just the endgame. But it has its flaws and introduces lots of complexity to the game, some of which might be unwanted for you.


As a Whole?

Exodus is a modular expansion. All well and good. But when you create a modular expansion, you need to playtest each module individually as well as together, in all combinations. Sometimes you don't playtest them together enough and you end up with a game that doesn't play well when you toss everything in. Sometimes you have the opposite scenario. Exodus has a minor case of the latter - you can tell that when NOT playing with the Cylon Fleet, things start to mess up a bit.

The most obvious and glaring example of this is the lack of new Cylon Attack Cards provided with this expansion. You're supposed to simply shuffle all the Exodus crises in - although anyone would realise, quite instantly, that this would completely mess up the ratio of CACs in the game. Fine, fine, so you remove 34 of them. But then you have some crises that talk about putting civilians on the board - who does that now that there's no CAG? It's little things like this that highlight the lack of playtesting without the Cylon Fleet Board. More glaring errors that WILL affect your gameplay - the Battle of the Ionian Nebula at the Crossroads Phase puts no civilians on the board, but 8 raiders. Civilian ships are supposed to stay on the board when you jump, right? Oops, you're using the CACs? Have fun watching Raiders take potshots at Galactica over and over until either Galactica explodes or the dice break. Even certain Personal Goals, like Acquire Power, are stupidly difficult to achieve without the CAG in play. And the point of the Exodus "Not a Cylon" deck is greatly diminished if they're all full of generic YANACs. Etcetera.

Well, at least it's the best module out of the three that was assumed to be always turned on. For if we go along with FFG and always use the CFB, the modules do work well together, and as I said earlier, might even be enhanced by them being played together, Not so much the Ionian Nebula and Conflicted Loyalties, except maybe the Baltar ally and Strange Music, but there are no glaring errors or inconsistencies when the modules interact. Or, you could just not play Conflicted Loyalties and Ionian Nebula and just use the CFB. It's all good. (Although, for those who own Pegasus, I have no idea how the CFB interacts with New Caprica and have no wish to delve into the rules issues.)

Exodus goes further than Pegasus in fundamental changes to the gameplay. Space combat matters much more now - in the same vein, Population losses are now the most common, with Morale and damage not far behind. Centurions have also been made far more viable as a victory condition. The ones that take the shortfall are Fuel (drastically) and Food (beating a dead horse). Pilots now get more XOs than the President, and it's almost impossible to extensively mine the Quorum Deck now. Loyalty checks and Baltar's OPG have gotten more powerful but now also run the risk of hitting a Final Five, so it's a mixed bag for them. Pegasus CIC now sees much less use as you might actually destroy the basestar instead of just damaging it. Obscure locations like Research Lab and Administration might see use because of Allies... Command, Communications and Weapons Control are busier than they normally are. Play and see for yourself - Exodus feels different. You might like it, you might not, you might like some aspects only... well, that's what the modular concept is for, isn't it?


Conclusion

Exodus is the inferior expansion. There, I said it. It's much bolder in what it attempts to do and offers several brilliant mechanics that make us go, on first look, OMG this is fantastic. Humans that are different? A formulaic Cylon pursuit? Allies all over Galactica? Amazing, amazing, amazing. The execution though... not so much. I've gone over almost everything I feel is flawed about the expansion, and when I scroll up and look at it all of it, I'm struck by how much that you have to fix by yourself via house rules and errata. Trying to play by the book does not get you very far in Exodus at all. Which is a pity, because as I've said before, the expansion genuinely does bring some great things to the table and fixes several flaws present with just the base game and/or Pegasus.

Even a compulsive house-ruler like me eventually gave up and threw out Personal Goals - and the Ionian Nebula is getting pretty dusty. So I guess I paid for just the CFB and the Final Five cards, together with the "more stuff" destinations, Skill Cards, characters (which I had to houserule too) and the like. But this isn't me condemning the expansion... get it, if you're a fan of the game. I'm sure you will anyway - it's what we fans do. But don't expect too much from it. It doesn't add more "variety" in the way that Pegasus adds variety, it goes back to the drawing board and tweaks your game. And if you prefer the game without the tweaks, then I've bad news for you: this expansion is going to suck. And that's why I can't give a score higher than this: I don't regret buying the expansion, but I'm ambivalent about it. I wouldn't miss it if I went to a games session and someone took out the game with just Pegasus, unlike how I would miss expansions like Kingsburg: To Forge a Realm, Dunwich Horror, Cosmic Incursion, certain Dominion expansions... and yes, I suppose Pegasus itself.

Let's hope that the expansions aren't following the quality trend the show exhibited, ok?

5/10

Addendum: Playing with Pegasus

After purchasing Exodus, I have no doubt that the two expansions are better played together in general despite some of the specific problems the two experience when together, e.g. Cylon Leader and the Ionian Nebula. Why this is so:

1.The Cylon Fleet Board that Exodus brings is a brutal beating if not managed properly, and Pegasus, instead of making things too easy on the humans, now feels necessary in thinning out the raider horde as well as the extra "hit points" it brings to Galactica.

2.The execution problems are mostly removed with the new loyalty deck mechanic of Exodus, including Conflicted Loyalties, and humans now really do need to be sure of a player's loyalty before wantonly throwing them out the Airlock.

3.Cain's Blind Jump is indirectly nerfed because it cannot simply optimally be used right after a jump, but rather when the Cylon Fleet has just jumped in. This feels more thematic for a blind jump and also encourages the Cain player to save Blind Jump for a more critical moment.

4.Treachery is slightly improved with Exodus' own Consequence mechanic, as they also trigger the consequences if added to a skill check. A small improvement only, but still.

5.An indirect buff to Dee and Kat, as Communications becomes more useful with the Cylon Fleet Board, and the new 6-skill cards are great for Kat who can now guarantee rolls of 8. The 0-skill cards can also be used for a Cylon Kat to crash Raptors and the like.

I do feel that if you can only get one expansion, Pegasus is the one to get, though, as base game + Exodus feels very harsh on the humans. All of Exodus' three optional modules make the game more difficult and probably shouldn't be all used together unless playing with Pegasus.
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Alex H.
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What a very well written, thoughtful review. Congratulations.
Personally, I only own the base game and have thought quite a bit about whether I will add one or both expansions. Your review will help a lot making an informed decision, thanks!
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David Goldfarb
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markino wrote:
doesn’t that mean that the last card in the Loyalty Deck could be a “You Are A Cylon” card? Indeed it can, and when this rare scenario happens, the game becomes an epic waste of time, especially for the poor lone Cylon playing 4v1.

4v1? I can top that: I was in a PBF game a while ago in which I was playing 6v1 -- 7 player game with a Cylon Leader who happened to draw one of the "Humans Win" Agendas.
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Brendan Cox
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David Goldfarb wrote:

4v1? I can top that: I was in a PBF game a while ago in which I was playing 6v1 -- 7 player game with a Cylon Leader who happened to draw one of the "Humans Win" Agendas.


I've been in one too! It did not turn out well.

In fact in both PBFs I've played on here with Exodus, I was the only Cylon besides the Cylon Leader...at least at sleeper phase of the second game. My partner turned Cylon as a result of me executing him before I got put off the ship myself. Didn't know until Crossroads though...lol.
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avec sans
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Interesting analysis. It sounds like a good quick fix for the Personal Goals cards is to allow their reveal as a free action.

A good quick fix for the Cylon Fleet Board may be to say that both Basestars must be on the main board in order to prevent the Pursuit Track from advancing when a Basestar icon is drawn. That is, if there is just one Basestar on the main board when a Basestar icon is drawn, the Pursuit Track is advanced (in addition to the Basestar activating normally).

Thoughts?
 
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Mark L
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avec wrote:
Interesting analysis. It sounds like a good quick fix for the Personal Goals cards is to allow their reveal as a free action.

A good quick fix for the Cylon Fleet Board may be to say that both Basestars must be on the main board in order to prevent the Pursuit Track from advancing when a Basestar icon is drawn. That is, if there is just one Basestar on the main board when a Basestar icon is drawn, the Pursuit Track is advanced (in addition to the Basestar activating normally).

Thoughts?


Could work, but that would mean that you get two basestars out on the first jump cycle and they basically never go away. Might make Cylon Pilots very swingy... will check it out.
 
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avec sans
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I might be missing something obvious, but I don't see how two Basestars would necessarily get out in the first jump cycle. The game starts with one Basestar on the main board. When it activates, the Pursuit Track would be advanced, but the other Basestar would not be placed on the Cylon Fleet Board. The second Basestar would most likely not be placed at all until after Galactica jumps. At that point, no Basestars would be on the main board and the house rule wouldn't apply.

Though in that case you'd still have an incentive to not destroy the only Basestar on the main board, since you'd want to cultivate a situation in which the second Basestar is not placed. But at least the Pursuit Track would advance, which is an improvement over the current rules.
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Mark L
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That's true... it's a nice idea, will try it out.
 
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Chris Hurd
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Reading over the review, I don't think the author does a good job of being subjective or analytical about the expansion. There are several points during the analysis where I had to stop reading and try to figure out what the authors was talking about.

Point 1) "extreme rules headaches with jump icons, Executive Orders inside State of Emergency"

It's not possible to draw a crisis card during the action step. Therefore, it's not possible to get jump icons in a State of Emergency. It's possible to jump during a SoE, using FTL drive, but that is no more or less difficult than jumping during the first action of an XO.

I admit that SoE is the source of questions in the FAQ document, but this isn't one of them.

Point 2) "The new characters are unfortunately disappointing..."

I disagree with pretty much everything in this paragraph, except the part about Tory drawing cards. I think Amoral is a pretty terrible drawback, because if it comes up even once per game, it's a significant loss of resources.

The analysis of Cally seems like the author completely neglected the phrase "in your location," which is arguably the most important set of words in that sentence. You can soft-reveal as a pilot in space. You can soft-reveal as a political leader by brigging her. That's more than half of the characters in the game who have a way to account for her. Add to it the fact that her hand and her downside are both major impositions, and you're left with a semi-effective one-hit-wonder.

On the other side of things, Anders is basically Helo Jr. in terms of role. You pick him in seat 1 or 2, or not at all. Then he has no continuous drawback and he becomes one of the most consistent human players. Or he fraks you with a OPG soft-reveal. Either way, he can be a stud. Use Star-Player off of the first XO action, and you'll figured it out pretty quickly.

Point 3: "The Cylon Fleet Board does, of course, come with its fair share of disadvantages, mainly in how it allows players to "game" the system. Players don't want to destroy all basestars but rather leave one damaged one on the board if possible, so the pursuit track doesn't advance and the humans get an absurdly easy jump cycle." I don't see this as any different than luring (or if you're an MMO player, kiting) raiders using a pair of civilian ships. From a philosophical standpoint, allowing your enemy to live is a risk, regardless of how dangerous you may perceive it to be. From a mechanical standpoint, you need both luck and actions to accomplish what you've described. The cost paid, compared against the benefit gained, is roughly equal to other space-battle tactics in the game.

Also, I personally feel like the disadvantage just discussed is the only disadvantage to CFB, not the "main" one. Only one was named in the review. I can't think of another. I'd challenge everyone to find a second.

Point 4: "But then you have some crises that talk about putting civilians on the board - who does that now that there's no CAG?" This is not covered in an FAQ yet. But based on how they've answered questions like this in every other situation, ever, it's "current player chooses".

Here's several precedents: Current player chooses who gets to play a card if two people want to. Current player chooses who gets attacked when two pilots are in the same area. Current player (Helo) chooses who rerolls first between him and Gaeta (which is in the FAQ). There's also no compelling reason why it wouldn't be the current player. It's HIS crisis.

The author takes this as an example that the FF team didn't play-test the expansion. I think that's incredibly cynical. The more likely thing is that they glossed over it because it seemed obvious to them, then had to deal with it again because not all players are intuitive about rules. That was also evidenced back in the base set when Roslin's disadvantage needed an FAQ question, despite the fact that it clearly stated "first." Some players need their hand held.

In conclusion: I think the readers can find better reviews of Exodus than this one. I wouldn't trust the author's objectivity, or their analysis, based on the points I've just made. The game is complex, but it's far less complex than the author made it out to be. It's also pretty well balanced, and very useful. I'd recommend it above Pegasus, unless you have a personal attachment to Six, Cavil, or Leoben.
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David Goldfarb
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hybridfive wrote:
Point 1) "extreme rules headaches with jump icons, Executive Orders inside State of Emergency"

It's not possible to draw a crisis card during the action step. Therefore, it's not possible to get jump icons in a State of Emergency.

But it is. Consider what happens if State of Emergency is played while a revealed Cylon is on Caprica.
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Mark L
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hybridfive wrote:

Point 1) "extreme rules headaches with jump icons, Executive Orders inside State of Emergency"

It's not possible to draw a crisis card during the action step.


Caprica. Up to three times per SoE. Thank you for not considering revealed Cylons.

hybridfive wrote:

Point 2) "The new characters are unfortunately disappointing..."

I disagree with pretty much everything in this paragraph, except the part about Tory drawing cards. I think Amoral is a pretty terrible drawback, because if it comes up even once per game, it's a significant loss of resources.

The analysis of Cally seems like the author completely neglected the phrase "in your location," which is arguably the most important set of words in that sentence. You can soft-reveal as a pilot in space. You can soft-reveal as a political leader by brigging her. That's more than half of the characters in the game who have a way to account for her. Add to it the fact that her hand and her downside are both major impositions, and you're left with a semi-effective one-hit-wonder.

On the other side of things, Anders is basically Helo Jr. in terms of role. You pick him in seat 1 or 2, or not at all. Then he has no continuous drawback and he becomes one of the most consistent human players. Or he fraks you with a OPG soft-reveal. Either way, he can be a stud. Use Star-Player off of the first XO action, and you'll figured it out pretty quickly.


I'm not sure where you get the idea that Amoral leads to a loss of resources. Most "Current Player Chooses" cards are about choosing between a skill check and die roll or taking a smaller hit as compared to the "Fail" effect. So her weakness, at worst, would lead to a loss of resources if humans don't have enough cards to do the skill check.

Wait, don't have enough cards? You're bloody Tory Foster, how can they not have enough cards? Solo the damn thing.

Yeah, I said Cally was balanced - I agree her weakness together with her skill draw can make her frustrating to play. But it doesn't change the fact that her OPG changes the metagame so much, and not in a good way. And maybe half the CHARACTERS can deal with her, but in reality, less than half the PLAYERS can, because only one person has access to Arrest Orders (and not all the time).

Anders sucks as is. He's not Helo Jr., he's Helo with a less powerful OPG (unless you're Admiral) and a OPT that you only reasonably use on an XO, for no one wants to use your only Action changing cards. People say he can Star Player for Piloting when the situation calls for it, but unless you don't need to move from the launch tubes you don't have time to do so. There's consensus on this, you know.

hybridfive wrote:

Point 3: "The Cylon Fleet Board does, of course, come with its fair share of disadvantages, mainly in how it allows players to "game" the system. Players don't want to destroy all basestars but rather leave one damaged one on the board if possible, so the pursuit track doesn't advance and the humans get an absurdly easy jump cycle." I don't see this as any different than luring (or if you're an MMO player, kiting) raiders using a pair of civilian ships. From a philosophical standpoint, allowing your enemy to live is a risk, regardless of how dangerous you may perceive it to be. From a mechanical standpoint, you need both luck and actions to accomplish what you've described. The cost paid, compared against the benefit gained, is roughly equal to other space-battle tactics in the game.

Also, I personally feel like the disadvantage just discussed is the only disadvantage to CFB, not the "main" one. Only one was named in the review. I can't think of another. I'd challenge everyone to find a second.


Have you gone through a Derelict Basestar jump cycle? Using civilian ships to kite the Raiders requires a Communications action, or an action not spent scouting... and only Dee can do it, since in practice there are usually more than 2 (or even 4) ships on the board. In contrast, damaging a basestar (or at worst, Derelict Basestar) requires 0-1 actions and then... nothing. 1 action for 5 turns of quiet space. Best deal EVER.

Oh, disadvantages to CFB... making the Crisis deck less scary, making the President feel less important, making space feel formulaic, creating a very predictable first jump cycle because of MKVIIs starting damaged... it's a playstyle option more than anything.

hybridfive wrote:

Point 4: "But then you have some crises that talk about putting civilians on the board - who does that now that there's no CAG?" This is not covered in an FAQ yet. But based on how they've answered questions like this in every other situation, ever, it's "current player chooses".

Here's several precedents: Current player chooses who gets to play a card if two people want to. Current player chooses who gets attacked when two pilots are in the same area. Current player (Helo) chooses who rerolls first between him and Gaeta (which is in the FAQ). There's also no compelling reason why it wouldn't be the current player. It's HIS crisis.

The author takes this as an example that the FF team didn't play-test the expansion. I think that's incredibly cynical. The more likely thing is that they glossed over it because it seemed obvious to them, then had to deal with it again because not all players are intuitive about rules. That was also evidenced back in the base set when Roslin's disadvantage needed an FAQ question, despite the fact that it clearly stated "first." Some players need their hand held.


It is an example, especially since the Crisis in question is an "Admiral Chooses" choice - so you can reasonably argue that he places the ships too. I stated many other examples of lack of playtesting, most glaringly the Ionian Nebula not putting civilian ships on the board at Crossroads.

hybridfive wrote:

In conclusion: I think the readers can find better reviews of Exodus than this one. I wouldn't trust the author's objectivity, or their analysis, based on the points I've just made. The game is complex, but it's far less complex than the author made it out to be. It's also pretty well balanced, and very useful. I'd recommend it above Pegasus, unless you have a personal attachment to Six, Cavil, or Leoben.


Noted. Apart from the fact that you quoted only four relatively small points as evidence to recommend that the review isn't worth reading, relative to better reviews out there.
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Robert Stewart
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markino wrote:
Have you gone through a Derelict Basestar jump cycle? Using civilian ships to kite the Raiders requires a Communications action, or an action not spent scouting... and only Dee can do it, since in practice there are usually more than 2 (or even 4) ships on the board. In contrast, damaging a basestar (or at worst, Derelict Basestar) requires 0-1 actions and then... nothing. 1 action for 5 turns of quiet space. Best deal EVER.


It's still better than the base game version where random chance means you have 5 turns of quiet space for at least one jump cycle.

The main effect of the CFB is to make Cylon attacks predictable - that means you can game them in ways the base game doesn't support, but it also means that you don't get whole jump cycles with no Cylon threat unless you actually work at it - and dealing with a lame-duck basestar is a lot easier for a Cylon than dealing with the Crisis deck not producing any attacks...
 
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Chris Hurd
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markino wrote:
Caprica. Up to three times per SoE. Thank you for not considering revealed Cylons.


I did, I just didn't think it needed addressing. The way I read the rules from the basic game, crisis cards resolve during the crisis step (jump icons and all). When a revealed cylon plays a crisis card, it happens immediately because there's nothing else in between. However, if you were to do something weird like Cavil Aggressive Tactics, activate Caprica, Cavil Primacy, the basestar would show up or be removed before the crisis was resolved. Again, this is because I believe crises happens during the crisis step.

To me, that seems like a good fix your problem with SoE.

markino wrote:
Anders sucks as is. He's not Helo Jr., he's Helo with a less powerful OPG (unless you're Admiral)


Like Helo, Anders modifies any one die roll made on his turn. Like Helo, he does not have to be the one to roll it. Therefore, Anders does not have to be the Admiral, he just has to XO the Admiral. Nuke + Longshot power to 8 = clear a space area. It's guaranteed to happen. Seems pretty good to me, at least from a human perspective.

markino wrote:
Oh, disadvantages to CFB... making the Crisis deck less scary, making the President feel less important, making space feel formulaic, creating a very predictable first jump cycle because of MKVIIs starting damaged... it's a playstyle option more than anything.


Robert Stewart has already discussed some of what I would have already discussed. I would add that in the show, cylon attacks are predictable / formulaic. They attack every 33 minutes.

To me, it was disadvantage that the humans could randomly lose the base game when the deck deals three attacks in a row. I don't want to play a game for two hours just to die to a card shuffle. Or rather, if I want that to happen, I will play Pandemic instead of BSG. That's not a matter of the deck being "less scary." That's a matter of wanting to play, win or lose, against the other players at the table.

I've gone through a Derelict Basestar jump. It is much preferable to the scenario described above.
 
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Mark L
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Yup, so it's a playstyle choice. I personally prefer the CFB myself, but I find myself missing the attack cards once in a while - in fact I like the CFB more for the CAG title and the MKVIIs, not so much the board itself.

Note that the official ruling on Caprica during SoE is that the jump icons wrap around till the end of the turn, meaning that you resolve the crises but only apply the jump icons after the turn is over. It's a mess.
 
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Robert Stewart
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markino wrote:
Note that the official ruling on Caprica during SoE is that the jump icons wrap around till the end of the turn, meaning that you resolve the crises but only apply the jump icons after the turn is over. It's a mess.


It's only a mess if you think of the handling of jump icons as being part of the crisis - when you realise that they're an entirely separate step - that at the end of the turn, you go back and look at the jump icons that have been played that turn - it makes perfect sense.

Actually, there's no compelling reason in the rules-as-written for you to advance the fleet token more than one space during the prepare for jump step - it just says "if the drawn crisis card has the 'prepare for jump' icon" which could be extended to multiple crises as "if all drawn crisis cards", "if at least one drawn crisis card", or "for each drawn crisis card" (the presence of Fulfiller of Prophecy in the base game means "if all" should have been ruled out early - the possibility of multiple jump icons during a turn waited for Cavil in Pegasus)

So, yeah, the rules are imperfectly written (nothing new there) but the system, once you find out what it is, is reasonably elegant...
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Johan Haglert
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Would had been cool if the author jumped in and answered threads like this
 
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