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Tony's Stupidly Long Thoughts on Battlestar Galactica, Pt. 1

Fat Tony
United States
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Nothing like family, friends and games...and music and beer...and pizza and bean dip...and actually having time to play games...
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Every once in a while, I'll scroll through my collection and review my comments. Some games naturally elicit longer comments than others: there's just more to say about Dominion than Through The Desert (for example). But holy cow, my comments for Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game and its expansions are out of control. It's one of my top 5 games (currently occupying the #2 spot), and I used to play PBF games constantly here at BGG. I've developed some pretty strong and detailed opinions on most aspects of the game, and the various expansion elements as a result.

So, I'm migrating my comments over here to my blog for a few reasons. One, I want to make it easier to scroll through my collection. Two, it seems a shame to have my comments in a spot where only I will see them, but it also seems silly to post a review for a 7-year-old game that is comfortably in the top 50 here at BGG. Finally, I just kind of want to see what other people think.

This first entry talks about the base game and the system in broad terms: future entries will focus on the individual expansions and go into greater detail.

(Also, a note: these really aren't all that long for a blog post, or a review. Within the context of the individual game comments, though, they might as well be War And Peace.)

Anyway, although most of my plays are via Play By Forum here on BGG, tabletop is still the way to go when you can. This is one of the 2-3 most thematic games in my collection: like the TV show (regardless of how you feel about the later seasons), it feels both epic and small-scale at once, with the same sense of paranoia and impending doom. Rules-wise, it's reasonably complex, especially once you add expansions (although even then, it's still no Arkham Horror). However, once you've got a grip on the mechanics, they sort of fade into the background and it becomes all about the cat-and-mouse game between the Humans and the Cylons. Simply an incredible experience: few other games even come close.

If I have one complaint about the BSG system, it's that each expansion rewrites rules and portions of the game after they're well established (new Cylon and Colonial One locations, new rules for executions and handing off of excess Loyalty cards, new Treachery cards, etc.). In order to only have to teach the game one way, I've started off brand new players with the expansions, which would not have been my preference. And once you do that, you get some dilution in the Skill decks, and key cards like Executive Order and Launch Scout don't come up quite as much.

My thoughts on the different numbers of players:
1-2: Yes, FFG has released official rules for playing solo or with one other person. These are good for learning the basics of the game (how skill checks and Cylon Attacks work, etc.), but they don't give a satisfying game experience. If you're looking for an epic co-op/semi-co-op game for 1-2 players, keep looking.
3-4: Haven't tried yet and in no hurry to.
5: The sweet spot. I'm vaguely curious about how replacing one of the hidden Cylons with a Cylon Leader would work, but the 3/2 split of Humans vs. hidden Cylons is just about perfect.
6: The second-best number, mainly because the more, the merrier, and also the ideal number if you want to play with a Cylon Leader. Otherwise, you'll need to play with either the Sympathizer (base game) or Mutineer (Daybreak). You can also check out FFG's official "No Sympathizer" variant.
7: Only played via PBF. I'm a little more open to trying this number in person now that our group has more experienced players.

My preferred combination of expansions:
*All core components (characters, skill cards, Crisis cards, Destinations, etc.) from all expansions
*Kobol objective
*Pegasus board
*Mutiny deck, new Treachery deck and board overlays from Daybreak
*Cylon Fleet board, plus its related components (although I won't insist upon it)
*Motive cards for Cylon Leaders

Saving for later:
*Personal Goals & Final Five cards
*New Caprica
*Ionian Nebula (Allies, Trauma, etc.)
*The Search for Home (Demetrius, Missions, Earth, etc.)

Favorite characters, including the expansions:
Political Leader: Lee Adama (alt.), then Baltar (original)
Military Leader: Adama, then Gaeta
Pilot: Apollo (original), then Starbuck
Support: Cally, and it isn't even close (although I am looking forward to trying Cult Leader Baltar)
Cylon Leader: Leoben, for now

Check out this blog entry to read up on my history as a BSG PBF player with the NCC-1701 crew.

Coming soon: my stupidly long thoughts on the three expansions for Battlestar Galactica.
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