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Tony's Stupidly Long Thoughts on Battlestar Galactica, Pt. 4: Daybreak

Fat Tony
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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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First of all, apologies to everyone who's actually been following this series of blog posts. Real life and work, man. For those who are just joining us, I'm blogging my comments for Battlestar Galactica and its expansions, in order to make my collection easier to browse. (You can find the previous entries here, here and here.) There have been two major developments in the world of BSG since the last post:

First, Richard Hatch passed away. Rest in peace.

Second, BSG and its expansions have all gone out of print, been removed from the Fantasy Flight website, and are now going for serious money on Amazon and eBay. Hence, this series of posts is now much less useful as a buyer's guide. If you see the game or any of its expansions available at a reasonable price, don't hesitate to grab them.

I have to confess I haven't played with this expansion all that much, and I still don't really have a feel it. My PBF group only played it a couple of times (including a game that ended at distance 4!). As for face-to-face games, I kind of wish Mutiny was optional, but it's impossible to remove without taking out several Crisis cards, the new Treachery deck, the alternate Zarek and Apollo characters, etc. Because of that, and so I don't have to re-teach the Treachery rules, Colonial One locations, and other stuff, we're jumping in with both feet, using all of the "core" components from all expansions and phasing in the optional stuff.

Otherwise, this expansion is noteworthy because it essentially replaces about half of the Pegasus expansion. Although I've complained in the past about BSG repeatedly changing key rules and mechanics, all of these changes are for the better.

New and Alternate Characters: So far, the alternate versions of several base game characters are my favorites from this expansion. Politician Lee Adama is already my favorite Political Leader, and Pilot Helo is pretty great if your group is into aggressive scouting. The new Zarek is a little frustrating: he doesn't make the old Zarek completely redundant, but pretty close (more on old Zarek below). I haven't played Cult Leader Baltar yet.

I'm excited to have new Cylon Leaders, especially Athena and D'Anna. The other new Human characters are pretty cool, but I just don't find them as compelling as those in the previous expansions. Doc Cottle is a favorite among fans of the show, for sure, but was anyone really clamoring to have him in the game? Or Hoshi? I guess I'd rather have them than not, though.

Cylon Leader Motive cards: These are far superior to the Agenda cards in Pegasus. When using the Motive cards, the CL feels much more like part of the group, as opposed to before: with Agendas, the CL always seemed cut off from the main action. And with four cards total, the CL really keeps everyone guessing and is much more of a "wild card" than before. A great improvement to the game.

Mutiny cards and the Mutineer: Mutiny cards still have an impact on the game even when they don't get played, as players are forced to make decisions based on whether or not they'll get brigged. Being the Mutineer is a challenge, and simply having it is an improvement over the Sympathizer (which I've never hated, but it's not great). Overall, this mechanic does a great job of forcing the Humans to work against themselves, which is one of the key themes of the show. (The Personal Goals option in the Exodus expansion was an earlier, less successful attempt to create this dynamic.)

New Skill cards and the new Treachery deck: Just edges out Pegasus for the most interesting set of new Skill cards in an expansion. The new Treachery deck is far better than the original: the new cards are much more likely to have an impact, and they encourage Cylons to remain hidden. Reckless checks are better, too.

The Search For Home: Still getting the hang of this one. It definitely has fewer moving parts than the New Caprica or Ionian Nebula options, so that's greatly appreciated. And even though it won't enter play all that often, I love the Rebel Basestar: it's nice that characters with so-so OPGs and Super Crisis cards can now have another option. Plus, thematically, it's awesome.

New Colonial One and Cylon locations: The names can be REALLY confusing if you're used to the old Colonial One locations. The President's Office is now the Quorum Chamber (exact same function), and the Press Room is now the President's Office (again, same function). And the one brand-spanking new location is called - wait for it - the Press Room. Ugh. Also, the revised Administration location kind of screws the original version of Tom Zarek and takes away a check on the President.

Random: Holy cow, you can get your OPG back now?!?!? Also, plastic Centurions. Sweet.

Finally: I haven't addressed this yet, because it's a side effect of both the Mutiny cards and the new Treachery cards, but this is the expansion that introduced the dreaded "brig-fest" to BSG. And yes, it's a tremendous pain in the neck when that happens. No real way around that one.

With all the changes and improvements in Daybreak, it's tempting to recommend this as a first expansion, but the whole thing gives off a distinct "not for beginners" vibe. So, in the old days when this game was readily available, I would have advised new players to save Daybreak for last. Now? By all means, snatch it up if you see it.

Thanks for reading!
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