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Subject: Balancing the two teams? rss

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Shawn Hendrickson
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Alright, I need a little advice. I've been bringing Battlestar Galactica to my group for a while, and it's a big hit with them. However, after about 6 or so plays, the humans have won once - and that's mainly because the Cylon player got unlucky during a skill check and was immediately brigged and executed in the two following turns.

So, what are some helpful tips or adjustments to give the humans an easier time of things? On a similar note, are there any alternatives to the Sympathizer that balance things out better than having one person randomly be a Cylon or a human? I know the game recommends adding resources, but I wondered if maybe there were some alternate ideas from the community, instead.

We have the Pegasus expansion already, but neither of the others. I've found that Pegasus helps a lot, but the win ratio of Cylons to humans is still pretty wide.
 
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M. B. Downey
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The official no-sympathizer variant.
 
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M. B. Downey
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downeymb wrote:
The official no-sympathizer variant.


Found here.
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Mindy G
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Use the No Sympathizer variant for 4 or 6 players.

Don't worry about the win ratio balance at this point. The game favors the cylons at the start, because the humans have to learn to play efficiently. Once you do that, things will turn around. Learning the strategies is part of the fun and when humans do win, it will feel glorious.
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Shawn Hendrickson
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downeymb wrote:
downeymb wrote:
The official no-sympathizer variant.


Found here.



Ah, neat, didn't know about that one. I'll have to give it a shot next time we play. Thanks!
 
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oriecat wrote:
Don't worry about the win ratio balance at this point.

We play with all expansions (to Kobol), and a while ago the cylons had won 10 games in a row. We have had a couple of human wins lately, and they feel such great accomplishments. I personally like the struggle against the odds even when I end up losing on the human side.

(We also play with Cylon Leader Motives from Daybreak whenever we have 4 players. You have a known third party with their own motives, and it makes the game interesting to both the Cylon Leader and other players as well.)
 
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Locclo wrote:
Alright, I need a little advice. I've been bringing Battlestar Galactica to my group for a while, and it's a big hit with them. However, after about 6 or so plays, the humans have won once - and that's mainly because the Cylon player got unlucky during a skill check and was immediately brigged and executed in the two following turns.

So, what are some helpful tips or adjustments to give the humans an easier time of things? On a similar note, are there any alternatives to the Sympathizer that balance things out better than having one person randomly be a Cylon or a human? I know the game recommends adding resources, but I wondered if maybe there were some alternate ideas from the community, instead.

We have the Pegasus expansion already, but neither of the others. I've found that Pegasus helps a lot, but the win ratio of Cylons to humans is still pretty wide.

I would only add one resource, which gets applied when something goes down to 0 at the end of a player's turn. 1 of each can be too much.

If cylons aren't winning enough:
--stack the Loyalty deck so you're more likely to get 1 or 2 cylons pre-sleeper
--be diligent about secrecy rules. Admiral saying Destinations seen, Qcards president has in hand, or players "innocently" blurting out they used a SP in the last skill check simply cannot be tolerated in this case
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Kwijiboe
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How to win as humans when playing with the Pegasus expansion: for the most part, do not use Pegasus components.

-Do not pick the Pegasus expansion characters Ellen or Kat.
-Do not waste skill cards moving from Galactica to Pegasus unless circumstances demand it. Just use Pegasus as a place to assign Damage.
-Do not waste skill cards on "Movement" abilities. The cards are more valuable for their printed strength nine times out of ten.
-Do not use reckless skill cards for their text unless absolutely necessary.
-Do not waste skill cards executing Cylons.

Play defensively, do not waste skill cards if an action elsewhere will buy you an additional turn or two.

The key to victory in base game/Pegasus is HAND MANAGEMENT.

Pegasus simply adds too many options that result in one or more cards being discarded for minimal gain. I see far too many players waste skill cards for their text ability and they lose because they cannot conquer the skill card requirement on Crises.

Granted, it's odd that the best strategy is not to bring certain characters on the ship or not to use Pegasus expansion components, but you need to understand why you're losing: The Pegasus expansion is enticing you to play fast and loose with fate when the key to victory in BSG is conservative play calling and defensive maneuvers. The best way to reach that goal is to view the Pegasus as it was in the tv series: it's more trouble than its worth.
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Victor Lesperance
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So, I just game mastered this game all weekend long at a local game convention. Most of the players were beginners. Occasionally, a veteran would pop in.

Each time, I told the group that I have only a single house rule. I opened sign up for 6 players so that we would have 4 humans vs. 2 cylons (no other game balancers).

Every veteran player told me that I was mad and that I had just ruined the game before it had even started. Most said that, in their own groups, they actually house rule the balance to favor the CYLONS!

I held my ground and said that I would refund their money if they wanted to bail out now. Luckily, even though I got condescending head shakes, nobody bailed.

So, in spite of front loading every game in favor of the HUMANS, the final totals for the weekend: 2/3's of the games were STILL cylon victories. Only 1/3 were human. 100% of the games came down to an epic struggle at distance 8 with both sides a turn or two from victory.

Every last player said that they had an amazing time. A few ran over to the vendor area and bought copies until the vendor ran out. Several players thought that I had run such an amazing game that they found my schedule and signed up for everything else that I was running. A couple even gave me their phone numbers so that when I run BSG from my home, they want in. (All of this makes me happy, because I just can't get enough of this game, and a larger pool of players means more sessions)

Now, I tend to trust the people on this forum. I'm willing to accept that the raw game mechanics support humanity - because every veteran here says so. But there's a world of difference between your first game and your 100th.

And many people won't get anywhere near 100 games if the cylons win the first 20 games. One by one your fellow gamers will say, "no, let's play something where the outcome isn't so pre-determined." And since the game needs 5 (or, I say 6) players the game quickly dies on the shelf.

So, IMHO, you have 2 options.
1) Read the many strategy guides on this forum, then follow someone else's script as you play. (to me, that's equal to eating glass)

2) Add 1 player to the human side, then follow the rules as written. The cylons will still win over 50% of the games, so each human victory will still feel like an "in your face" moment. Yet, most games will come down to a nail biter ending that will fuel people's desire to play again ASAP.

This balance gives each side a fighting chance at a time when neither is playing optimally, allowing players to explore options. Exploring options is how people hone in on the winning strategies without castrating their imaginations by just skipping to the back of the book to read the answers. And when your strategies have improved to the point where human victories are higher than 50%, remove my house rule and rejoice in the challenges of a whole new universe of pain. And finally, much further down the road, start stacking the odds in favor of the Cylons.

Anyway, I've followed this house rule for my last dozen games and never once regretted it even though I am still human and feel bad when the veterans suggest that I'm an idiot. I do feel vindicated, though, when I see how much fun those same people are having during the final turns of my "ruined" games.
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vlesperance wrote:
I opened sign up for 6 players so that we would have 4 humans vs. 2 cylons (no other game balancers).

I always say this is a good setup for beginners.

vlesperance wrote:
And since the game needs 5 (or, I say 6) players the game quickly dies on the shelf.

After adding Daybreak we have had no issues with the number of players. I think I actually like 4-player games with Cylon Leader (Motives) better than 5-player games. (Edit: especially when I get to be CL, but also otherwise.) But lately we have had a few nice human victories in 5-p games too. (See session reports from 100 Plays of Galactica Challenge.)

I think also the people you play with have their effect on the balance. Cylons can make tighter games when they weigh the correct time and place to reveal or try to figure out the last possible moment to reveal and still win. A have seen a few long-cons lately to good effect.
 
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I think I actually like 4-player games with Cylon Leader (Motives) better than 5-player games.


Especially when playing as Cylon Leader, you and me both. laugh

Quote:
I have seen a few long-cons lately to good effect.


Some of them have failed by having victory snatched away at the last moment.

Having played with two different groups (at work couple of times, should play more) there are indeed big differences between groups.
 
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Kwijiboe wrote:
How to win as humans when playing with the Pegasus expansion: for the most part, do not use Pegasus components.

-Do not pick the Pegasus expansion characters Ellen or Kat.
-Do not waste skill cards moving from Galactica to Pegasus unless circumstances demand it. Just use Pegasus as a place to assign Damage.
-Do not waste skill cards on "Movement" abilities. The cards are more valuable for their printed strength nine times out of ten.
-Do not use reckless skill cards for their text unless absolutely necessary.
-Do not waste skill cards executing Cylons.


I disagree on several of these points

- Ellen, provided she isn't President, draws 6 useful skill cards (and 1 Treachery) in exchange for a little loss of flexibility. Kat is borderline broken - she's insurance against Centurions and can, once or twice a game, Jump safely a couple of turns early - her fake die-roll is powerful enough that it often gets house-ruled
- It's a bad idea to keep moving between Pegasus and Galactica, but having one or two people on Pegasus to man the overpowered weapons means you don't need pilots, and the Engine Room lets you seal a victory that would otherwise be in doubt.
- I agree about Critical Situation - most of the time you're better off playing an Executive Order instead - but Full Throttle is only 1-2 strength and if you're using Pilots at all, then it's a good way to get a bit extra out of one of them. As for Preventative Policy, it depends on how good you are at anticipating resource losses - if you can see one coming, then it's worth even a 5-strength card to block 1 point of resource loss most of the time.
- Again, Reckless cards are situational. Support the People is an automatic play when everyone's in a position to draw from it (unless you're playing with Daybreak, where it's still usually worth it, but it's a lot more painful). At Any Cost is rarely worth using. Guts & Initiative is situational, but if you're investing an Investigative Committee or letting one player solo the check, then it's cheaper than accounting for Destiny some other way, and has no risk of triggering Reckless effects (again, unless you're playing Daybreak). Jury Rigged is worth more as 4 points toward the check than as 1-2 points. Daybreak changes things, but, without Daybreak, most of the Reckless cards are better used for their effect.
- I agree about not executing known Cylons - the Brig is usually a better place for them - though if you have a lot of Treachery between you, or they have a game-breaking OPG, disposing of them that way may be worthwhile - and it does let you confirm someone's loyalty if you're not sure they're a Cylon.

With the Engine Room (and Cain's OPG) Pegasus opens up racing as a viable human strategy - rather than managing Crises to keep resources high, reduce the number of Crises you face so resources don't have time to crash.
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rmsgrey wrote:
Kwijiboe wrote:
How to win as humans when playing with the Pegasus expansion: for the most part, do not use Pegasus components.

-Do not pick the Pegasus expansion characters Ellen or Kat.
-Do not waste skill cards moving from Galactica to Pegasus unless circumstances demand it. Just use Pegasus as a place to assign Damage.
-Do not waste skill cards on "Movement" abilities. The cards are more valuable for their printed strength nine times out of ten.
-Do not use reckless skill cards for their text unless absolutely necessary.
-Do not waste skill cards executing Cylons.


I disagree on several of these points

- Ellen, provided she isn't President, draws 6 useful skill cards (and 1 Treachery) in exchange for a little loss of flexibility. Kat is borderline broken - she's insurance against Centurions and can, once or twice a game, Jump safely a couple of turns early - her fake die-roll is powerful enough that it often gets house-ruled
- It's a bad idea to keep moving between Pegasus and Galactica, but having one or two people on Pegasus to man the overpowered weapons means you don't need pilots, and the Engine Room lets you seal a victory that would otherwise be in doubt.
- I agree about Critical Situation - most of the time you're better off playing an Executive Order instead - but Full Throttle is only 1-2 strength and if you're using Pilots at all, then it's a good way to get a bit extra out of one of them. As for Preventative Policy, it depends on how good you are at anticipating resource losses - if you can see one coming, then it's worth even a 5-strength card to block 1 point of resource loss most of the time.
- Again, Reckless cards are situational. Support the People is an automatic play when everyone's in a position to draw from it (unless you're playing with Daybreak, where it's still usually worth it, but it's a lot more painful). At Any Cost is rarely worth using. Guts & Initiative is situational, but if you're investing an Investigative Committee or letting one player solo the check, then it's cheaper than accounting for Destiny some other way, and has no risk of triggering Reckless effects (again, unless you're playing Daybreak). Jury Rigged is worth more as 4 points toward the check than as 1-2 points. Daybreak changes things, but, without Daybreak, most of the Reckless cards are better used for their effect.
- I agree about not executing known Cylons - the Brig is usually a better place for them - though if you have a lot of Treachery between you, or they have a game-breaking OPG, disposing of them that way may be worthwhile - and it does let you confirm someone's loyalty if you're not sure they're a Cylon.

With the Engine Room (and Cain's OPG) Pegasus opens up racing as a viable human strategy - rather than managing Crises to keep resources high, reduce the number of Crises you face so resources don't have time to crash.


AAC - Daybreak can dole out more Treachery than triggered, so it can be a way to ensure they don't do as much harm
Crit. Sit. - In games where trust is an issue, a "self XO" can be nice
Prev. Pol. - if you use it on Pop for FTL Control, Zarek's OPG, Food for State Of Emergency (Exo skill card), or Fuel for jumps in general, the resource itself can be worth far more than the yellow 3 to 5 strength.
 
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Using the Pegasus expansion without New Caprica helps to favour the humans a little more.

Cain, Ellen, and Kat are all solid characters. Cain's OPG can shave off a few cycles and if timed well can empty busy space. Ellen (when not the President) can help out with drawing more cards or can check on the President or Admiral if they're being suspicious. Kat is a great choice for someone to trigger the FTL drive early, take a 'lucky' shot at a basestar from her viper if space is quiet or from Weapons Control if you can't roll a die.

The Pegasus skill cards are all useful. It's not really worth worrying about triggering a Reckless skill check because there is a small number of Treachery cards that can trigger bad things.

The Pegasus provides a great location for the humans, the Engine Room. If you have some characters with Politics and nothing better to do you can have them Consolidate Power to make up for the cards you lose to the Engine Room. If you do this then the Cylons have less time to sabotage, the CACs come up less often, and CACs will still advance the jump track. If you're like my group and can't roll high to save your life then you can still afford to jump early and only lose one population instead of three.

In my group we don't use the Pegasus as a damage sponge until late in the game because we don't bother to fend off the Cylons, we race them to Kobol. The longer the game goes on the better the chances for the Cylons to win so we try not to give them that luxury.
 
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rmsgrey wrote:
Kwijiboe wrote:
How to win as humans when playing with the Pegasus expansion: for the most part, do not use Pegasus components.

-Do not pick the Pegasus expansion characters Ellen or Kat.
-Do not waste skill cards moving from Galactica to Pegasus unless circumstances demand it. Just use Pegasus as a place to assign Damage.
-Do not waste skill cards on "Movement" abilities. The cards are more valuable for their printed strength nine times out of ten.
-Do not use reckless skill cards for their text unless absolutely necessary.
-Do not waste skill cards executing Cylons.


I disagree on several of these points

- Ellen, provided she isn't President, draws 6 useful skill cards (and 1 Treachery) in exchange for a little loss of flexibility. Kat is borderline broken - she's insurance against Centurions and can, once or twice a game, Jump safely a couple of turns early - her fake die-roll is powerful enough that it often gets house-ruled
- It's a bad idea to keep moving between Pegasus and Galactica, but having one or two people on Pegasus to man the overpowered weapons means you don't need pilots, and the Engine Room lets you seal a victory that would otherwise be in doubt.
- I agree about Critical Situation - most of the time you're better off playing an Executive Order instead - but Full Throttle is only 1-2 strength and if you're using Pilots at all, then it's a good way to get a bit extra out of one of them. As for Preventative Policy, it depends on how good you are at anticipating resource losses - if you can see one coming, then it's worth even a 5-strength card to block 1 point of resource loss most of the time.
- Again, Reckless cards are situational. Support the People is an automatic play when everyone's in a position to draw from it (unless you're playing with Daybreak, where it's still usually worth it, but it's a lot more painful). At Any Cost is rarely worth using. Guts & Initiative is situational, but if you're investing an Investigative Committee or letting one player solo the check, then it's cheaper than accounting for Destiny some other way, and has no risk of triggering Reckless effects (again, unless you're playing Daybreak). Jury Rigged is worth more as 4 points toward the check than as 1-2 points. Daybreak changes things, but, without Daybreak, most of the Reckless cards are better used for their effect.
- I agree about not executing known Cylons - the Brig is usually a better place for them - though if you have a lot of Treachery between you, or they have a game-breaking OPG, disposing of them that way may be worthwhile - and it does let you confirm someone's loyalty if you're not sure they're a Cylon.

With the Engine Room (and Cain's OPG) Pegasus opens up racing as a viable human strategy - rather than managing Crises to keep resources high, reduce the number of Crises you face so resources don't have time to crash.


The point is you lose a CAC game due to how well you manage your hand of skill cards. Haphazardly playing cards for text makes skill checks harder and is the primary reason for your loss.
 
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Kwijiboe wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
Kwijiboe wrote:
How to win as humans when playing with the Pegasus expansion: for the most part, do not use Pegasus components.

-Do not pick the Pegasus expansion characters Ellen or Kat.
-Do not waste skill cards moving from Galactica to Pegasus unless circumstances demand it. Just use Pegasus as a place to assign Damage.
-Do not waste skill cards on "Movement" abilities. The cards are more valuable for their printed strength nine times out of ten.
-Do not use reckless skill cards for their text unless absolutely necessary.
-Do not waste skill cards executing Cylons.


I disagree on several of these points

- Ellen, provided she isn't President, draws 6 useful skill cards (and 1 Treachery) in exchange for a little loss of flexibility. Kat is borderline broken - she's insurance against Centurions and can, once or twice a game, Jump safely a couple of turns early - her fake die-roll is powerful enough that it often gets house-ruled
- It's a bad idea to keep moving between Pegasus and Galactica, but having one or two people on Pegasus to man the overpowered weapons means you don't need pilots, and the Engine Room lets you seal a victory that would otherwise be in doubt.
- I agree about Critical Situation - most of the time you're better off playing an Executive Order instead - but Full Throttle is only 1-2 strength and if you're using Pilots at all, then it's a good way to get a bit extra out of one of them. As for Preventative Policy, it depends on how good you are at anticipating resource losses - if you can see one coming, then it's worth even a 5-strength card to block 1 point of resource loss most of the time.
- Again, Reckless cards are situational. Support the People is an automatic play when everyone's in a position to draw from it (unless you're playing with Daybreak, where it's still usually worth it, but it's a lot more painful). At Any Cost is rarely worth using. Guts & Initiative is situational, but if you're investing an Investigative Committee or letting one player solo the check, then it's cheaper than accounting for Destiny some other way, and has no risk of triggering Reckless effects (again, unless you're playing Daybreak). Jury Rigged is worth more as 4 points toward the check than as 1-2 points. Daybreak changes things, but, without Daybreak, most of the Reckless cards are better used for their effect.
- I agree about not executing known Cylons - the Brig is usually a better place for them - though if you have a lot of Treachery between you, or they have a game-breaking OPG, disposing of them that way may be worthwhile - and it does let you confirm someone's loyalty if you're not sure they're a Cylon.

With the Engine Room (and Cain's OPG) Pegasus opens up racing as a viable human strategy - rather than managing Crises to keep resources high, reduce the number of Crises you face so resources don't have time to crash.


The point is you lose a CAC game due to how well you manage your hand of skill cards. Haphazardly playing cards for text makes skill checks harder and is the primary reason for your loss.
That still goes for the game in general. IMO, CACs don't make the game that much more skewed towards hand management, if at all.

You always need to weigh in how to best utilize your cards. Let other players risk failing a skill check so you can have more, or much better guarantee it and be low for near future ones. Perhaps it may be better to use a SP since others have their own skill cards (but no SP) to cover skill checks.

.

And speaking of hand management, Ellen and Kat are geared towards that and can certainly shine. When I pick Ellen, if I'm not president, then I do follow others around and inject many skill cards into the group. It's a net of +2 cards. If I end up being president, I can't really use her special, but hey! now I'm president!
Did a write up on skill card transferring abilities here for those interested...
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1246343/transfer-skill-card-...

Kat discarding a card to guarantee a die roll result can save many Calculations, SP, not to mention actions and XOs.

.

Executions I typically only do if free (crisis, or Execute Prisoner Qcard), or if there's a lot of treachery going around. Otherwise, on rare occasions, it can be nice to kill 2 birds with one stone. For example, you'd need to brig a cylon president AND use Admin to limit his power and get the presidency away from him, whereas with executions, it's one fell swoop.
 
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CACs and single expansion experiences drastically change the game to hand management.

In contrast, CFB and all expansions shifts the game from hand management to action efficiency and its not about the printed strength of the card--essentially the game becomes more about having the right type of card at the right time. Games rarely end primarily due to player skill card fatigue, rather, they end due to not enough actions being available.
 
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Kwijiboe wrote:
In contrast, CFB and all expansions shifts the game from hand management to action efficiency and its not about the printed strength of the card--essentially the game becomes more about having the right type of card at the right time. Games rarely end primarily due to player skill card fatigue, rather, they end due to not enough actions being available.

No, the games end due to either Humans reaching Kobol or resources becoming zero (Damage being a resource) or Centurions boarding. Action management is part of card management. There are a lot of skill cards (like Combat Veteran, Run Interference) that help your action economy in addition to the usual Executive Order and Critical Situation (for when you don't have an XO). Tanking skill checks and passing crisis checks that increase resources is efficient. You can then take resource hits later and save cards.

In our games having too little actions stems from having too few cards to use. At the worst you have to use your action to get some, or at least do something else than you would've. Having too few cards means you don't have the right card for the situation. (Even the zero-strength cards All Hands on Deck, Force Their Hand, and Dogfight are great in passing critical skill checks, and can overcome even hidden cylons spiking the check.)

So, I think hand management is even more important with expansions (and CFB), because there are a lot more different types of skill cards, and more situations to handle. (Even you say you have to have the right card at the right time, which is hand management.) With the base game you can expect to get all different cards reliably, when you add expansions that is no longer true.
 
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Robert Stewart
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Kwijiboe wrote:
CACs and single expansion experiences drastically change the game to hand management.

In contrast, CFB and all expansions shifts the game from hand management to action efficiency and its not about the printed strength of the card--essentially the game becomes more about having the right type of card at the right time. Games rarely end primarily due to player skill card fatigue, rather, they end due to not enough actions being available.


With the CFB rather than CACs, you have fewer Crises that ignore skill cards, so, if anything, CACs reduce the pressure on player hands by adding more Crises that don't require skill cards to handle.

Of course, if your response to CACs is to do much more Scouting, then that increases the pressure on skill hands in two ways - you're playing additional skill cards (Launch Scout and possibly Strategic Planning and you're choosing Crises that cost more skill cards over ones that cost fewer (Crises with a Jump icon are generally nastier than Crises without).
 
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