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Subject: Second Annual Play: Which Expansions? rss

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Orion Harrison
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So, nearly one year ago (December 20th, my birthday), I played BSG for the first time with four friends, and it was an absolute blast.

Now, my birthday's coming around again and, after going to see a Star Wars matinee, we are meeting at my place for another game with a sixth player. Everyone coming has played at least 2-3 times. My wife and I have played 5 or 6 times with these people and others in different mixtures. I've played once without her, so I have 6 or 7 plays over the past year.

I have slowly bought all the expansions and have played a couple times with a hybrid mix of new components and elements that don't add new mechanics. For example, I add in miracle tokens and a lot of new crisis cards and skill cards, while keeping an even distribution of skill card values among all the stacks and an even number of Cylon-Attack-Cards-to-Non-Cylon-Attack-Cards ratio in the crisis deck. I add in any and all new characters that don't require new mechanics. We played one four-player game to Earth with Demetrius and took out a mission card or two that referenced treachery and mutiny.

Now, I think everyone is ready to ACTUALLY add in some of the expansion material. My first thought is to just add in pure Pegasus, except for the New Caprica destination. My second thought is to add in Pegasus but with Daybreak's treachery and mutiny. I've also considered something of a hybrid of the two treachery decks together. I've played once with the Cylon Fleet Board and didn't care much for it. I have considered some other parts of Exodus like Final Five or Personal Goals, but I think for a group who has played 3-4 times in the space of a year, I don't want to make it too hard for the humans.

What, exactly, should I add in? Should it be Pegasus diluted with a few factors that balance it? Should I mix parts of Pegasus and Daybreak? What would be a good hybrid treachery deck? Should I just go pure Daybreak? Is there any part of Exodus I should include? Should I (since we have 6 players) try out a Cylon Leader? Is there anything we could add to give the humans a slight edge, since introducing new strategies will often result in failure the first few times they're tried out?
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M. B. Downey
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Daybreak and Cylon Leader.

If you do get a Cylon Leader, do NOT use the Pegasus format. It's awful.
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Seth Stewart
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I suggest:

1) Destination be Kobol (easier for humans) or Ionian Nebula.
2) Use Pegasus board & Cylon Fleet board.
3) Use all replacement rules & additional rules (not Earth) in Daybreak.
4) Use all characters.
5) Suggest using final five, but not personal goals.
6) Play with Cylon leader if someone chooses one, but warn the table that playing as such is more difficult and may feel slower.
 
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M. B. Downey
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Glamdryn wrote:
2) Use Pegasus board & Cylon Fleet board.


GamingAccolades wrote:
I've played once with the Cylon Fleet Board and didn't care much for it.
 
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M. B. Downey
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GamingAccolades wrote:
I've played once with the Cylon Fleet Board and didn't care much for it.


For the record, the CFB is probably the most love/hate optional component to the game. Plenty of people think the game is vastly improved with it, and plenty of people won't go near it. Either feeling is fine, just so long as the group agrees on what to do.
 
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Kwijiboe
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If you have 6, go full Pegasus, with CL to New Caprica. The Reckless Mechanic, when kept in line by a Cylon Leader, works decently well in my opinion. New Caprica is not the best endgame in my experience, but I think it gives a lot of incentives for the humans to engage in the other mechanics introduces, like the execution mechanic. In my opinion, executions outside of the New Caprica endgame context don't belong in Battlestar.

For 6 players, I don't recommend any other setup.

If you have 5, go full Daybreak or Base Game only. I don't think the expansion materials mix well at all.
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Orion Harrison
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downeymb wrote:
If you do get a Cylon Leader, do NOT use the Pegasus format. It's awful.


Ah, yes. I was not planning to use the Pegasus motive cards or wahtever they're called. I put them in a bag at the bottom of my box along with the cardboard basestars and centurians, never to be used again.

downeymb wrote:
For the record, the CFB is probably the most love/hate optional component to the game. Plenty of people think the game is vastly improved with it, and plenty of people won't go near it. Either feeling is fine, just so long as the group agrees on what to do.


I didn't hate the experience, but it did cause some things that brought down the mood and the people I play with would not like it. Basically, one guy revealed and sat on the Basestar Bridge knocking our jump prep back, elongating the game a frustrating amount. I had a brilliant move where I played "Negotiations" and saved our asses from certain doom, but it wasn't worth the stretching of the rest of the game.

I loved some aspects of the Cylon fleet board. I'd never valued the pilot character so much! It was great! And the CAG was invaluable! And escorting civilians is a brilliant way to give the humans such a helpful action to offset a ramped-up difficulty. If these things could come into play while keeping the "surprise!" of CACs and getting rid of the game-manipulation of the CFB, I want to hear how!

I think I'm going to seed the deck "Pandemic"-style with a few CACs when we play. I'm not going to use EVERY CAC to do this, maybe 4 or 5, so we're guaranteed like 3 or 4 throughout the game.

Kwijiboe wrote:
If you have 6, go full Pegasus, with CL to New Caprica. The Reckless Mechanic, when kept in line by a Cylon Leader, works decently well in my opinion. New Caprica is not the best endgame in my experience, but I think it gives a lot of incentives for the humans to engage in the other mechanics introduces, like the execution mechanic. In my opinion, executions outside of the New Caprica endgame context don't belong in Battlestar.


Hmmm. I do want to try all the new endings eventually, but everything about the New Caprica ending seems distasteful. Just hearing the rules made me come to the same conclusion as the people who have played and reviewed it... that it seems like stopping near the end of BSG to play a different mini-game. Maybe I'll introduce and explain it, and put it to a vote.
 
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Orion Harrison
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Glamdryn wrote:
I suggest:

1) Destination be Kobol (easier for humans) or Ionian Nebula.
2) Use Pegasus board & Cylon Fleet board.
3) Use all replacement rules & additional rules (not Earth) in Daybreak.
4) Use all characters.
5) Suggest using final five, but not personal goals.
6) Play with Cylon leader if someone chooses one, but warn the table that playing as such is more difficult and may feel slower.

1) Probably Kobol or Earth, since no new mechanics are introduced with them. I am giving a little consideration to New Caprica, but not to Ionian Nebula. The part about running around and encountering characters sounds fun, but the new mini-game of managing trauma seems like something I wouldn't want to introduce yet. Maybe next year.

2) I definitely know that I want to use the Pegasus board and Treachery. I'm not sure about adding in the Cylon Fleet board yet. Maybe next year.

3) Again, Earth is my first choice of destination after Kobol. The length of the game doesn't matter to me, since this is an all-afternoon epic event.

4) Planning on it. Except for characters who reference mutiny, unless we end up playing with that.

5) Probably not using Final Five or personal goals, since each one blatantly tips the scales in the cylons' favor without anything to balance it back to the humans' side. We don't play enough to be "good" enough for the humans to consistently win.

6) I'll probably do this. Offer and explain cylon leaders, maybe take one to avoid using the sympathizer or the No-Sympathizer variant.
 
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Mindy G
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Ugh, do not ruin your once a year birthday fun with New Caprica. yuk
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Kārlis Jēriņš
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Don't go to Earth. The missions are cool enough when they happen, but it's very rare. At all other times, the Captain's Cabin really screws up the skill card quantities - I don't remember a single time playing with Earth that any player was ever starved for skill cards. And that's really not a good thing, since crisis cards rely on people not having 10 cards each at all times.

Do use mutiny, though. It's pretty cool.

Regarding treachery - I vastly prefer the Daybreak deck. The Pegasus one always felt like a non-issue to me.
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Seth Stewart
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TheNameWasTaken wrote:
Don't go to Earth. The missions are cool enough when they happen, but it's very rare. At all other times, the Captain's Cabin really screws up the skill card quantities - I don't remember a single time playing with Earth that any player was ever starved for skill cards. And that's really not a good thing, since crisis cards rely on people not having 10 cards each at all times.

Do use mutiny, though. It's pretty cool.

Regarding treachery - I vastly prefer the Daybreak deck. The Pegasus one always felt like a non-issue to me.


Agree with everything you just said.
 
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Mattias Elfström
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Have a look at the Combined Rulebook on the files page. It caters for players who want to add in all expansions and pick any destination.
 
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Victor Lesperance
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My advice would be to pick exactly one expansion. Lots of components balance each other and too much mixing-and-matching dilutes the theme as well as the availability of those counter-balancing components. For example, the crisis may seem generic enough to include all of them. Yet, (for example), too many from expansions that pre-dated mutiny may dilute the mutiny experience.

I'd even go as far as removing characters from the unused expansions. I think you'll have a stronger theme and better fitting game mechanics. Sure, throw them all in later down the line. But for first time expansion games, keep it pure (IMO).

Previously you mentioned that meeting the NPC's sounded fun, but managing trauma was too much. My group felt similarly. So, my work around was to just skip the trauma part. Set up like normal: Put 3 NPC's on the board with a random trauma token each. If encountered, resolve it then toss the token out of the game. Draw a new NPC with a new random token. You still get the variety but without the whole Ionian Nebula player eliminating trial.
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Gerry Smit
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If you want to mix and match pieces of games, consider Ionian Nebula without NPC's, trauma and cross-roads. Thus you're guaranteed a battle on the final jump cycle.

If you want to look loonnnnnng view, then this year play with Pegasus to New Caprica, but substitute the Cylon motivations from Daybreak for the Pegasus Agendas.

Then next year's birthday play Base Game +Exodus with all sub-modules.
And two years from now play Base Game + Daybreak.

 
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Kwijiboe
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GerryRailBaron wrote:
If you want to look loonnnnnng view, then this year play with Pegasus to New Caprica, but substitute the Cylon motivations from Daybreak for the Pegasus Agendas.


Have to disagree here. Make sure you use Pegasus CLs and Pegasus Agendas ONLY if you are planning on doing a Pegasus only to New Caprica session.

The reason Pegasus CLs and New Caprica are slammed so much is because every component introduced in the Pegasus expansion strongly presumes you are playing with all of the components in the box. If you add anything on top of the experience or replace/mix in other components, the already admittedly underwhelming New Caprica experience becomes increasingly worse.

You can't add skill cards from other expansions to the decks either because it limits players access to the reckless mechanic. You NEED a CL in the game from the start to punish humans use of the reckless mechanic.

Additionally, Pegasus CLs, and their corresponding agendas feel funky or are downright impossible to achieve unless New Caprica is the destination. Same goes for New Caprica, if you're playing without 6 players and a CL, something feels off. It's because New Caprica's crisis deck is assumed to be in play when a Pegasus CL is present--it hits Morale and Population incredibly hard.

Also, Daybreak motives require daybreak components. There is at least one motive that refers directly to the Mutiny mechanic. Not only that, but the Daybreak expansion, as well as the New CLs, are provided the tools to achieve said motives. The Daybreak CLs, in my opinion, are bland and designed around making hand management and skill checks more difficult.

Personally, I think Pegasus only New Caprica is fun. In no other session, is the long con most rewarded. Executions actually mean something and at some point, the humans have to start executing their own to find the hidden Cylons.
 
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Orion Harrison
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I am more confused and scared than I was in the beginning. I was all set to put in everything from Pegasus, taking on a Cylon Leader with Daybreak motives and just a couple 5-and-6-value skill cards from Exodus and Daybreak.

Now I'm second-guessing myself about tossing the Pegasus Cylon Leader Agendas. They really didn't appear to me to balance the game, but I haven't actually played them, so I don't know! I could just toss the one Motive card that references mutiny and a random card of the other allegiance, right?

GerryRailBaron wrote:
If you want to look loonnnnnng view, then this year play with Pegasus to New Caprica, but substitute the Cylon motivations from Daybreak for the Pegasus Agendas.

Then next year's birthday play Base Game +Exodus with all sub-modules.
And two years from now play Base Game + Daybreak.


Haha, this is totally what I want to do! Actually, ideally I'd like to start introducing expansions more quickly than that so we can play them all multiple times and find out which we like the best. But that would require playing it a lot more often than we're able to.
 
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M. B. Downey
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Pegasus Cylon Leader Agendas are almost complete crap. It's why Daybreak added Motives: so Cylon Leaders would be playable.
 
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Robert Stewart
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downeymb wrote:
Pegasus Cylon Leader Agendas are almost complete crap. It's why Daybreak added Motives: so Cylon Leaders would be playable.


Like Kwijiboe said, Agendas are fine when you're playing New Caprica. What the Motives do is make Cylon Leaders work with other Objectives. The obvious example is Join The Colonials, which is trivially easy in any other game - just infiltrate at some point, and the humans are unlikely to waste the actions on throwing you in the Brig or out the Airlock unless you do something to obviously sabotage them. On New Caprica, particularly if the humans can manage a quick getaway, you want to be infiltrating before reaching NC (you can't infiltrate until Galactica returns, and the humans may not want to wait for you to do so before they end the game) and then you're an easy target for the humans to toss into Detention when a Crisis requires them to sacrifice someone - locking up a human means losing a Morale if you can't get them out; the Cylon Leader doesn't.

So if you're going to New Caprica, the Agendas are well balanced (the resource-balancing ones almost happen automatically as part of New Caprica) - the problem with that is that then you're going to New Caprica, which extends the game with a tightly-focused minigame that feels a little bolted on...
 
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rmsgrey wrote:
So if you're going to New Caprica, the Agendas are well balanced (the resource-balancing ones almost happen automatically as part of New Caprica) - the problem with that is that then you're going to New Caprica


downeymb wrote:
Pegasus Cylon Leader Agendas are almost complete crap.


 
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Orion Harrison
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Well, the game was successful, but not without a couple hiccups. I'll think about posting a whole session report, but to sum up:

We had six players going to New Caprica with the Pegasus and its corresponding treachery deck with one cylon leader (me, playing Cavil).

A few personal rules tweaks: Galactica and Pegasus damage tokens were mixed and drawn blindly from a black bag. I seeded the deck "Pandemic"-style with Cylon Attack Cards. I would recommend both these variants based on this game, but it's only one session.

Characters were chosen from all expansions. We had president Romo Lampkin, FTL expert and admiral Felix Gaeta, Pilots Apollo and Starbuck, and sneaky snake-in-the-grass Ellen Tigh. I rounded out the cast as Cylon leader Cavil, with Daybreak Motives. My motives in the beginning were both allied with the cylons, and I got one human/one cylon at Sleeper phase. One needed to keep population in check (4+), one needed me to have 3 treachery cards in hand when the game ended, one needed me to ensure that distance was at least 7 (aka New Caprica), and one wanted me to make sure at least 4 vipers were damaged or destroyed.

The game seemed very well balanced. The cylons won by decimating the population in space as the fleet attempted to flee from New Caprica, on the last cylon turn before the humans would have had a chance to win. That, to me, signals a good balance: humans winning "by the skin of their teeth" or cylons winning just one or two turns before the humans could have made that final jump.
I won too. Population was remarkably healthy all game, even gaining more pop on a few crisis cards, so I thought keeping that in check would be easy. Boy, was I wrong. Good thing a lot of vipers went down in defense of the civilian fleet, because I wouldn't have turned over three motive cards otherwise.

Both cylons revealed while on New Caprica, and let me tell you, that was a headache and a half. It made me (Cavil) discard my hand of skill cards (No! I need three treachery cards before the game ends!), but luckily they were back-to-back: Starbuck and then Ellen. But, I was entirely confused as to what a reveal on New Caprica looks like. I had my nose buried in the rulebook while everyone else discussed strategy and the surprising reveals. Where did they go? The rulebook just says the resurrection ship, but also says that no one can go to cylon locations until Galactica returns. It was at this point that I began to wonder what I was at this point, as a cylon leader. Could I play reckless cards? Could I play the text on treachery cards? Could I play both? Neither? I was "infiltrating" when we landed on New Caprica... was I still? Or was I forced into full-cylon mode?

A few character abilities were forgotten, and I realized that we skipped the character introductions (I usually like to have each player read off their character card so we're all familiar with abilities, but this got forgotten in the explanation of the new rules). I (Cavil) forgot to discard my hand of skill cards, but that was easily remedied when I remembered later. Meanwhile, Ellen never used her hand-off card ability, and Romo didn't enforce his drawback, which would have been absolutely disastrous when all six players were huddled together on the Shipyard of New Caprica for several turns around the table. He also had to discard once or twice as President, and probably forgot his advantage in doing so. Starbuck's abilities never came into play (but didn't need to), Gaeta remembered to reroll FTL like a good admiral, and Apollo jumped into space several times throughout the game, and got to use his once-per-game. Cavil took an excellent 3-action turn using his once-per-game to scout the crisis deck, move a civilian ship into danger from communications, and place a base star and three raiders and another civie on the map.

Titles were not used. Not literally, of course. The admiral did his job of picking 3-3-2 destinations (the second one being the Horsehead Nebula) and moving the game at a wicked fast pace. But he never fired one nuke. The President drew two quorum cards on one turn in his office and then never touched the quorum deck (or his hand) again. Titles also never switched hands.

Two players became cylons at Sleeper phase. Cylons still won, which suggests a cylon-tilt in the balance to me. It didn't help the humans, though, that they had three cylon turns in a row (Cavil -> Starbuck -> Ellen).

Another unusual occurrence in the game: we had a total of 5 skill checks that utilized the destiny deck. We had one or two that didn't use the Destiny Deck because of that one Reckless card, but even with that, we had a REMARKABLY low number of skill checks. So many cards had a current player choice to forgo the check and it was almost always optimal to do so. At the end of the game, the Destiny Deck had two cards left... and we never had to reshuffle it!
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I missed my chance, but here are my thoughts anyway:

Personally I'd use all the new cards, boards, characters, rules, etc. as laid out by Daybreak in combination with the other expansions (though consider personal agendas and final five strictly optional depending on your group balance). However, stick with the Kobol destination (and thus ditch anything associated with new endings). Every new destination has some funky end-game rules which tend to suck, as well as extending an already long game.

Personally I love the CFB because BSG is too long a game for things to not happen. With an extra loyalty card you may have a breeze of a game. Without the CFB your pilots might have nothing to do, at least with it there's a constant threat to be handled (and which hidden cylons can try to engage). This isn't a 60min experience where that's OK because you go around again.
 
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Robert Stewart
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Personally, I'd have gone with Pegasus Agendas rather than Daybreak Motives for a New Caprica game.

Revealing on New Caprica sends the Cylons to Medical Center rather than Resurrection Ship before Galactica returns. Once Galactica returns, revealing sends you to Resurrection as usual.

An infiltrating Cylon Leader stays infiltrated on New Caprica unless they spend an action to uninfiltrate (or get executed). If they uninfiltrate (or weren't infiltrated in the first place) they can't infiltrate again until Galactica returns and the Human Fleet location becomes available once more.
 
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Agreed. It's the one and only time where the Pegasus Agendas are better than the Daybreak motives.

Also, I can't know for sure--but something seems really off for the Destiny deck to have never once be replaced.
 
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Robert Stewart
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Kwijiboe wrote:
Also, I can't know for sure--but something seems really off for the Destiny deck to have never once be replaced.


They played a short game - Lion Head Nebula will have knocked a chunk off - and there are (by a quick count) only 31/88 regular Crises that require a skill check and 13/30 on New Caprica. Assuming no FTL Control, that's 13 jump icons to reach New Caprica, and 5 more on New Caprica (plus some turns after Galactica's return) - that's an average of around 7 Crises for Galactica's return to New Caprica, and about 22 to reach New Caprica. That's an average of about 11 mandatory skill checks before Galactica's return. Only hitting 5 is rather surprising, but with the number of games of BSG played, it would be surprising if surprising things hadn't happened by now...
 
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Kwijiboe
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Oh didn't see Lions Head Nebula.

Man, Exodus components sure do break everything fun about this game (imo).
 
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