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Subject: Minor variant attempt rss

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For the first time in about a month I got to play Battlestar Galactica. It was a mostly experienced group of five and because of concerns about balance, we were playing with the following variants:

Weakened Roslin: She only draws one crisis card, but may reject it and take the next one instead.

Weakened Massive Assault: Only moves the jump preparation track back one.

The lineup:
Chris Franka
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Adama, Roslin and Starbuck were all around 20 plays, Tyrol was playing for the second time. Helo has around 6 or 7 plays I think.

We deal out our initial loyalty cards and I discover to my relief that I am indeed human. In our first 15 games, I was a cylon all but 2 times and had developed quite the untrustworthy reputation. This and my unconvincing ways would come back to haunt me later momentarily. I pick up my initial quorum card, a relatively useless inspirational speech and grab three leadership for my initial hand to maximize my executive order draws.

We start off decently well. Starbuck starts my suspicions rising early with a Scientific Research during the turn one (Adama) crisis check. Nothing overly substantial but I have my eye on him early (incorrectly it turns out). Our FTL gets damaged in an early bombardment and when Tyrol claims to have no repairs on her turn, I am again wary.

Her claim seems to be confirmed though when she shows up with a couple of high blues in a later investigated skill check, so I think nothing of it.

Our civilian ships are communicated towards the protection of Starbucks master piloting, so by Tyrol's second turn, the only real problems are the FTL damage and a heavy raider close to boarding. With the FTL at -3, I suggest a repair and jump by Tyrol as I am a firm believer in minimizing the number of crisis cards seen, especially while there is an enemy fleet on the board. Rather than debate this point, Tyrol reveals that she is indeed a frakkin' toaster and brigs Adama, promoting Helo to admiral.

Helo makes a quick trick to the research lab, and after repairing the FTL via an XO on Adama's turn, we autojump to the cylon refinery and win the roll to gain 2 fuel. With an empty board, we have a couple of dings to morale and food but our fuel is 9 and population is 12, a very strong position for the humans.

With no pressing needs, Helo takes the opportunity to hang out in the press room and absorb XOs from the rest of us to keep our crisis checks investigated and his hand full. My hand is getting perpetually drained by food and water shortages, but we are killing every important skill check so it isn't relevant at this point.

With almost no drama in the region, we jump again with ease, this time to an Asteroid Field. I again find that I am a loyal human (Thank the gods)

Here is where the drama happens though. On the very next crisis check, with Starbuck away from the table, Helo draws Rescue Caprica Survivors, giving me the choice of -1 fuel, -1 food, +1 population or -1 morale. Fuel is at 7, Population is at 9 and the other dials are not in the red or near it.

I felt that the choice was fairly obvious although I did talk it out a little before making it. Population and fuel are the only resources that can easily be transformed into time (via early jumps and longer jumps respectively) and given our luck with the early jumps, I felt Population was more likely to come into play as a limiting factor. So I took the Population bump.

Oh dear.

The table blows up. Adama is incredulous. I'm incredulous that he is incredulous. Helo is just enjoying the drama, and Starbuck returns and immediately starts pushing to brig me. I felt like this was pretty clearly a Cylon manipulation and stated so. But Adama's mind was made up, he XO'd Starbuck on his turn and Starbuck happily complied. Halfway through the skillcheck though, Adama changes his mind about me although this doesn't change Helo's opinion, who gleefully throws in a pile to seal my fate.

Oh dear. My turn hits and we have Adama and myself in the brig, a revealed Cylon running around and an unrevealed Cylon out there too. I feel pretty confident that Adama is not the Cylon which only intensifies the pain. Before Helo piled onto my brigging with a fistful of cards, I would have sworn 100% that it was Starbuck for the way he jumped in so quickly with that desire to brig me, but at this point I really have no idea.

So I punt and draw a single solitary Quorum card (not a useful one at that) rather than use my one shot and possibly be forced to make a decision about a brig card right now and pass the turn to Starbuck who immediately reveals with the damage Galactica cylon, hitting FTL and Command in the process.

Recapping, the situation has now started to look sort of ugly for the humans:

Back to back cylons
No natural repair ability in our remaining characters
FTL damaged (and Command if damage starts to become dangerous)
2 of 3 humans in the brig
Distance 5
Jump track only moved one so far.
My autoscouting ability neutralized

What was looking like a whitewash for the humans is now dangerously looking like quite the opposite. All because I am so frakkin' unconvincing of my loyalties.

But then things turn around. The Cylons hit us with Inbound Nukes (no resistance from us as our hands just aren't even close) before we attempt to jailbreak me on Helo's turn via an XO. I make it out and immediately use my one shot in an attempt to pardon Adama. No such luck and my Assign Helo as Arbitrator for no reason other than to draw a couple of politics cards which might allow me to activate my office while XO'd on future turns.

The Cylons keep digging through the Crisis deck trying to get something going but to no avail as the Crisis deck keeps refusing to give them anything. Helo repairs the FTL and we jump at -3 after the destination deck has been scouted once and as luck would have it, this puts us into an Desolate Moon (distance 3) which is about as perfect a draw as we could have.

At this point, there isn't much left to save the Cylons minus a small miracle, and when I finally draw the pardon during an office visit on my final turn, their fate is all but sealed. They make a couple of draws, searching for their particular miracle, but no miracle is forthcoming and we jump out at -3 for the win on Adama's next turn.

I believe all of our dials were in the red, but none were realistically close to 0. There were no boarders on Galactica and we had only the Command space damaged. In short, the result that would have been predicted from the position right after the sleeper phase.

The Cylons had a rough time of it. Jumping 8 in 3 jumps for only 4 fuel is really hard to overcome. Neither President or Admiral turned. If Helo had been the second cylon and controlled another jump, that probably would have spelled disaster for the humans. Their supercrisis cards were not the most useful (Inbound Nukes and Fleet Mobilization) where even a nerfed Massive Assault would have been helpful.

The Roslin rebalancing is very hit or miss. I was lucky all game in that I almost universally drew non-jump cards with my first crisis draw each turn, making it easy to reject and help us cycle faster through the cards that would not help us win. I also still believe that the best way to rebalance Roslin is to take away her presidency as quickly as possible with no change to her prophecy ability.
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B C Z
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Roslin's balancing is that she has to spend cards to do anything useful on the ships.

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That was the designer's attempt to balance her.

Many in our group think that attempt was a failure. If I could discard two cards on my turn to gain the prophecy ability for the turn with any other character, I would do it almost 100% of the time. How many times do you scout with a strategic planning? That is two cards AND an action for a strictly worse effect.

Also, most of the time, her drawback does not come into play on her turn as she draws leadership (XO) and politics (Consolidate Power), so the hypothetical ability above isn't a true depiction of her power.
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Brian Bankler
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MichaelL wrote:

The table blows up. Adama is incredulous. I'm incredulous that he is incredulous. Helo is just enjoying the drama, and Starbuck returns and immediately starts pushing to brig me. I felt like this was pretty clearly a Cylon manipulation and stated so. But Adama's mind was made up, he XO'd Starbuck on his turn and Starbuck happily complied. Halfway through the skillcheck though, Adama changes his mind about me although this doesn't change Helo's opinion, who gleefully throws in a pile to seal my fate.

This is where Michael's reputation ("Unconvincing Cylon") really helped. I was away from the table when humans accused him, which gave me an opening. With anyone else, if I had been lucky enough to get XO'd I would have just revealed and thanked the maker for the extra turn and sucking up an XO. Passing the brig check was beyond my wildest dreams! (Even if they failed it, I doubt Michael would have brigged me. Actually, with a hand full of big red cards, if they did brig me it would have been worth it from a card standpoint). Michael's reputation took a hit (he was human), my predeliction for turning into a cylon 1/2way whenever the humans are having a cakewalk continues. [And I'll remind Michael that I predicted it]. At least I got the best power (damage galactica) for that game, but I really needed to yahtzee and pluck the massive assault supercrisis.

Anyway, a rough outing for team cylon. While we were sitting back to back you really want the supercrisis I had (the skill check to activate the entire fleet) to be with the second cylon, so the first can land a ship card. Twice the cylons played the new Caprica and got a NO-OP (on two cards). Just terrible.

I like the Roslin nerfing, although a cylon Roslin gets more manuever room. She can bury a few random "OK" cards to hope for some badness. An ideal Roslin tone down would make a cylon roslin weaker, too. OTOH, We've had a run of games where humans win easily or cylons win barely. (If you'd told me that after our first five games I'd have been incredulous).

Michael's idea to jump ASAP (even risking -3 population) isn't horrible. I think that jumping at -3 with ships in a dangerous position should be automatic. The real issue is -- does the threat of a bombard (and one more card) make it a dangerous position? (In general, each card costs 1/4 of a resource or 4 skill cards. Maybe both). Without basestars (or poised raiders/heavies) eating the card seems acceptable, at least until you've got a pop surplus.
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Brian Bankler
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This also puts the "Married Cylons" into the 0-1 column. Tsk Tsk. There were models sleeping on the couch all around the resurrection ship, I'm telling you.
 
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Alex Rockwell
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I agree that Roslin is too strong and needs to be weakened in some way. I'm liking the idea of SevenSpirits variant:

Change Roslin's visions power to require discarding one card to use it. (Side effect of the Kamala extract?)

Change her drawback to: Whenever you discard cards, you must discard at random, and this includes moving between ships (unlike Apollo).

This drawback sucks when youre discarding 1 per turn for vision, and are discarding because youre president. Also, it means she can use press room and presidents office again, which is thematic.



Also, then changing Apollo's drawback to be somehting different would be good.
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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I don't think Roslin is so overpowered. Her negative ability is pretty bad, because she can't activate the President's Office.

Baltar or Zarek can activate the Office every turn and effectively use twice as many quorum cards as Roslin -- that's a pretty significant advantage over her, and not one that is obvious at first glance.

Roslin is a great character if she isn't the president. But she always starts as the president, and transferring the title will either involve wasting an action and some cards to use administration, spending a one time ability, or getting lucky with crisis draws. You also run the additional risk of the title going to a cylon, all because you gave it up for the sake of efficiency.

So if someone picks Roslin, you either end up using the president title very ineffectively, or having to jump through hoops just to get the title to someone else who can use it effectively. Either way, it's pretty darn inconvenient.

I'm not saying Roslin isn't good -- her ability, as many have observed, is quite powerful. I'm just saying there's a big drawback here that people often overlook, and I think it balances out pretty nicely.
 
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She can activate the President's Office. She has to discard. I would feel much worse about the drawback if the quorum cards weren't so situational.
 
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