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Subject: My Love/Hate Relationship with BSG After 10 Plays. rss

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Zack W.
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I've already written a review of the game where I broke down what mechanics I like and don't like about the game. Check it out here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/369524

This review is a little more information now that I’ve had a chance to put ten plays under my belt.


The Good Stuff.thumbsup

Fun Factor
Overall, there is a lot to like here. Everyone that has played the game really enjoyed it. A majority of the people I have played it with have never seen the show but have still really enjoyed the game. I’ve played this with video gamers, non-gamers and hard core gamers. So far, this game has been universally loved.

Accessibility
We typically assign the start play so whoever has not played before goes last. That gives them a chance to see how the game works. We have gotten to the point now where we give a 5-10 minute overview and go. I’ve been able to get my wife, my siblings and even my in-laws to play, everyone has a great time.


The Bad Stuff. thumbsdown

Difficulty
Seriously, this game should be called "Humans Never Win." I’ve read several strategy articles and we have tried out several different strategies. The end result is a 1-9 human record though in fairness 1-2 of the losses were on a die roll or were extremely close. (On two occasions the Humans would have won by activating FTL control if they could get past a skill check) I think playing with no Cylons would make the game a total pushover and suck the fun out. We might try the variant that adds a resource or two for the humans.

Though the games have been close it’s still a little bit of a downer that our wins/losses have been so lopsided. I’m planning to write a strategy article of my own, I’ll be curious to see what other people think. It’s possible we are all just a bunch of morons.

Anti-Climactic Finish
The real meat of this game is in the metagame of figuring out who is a Cylon and who is not a Cylon. Once you figure that out the game becomes far less interesting. If you’re a Cylon player (especially if you’re the only Cylon player) the game can really get a little on the dull side as you don’t have a whole lot of interaction or super interesting things to do. That’s not to say it’s not fun, just that the game is a lot more fun in the beginning and especially the middle then it is at the end.


Summary.

Overall, if you’ve not played this game you’re missing out. Several people have been frustrated at close losses or huge upsets after the Humans were doing really well but everyone wants to play it the next night. (We picked it up in mid December and have played it almost weekly)

It's not flawless but it's a lot of fun, even when you lose. My rating is currently sitting at a 9 and that's only due to how hard of a time the humans have had. If we could figure out what we are doing wrong it would easily be a 10. All of my other complaints would not be significant enough to prevent it from getting the top rating.


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Ryan Bigelow
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Don't feel like you're the only one with frustrations. 10-0 for the Cylons here. soblue
 
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N. Ma
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The group and I are still lovin' it, win or lose, as you say.

Our record I think is 3-6 or 3-7. I can't quite figure out whether we played 9 or 10 total!

I dunno, we feel lately that the humans are getting smarter and smarter. It's only tempered by the fact that it is becoming harder and harder to tell who's Cylon--we've all become excellent liars and manipulators.
 
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Tony Chen
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Here's what I wrote:

The thing about this game, and Fury of Dracula, is that while I love their premise, I don't feel that the game design adds anything to it. The fact is, if you make a secret movement/identity deduction game, I am inclined to love it: Mr. Jack, Conspiracy, 2 de Mayo, Mafia/Werewolf, Shadow Hunters, Bacchus Banquet, Mall of Horror, Confrontation, etc.

What makes Battlestar fun is accusing and deducing who are the Cylons. I feel that many (albeit not all) of the game mechanisms don't enhance that, and just add unnecessary complexity/fiddliness. It's like you are enjoying the deduction part of the game, and as an aside you have to do all these other stuff also. I'd rather strip away all the chrome and play straight up Mafia.

Compare this to Mall of Horror, where all the special powers aren't there just for the sake of it. The different powers of the characters, rooms, special ability to look at the dice roll, all enhance the bluffing/double-crossing element of the game and add some interesting motives/factors into your decisions.

In short, I do enjoy Battlestar and Dracula. But it's because I love the premise of Mafia to begin with anyways, and not because of anything to do with the game design, which were pretty pedestrian in my opinion for both games. Have to admit that the last die roll got me a bit excited though.

The humans got quite lucky on the distribution of crisis card draws. All skill check damages were evenly distributed with everything down to 1. And the consecutive fleet cards may have helped us because the later ones were wasted if the cylon fleet runs out. Really lucky on the fleet battle dice rolls too. Really unlucky in giving speeches though, as Greg said the art of rhetoric is really lacking on the Battlestar. But we were lucky when it mattered: came down to a 50-50 die roll.

This game seems pretty hard to win for the humans. Even with no first round cylon, luck on dice and cards, and both the president and admiral being humans, we were still one die roll away from losing.
 
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Evgeny Reznikov
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Any game that has three Cylons is probably doomed.
 
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Roy Thomson
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I'm somewhat shocked to hear the humans are having so much trouble winning. I have played the game about 20 times and the humans have probably won the majority of them. If I had to guess, it would probably be something like 12-8. We played last night in what was probably the biggest human victory we have had so far. Our resources at game end had morale at 3 and that was the lowest resource. The Cylon (lone Cylon) wasn't in play until the sleeper phase.

A strategy a lot of people use, is to harm the side of the humans just enough so that by the time the sleeper phase comes around and they get dealt the extra loyalty cards, thay are banking on being a Cylon which can be a risky strategy. If you are playing in a group with people that do this, it can be tricky for the humans to win.
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Soren Vejrum
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drunkenKOALA wrote:

What makes Battlestar fun is accusing and deducing who are the Cylons. I feel that many (albeit not all) of the game mechanisms don't enhance that, and just add unnecessary complexity/fiddliness. It's like you are enjoying the deduction part of the game, and as an aside you have to do all these other stuff also. I'd rather strip away all the chrome and play straight up Mafia.


Agree. The game is ok because of the hidden Cylons but it is far too long with the rest of the game being a lot of boring, fiddly, pointless shuffling bits around. Surely, it should be possible to keep the fun part and cut the crap and bring the playing time down to 30-60 minutes.

Many humans really must be stupid and not be worth saving having so many problems winning this game. shake
Played once - won once - as human without major problems, and I think the other players who have played it more times have fifty-fifty percent wins to humans and Cyclons.
 
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Zack W.
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royaldoy wrote:
A strategy a lot of people use, is to harm the side of the humans just enough so that by the time the sleeper phase comes around and they get dealt the extra loyalty cards, thay are banking on being a Cylon which can be a risky strategy. If you are playing in a group with people that do this, it can be tricky for the humans to win.


I've seen people talk about this but our group has never played like that. It's hard enough for the humans to win, playing that way seems like it would doom you to failure.

We have occasionally played to keep the sympathizer on our side by allowing a resource to drop just inside the red area.

While some of our games have been close we have also had several huge Cylon run-away victories and we've never seen anything close to that on the human side.
 
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ヴェリ=ミッコアイヤラ
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I don't understand this "humans/cylons never win" game balance issue.

If you think it is too hard for humans, simply begin the game with more resources. And vice versa. This is even in the rules!

You could actually make a decision, that every time humans lose, you start your next game with more resources. And every time when humans win, you begin your next game with less resources(Better idea might be to do this only when humans win/lose two times consecutively). Then you could keep record, that with how many starting resources have humans/cylons managed to win.

Personally, I like the idea that humans are a bit underdog in this game. It makes the struggling and succeeding as humans more rewarding.
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Joshua Kenney
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drunkenKOALA wrote:
What makes Battlestar fun is accusing and deducing who are the Cylons. I feel that many (albeit not all) of the game mechanisms don't enhance that, and just add unnecessary complexity/fiddliness. It's like you are enjoying the deduction part of the game, and as an aside you have to do all these other stuff also. I'd rather strip away all the chrome and play straight up Mafia.


What mechanics specifically do you feel are extraneous? I find everything is geared towards either choosing between equally terrible options, or spending your time fighting equally important threats.
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Rick Johnston
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We have been adding 1 to all the dials to help the human players out. That seems to be the magic number for my gaming group.
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Holger Hannemann
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We had about 20 games up to now. I don't know if we just mutate to stupid Cylon players after revealing, but our winning rate is about 50-50 with the normal rules presented in the rulebook. It's damn close every time though.
Best interactive game I've ever played!
Thanks for sharing this review.

Edited for poor grammar
 
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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I'm 1 for 2 so far as the humans... haven't been a Cylon yet but I'm looking forward to the opportunity. I love the game and think it's terrific in general, but one thing that feels a bit tedious are the almost constant skill checks. In one sense, they are a very important part of what makes the game great, but when they happen so often they can make the game drag a bit. I don't mind that it's a long game, but with too many skill checks it can feel a bit long for what it is. If there were fewer of them, they would feel more intense each time and be more of a cool thing, but as it is, they knock a little of the magic out of the gameplay for me. Just a little, though... The game is still very cool
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Joe Niezelski
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We've played four games now: one with 3 players, one with 4, one with 5, and one with 6. The humans won the 3 player game (on a final 50/50 die roll) and lost the others.

After a few more games, I think we'll see if we need to adjust starting resources. Right now, they've been just close enough that I'd say it's never felt like a blowout.
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Zack W.
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Quasi wrote:
I don't understand this "humans/cylons never win" game balance issue.

If you think it is too hard for humans, simply begin the game with more resources. And vice versa. This is even in the rules!



Personally, I like the idea that humans are a bit underdog in this game. It makes the struggling and succeeding as humans more rewarding.


I have recently begun keeping track of the final scores in my games. It's interesting to look back at the BSG games to see what the final resource scores were and talk about the different strategies we need to explore. If you're interested, take a look at my plays for BSG:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/plays/thing/37111?userid=17079

As for your thoughts on the humans being underdogs, I don't disagree. I would prefer the balance be more along the lines of 70/30 or 60/40 Cylon wins though. (As opposed to our current 90/10)
 
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Michael Gan
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(firt post!!!)

this game was actually my introduction to BSG and i really enjoyed it. so much so that in the last 2 months i've completed the first 3 seasons of the re-imagined BSG and i am currently in the middle (i'm behind!) of season 4.


oh yeah, and US humans won. landslide victory, even (sorry jeremy! ). so much so that we hastily went for the FTL to finish victoriously. i like the secrecy element and anonymous "voting" that takes place, as well as (just like mafia, etc.) the gameplay of discovering (or, hell, just implicating) the enemy.

i look forward to playing this game again.
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Carl Bussema
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How to avoid over-committing on skill checks:
Step 1: Move to Press Room.
Step 2: Next player plays Executive Orders on player from Step 1.
Step 3: Player from step 1 uses Investigative committee on skill check.

Assuming the politics deck was fully stacked (obviously it never is, but simplicity being just that...) P(no IC) = P(4 "Consolidate") = (P "Consolidate")^4 = (2/3)^4 = about 0.2

So there's an 80% chance he'll have at least 1 IC to play, per time he's XO'ed. Stasticially, only 4/7 crises have a skill check, and some of those don't have to be run (non-critical resource; or there's an "OR" option), so you probably don't need to XO him more than once or twice a round.

Admittedly, this will take all the fun out of the game for the Cylons, who will have a heck of a time doing anything to sabotage the checks and still stay hidden, but it does work, as long as you trust the guy you're giving XO to.
 
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Les Lauber
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wilsonza wrote:

It's...a lot of fun, even when you lose.
Which is why I don't care whether or not it's balanced. I'm just really enjoying playing the game, win or lose.

Besides, playing CIVIL WAR: BRIGADE got me past the idea that a game be balanced to be good. This is one where the mechanics approximate the results I suspect one ought to expect, based on the series. (Serieses?)
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