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Subject: The Sympathizer Card: Threat or Menace? rss

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Brandon
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I, too, don't really comprehend the hate. It's a minor annoyance that if you do become a cylon you won't get to choose when you reveal, but I think it works thematically and the rules make perfect sense to me. Others would have you believe the card and its corresponding ruleset are written in some sort of moonspeak.
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Christopher Scatliff
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I find the card simple to understand and nicely balanced. I also don't understand the problem people have with it.
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Allan Clements
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The problem people have with it is:

1) It makes the humans drop a resource into the red on purpose, which can feel very gamey rather than the humans trying to survive.

2) If you are given the sympathiser card you become a nerfed revealed cylon, with zero chance for sneaking behaviour and so it is very unfun for that player.
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Gary Laporte
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I only played two games and in the first, we were 6 and used the official no sympathizer variant. It didn't make the game very fun to play and the humans won very easily (only one resources barely in the red). It was also probably because the Cylon players were beginners and not too efficient (I was one of them ^^), but it certainly gave me the impression that the game would have been more fun with the sympathizer.
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Gary Laporte
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Kamakaze wrote:
The problem people have with it is:

1) It makes the humans drop a resource into the red on purpose, which can feel very gamey rather than the humans trying to survive.

2) If you are given the sympathiser card you become a nerfed revealed cylon, with zero chance for sneaking behaviour and so it is very unfun for that player.


Those are two valid points that I haven't had the "chance" to experience.

However, for the second one, if I was a Cylon, I'll be rather happy to be the sympathizer. This means more chance for me to win the game by giving my loyalty card. However, I guess it can be frustrating for a human as he suddenly finds himself revealed and in the other team...

Kamakaze, how do you play 4 and 6 p game? With the official no sympathizer variant?
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Pierre Pinguet
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Kamakaze wrote:
The problem people have with it is:
1) It makes the humans drop a resource into the red on purpose, which can feel very gamey rather than the humans trying to survive.


Well it's just another parameter to take into account. Doesn't bother me mucj.

Kamakaze wrote:

2) If you are given the sympathiser card you become a nerfed revealed cylon, with zero chance for sneaking behaviour and so it is very unfun for that player.


I think that's the main issue: "Cylon Sympatizer" is very frustrating, since it automatically removes a player as a factor at half point. You're out of the discussions, out of the guessing game.

An interesting thing happened on BSG X tough.
A quite obviously Cylon Admiral jumped the fleet at -3 with all resources in the Blue, and then got dealt the Sympathizer card.
Everyone knew he would turn someone Cylon on his turn, which created interesting dilemma ...
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Allan Clements
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For 4 and 6 player games we usually just use the official no sympathiser variant. For 6 players I think this works great, as there are already 2 cylons.

For the 4 player game we dont like it as much and have started coming up with other ideas for the sympathiser.

The most recent idea we came up with is the following:

Create the deck as normal. When the sleeper phase occurs, put a You are a Cylon card into the loyalty deck then add a 1 Not A Cylon card for every 3 resources lost from the starting resources (or perhaps every 4 resourses).

This means there is a small chance of no Cylon at all, and a chance for 2 cylons depending on how well the humans are doing.

And the second cylon to reveal does not use their reveal power, does not get a super crisis card and can not activate the cylon fleet location.


This means they can be sneaky before being revealed, and since there might not be a second cylon, one can never be too sure who to trust!

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Gary Laporte
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Smoo and Neverfade, what do you think about the problems raised about the sympathizer?


My concern about the sympathizer is the "out of game, out of discussion" like Pierre said... Guess I'm going to try again the official no sympathizer variant next time, because there are three new players next time and I don't want one of them being turned down of the game because of the sympathizer.

On the other hand, a friend of mine has played BSG something like ten times... He was against the sympathizer in his first games and now thinks it's good and wouldn't play without it... I'm really hesitant on this sympathizer thing.

(and your variant seems fun kamakaze )
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Nate Owens
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My only problem is that, in a very thematic game, the Sympathizer is the one aspect that feels like a mechanic, and not like a thematic consideration. There are obviously sympathizers in the show, but its implementation leaves something to be desired.
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Artie Heinrich
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Im my opinion, the big problem with the Sympathizer is game balance. BSG is at its best, when the balance between the two opposing sides (Human and Cylons) is about even. It is general consensus that this can best be reached with 5 players - 3 humans and 2 cylons.

Playing with 4 or 6 players and the Sympathizer greatly unbalances the game. This is most prominently seen in a 4-player game, where you have the following possible situations:

1) The Sympathizer becomes human: now you have the situation 3 against 1 (with 1 ressource in the red), making it very hard to almost impossible for the cylon player to win. He can either
1a) stay unrevealed: that means, the special cylon locations cannot be used and the humans go "faster" (more crisises get drawn) -> advantage for the humans
1b) he reveals, which enables the humans to play "perfect strategy". And at 3 against 1 the humans can much better coordinate their card play -> adavantage for the humans

2) The Sympathizer becomes cylon: now it's 2 against 2, which is an inherently much more difficult situation for the humans than in the "normal" situation (more humans than cylons). Granted, the Sympathizer cylon only has limited capabilities, but as soon as the 2 cylons are revealed it is slow going for the humans (a lot less jump symbols) and the cylons can coordinate their efforts. This makes a human win much more unlikely.

So in short the Sympathizer greatly upsets the balance that is at the core of this great game. This effect is not as extreme with 6 players, but can still be felt negatively there.

Our play group has, after about 10 sessions with different player numbers, come to the following conclusions:
- we will not play with 4 players, as the game balance cannot be saved
- we might play with 6 players, but we will then use the official FFG "No Sympathizer" variant
- we will gladly play with 5 players and will try to get that player number whenever possible, as BSG really shines there

Apart from all of the above, the other problem of the Sympathizer, that it forces a player "out of the game", has already been discussed in this thread.

Greetings,

Artie
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Bradley Burcar
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Our group has never had a problem with the sympathizer card but we also seem to approach the game differently than a lot of other groups I read about. The heart and soul of the game is its theme and we thoroughly embrace it and don't try to game the system. When we play, the humans go all out to try to keep the resource dials from depleting and would never consider dropping one into the red just to turn the sympathizer to their side. With this approach, we've seen that the sympathizer works in its desired capacity by making the game harder on the succesful humans or by giving them a boost if its really going against them.

I have played one game with a group where we actively worked the game to shift the sympathizer to the human side and the humans did, in fact, end up winning this game. While I was on the winning side I'd have to say that this was my least satisfying BSG game as the players were more concerned about the game than with the experience. The game isn't about the *humans* winning, after all. If the sympathizer goes cylon and the cylons end up winning then half of the players ended up being victorious.
 
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Allan Clements
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Well, the chance of no Cylon is very low, and requires the humans to have done really badly up to that point, and if they still lose when there isn't even a Cylon then that would be quite amusing

I suck at probability or I would show you the odds.

But it requires 8 resources lost to have a chance of no Cylons, and it requires BOTH of the 2 cards not dealt at the end to be both of the Cylon cards....
 
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Karrde
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Best game I've had was where the sympathiser was revealed at the appropriate stage of the game and I was given a 'You are a Cylon card'.

He took the focus off me, allowing me to enact my new role and cause as much disruption as possible until it was time to reveal.

If we hadn't of had the card in as it is I'd have suddenly gone from a human doing very well to a Cylon alone against 3 players in a great position.

We eventually won, but it was VERY close.
 
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Bradley Burcar
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Kamakaze wrote:

I suck at probability or I would show you the odds.


Never tell me the odds!
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The symp card can be upsetting, but there are plenty of other things about the game that can be upsetting, getting dealt a cylon card during the sleeper phase when the humans are winning, NOT getting dealt a cylon card when the cylons are winning, never seeing a Max Firepower when you're Starbuck, spending the whole game in the Brig, losing the game b/c you didn't get 2 of 5 correct super crisis cards.... the list doesn't go on and on, but it's still no short list. To this I say, just deal with the sympathizer card, or just play with FFG's no symp variant.
 
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Brandon
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LNAGary wrote:
Smoo and Neverfade, what do you think about the problems raised about the sympathizer?


The first is a non-issue for us. In all of our plays, we've only lost due to resources running out. You'd have a hard time convincing my play group to lower resources into the red, even to stave off a cylon. As cylons, we tend to swarm all over those low resources.

The second, like I said, I think its a minor annoyance not being able to reveal. Other than that, I think it works.
 
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Ian Kelly
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DCAnderson wrote:
What you describe here though seems to not be a problem with the Sympathizer, it seems to be the problem the Sympathizer was created to "fix". The impression I've gotten is that the Sympathizer is there to create a sort of "1/2 of a Cylon Player" because 2-2 and 3-1 are both unfair as you said, and that the ideal would be halfway between there.

Now how succesful the card is at accomplishing this is another story.


That's a good point, and it suggests a variant to me, which we'll call the "Robot Cylon" variant (pun intended).

1) Chuck the Sympathizer card, and replace it with a "You Are Not A Cylon" card, which is shuffled into the loyalty deck at the beginning of the game rather than the sleeper agent phase.

2) In the sleeper agent phase, add a robot Cylon to the game. The robot Cylon gets inserted into the turn order immediately after the turn of the player who triggered the sleeper agent phase. Note there's no real need to choose a character for the robot Cylon (but you can if you want).

3) The robot Cylon plays with an open hand of skill cards. In any skill check it always adds the most powerful card it has that would count against the skill check. In case of a tie, it will add the card that appears first in the ranking (Politics, Leadership, Tactics, Piloting, Engineering). If it can't play anything against the skill check, then it plays nothing.

4) On its turn, the robot Cylon draws a number of skill cards equal to the number of players, including itself. This hopefully offsets its general stupidity and predictability. When drawing skill cards, it draws from whichever pile it has the fewest of. In case of a tie, it draws from the pile that appears last in the ranking (Politics, Leadership, Tactics, Piloting, Engineering).

5) For its action, the robot Cylon always activates the Caprica location. But instead of drawing two Crisis cards and choosing one, it just draws one.

6) In the unlikely event the robot Cylon ever needs to discard skill cards, it chooses a type of card to discard using the inverse of the card drawing rule, and it discards the lowest numbered card it has of the chosen type.

I think that covers all possible scenarios. Anybody interested in trying this?
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Joseph Cochran
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Peristarkawan wrote:
That's a good point, and it suggests a variant to me, which we'll call the "Robot Cylon" variant (pun intended).


What happens when the robot Cylon draws a Crisis that is "Current Player Chooses"?
 
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Ian Kelly
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jsciv wrote:
Peristarkawan wrote:
That's a good point, and it suggests a variant to me, which we'll call the "Robot Cylon" variant (pun intended).


What happens when the robot Cylon draws a Crisis that is "Current Player Chooses"?


Good question. I'd say just roll a die. 1-4, take the first choice. 5-8, take the second choice.

ETA: Also, this die roll is immune to abilities that would affect the result, such as strategic planning or Helo's special ability.
 
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Todd France
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Peristarkawan wrote:
That's a good point, and it suggests a variant to me, which we'll call the "Robot Cylon" variant (pun intended).


Very clever thinking, and a good variant. Don't know if I'll ever get around to trying it, but still a good idea.
 
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