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Hello (hopefully) faithful reader and welcome to my new edition of "A Review a Week". For the uninitiated, this is my attempt to review every single game in my collection, which judging from my purchasing lately (6 new games in the last 2 weeks) will never EVER happen. However, I will keep trudging forward because I am having fun writing these babies. As always, if this matters to you, all my games were either purchased by me, or given to me as gifts by friends and family. The day I actually get a free game from a publisher, not only will I explode in surprise, but the community here at the ‘Geek will be the first to know.

This is a little weird to make a review about an expansion since I haven’t written a true review for the game it is expanding upon. A while back, I wrote a quasi-review that ripped on BSG and highlighted some of my dissatisfaction with the game – you can find that here http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/396482 – but since then, I had a bit of a turn around on my feelings about the game (probably because I am not playing it as much) and I was very excited about Pegasus. Thankfully, it did not disappoint. The rest of my review will go on the assumption that you have played the original base game, so if you are unfamiliar with the it, I would suggest reading some quality reviews of the game such as http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/413645 or http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/334746 before going further.

Components wise, you are getting more of the same. I did not have any issue with any of the components in the original game and I don’t have any issue once again. The new plastic Basestars are a nice fluffy addition but were never really needed. It was a nice touch that FFG did this, and truthfully, if people are looking for variants and so forth, the option to have 3 or 4 Basestars attacking the humans is nice as well.

If I can do an aside here, I would like to say that I wish you could pay extra at the publisher level and get decks of normal sized cards to replace the “mini” cards that are prevalent in games these days. For one, I have giant hands (I can palm a basketball with ease) and I feel like I am going to rip these tiny things apart. For two, some of the people I play with have arthritis or carpal tunnel issues and have problems with this particular size of cards. Okay, that rant is done.

Let me just touch on the new things that are added with the expansion in a list form. I am breaking away from my normal set up here so just bear with me.

Cylon Leader: This is a very interesting new character to play. You are a Cylon that may or may not be trying to help the cylons or the humans, only you know for sure. Before the game starts, you get a hidden agenda that details your own personal winning conditions. Some of these are easier to accomplish than others, but they all run along the same lines as something like “Humans win but Food and Morale are both 3 or lower”. As a Cylon leader, you have the ability to move back and forth between the human ships and the Resurrection ship, being able to utilize pretty much every space on the board. Playing a Cylon leader is very difficult however for a couple of reasons. For one, the “Agendas” can be very difficult to attain, and it will take some masterful manipulation on your part to be able to win. Secondly – no one trusts you! A lot of people cannot deal with having at least one person on your side while playing a co-op game. For my part, I love playing the Cylon Leader, but I think that is just because it brings out the best in me and my backstabbing, lie to your face nature. The nice thing is that you can pretty much take or leave them – they aren’t necessary to play the expansion.

Pegasus Ship: As a guy who has never watched a single episode of the series, is there a reason why Pegasus is supposed to be this huge giant ship in comparison to the Galactica but only has 4 usable locations? Probably a game mechanic I know, but I was just curious. Anyway, the Pegasus ship gives you a few more options for the humans to use, and all of them are very cool. You have a couple of spots that allow you to shoot down Raiders or Basestars (with the possibility of damaging yourself if you roll too low) an engine room that you can use to guarantee a “Jump” result on the upcoming crisis card at the cost of a couple of skill cards, and, of course, the much discussed and talked about airlock that allows you to kill off a player. I won’t go into the Execution dynamic until a little bit later in the review as I feel it deserves a section to itself. However, I do feel that the Pegasus board is very well designed and a welcome addition.

Treachery Cards: A brand new skill deck! Basically, these cards are used by Cylons to purposefully much with the human players. They are always counted as being negative (with the exception of Execution checks –ha!) and they have special powers that Cylons can invoke when Humans attempt to either use a “Reckless” card or try and discard a treachery card that somehow wormed its way into their hand. Very cool, and it gives revealed Cylons more options at their disposal – another welcome addition.

Reckless Skill cards: – Very powerful skill cards that humans can use to help out certain situations greatly, such as lowering a crisis check by 4 points. The problem is that thematically, this is an attempt by humans to cut corners or take risks to get things done, and a prime chance for a Cylon to mess with the results. If a treachery card is played in a skill check where a Reckless card is being used, certain negative results will happen. It should be noted that the Destiny deck now includes the treachery cards, so you never know when they will show up, meaning you can’t rely on certain situations to be completely safe to play a reckless card. This is a very nice risk management mechanic to add to an already tense game.

New Caprica: – The jury is a bit out on this one for me. I like it and I don’t like it. There is nothing integrally bad about it however. I think the new locations work, and I like the theme of it, but it just doesn’t click for me. Maybe it is just because I am lazy and I don’t like setting up a new section of board but I would to think I am not that lame. Mechanics wise, New Caprica works like this. You land on the planet but soon find out that it is crawling with Cylons. While you wait for Galactica to come back and pick you up, you have to make sure that everyone and everything is ready to go, meaning you have to “unlock” your civilian ships which are presumably being held the dirty robots. This would seem easy enough but is you take a look at the board in detail…



You will see that there is a lot going on. You have occupation forces attacking you, cylon players actively working against you by way of the locations on the board, AND processing a Caprica crisis every turn. It goes without saying that you need to be very careful with your available actions at this point, as the humans will undoubtedly have limited wiggle room to still win the game. Also – if I can impart any advice – if you still don’t know who all the Cylons are by now, you need to start executing people left and right to make sure who you can trust and who has 10W40 motor oil running through their veins.

Execution: OK, here we go. There has been a lot of discussion regarding the killing of players and the execution mechanic in Pegasus, and I am hear to say that I feel that there is nothing wrong with it at all – but that is only because of the group of people that I play with and how we handle the game. What I mean by this, is that we do not (with few exceptions) allow ourselves to grind down into the math of a situation. You won’t find any of our group working out percentages to attempt to discern the best course of action, and we definitely would never have an open discussion as to whether or not losing one Morale for executing a human player is worth it because we could pick a different character that would help more in a certain upcoming situation. Frankly, the idea that anyone would OPENLY DISCUSS the option of killing themselves off so you can improve your chances to win by XX% is just thematically preposterous. I know that many of you will disagree with me on this, but that is just not how my friends and I play the game. Formulas and logistics have their place in many games, games that I enjoy, but not something like battlestar galactica where I like to quasi roleplay my character.

Long story short – if you play like I do, executions will be few and far between, and losing the 1 morale if you are wrong is an adequate punishment. If you want to meta-game the situation, feel free to go at it and start spacing everyone you possibly can for the best possible results, but you may need to house rule the penalty to make things even out.

All in all, the expansion is a success for me. It isn’t perfect (and I don’t think any game is for that matter) but it is highly enjoyable and worth your money. It takes an already fantastic game, breaths new life in the old mechanics, and adds a bunch of new surprises and excitement, which is exactly what an expansion is supposed to do. I won’t say you have to get it to enjoy playing BSG, but for around $27 online, you will not regret buying this.
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Tony D.
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Quote:
...we do not (with few exceptions) allow ourselves to grind down into the math of a situation. You won’t find any of our group working out percentages to attempt to discern the best course of action, and we definitely would never have an open discussion as to whether or not losing one Morale for executing a human player is worth it because we could pick a different character that would help more in a certain upcoming situation. Frankly, the idea that anyone would OPENLY DISCUSS the option of killing themselves off so you can improve your chances to win by XX% is just thematically preposterous.

Awesome. My feelings exactly.

Nice review!
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Fabio T.
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Same for me.

Really enjoyed the expansion, and really enjoyed your review!
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UndeadViking wrote:
Pegasus Ship: As a guy who has never watched a single episode of the series, is there a reason why Pegasus is supposed to be this huge giant ship in comparison to the Galactica but only has 4 usable locations? Probably a game mechanic I know, but I was just curious.


Another great review in your series! Well done.

As to your above question, Pegasus is much more technically advanced than the Galactica. Although it's much larger, it has about a third of the crew due to greater automation. So there's fewer locations because there's no need to go there -- the ship is handling it on its own.

At least, that's my pseudo-thematic justification. I'm sure game mechanics is the trump.
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Lance
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Thank you!

A completely plausible explanation...have some GG.
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Chris J Davis
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Well, the main reason (covering both mechanics and theme) is that seeing as Galactica and Pegasus are both the same type of ship, many of the locations would be duplicated across them. So the Pegasus board only shows those more advanced locations that are specific to Pegasus but not Galactica (kinda).

The better reason is that, from the perspective of the players playing the game, Galactica is closer and Pegasus is further away. It's difficult to see all the locations from such a great distance.
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Great review! I've only gotten to play this twice, but I've enjoyed it each time. It's nice to have some new wrinkles thrown into a game I am so familiar with.
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Brian Mc Cabe
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Very nice review.

We've only played the expansion once and didn't execute anyone, but did have two votes.

One was automatic on the phasing player. I chose Baltar the other time because he receives two loyalty cards. Both failed; although, Baltar had to add quite a few cards to save himself, which did hurt a little on subsequent checks, since he was human the entire game.

We didn't just start knocking each other off to find out loyalty. I don't think that would be very thematic. "I know you're my twin brother, but I want to find out your loyalty. Oops."

How would you explain it to mom and dad?

Brian

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UndeadViking wrote:
Long story short – if you play like I do, executions will be few and far between, and losing the 1 morale if you are wrong is an adequate punishment. If you want to meta-game the situation, feel free to go at it and start spacing everyone you possibly can for the best possible results, but you may need to house rule the penalty to make things even out.


The only executions I've seen so far have been as a result of crises; I agree that it's thematically weird to suicide in order to prove loyalty, and frankly I don't see why you'd be airlocking people left and right in the first place, since, well, it takes a lot of cards. Unless the game board is unusually quiet, it seems like an awful lot of work just to prove loyalty.
 
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Fat Tony wrote:
Quote:
...we do not (with few exceptions) allow ourselves to grind down into the math of a situation. You won’t find any of our group working out percentages to attempt to discern the best course of action, and we definitely would never have an open discussion as to whether or not losing one Morale for executing a human player is worth it because we could pick a different character that would help more in a certain upcoming situation. Frankly, the idea that anyone would OPENLY DISCUSS the option of killing themselves off so you can improve your chances to win by XX% is just thematically preposterous.

Awesome. My feelings exactly.

Nice review!



THIS!
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I agree it's a nice review.

Having played Pegasus only once (and BSG only a handful of times) I have few observations, but here they are:

1) with a known Cylon Leader playing, I actually cared less who was a Cylon because some of my energy was spent on trying to figure out the Leader's motives, so I felt some of the tension was gone;

2) the Treachery deck actually permitted me a really cool move where the Admiral and I both had to take 3 Treachery cards for failing a Crisis, and I played a Reckless card to make all Treachery count positive on the next skill check which, no doubt, the Cylons felt was an easy fail;

3) I show-boated quite a lot, which is unusual, but probably a sign that I was enjoying myself;

4) once killed by the Cylons, I picked President Roslin (Roslyn?) as my new character and took Presidency from a dirty Cylon ratbag. Once they'd wrested control away again, I was pretty much consigned to the bin for the rest of the game. I would advise anyone so resurrected not to pick her because, having discarded all cards when Apollo was killed (I'm still grieving), her pay-two-skill-cards-because-of-illness penalty when activating an area is just too punishing;

5) at the game's end (6-player) some felt that Cylon Leader plus 2 Cylons was just too difficult for the humans.

My general feeling is that BSG is a game about what's going on in people's heads rather than what's happening on the board. Indeed, it feels quite clunky in some ways if you focus on the mechanics; however, I know that I was ambivalent after my first play and it has definitely grown on me since, plus Pegasus, with the caveats above, is still the most fun I've had playing. Of course, this may be because it's the first time I've been any character other than the Chief.

I maintain my perfect record of lowest roll during character selection but, this time, 6-players meant I could be a second pilot.

Damn. I was an ACE till they shoved me out the airlock!

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