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I'm a huge fanboy of the BSG boardgame. I've never seen a minute of the show, yet I found the base game very engaging. I was so excited when the Pegasus expansion was announced. This review starts off explaining some of the new rules. I won't go into every detail, but I don't want to assume you already know everything. So let's start talking about...

What’s New to Do:

Pegasus: There is now a Pegasus board that sits beside the Galactica main board. This tag along ship provides the human players four powerful new locations to take actions on.



Executions: That’s right, the game just got more deadly. By passing a skill check on one of the Pegasus locations or through some of the new crisis cards, you can kill your fellow players. Huzzah for violence! An executed cylon reveals their loyalty card but can’t utilize the text, ditches their whole hand of skill cards, doesn’t get a super crisis card, and goes to the Resurrection Ship location. If the victim of an execution is human, they lose their hand of skill cards, morale decrements by one, all their loyalty cards are revealed to prove their humanity, and the player chooses a new character to continue with.

New Caprica: Instead of a human victory condition of 8 distance plus one more jump, the humans now have to survive the occupation of New Caprica. At 7 distance the game switches, and all movement and actions take place on the New Caprica board, with its own set of locations and available actions. The Galactica, Pegasus, Colonial One, and cylon locations are temporarily not available.



All undestroyed civilian ships are moved to the New Cap board. Each one is now at risk. Humans have to take actions to prepare the ships to be able to escape. The jump prep track is still utilized, and once it reaches auto jump, the Galactica comes back (along with a cylon ship welcoming committee) and players can move to and use Galactica locations. At that point human players need to take actions to move the prepared civilian ships from the New Cap board up to the Galactica board.

Once the Galactica returns, the admiral, as an action, may at any time end the game. All civilian ships on New Cap are destroyed and all players stranded there are executed. If all that didn’t trigger cylon victory (such as population or moral reaching zero), then team human wins the game.

Cylon leaders:



This is a new character type. These characters will draw a random agenda card, but not a loyalty card. Agenda cards will create a unique victory condition for just the cylon leader player. One of the victory conditions will be either the humans winning or the cylons winning. The likelihood of the cylon leader being on the human or cylon team varies based on the number of players. The other players will never know for sure which team the cylon leader must win with. In addition to the victory condition of humans or cylons winning, there is a second condition that also must be met for the cylon leader to be a winner.



Other: Every deck got more cards. There’s new crisis cards mixed in, a new skill called treachery that helps cylon players, each skill type received skill cards with new text, new destination cards, as well as new quorum cards. So all of the existing decks got a little thicker.



What a BSG expansion could have done:

Even though BSG is my favorite game, there are some opportunities that I would have liked to see an expansion address:

A revealed cylon player should have more options: Once revealed, a cylon player is reduced to four options, and has fewer once they pass their loyalty cards and play their super crisis. A revealed cylon seldom has consistent, interesting decisions.

Eliminate pauses in the action: Currently the game is a roller coaster - sometimes there are intense moments where everything is falling apart and it’s a frantic scramble to manage the chaos. Then there are other times, when all the players are asking if there’s anything worth while to do. I think there’s room for improvement to make the game a constant free fall of action and challenges to solve.

Make damaging Galactica/Centurions more likely of a victory condition: This overlaps with my desire to add more disasters to deal with. These two victory conditions are rare, and making them more of a threat would increase the tension. That way when all cylons are revealed and the intrigue is gone, there is still plenty of tension to make the game still heart pounding.

Make raptors more important: These are currently just gambling chips. I’ve only run out of them in no more than two games, and neither one was of any consequence for the humans. The raptors could have been eliminated from the game entirely with little impact. Whenever our group sees raptors at risk in a crisis, we don’t really consider that much of a drawback. Not a big deal, but it strikes me as an underused element.

Where Pegasus Succeeds:

Adding more variety: After over 20 plays, it’s very refreshing to see new crisis cards. It’s interesting to see new pass/fail consequences and decisions to make on some of the crises. Having new characters to choose from is also a lot of fun. The new characters were well designed, each power being a double edged sword - the power could be used for either the saving or the destruction of humanity. After being very familiar with the characters from the base game, playing through the new characters was a lot of fun.



The new skill cards get a thumbs up from me. Having more possible texts on each given skill is very nice. They provide new decisions do some pretty interesting stuff.

More ways to get basestars in play: There are a lot more ways that basestars come out. Crises, character abilities, some treachery skill cards, all drop basestars into play. This is all you really need to maintain a steady flow of tension, since basestars spawn all kinds of other evil, and also make damaging Galactica/boarding parties more likely.

More options for revealed cylons: The new treachery skill type has text and actions that are only playable by revealed cylons. This means that they have more than just the four cylon location actions as options. This is a definite improvement on giving revealed cylons something fun to do other than drawing two crisis cards and picking one. Plus they count as negative in nearly every skill check.



Playing time: Pegasus overall slightly lowers the playing time of BSG (once everyone is up to speed on the new rules and text, that is). Using New Caprica, you’d go through very close to the same amount of jump cycles as the core game. But, you also have Helena Cain, who can do a once per game action to destroy two civilian ships to get a free extra jump, regardless where the jump prep track is at. The Pegasus ship location Engine Room gives you an action to treat the next crisis as if it had a jump prep icon, whether it actually does or not. There is also a New Caprica location action that allows you to decrease the highest resource by one to advance the jump prep by one space. Also, the Caprica cylon location is revised so when a revealed cylon picks two crises cards and chooses one, the jump prep is still applicable and only the ship activations are ignored. So there are new ways to get this ship jumping quicker, resulting in a slightly shorter game.

Makes BSG playable with 7: So now you can have Battlestar Galactica hit the table even when six other folks show up. Anything that helps you play Battlestar Galactica more often can only be a good thing. And you know what, even though you have very few turns, it's not bad playing with seven.

Let’s Discuss New Caprica


The New Caprica portion of the game is a microcosm of the expansion as a whole. There are parts that are new and interesting, but some parts that reduce tension, and on the whole it balances out slightly on the positive side of the scale.

New Cap creates a couple of new dynamics. For one, you must ensure the loyalty of the admiral, since now that single player has the power to end the game at their whim. Now, one player making one decision at the very end of the game can decide which team wins. Making sure the admiral is a human is easier thanks to executions, but that’s still a lot of weight on a single decision by a single player at the very end of the game. At worst it’s a design flaw, at best its something that could have been implemented better.

New Caprica also adds more tension to the endgame. Instead of humans coasting to their last jump, they now have to fight for it. Overall, I’d say the New Caprica element is a positive change, but it is a little disjointing. It’s like all of a sudden at the end of the session the whole thing switches to a different game entirely. It’s something that is exclusively theme driven, and would never have been added from only a mechanic design perspective.

While New Cap adds some excitement, with it comes added complexity. I’d never consider using Pegasus with a newbie. Which isn’t that bad, but with all the cards from the base game and expansion that are shuffled together, you have about fifteen minutes added to your setup time trying to extract the expansion components from the base game. It’s not that the rules are too heavy, but there is a lot of new text to absorb and understand how all of the new actions interrelate. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind complexity at all (War of the Ring is my other favorite game). But if I have to endure complexity I expect a payoff of rich, compelling decisions. The return on investment with New Cap is slim.

With each play, I’ve been less impressed with New Cap. It was fun at first, but with each play the tension is less and less. It’s a very calculated endgame. You figure exactly how many civilians ships you need to save, and executive order each other until you get the required number of ships. Massive amounts of ships will be destroyed regardless of how the game shapes up, so it makes their loss less meaningful. In all, New Cap is a positive addition in the expansion, just not positive enough to get excited about.


Where Pegasus fails:

Executions: If a human is executed, the drawback is that they lose their hand of skill cards and lose one moral. The problem with this isn’t the severity of the penalty, it is that the human player reveals all loyalty cards, thereby eliminating suspicion on the player’s true loyalties. Tension and paranoia is BSG’s greatest strength. I would expect an expansion to build on that, not reduce it. We haven’t found executions to be rampant or broken, but anything that reduces tension gets a thumbs down in my book.

Cylon leaders: I doubt I’ll ever play as a cylon leader again. They don’t necessarily make the game less fun, but the player who is the cylon leader is likely to have less fun. The primary problem is the design of the agenda cards. When we first tried using a cylon leader, at first it was interesting as players tried to guess if they were loyal to humans or cylons. That wore off very soon, as we realized how little difference that made. The cylon leader’s loyalty adds little to no intrigue.

The worst part about the agenda card is the secondary agenda. Many of them are too hard, many of them too easy, very few (if any?) are just right. Some of the agendas are largely outside of the player’s control to influence. For example, having all resources 3 or lower and the humans win. In twenty-something plays, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen. To have a victory condition where you have little impact on the outcome is simply a negative playing experience. The time I was a cylon leader was the least fun I’ve ever had playing BSG. And the agendas that are too easy (play a super crisis card) offer no challenge and therefore aren’t interesting.

Depending on the number of players, the cylon leader also means there is one less hidden cylon. Fewer hidden cylons means less tension, thereby taking the game one step further removed from what makes it special.

When I first read the Pegasus rules and saw the previews, the cylon leaders was what I was most excited about. I thought it would add a whole new layer of fascinating intrigue. While the concept is fascinating, they end up being really unenjoyable to play. BSG is a team game, and when you’re a cylon leader, you’re not on anyone’s team but your own, so you lose a big part of the BSG experience.

Pegasus damage tokens: Whenever Galactica is damaged, you can instead elect to damage Pegasus. If all four Pegasus locations are damaged, then Pegasus is destroyed and the huge consequence is...you can no longer use Pegasus locations. The cylon victory condition of damaging 6 Galactica locations is unchanged, and Pegasus can now absorb up to 4 more damage. This makes that victory condition less likely, therefore reducing human tension and cylon options. Have I mentioned I don’t like reducing tension?

Raptors: Raptors still have a negligible impact on the game. Big woop.

The Best part of Pegasus

I can say the best improvement to the game is the plastic basestars. They are very cool, enhance the atmosphere, and better match the design of the rest of the game. While not the most important thing to me, I gotta admit I really likes me some board games that come with toys. In the end though, two plastic basestars just aren’t worth $30-$40.



Ultimately, while Pegasus has some elements that have value, it also introduces elements that detract from the play experience. You’ll extend its replayability with new cards ands characters, but it costs you tension. BSG is still a blast even with Pegasus, but the value you get out of the expansion simply isn’t worth paying for it.

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Quote:
Make raptors more important: These are currently just gambling chips. I’ve only run out of them in no more than two games, and neither one was of any consequence for the humans. The raptors could have been eliminated from the game entirely with little impact. Whenever our group sees raptors at risk in a crisis, we don’t really consider that much of a drawback. Not a big deal, but it strikes me as an underused element.


Yeah, raptors aren't a primary use resource like certain skill cards (IC, SP, XO), or even certain locations (Hangar Bay, Communications, FTL Control). They're useful, but quite the niche. Much like if you never get boarded by cents., then Armory is 'worthless'. On those crisis/destination cards where you can risk raptors for resources, they can be a godsend. Also if you really need to bury bad crisis cards. It never guarantees nothing bad will happen, but it's a modifier of sorts, leaving things less to chance. Plus, it can help guage the intentions of the players using them.

People often say if you want crisis card control, just pick Roslin or Boomer, or better yet, both. But then that's a whole, meta-gaming can of worms, on top of the pile of worms that make up Boomer and Roslin. Not everyone wants to be shoehorned into character selection like that.
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Great review Carlos, I really enjoyed it.
Darth Headbutt wrote:
Pegasus damage tokens: Whenever Galactica is damaged, you can instead elect to damage Pegasus. If all four Pegasus locations are damaged, then Pegasus is destroyed and the huge consequence is...you can no longer use Pegasus locations. The cylon victory condition of damaging 6 Galactica locations is unchanged, and Pegasus can now absorb up to 4 more damage. This makes that victory condition less likely, therefore reducing human tension and cylon options. Have I mentioned I don’t like reducing tension?

Have you tried, or what do you think of, counting damage to Pegasus towards a Cylon victory? So that a total of 6 damaged locations still counts as a Cylon win.
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Thank you! These are also exactly my feelings about the Pegasus Expansion. I agree with all your positive and negative notes. After coming to terms with the new rules I felt like "That's it?". No tension added was added, only reduced.

Let's hope for another expansion to this great game giving us what you described in "What a BSG expansion could have done".
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I've always gone by the rules as written, and haven't tried counting Pegasus damage towards cylon victory. I do think that is a good idea, and a simple way to improve the tension level.
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Darth Headbutt wrote:
What a BSG expansion could have done:

A revealed cylon player should have more options: Once revealed, a cylon player is reduced to four options, and has fewer once they pass their loyalty cards and play their super crisis. A revealed cylon seldom has consistent, interesting decisions.



Where Pegasus Succeeds:

More options for revealed cylons: The new treachery skill type has text and actions that are only playable by revealed cylons. This means that they have more than just the four cylon location actions as options. This is a definite improvement on giving revealed cylons something fun to do other than drawing two crisis cards and picking one. Plus they count as negative in nearly every skill check.

This part threw me...
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Darth Headbutt wrote:
Eliminate pauses in the action: Currently the game is a roller coaster - sometimes there are intense moments where everything is falling apart and it’s a frantic scramble to manage the chaos. Then there are other times, when all the players are asking if there’s anything worth while to do.

See, the rollercoaster effect is one of the things I love about the game. It's a series of mini-climax moments that peak in intensity, then BANG -- the ship jumps and you've got a little bit of breathing room to repair damage and preemtively launch some ships for the inevitable next buildup of chaos.

If they "fix" this issue, it will destroy one of the best things about the game!
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jimmcmahon wrote:
Darth Headbutt wrote:
What a BSG expansion could have done:

A revealed cylon player should have more options: Once revealed, a cylon player is reduced to four options, and has fewer once they pass their loyalty cards and play their super crisis. A revealed cylon seldom has consistent, interesting decisions.



Where Pegasus Succeeds:

More options for revealed cylons: The new treachery skill type has text and actions that are only playable by revealed cylons. This means that they have more than just the four cylon location actions as options. This is a definite improvement on giving revealed cylons something fun to do other than drawing two crisis cards and picking one. Plus they count as negative in nearly every skill check.

This part threw me...



There are more options for revealed cylon players, but still not enough. That's what I got out of those, though it still looks funny seeing these 2 side by side.
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ackmondual wrote:
jimmcmahon wrote:
Darth Headbutt wrote:
What a BSG expansion could have done:

A revealed cylon player should have more options: Once revealed, a cylon player is reduced to four options, and has fewer once they pass their loyalty cards and play their super crisis. A revealed cylon seldom has consistent, interesting decisions.



Where Pegasus Succeeds:

More options for revealed cylons: The new treachery skill type has text and actions that are only playable by revealed cylons. This means that they have more than just the four cylon location actions as options. This is a definite improvement on giving revealed cylons something fun to do other than drawing two crisis cards and picking one. Plus they count as negative in nearly every skill check.

This part threw me...



There are more options for revealed cylon players, but still not enough, though it still looks funny seeing these 2 side by side.

I think the "could have done" section was really just "What I Was Hoping For Going In," and then he notes that Pegasus largely succeeds in this aspect.

I am also not a fan of the New Caprica endgame, so I usually play with all the new Pegasus parts, but keeping the Kobol objective. Works out pretty well.
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I think the review is pretty good, except for one thing:

The reviewer lists quite a number of points he thinks the expansion did right. At the end, though (and in the title), he reduces all that to "30$ for two plastic basestars." What happened to the other good stuff?

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DCAnderson wrote:
I never particularly thought that losing to damage tokens was that huge a threat in the base game, but still thought the base game was pretty tense.

So in my mind at least, Pegasus being able to absorb damage is just making a threat that was never a big threat to begin with just slightly less of a threat.

The main thing with damage tokens seems to have always been that you won't lose because you got to six, you lose to them because since you never had time to fix such and such a critical location, you now don't have it when you really need it.

That's how we lost our last game. We manage to jump. Before Cavil uninfiltrates, he uses Aggressive Tactics and Primacy x2 to put 2 basestars, 6 raiders, and 2 raiders on the board. In this 6p game, both cylons have already revealed. When it gets to their turn, they use Cylon Fleet to shoot at us. Several crisis cards also called for activating basestars. The amusing thing was Cavil f@#$ up. He was pleading with the other 2 cylons to shoot, but NOT kill. He even tried to repair the ship for us after Galactica jumped back. I didn't think we would make it to NC let alone that, as we were also low on morale. Gal. got destroyed when it jumped back.


Cavil's played the game before, but evidently not enough. His reasoning behind using back to back Primacies was he's never seen the game end with Galactica's destruction, so that was to slow us down as things went too quiet after we jumped. Well, when going through his Agenda card, "Salvage Their Equipment"...
cylons win: CHECK.
Galactica has 2 or fewer damaged locations: EPIC FRAKUP
Using Primacy that way wasn't quite the right call. I explained to him that (in addition to "there ya go, there's a cylon win by destruction") you have 2 trigger happy cylons, a decent chance some activations may occur during crisis cards, x2 shots from each basestar, and the math doesn't quite work out in our favor.
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DukeOfEarl wrote:
I think the review is pretty good, except for one thing:

The reviewer lists quite a number of points he thinks the expansion did right. At the end, though (and in the title), he reduces all that to "30$ for two plastic basestars." What happened to the other good stuff?



Darth Headbutt wrote:
Ultimately, while Pegasus has some elements that have value, it also introduces elements that detract from the play experience. You’ll extend its replayability with new cards ands characters, but it costs you tension. BSG is still a blast even with Pegasus, but the value you get out of the expansion simply isn’t worth paying for it.


I dunno, seems pretty clear to me.
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Darth Headbutt wrote:
I can say the best improvement to the game is the plastic basestars. They are very cool, enhance the atmosphere, and better match the design of the rest of the game. While not the most important thing to me, I gotta admit I really likes me some board games that come with toys. In the end though, two plastic basestars just aren’t worth $30-$40.

I'll let you have them for $25 - there's new Heroscape coming out next week and I could use the cash.
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Darth Headbutt wrote:
While New Cap adds some excitement, with it comes added complexity. I’d never consider using Pegasus with a newbie. Which isn’t that bad, but with all the cards from the base game and expansion that are shuffled together, you have about fifteen minutes added to your setup time trying to extract the expansion components from the base game. It’s not that the rules are too heavy, but there is a lot of new text to absorb and understand how all of the new actions interrelate. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind complexity at all (War of the Ring is my other favorite game). But if I have to endure complexity I expect a payoff of rich, compelling decisions. The return on investment with New Cap is slim.


I disagree. My very first game was using the expansion and I didn't find there were any problems with that. The other players who had played before obviously were a bit more savvy in what was going on and tactics, but I wouldn't say that the pegasus expansion added enough extra complexity to warrant separating it out for playing with newbies.
 
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Thanks for the review. After reading this, I decided not to buy this expansion.
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