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Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game» Forums » Variants

Subject: Sympathizer based on Brig Check rss

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Brian M
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I have looked at a few Sympathizer variants and not seen this possibility yet, although it may have been overlooked.

Keep the Sympathizer the same as normal, dealt into the Sleeper phase, and revealed immediately on the Sleeper phase. Once revealed, the player becomes a known Cylon but their loyalty is in question. They are brigged as normal.

Variant:
The Sympathizer's loyalty will be partially determined by the successfulness of their brig breakout check.

Once it is the Sympathizer's turn, they *must* attempt a Brig skill check to be released. If the skill check is successful, the Sympathizer is given 2 "You are Not a Cylon" cards and 1 "You are a Cylon" card then randomly takes a card from these three. If the skill check is unsuccessful, the Sympathizer is given 2 "You are a Cylon" cards and 1 "You are Not a Cylon" card then randomly takes a card from these. If you do not have enough cards for this - improvise. Whatever card the Sympathizer gets determines their loyalty for the rest of the game, but remains hidden to everybody else like a normal loyalty card.

Reasoning:
This becomes quite thematic. The Sympathizer is not automatically known by everybody which side they are fighting for. The humans have a chance to woo the Sympathizer to their side by being nice, the cylons have a chance to do the same by making it appear that humanity despises the Sympathizer by not letting it out of jail. And yet, either way, there is still some chance that either side will be screwed. Cylons have another evil possibility of forcing everybody to discard a ton of skill cards trying to pass the check as well.

Problem:
Among other possible problems, this may give the Sympathizer too few turns to do anything for their particular side. They won't until their turn after the sleeper phase which side they are fighting for. Perhaps this should be used only if you also are having the sleeper phase earlier than the standard 4 distance.


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B C Z
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Doesn't this wreck the balance that the Sympathizer introduces?

If the dials are saying that the humans are doing well, then the game balances itself and introduces a third proto-Cylon to pound on those dials.

If the dials are saying that the humans are doing poorly, then the game balances itself and introduces a fourth human to help.

Management of the dials prior to the sleeper phase is part of the game with even numbers of players. Cylons want them in the blue (and are helping the humans). Humans want them in the red (and are thus helping the Cylons).
 
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Brian M
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To me, balance isn't exactly the reason I want a sympathizer variant. There are quite a few sympathizer variants showing others wanted change too. I have read quite a few of those variants and they all seem to have their pluses and minuses.

I realize that the sympathizer, as it was created, is actually quite balanced. The problem is that it also takes away some of the fun, at least in a few ways.

Firstly, the majority of the game's fun is in that Werewolf mistrust of your peers, the sympathizer as is means you know their loyalty.

Secondly, the thematic problem resides in your statement,
Quote:
Management of the dials prior to the sleeper phase is part of the game with even numbers of players. Cylons want them in the blue (and are helping the humans). Humans want them in the red (and are thus helping the Cylons).
Why should humans *want* a dial in the red? I dislike that it was best to purposely sabotage your team just to get the sympathizer on your side.
 
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Gerry Smit
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Some of the humans don't care what color it is as long as THEY are in charge. Taking one dial down is a thematic representation of that internicine strife. There is NO "Team Human" in the first half of the game. Only once things get bad is it reasonable to expect ALL humans to "get on board" in order to survive.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
(And even Season 4.5 seems to disagree with this. I had thought Zarek had mellowed. WRONG! He NEVER joined Team Human, he was leading Team Zarek, biding his time, and that was all. Gaeta's erosion from competent, trustworthy, reliable bridge officer to traitor just hurt to watch. All well explained by the story and traumas suffered by all. But man, he went from my "Hey I want a Gaeta character!" to "ooops, not so much now".
So anyhow, it does fit the story, if you look at it that way. Admittedly, if you're in a four player game with let's say
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Roslin, Apollo, Adama, and Helo
you might think "hey, these guys were all heroes. They should work together no problem!" but that's with the Loyalty Cards dealt to them by the actual show. You have to allow the board game to deal you the loyalty cards you get, and one of those loyalty cards (sympathizer) requires you act like a mini-Zarek S.O.B. No different than William Adama drawing "You are a Cylon, send a character to sick bay". It doesn't match the exact Series, but it does match the look and feel of the series.
 
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Jason Harris
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Well, the dial states could affect the number of "not a cylon cards" put in that random determination.

Also I would be tempted to have the effect of pro-human random deck or pro-cylond random deck the other way around
I.e. if they get out, there is more chance of being a cylon, and if they remain in there is more chance of them being human.

I dont like the "well if we didnt get them out, theyre probably more likely cylon, so no reason to trust them or find out, just leave them"

at least with the weighted likely lyalty being "opposite" to where you want them, it gives you an odd choice of "leave them in, theyre more likely human, to trust them and get them out next time" (which means having to take the test next time) or "well let them out but watch them carefully as theyre likely pro cylon"



Its a horrid penalty for this extra test to have to be the sympathiser's next turn though.

What about simply a new skill check to decide how many of each sort of loyalty cards get dealt? this would be taken as soon as the sympathiser card comes out (out of sequence)
 
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Deth Klok
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bshazel wrote:
Why should humans *want* a dial in the red?

Because, Brian M, the game designers are just not that bright.

bshazel wrote:
I dislike that it was best to purposely sabotage your team just to get the sympathizer on your side.

Yes. The problem is that the sympathizer's loyalty is more important than resources. So obviously, resources are sacrificed to buy loyalty. Imagine the designers had instituted a rule something like you used above, where the sympathizer's loyalty is influenced by some external circumstance, but still remained somewhat random. Would it still be worth sabotaging your own team just for the sake of making the sympathizer 33% more likely to join your side? My guess is that it wouldn't.

The best possible sympathizer card would be one which is

1) Simple or fairly simple
2) Thematic, and
3) Able to partially balance the power struggle.

Idea: Use your suggestion, with "The Destiny Deck contributes a number of cards equal to the number of resource dials in the blue." Because the skill check is on two colors, the Destiny Deck will tend to hurt, rather than help, the Brig check. In addition, the more Destiny cards in the check, the more easily Cylons will be able to play against the check without fear of being noticed.

This satisfies all three of the above criteria. The whole change requires only a few sentences of text. It captures the spirit of Athena's tribulations and restores the tension which is revoked by the original sympathizer card. And no one will spin the dials around just for the sake of influencing a check that in turn merely influence the loyaly of one character - yet - the sympathizer's loyalty is ultimately affected by how well the humans are doing.

In conclusion here are some smilies:ninjazombiegulpdevilgoowow

 
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B C Z
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Not that bright? Wow.

Alright.

The sympathizer mechanic in games with even numbers of players adds a metagame that simulates any or all of the players choosing to sympathize with the "other side".

Humans want the resources to remain high.
Cylons want the resources to be pushed low.
The Sympathizer will support whichever team is doing worse at the halfway point.

If the metagame of the sympathizer means that the collective players have pushed the resources low, then the Sympathizer will be definitively human, but mistrust throws them in the brig.

If the metagame of the sympathizer means that the collective players have kept the resources high, then the Sympathizer will be definitively Cylon, but mistrust means they can't operate the fleet.

So the metagame plays the role of the sympathizer in the first half, instead of requiring any one player to take on the role. It then manifests in the second half.

It's elegant. It's no different than being a sleeper Cylon who discovered that they were not on 'team human' until the halfway point. Compaints against it removing player choice should also be levied against the other loyalty cards (but never are).
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Deth Klok
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byronczimmer wrote:
Not that bright? Wow.

What's so amazing about that? Is there something about designers that sets them on a plane above the lowly people who pay their salaries? It isn't as though they all went to Harvard and earned doctorate degrees in boardgame design. We may play and enjoy BSG, but it seems to me that the successful elements of their game came from the theme and the production value. The rules themselves aren't presented very cleanly, or very well balanced. I'm more impressed by the design skills I see from some of the posters in these threads.

Quote:
The sympathizer mechanic in games with even numbers of players adds a metagame that simulates any or all of the players choosing to sympathize with the "other side".

Yes. I think that metagame is silly.

Quote:
Compaints against it removing player choice should also be levied against the other loyalty cards (but never are).

Maybe that's because other loyalty cards don't, you know, force you to hold up your card for everyone to see?
 
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Paul W
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I don't like the Sympathizer at all...in fact I think that especially with the Exodus expansion it works pretty terribly. Nevertheless I can see the reasoning behind the mechanic and how it works for a game design standpoint. To call it evidence that the game designers are "not that bright" is just foolishness. The Sympathizer can balance the game, it just does so by introducing an additional meta-game, and if the humans don't deal with the meta-game precisely they're screwed...which among other things means that 6 player games usually turn out terribly for the humans unless everyone playing is quite experienced.

Certainly though one can criticize the mechanic without resorting to throwing juvenile insults at the designers.
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Paul W
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Returning to the OP however, that Sympathizer completely ignores issues of game balance, as as a result it isn't balanced at all....I certainly would never play that way. Of course, I am unlikely to play 6 player without the much better no sympathizer variant anyway.
 
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Ossian Grr aka "Josh"
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fizzmore wrote:
I don't like the Sympathizer at all...in fact I think that especially with the Exodus expansion it works pretty terribly.


I personally think that Exodus improves the original Sympathizer mechanic, since it's possible to have a pre-sleeper-phase Sympathizer or no Sympathizer at all.

* It is a less-sure tactic for pre-sleeper Humans to metagame by pushing down a resource because it may all be for nothing (symp coming too soon or never).
* Pre-sleeper Cylons are encouraged to attempt more Executions, to speed up the arrival of a symp on their side.


 
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Paul W
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jozxyqk wrote:
I personally think that Exodus improves the original Sympathizer mechanic, since it's possible to have a pre-sleeper-phase Sympathizer or no Sympathizer at all.

* It is a less-sure tactic for pre-sleeper Humans to metagame by pushing down a resource because it may all be for nothing (symp coming too soon or never).
* Pre-sleeper Cylons are encouraged to attempt more Executions, to speed up the arrival of a symp on their side.




Given that a Cylon sympathizer is a death sentence for the humans, I don't see how this improves the game at all. Having the outcome fixed by distance 4 unless the humans drive a resource into the red *and* make sure not to complete any personal goals or let anyone get executed just isn't an enjoyable experience.
 
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Ossian Grr aka "Josh"
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fizzmore wrote:
Given that a Cylon sympathizer is a death sentence for the humans


I don't think that's "given".

Still considering Exodus:
You're not guaranteed to draw the Sympathizer and both You Are A Cylon cards. So you won't necessarily have a 3-on-3 situation.

Not necessarily considering Exodus:
I've had a few 3-on-3 games that ended in victory for the humans (either with a Sympathizer or with a Cylon Leader with a Cylons Win agenda). It's challenging, but I wouldn't say that a Cylon-side sympathizer is automatically "a Death Sentence".

Also on a mostly separate note:

fizzmore wrote:
...make sure not to complete any personal goals...


That's an easy one. You don't have to reveal your Personal Goal unless you want to, even if the conditions are met. If things are going poorly for the humans (and all of the Cylons haven't been outed yet), you are more likely to want to take your PG Action so that you have a chance of going to the other team. Otherwise, it is the best idea to wait until distance 7 (or an absolute emergency resource situation) to take your "reveal PG" action.

I believe that part of the game, especially now, is "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em". If you're human and the game is going suckily, and there's a chance that more You Are A Cylon cards are out there, you may be best off taking actions that will force new Loyalty Card draws as much as possible.
And yes, I do find this enjoyable and thematic.

 
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Deth Klok
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fizzmore wrote:
Certainly though one can criticize the mechanic without resorting to throwing juvenile insults at the designers.

I think you should read my post more carefully. I wasn't really trying to criticize the sympathizer mechanic, or to insult the designers. I want to point out that there's nothing special about the designers of the BSG board game, or indeed of any game. So they made a mistake; we can just correct it. But I do think it's interesting that people seem so eager to leap to their defense. So far, you haven't given me any reason to think that they are good at designing rules.

In short, I like Brian M's idea. Yes, it removes the balancing attempt of the original rules, but that doesn't mean the original rules were better - they weren't.
 
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Paul W
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jozxyqk wrote:
fizzmore wrote:
Given that a Cylon sympathizer is a death sentence for the humans


I don't think that's "given".

Still considering Exodus:
You're not guaranteed to draw the Sympathizer and both You Are A Cylon cards. So you won't necessarily have a 3-on-3 situation.


Yes, that's technically correct...you will however have both cylons and a sympathizer more than 3/4s of the time..."but it might not be so bad less than 25% of the time" isn't exactly a compelling counter-argument. Although a cylon sympathizer is usually pretty decisive in the base game, the cylon fleet board makes things just rather silly. It's a bad play experience, and one that I'll be happy never to repeat again. Come back are share your thoughts once you've had the pleasure.

Quote:
I believe that part of the game, especially now, is "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em". If you're human and the game is going suckily, and there's a chance that more You Are A Cylon cards are out there, you may be best off taking actions that will force new Loyalty Card draws as much as possible.
And yes, I do find this enjoyable and thematic.


I can see how that could make the first half of the game interesting, but having the game decided but not yet over for another hour or two is not my idea of a good time. As I've said already, access to the Basestar Bridge takes a 3v3 situation for the humans from "unlikely to win" to "not a chance in hell".
 
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Paul W
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Dethklok wrote:
fizzmore wrote:
Certainly though one can criticize the mechanic without resorting to throwing juvenile insults at the designers.

I think you should read my post more carefully. I wasn't really trying to criticize the sympathizer mechanic, or to insult the designers. I want to point out that there's nothing special about the designers of the BSG board game, or indeed of any game. So they made a mistake; we can just correct it. But I do think it's interesting that people seem so eager to leap to their defense. So far, you haven't given me any reason to think that they are good at designing rules.

In short, I like Brian M's idea. Yes, it removes the balancing attempt of the original rules, but that doesn't mean the original rules were better - they weren't.


In your world it's not an insult to call someone "not that bright"? Maybe insult wasn't your intent, but that's certainly what your post expressed.
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Deth Klok
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Were you personally involved in the design this game? I'm sorry if I offended you, but I wouldn't say my remarks were "certainly insulting," any more than they were "juvenile" or "just foolishness." You could try giving me some reason to think these designers are significantly more intelligent than the norm, but until then, you're just complaining that I've drawn an uncontroversial inference which makes you uncomfortable.
 
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Keith B
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One of the great strengths of this game is the wide range of variants now availble, both official and unoffical. I notice also that the "Symaphetic Cylon" opton (Pegasus) has not been mentioned in this thread despite its potential use.

Which variant is better or worse is a matter of personal opinion and groups will play the one(s) that most suit them.

The fact that Exodus makes the game more difficult for the humans is stated in its rules and reflects their increasing desperation as the series progressed.
 
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