Evan Derrick
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You can download all the files (rules, components, etc.) necessary to play the game at this thread.

I submitted this game to a recent design contest and I'm hoping to find more playtesters to refine it. I'm hoping some dyed-in-the-wool Battlestar players will be interested in this.

The goal is to boil down the Battlestar experience, complete with tense decisions, paranoia, and the general feeling that everything is going to hell, into a 45-60 minute experience using dice. There are still loyalty cards, crises, skill checks, votes to chuck people in the brig, special player powers, etc.

The main mechanic is something of a reversal of how the regular Battlestar game works. Instead of secretly submitting cards to checks, so that no one really know who submitted what card, players openly submit their dice to each skill check. Everyone knows exactly which dice people submitted and who helped or hindered a given skill check. The information that remains secret, however, is what dice a player originally rolled underneath their cup. A human player may have rolled all negative dice and been forced to hurt a skill check, while a Cylon player can slip in negative dice under the guise of having nothing else to submit.

I've uploaded two different sets of files. One set that is the whole nine yards: full color board, cards, markers, tokens, etc. The other set is a quick 'n dirty black and white playtesters version so you can try the game out without destroying your printer cartridge.

I've included some shots of the board and components. Please check it out, play it, and let me know your thoughts! Even just read the rulebook and let me know if you see any holes in it. Any external feedback is greatly appreciated!







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Matt Vollick
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Looks like a lot of fun.

Speaking without having played it (I've only known about it for 1 hour) I wonder if the probability results of various die rolls will limit unrevealed Cylon play.

Eg. Don't roll your 2 weak dice, the E(x) on that is negative, etc. etc.

I understand it will get far more complex with more than 2 die and various strong and weak dice combinations but I wonder if you've experienced that sort of math-based approach when playtesting the game?
 
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Just read through the rules relatively quickly, and I already have a small question. Is there any reason for a Cylon to reveal himself other than for his reveal power and/or to pass off Loyalty cards? Like, if a Cylon were brigged in a three player game, what benefit would he get for revealing?

EDIT: Also, for that font, did you intentionally use the Destructoid font?
 
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Evan Derrick
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First, thank you both for reading through the rules! This kind of feedback is invaluable.

Matt,
I did run the numbers on the probabilities of a player rolling all negative dice.

With 4 dice - 20%
With 3 dice - 30%
With 2 dice - 45%
With 1 die - 67%

The fewer dice a Cylon player rolls, the easier it is for them to believably sneak in a negative die. Even if the player is human and rolling 4 dice, there is a 1 in 5 chance that they will have to submit a negative die. During playtests, that actually happens, calling that person's loyalty into question. Are they having bad luck yet again, or are they a Cylon? In fact, during one playtest, the player was such a good actor that they kept chucking negative die after negative die after negative die to skill checks, convincing us time and again that it was just "bad rolls."

We've found that playing this way requires a lot more deception skill than the regular Battlestar game. As a Cylon, when you throw in a negative die, you have to be able to act disappointed about it. I guess there are pros and cons to that, but it does make the game a bit different.

Dexter345 wrote:
Just read through the rules relatively quickly, and I already have a small question. Is there any reason for a Cylon to reveal himself other than for his reveal power and/or to pass off Loyalty cards? Like, if a Cylon were brigged in a three player game, what benefit would he get for revealing?

EDIT: Also, for that font, did you intentionally use the Destructoid font?


Very insightful Dexter. Now that I think about it, if a Cylon player is brigged, what advantage do they have to reveal? I'm guessing that revealed Cylons probably need a few more options to work with. I'll have to think about that... Eeesh, can't believe I let that one slip through.

The font I used is called Visitor. It looks similar to Destructoid, but I don't think it's quite the same.
 
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This game looks really cool! I do have to echo Dexter's statement about the lack of a reason for a brigged Cylon to reveal. Maybe a revealed Cylon could choose what type of crisis comes up on their turn instead of having to roll for it (because they are providing leadership for the Cylon forces). They would still have to roll for the difficulty and consequence numbers though.

If I get a chance I would love to try this out, and it should be easier to organize a 1-hour game than a 3-hour one...

Edit: The components also look fantastic, especially the board.
 
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I'd love to see this accommodate more than 5 players... Given it's much lighter nature, I wonder if we can't go up to a pretty high number (like The Resistance), but I expect the rules regarding dice recovery would need to be reworked.

The cylon reveal powers seem pretty nice, as most of them will involve targeting a specific criteria and then revealing at the right moment to deliver the most damaging "punch" in that area, but I'm worried about Number Six. Seems like she would just want to reveal at the first chance she gets.

Perhaps a reveal power that puts someone on the Brig and creates a "new rule" that makes being in the Brig further penalizing would be appropriate. There would be incentive to wait until at least one human is in the Brig, and then reveal to double up on the new penalty that is imposed. Essentially, your strategy is to turn the humans against one another.
 
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ninjamatic3000 wrote:
This game looks really cool! I do have to echo Dexter's statement about the lack of a reason for a brigged Cylon to reveal. Maybe a revealed Cylon could choose what type of crisis comes up on their turn instead of having to roll for it (because they are providing leadership for the Cylon forces). They would still have to roll for the difficulty and consequence numbers though.

If I get a chance I would love to try this out, and it should be easier to organize a 1-hour game than a 3-hour one...

Edit: The components also look fantastic, especially the board.


Thanks Mike! I think, going forward, here are a few rule changes to implement if you try this out:

1) Brigged players do not roll the crisis dice on their turn (much like in the normal game).

2) Instead of rolling the two crisis dice and choosing one, a Cylon player can select which crisis the players will have to face: unrest, basestar attack, or DRADIS contact. In this case the difficulty is 4, the consequence is 1, and there is no jump symbol.


I think these rules do a few things. First, if anyone is brigged, they won't get to select a crisis die - fewer crises means less chances to destroy the humans (hence why a Cylon player might want to reveal). Also, being able to choose which crisis the humans will face poses an interesting decision for the Cylon player: do they roll the dice, hoping for a steeper difficulty number or a steeper consequence number but risking the possibility of a jump symbol? Or do they go with the manual choice, presenting a relatively easy difficulty number but giving them control over which area gets damaged (and also preventing a jump symbol)?

Feel free to try these rules out if you give the game a go.
 
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MasterDinadan wrote:
I'd love to see this accommodate more than 5 players... Given it's much lighter nature, I wonder if we can't go up to a pretty high number (like The Resistance), but I expect the rules regarding dice recovery would need to be reworked.

The cylon reveal powers seem pretty nice, as most of them will involve targeting a specific criteria and then revealing at the right moment to deliver the most damaging "punch" in that area, but I'm worried about Number Six. Seems like she would just want to reveal at the first chance she gets.

Perhaps a reveal power that puts someone on the Brig and creates a "new rule" that makes being in the Brig further penalizing would be appropriate. There would be incentive to wait until at least one human is in the Brig, and then reveal to double up on the new penalty that is imposed. Essentially, your strategy is to turn the humans against one another.


Might have to save adding more players for "expansions" down the road. The entire balance of the game begins to shift heavily when you add in more people (balancing loyalty cards, dice, etc.). This is already pushing the boundaries of what an "express" game can be.

And you might be right about Six's special ability. I need to run some playtests where the Cylon player reveals immediately out of the gate, and see how the games turn out. If a Cylon player can reveal right away and easily destroy the human race, something's out of whack with the game's balance.

Tossing another player in the brig would be a good alternate power for her, though.
 
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Looks like a pretty good idea. I have not seen a dice game combined with a loyalty mechanism yet.
 
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MasterDinadan wrote:
I'd love to see this accommodate more than 5 players... Given it's much lighter nature, I wonder if we can't go up to a pretty high number (like The Resistance), but I expect the rules regarding dice recovery would need to be reworked.

The cylon reveal powers seem pretty nice, as most of them will involve targeting a specific criteria and then revealing at the right moment to deliver the most damaging "punch" in that area, but I'm worried about Number Six. Seems like she would just want to reveal at the first chance she gets.

Perhaps a reveal power that puts someone on the Brig and creates a "new rule" that makes being in the Brig further penalizing would be appropriate. There would be incentive to wait until at least one human is in the Brig, and then reveal to double up on the new penalty that is imposed. Essentially, your strategy is to turn the humans against one another.
Flyboy Connor wrote:
Looks like a pretty good idea. I have not seen a dice game combined with a loyalty mechanism yet.


These 2 posts "get together" for my here reply....

Shadow Hunters is actually more card driven, but it does use a die for movement and combat. Towards late game when loyalties became more known, people were wondering why as a unrevealed Shadow faction character, I didn't attack the hunters. For the past 2 turns, I tried to, but I kept rolling a location the Hunters weren't at. And it was a 6p game, so that gave my enemies plenty of time to strike first and second.
 
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Ah man! More stuff to put in the PBF spreadsheets!! Oh wait, this gets its own new copy for PBF!
 
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If someone wanted to run a PBF test drive of this, I would most certainly join. It looks interesting.
 
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PBF would be pretty easy - almost no info to track.
But there would be a lot of geekmail back and forth with the mod with all the private dice rolling.

Sign me up! I'd volunteer to mod but I just kicked off an experimental PBF of cosmic encounter and not sure how much of my attention it will require...
 
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As the designer and as someone who wants as much playtest info as possible, I would be perfectly happy modding a PBF game if there are 5 other people interested in participating. I actually think running a game like this would be incredibly helpful, because there would time to micro-analyze each aspect of the game as it proceeds.

So, who'd like to take part?
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I'd participate.
 
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I'd play!
 
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So, that's 4 who are in for PBF test run of this.

- Martin (I eat tables)
- Cameron (Master Dinaden)
- Kris (Tegarend)
- David (TDaver)

We just need one more interested party and we'll boot this puppy up!

A few questions on being the mod for a game like this.
- I assume the mod will draw loyalty cards and provide them to each player before hand. I also assume the mod will perform all dice rolls, communicating with each player privately what their options are.
- After every crisis I can do a visual mock-up of the board, so everyone can see at a glance how many dice have been spent, who has what left to work with, how many DRADIS markers and demoralized markers are out, etc.

 
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Evan Derrick
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Ok, having read this thread (Tips and Tricks for BSG PBF) I think I'm ready to mod. BSG: Express should be much faster and simpler since there are a lot fewer options.

 
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TDaver wrote:
I'd play!
Me three! or um, #5?
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I recommend we try this puppy in the PBF Variant forum where we don't bother anyone

(Exodus / PBF)

Send us a GM once you got the thread started!
 
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Evan Derrick
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If anyone is interested, we are running a 5 player PBF game of this right now.

BSG: EXPRESS 1 - Roll the Dice
 
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I've printed out a (very rudimentary) copy of this game to test it out and my group enjoys this version quite a bit. We were able to play 3 games, the first was mostly just to figure out the rules and the following 2 were quite fun. We did have a couple of observations that we'd like to share:

d10-1The first thing we noticed in all 3 games is that, at the beginning of the game, there are few actions for humans to take. We had one game where the first player shot down the starting 2 Raiders and the humans subsequently passed the next 5 Crises. That entire round, players passed on their action. There should always be some action available during your turn other than passing; it isn't much fun to wait for bad things to happen.

d10-2We also had a couple of turns where a player would start their turn demoralized and with only one die. There isn't a logical action to take at that point, since you will most likely fail (and trying to re-moralize yourself would probably end in someone else being demoralized). Again, the player was forced to pass.

d10-3A couple of players remarked that damaging Galactica was uneventful. Usually, you let Galactica soak up a few hits along the way, but you didn't need to worry much about it as it didn't affect the options players' had on their turns (like it does in the board game).

d10-4We also never brigged a single player in 3 games. Cylons either revealed as soon as possible or played too undercover for us to risk throwing someone in the Brig. As such, Roslin's ability is viewed as very weak in our group. Also, Adama was a favorite as he was always the Admiral (and never lost the Admiral title, except the one game he was a Cylon and revealed).

d10-5The biggest component from the board game that players felt was missing was Executive Orders; the 'trust' component of the game.


As such, we had the following suggestions:
d10-1The first was with Galactica: make each damage remove a possible action on a player's turn. Here are the locations we came up with:
Quote:
- Weapons Control: When damaged, you cannot Attack Raiders.
- Press Room: When damaged, you cannot Boost Morale.
- Admiral's Quarters: When damaged, you cannot Call a Vote.
- Hangar Deck: When damaged, you cannot repair other Galactica locations.
- Armory: When you pass in a skill check, you retrieve one fewer die.
- Engine Room: You cannot use the Jump Preparation action (explained later).

d10-2Give players a couple more options on their turn. The first being the above mentioned Jump Preparation action. The second being an Executive Order.
Quote:
Jump Preparation: The player may attempt to ensure the movement of the jump preparation track after the next crisis. To do so, the player must roll all of their active dice and submit a pair of them. If the pair is of a positive value, the next crisis roll is treated as if it had a Jump Icon.

Quote:
Executive Order: The player may choose another player to take an action. That player may take any action they could normally take on their turn (Character Abilities, Destroy Raiders, Repair Galactica, Boost Morale, Call a Vote, Reveal as a Cylon, Jump Preparation) or may instead retrieve 2 spent dice back to their active dice pool.

Executive Order now brings back in the trust component of the base game. If you are short on dice, or want to help someone else regain spent dice, you can trust them and give them your action. We also attached Adama's character ability to the Executive Order because we found it was by far the most common action Adama took; we wanted to spread that action around and make it more widely available. This way, if the humans are ahead (they have few or no matters to deal with as an action), they can continue to prepare for upcoming crisis events.

These two actions also always give a player a viable action on their turn.

d10-3I suggest the following changes to character abilities:
Quote:
Adama: (-1) dice on Crisis Skill Checks on Adama's turn count as 0-strength.

This mimics his one-per-turn ability of the base game. With the Executive Order action taking his current ability, he needed something new.
Quote:
Roslin: When Roslin attempts to Boost Morale, she may spend two dice instead of just one. If both are positive, she may remove two demoralized tokens.

The human's largest threat is Demoralization. Roslin can now help counteract that. It gives her more of a Presidential feel, as she can now give Inspirational Speeches much better than other players.
Quote:
Starbuck: Once on your turn, if you submit all or all but one of your active dice to a single skill check, immediately retrieve them.

This one is to take care of a small technicality that occurred. In two games, one of our Cylons had the Number Six Cylon card, and both times they removed a die from Starbuck. That renders her character ability very weak; she can’t take an action on her turn (as they all currently use dice) and still use her character ability. The suggestion was to only have it trigger when she spent all of her dice (not all or all but one). Either way would take some playtesting to see what felt correct.
Quote:
Cylon #2: ACTION: Reveal this card and, if not currently brigged, draw two Galactica damage tokens and play one.

A quick tweak with the new Galactica damage tokens.
Quote:
Cylon #4: ACTION: Reveal this card and, if not currently brigged, reduce the Jump Preparation track by 1.

Another idea someone suggested. It mimics a Cylon reveal power from Exodus.

d10-4The last suggestion was a change to the Crisis dice. Players felt there could be a bit more variety to the options on these dice; someone suggested using d8 dice instead of d6. Other Crisis events that were suggested:
Quote:
-The Current player places 2 of his active dice into his reserves. No check. No jump.
-The Admiral player places 2 of his active dice into his reserves. No check. No jump.
-A skill check that, if failed, places the current player into the Brig. No jump.
-A skill check that, if failed, places the Admiral in the Brig. No jump.

Adding more non-jump sides on the Crisis dice also balances out the addition of the Engine Room/Jump Preparation action.


This is just a list of thoughts… things my group will probably try in the future. We had a blast with this game – it’s a great design and holds true very well to the original game. I’m working on making a much nicer set (actually making dice, creating heavier duty pieces, etc.) and when I end up finishing it, I’ll throw some pictures up here on the Geek.
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WOW, Mark! This is some great playtesting feedback. A lot of your thoughts echo the one's I've had myself.

Yes, players don't have a lot to do at the beginning. And yes, damaging Galactica is very anti-climactic. You've got some great suggestions in here. I will definitely attempt to implement some of them in my future playtests. And I can't wait to hear how your group feels about them as well.

But overall, I'm glad the game is enjoyable and mimics the original. That is what I was mainly aiming for, and you've confirmed that at least in some respects the design has gotten there.

Can't wait to hear more!

Evan
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Evan, we really enjoyed the game! I didn't want my wall of suggestions and feedback to read as if we didn't enjoy it. My group naturally discusses games (even fully published ones) and talks about how we would improve them, and there were spirited discussions about this one during and after each of our 3 games.

The suggestion I'm most intrigued to try is the Executive Order action. I don't know if it would tip the balance of this game too heavily toward the humans.
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I'm starting up another BSG Express game here. If you would like to play, please post in the forums and/or let me know through geekmail! I'm adding the suggestions I made above to test them out, so be ready for a fun ride!
 
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