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Subject: Let's Play BSG: An annotated session report rss

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Mark L
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Let's Play! is where I post up detailed and annotated (partial) session reports that both showcase the rules of the game as well as basic to intermediate strategy for the new player. In other words, a player new to the game, perhaps with one or two plays, should be able to read this and emerge with a better grasp of the key mechanics, strategies, and general flow of a typical game.


Battlestar Galactica


Players, in turn order:
President Laura Roslin
Chief Galen Tyrol
Karl "Helo" Agathon
Lee "Apollo" Adama (sector 6)
Admiral Saul Tigh (CYLON)

Our crew for this 5-player game of BSG, obviously heading to Kobol. The reason why the game forces you to pick characters according to what character types are missing is to try and prevent crew train wrecks where nobody draws a certain colour or something like that. As you can see, our crew is pretty balanced, although it is worth noting that only Chief draws Engineering.

Turn 1.1
Roslin plays 1-Executive Order on Apollo.

Executive Orders, the most common card in the Leadership deck, are the key to successful human play in BSG. They allow characters to move and then take an Action even if it's not their turn, or even better, take two Actions. Obviously, this means that two characters in the correct locations trading XOs on each other are twice as efficient as simply doing your own thing. Proper use of XOs can be great for the human team, but an XO to an unrevealed Cylon can be equally bad for the humans.

He flies to sector 1 and plays 4-Maximum Firepower, targeting raiders first. All 3 raiders are destroyed and he misses his potshot at the basestar.

Notice how Apollo chose to target the raiders first over the basestar. This is obviously because Vipers only hit basestars on a roll of 8, which are absurdly bad odds. An alternative move for Apollo, perhaps if he had no MF, was to move to Sector 4 to defend the civilians. This largely depends on your playstyle.

The Crisis card is Scouting for Fuel, which the humans pass thanks to Helo and Apollo, who both claim high contributions. Fuel is increased by 1, to 9.

Will talk more about crises later, but in general: crises like these, where the pass amount is low and there's a positive crises pass effect (as opposed to simply no effect) are definitely worth going for the vast majority of the time. As for fuel and its importance, we'll talk more about that later as well.


Turn 1.2
Chief has an XO and isn't sure who to play it on. He contemplates Apollo because raiders have just launched from the basestar (because of the previous crisis), but on being questioned, Apollo reveals that he has no Firepower and is hence a sub-optimal target for an XO.

As per secrecy rules, players are not allowed to claim what cards specifically are in their hands, but are allowed to answer questions on what they can do on their turn or on an XO. This should not be abused, of course.

Hence, Chief decides to play an 2-Executive Order on Roslin, who draws a Quorum card for her first action. Since she did not draw a card worth playing at the moment, she draws another card for her second action.

The President of the Colonies has access to a deck of Quorum cards, providing a variety of effects. The job of the President is hence multi-faceted, although major duties include trying to increase Food and Morale, as well as the ability to destroy centurions if the situation calls for it. In addition, the President can also throw players in the Brig without a skill check, which can be, of course, utilised both ways. Note that the President does not need to use the President's Office to draw Quorum cards, although this is usually the more efficient method. Roslin here is choosing to simply draw one Quorum card because she does not want to discard 2 skill cards from her hand.

The Crisis is Bomb Threat. Roslin plays a 3-Investigative Committee into the check. With the help of the Committee, the Crisis is passed.

Investigative Committees, from the Politics deck, are one of the most powerful cards in the (base) game and key to a human victory. Not only do they force all players to play their cards face-up, preventing Cylon spiking, they also reveal Destiny and hence allow the humans to pass checks on the nose to avoid wasting cards. Overshooting a check can be almost as bad as failing it since it depletes human hands and might force the next couple of checks to fail. ICs maximise card efficiency and should be played on all important checks if possible.

The Raiders activate and fire at Apollo. Helo plays a 1-Evasive Maneuver to try and save Apollo from going to Sickbay, and Apollo successfully dodges the attack.

Evasive Maneuvers can be played by other players. The Sickbay, if you are still in it at the start of your next turn, forces you to draw only 1 card (instead of your 5), which is painful. But the drawback can be nullified entirely with an Executive Order - another reason why they are so important.


Turn 1.3
Helo is stranded, so we move straight to the Crisis step.

Every character has a weakness, but some characters, like Roslin, have weaknesses that affect them throughout the game while others have only a one-time weakness. These are usually better for beginners as they do not have to consider their character's weakness for most of the game. Helo in particular is good as he has one full turn to see what more experienced players do.

Crisis is Boarding Parties, the crew's first Cylon Attack Card. Cylon ships are placed around Galactica.

Cylon Attack Cards are generally considered the worst Crises in the game, as a busy space situation allows unrevealed Cylons to wreak havoc more effectively. They also open the humans up to losses via damage (when Basestars fire) or Centurions, which board when Heavy Raiders get too close to Galactica. They all also do not have "jump prep", which causes the Fleet Preparation Marker to move. Jump prep is essential for the humans to achieve a quick victory, as a war of attrition is generally detrimental to their chances.


Turn 1.4
Apollo plays another Maximum Firepower to try and take down the Heavy Raiders. He only rolls one result of a 7 or higher, so 1 Heavy Raider remains in Sector 1.

Heavy Raiders ignore Vipers and go straight for Galactica. Heavy Raider activations are not as common as Raider activations, but if they manage to board Galactica, there is a problem. Enough Heavy Raider activations will cause Centurions to board Galactica and possibly eventually reach the "Humans Lose" space, which... does what it says it does. They are also tough to take down, however.

The Crisis is Guilt by Collusion. The humans are now feeling a little low on card strength, so they decide to tank the skill check, i.e. fail on purpose.

Tanking skill checks is not only a viable but also an essential strategy for the humans. They generally do not have the resources (cards) to pass every single skill check that comes their way. Choosing what battles to fight is therefore mandatory, as the worst thing is when the humans expend cards to try and pass checks but still end up failing them anyway. Resources start high enough that there is a bit of a buffer when required.


Turn 1.5
It's Tigh's turn. He claims not to have an Executive Order in his double Leadership draw, and then plays 1-Launch Scout on the Crisis Deck. He sees an easy Crisis card with jump preparation and sends it to the bottom of the deck.

Claiming not to have certain cards helpful to the humans can be a good strategy for unrevealed Cylons. Note that, in the base game, each skill deck only has two different kinds of skill cards, so don't go overboard with this. Scouting can be a pro-human move but also a pro-Cylon one, as no one knows what you have seen other than yourself. In this case, Tigh saw a Crisis that would have been easy on the humans, and so sends it to the bottom of the deck secretly.

The Crisis is Hangar Accident. The humans decide to go for the check, but do not have an Investigative Committee. Tigh sees his chance and plays a single Leadership card into the check, which ends up sending the skill check below the full pass and only onto the partial.

Spiking Crisis checks can be hard to do due to Investigative Committees - again, that's why they're so good for the humans - but if you can do so, it's best to do it with a common card type like Leadership or Tactics. This is because spiking with something like Piloting, when you're the only Pilot, instantly paints a target on your head. With all the crew drawing Leadership, the humans will face a bit of trouble identifying the culprit.

The Heavy Raider moves just one step from the launch tubes. One more activation will see it board Galactica.


Turn 2.1
Roslin sees the Heavy Raider and decides that it's time to jump. She does not want to leave the President's Office, so she plays an Executive Order on Tigh to activate FTL Control, which he promptly does, and plays a Strategic Planning on the roll.

The humans will automatically jump after a certain number of jump icons, but it's possible to hasten the jump via the FTL Control location - the most important location in the game. Getting out of trouble early at the cost of just 1 population is generally worth it when the space situation is dire, and sometimes just worth it to make the game faster for the humans. Note that Roslin does not go to activate FTL herself, as she would have to discard 3 cards to do so. She does not play it on Chief either, as his turn is next and giving a player up to 3 actions can be very bad if he or she is an unrevealed Cylon.

Tigh does what he is supposed to do and even tries to save population to take suspicion off him after that previous failed check. As the Admiral, it is in his interest to remain unrevealed as he can influence the humans' progress greatly via choosing certain Destinations. Your playstyle might differ, but that is the beauty of BSG in that a lot depends on the metagame and the group that you play with.

Tigh picks a 1-distance Destination.

In general, the humans want to jump as far as possible, as long as they do not run out of fuel. The humans want to maintain at least a 1:1 fuel to distance left to travel ratio, so they can jump far without worry. Jumping further skips Crises and gives the Cylons less time to attack the humans. However, no one scouted Destination this jump cycle, so Tigh can claim to have been presented with a choice of two 1-distance Destinations.

The Crisis is Water Shortage, which gives the President a choice between taking a Food hit and discarding cards. Roslin does not want to give up her entire hand, so she takes the Food hit.

In this case, the Water Shortage would have caused Roslin to discard 5 cards. Not all Crises are skill checks - some give the President or Admiral a choice to make. This can save the humans cards but generally, these cards come with a guaranteed loss of resources, so it is a double-edged sword. A Cylon President or Admiral is even more dangerous for this reason.


This is a general overview of how a game might pan out in Battlestar Galactica. Resources are high, space is clear and the ship is undamaged, but distance is only at one, and the Cylon Admiral spiked a check without being detected. I have touched on some basic strategy for both Human and Cylon players, but no doubt there is far more to this game and a lot depends, of course, on the group you are playing with. Good hunting.
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Bryce Miller
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Really good session report. Gives a good bit of insight into how you guys play the game. Maybe to keep the suspense leave out telling the cylon until after they revealed then give the cylon insight afterwards if you are going to do a full report.
 
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Darren Nakamura
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brynnfr wrote:
Really good session report. Gives a good bit of insight into how you guys play the game. Maybe to keep the suspense leave out telling the cylon until after they revealed then give the cylon insight afterwards if you are going to do a full report.


I don't think that keeping the suspense is the purpose of this particular session report. As a teaching tool, this is useful, because it explains certain game mechanics, and also shows a few of the things that an unrevealed Cylon can do to sabotage the Humans. It would make less sense for what it's intended to do if we don't know Tigh to be a Cylon, I think.
 
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Robert Stewart
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Something that might add even more value to this would be a brief summary of either the state of play at the point wehre the detailed walkthrough ends, or of the general trajectory of the rest of the game - a summation as simple as "resources are high, space is clear and the ship is undamaged, but distance is only at one, and the Cylon Admiral spiked a check without being detected" would give a better sense of closure (and offer a feel for what should be important to each side)
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Mark L
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rmsgrey wrote:
Something that might add even more value to this would be a brief summary of either the state of play at the point wehre the detailed walkthrough ends, or of the general trajectory of the rest of the game - a summation as simple as "resources are high, space is clear and the ship is undamaged, but distance is only at one, and the Cylon Admiral spiked a check without being detected" would give a better sense of closure (and offer a feel for what should be important to each side)

This makes so much sense that I have copied your statement verbatim until I have the time to add a more detailed summary. Very helpful.
 
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Mike Watne
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Thank you for this. I'm sending some folks here to read this, and hopefully they'll agree to give the game another shot soon. Cheers!
 
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Craig Rattigan
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Thank you for this session report. I really like the format with the accompanied strategy.

Feel free to post more session reports
 
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