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Subject: Karl Agathon, master of the three powers rss

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Chris Hurd
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This game was played with old friends. The only new player is a guy who works as a researcher studying gambling addition in poker... so I figured he'd be alright in terms of both strategy and bluffing.

On set up, we had
Admiral Saul Tigh
Tory Foster
Starbuck (me)
President Tom Zarek
Karl Agathon

Turn 1.1: Tigh nukes the opening basestar, strat-plan, miss the splash. Crisis was something like Loss of a Friend: non-raiders icon, jump icon.
Turn 1.2: Press Room. Reasonable play given that Zarek is not yet in the President's Office, and there's no immediate danger from ships on the board. Crisis: Jammed Assault.
Turn 1.3: Hangar Bay to launch in sector 6, action->move to sector 1. Crisis: Raiding Parties.
Turn 1.4: Move to Pres Office into XO Max Firepower, killing the initial spread of raiders. Crisis: Cylon Virus.

At this point, Helo says, quote, "I can't help with this." My response was something like "really?" Not in a curious tone, in a disappointed tone. It's pretty much a verbal soft reveal. My hand is low on purple. Saul had spent one of his cards on crisis #1. He's now put in the difficult position of either dumping his entire hand to ensure we pass this check, or taking the chance that the singletons from Zarek and Tory are enough to get there. They're not. Helo spikes the hell out of it.

We spend the next few turns attempting to clean up the mess. We're not helped by the fact that three crises in a row are basestars fire, which hit Command, food, fuel. Population is 5 by the time the first jump comes. Helo continues to spike, although his misses the opportunity to Moral Compass. His reveal is Doral. He just names the two locations he wants damaged and then we fish out the tokens.

Somehow, we manage to repair Armory, XO Tigh, and kill three centurion boarders without dying. Then dice-luck turns the other way, and I miss three out of four shots against a cluster of three cylons. The remainder activate, and the first one hits me, cleaning out the civvie as well.

Population continues to bleed down, little by little, through bad luck. Double Riots certainly doesn't help. We get to the sleeper phase, and I just say "Zarek, if you're a cylon, you might as well tell us now, because we can't stop you from winning." Sure enough, he's the sleeper.

-----

Broadly, I told the other players that I don't mind losing to the best character in the game. This game is a pretty clear illustration how the outlying scenario where Helo has 3 advantages and no disadvantage. And from the start, I am always wary of people who pick Helo in seats 5 or 6. That signals to me that you're playing a game where you don't necessarily care how much you hinder the overall cause. If you gain a personal advantage, that's all that matters.

Narrowly, I am still pondering what I could have done better.
-I'm of the opinion that an opening-hand rainbow is worse than 2 piloting + the flex card, given that you might need to double-tap Max Firepower.
-I feel like MF I played was the right play at the right time. It just turned out to be unfortunate given what came next.
-I also wonder if I should have removed Raiding Parties with Special Destiny. I hate to use it so early, but the rear-deploy plus FTL move-back is pretty much the worst thing ever.
 
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Andy H.

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Would you mind expanding on Helo having 3 advantages and no disadvantages? Also, can you share some guidelines on the relationship between character choice and seat position? The responders I've gotten thus far have emphasized just picking the characters that one enjoys playing. Thanks!
 
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Chris Hurd
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This is Helo theory. I'm really being glib when I say that he has three advantages. If I was to be more specific with my words, I would say that being Stranded is not necessarily a bad thing.

The most important part of Stranded is the second sentence: "While not on the game board, you may not move, be moved, or take actions."

Not being able to take actions is clearly bad. You lose the ability to modify the board state, regardless of which side you are on. There's no time where you want to waste actions in this game, because of the pace of the crisis deck.

However, the moving portion of it is actually a blessing in disguise. There are enough game effects which modify people's locations that it's worth discussion. There's at least four varieties of "current player is sent to sick bay" cards, one "...to brig" card, two "the current player chooses a character to send to the brig" and one "current player choose a character and moves him to sickbay." I don't know why the last card, Witchhunt, is worded differently from the last one. But the FAQ clarifies that "sent" and "moves" are the same thing.

Basically, you can avoid one of the bad effects of a crisis card by using the text of Helo's Stranded. Avoiding a bad effect would be something I personally call an advantage. And if you're really smart, you can plan for it. Here's an example: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/821960/bsg-286-candy-cor...

Additionally, the fact that you can't be "sent" anywhere means that the Admiral's Quarters does not work on you. You can not be sent to the brig while on Caprica. This means that a Helo who draws his Cylon card from the beginning of the game can basically do what he wants.

He can spike checks with impunity, and should be able to use all 5-8 cards he drew, over the course of several turns. He can also use ECO Officer to reroll an attack from a Cylon ship against vipers or Galactica, if the crisis deck cooperates with him. He can also use Moral Compass if the crisis deck cooperates with him. And as humans, there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop any of these things.

As I said, he is in my opinion the best character in the game.
 
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Andy H.

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Quote:
-I also wonder if I should have removed Raiding Parties with Special Destiny. I hate to use it so early, but the rear-deploy plus FTL move-back is pretty much the worst thing ever.


I completely understand being loathe to use any OPG early, though (FTL setback notwithstanding) I hate back-to-back fleet draws enough that I probably would have gone through with it.

If you don't mind me asking, how did a known Cylon last so long without going to the brig?

EDIT: Strike my last.... you already answered. Thanks!
 
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Chris Hurd
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Seat theory is a little less concrete. It's more of a general feel of how a character's disadvantages relate to the overall game structure.

Some things are character specific. Take Saul Tigh as another example. Saul Tigh's goal in life is to avoid discarding cards to alcoholism. Discarding cards is wasteful.

Every turn that passes between the start of the game and Saul Tigh's first turn is another opportunity to tempt you into playing that second to last card. You can't just say "Well, I'm not going to contribute to any skill checks before my first turn," because there are times where the expected value is too great. Abstractly, you'd be happy discarding cards to make +3 resources. That can happen if you draw 1 tactics and 2 leadership, then run into a Colonial Day check with 8 points. You play Declare Emergency every time in that situation. It can also happen if you have to Strategic Planning an extremely early FTL roll. However, the more likely scenarios are debatable. Discarding 6 points worth of cards for 1 morale/food is not a bargain deal.

Given all of these things, Saul Tigh is weaker the later in the turn order he's picked, and stronger the earlier he's picked. Except if he's picked first, because then he "loses" three cards from not drawing at the start of the game. So ideally, you pick Saul Tigh in the second seat.

Conversely, Chief's goal is to never discard cards by having too many of them. Human Chief also wants to repair the ship. The ship doesn't start damaged. Thus, it's better to take Chief late in the order. Taking Chief as the first player means that your first turn is not particularly interesting.

---

On the less specific level, there are times where you have to respond to one player's pick with another pick. This is more relevant in games with 5+ people, where you're guaranteed to have a duplicate group.

For example, the "most plentiful" restriction exists so that you don't have too many cards of one type, and that your roles are somewhat balanced. However, you also want to space out those roles, rather than having them clump together. You have to be mindful of this when you pick in the 4th, 5th, or 6th seat.

If you're in the 4th seat, you don't want the same character type as the person in the 3rd seat. If someone chose a support character earlier, the above is instead shifted down a slot. You would then want the 5th seat to not be the same as the 4th seat. Lastly, you don't want the last seat to be the same as the 1st seat.

Worst case scenario is something like Roslin, Adama, Boomer, Starbuck, Zarek. All the piloting cards would come at once, then all the politics cards come. If the group is out of piloting cards on Zarek's turn, they're still be out of piloting cards on Roslin's turn, barring card-draw actions. The same is true of politics cards on Boomer's turn. In this scenario, the player of Starbuck would have been better off choosing Zarek, and then tpo Zarek choosing Starbuck.

Doing this is the logical extension of the box on page 6 about "Choosing Optimal Characters." That box seems to put all the burden on the last player to choose. But really, it's a group responsibility. It typically makes the game more enjoyable to have a semblance of balance.
 
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Darren Nakamura
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hybridfive wrote:
Conversely, Chief's goal is to never discard cards by having too many of them. Human Chief also wants to repair the ship. The ship doesn't start damaged. Thus, it's better to take Chief late in the order. Taking Chief as the first player means that your first turn is not particularly interesting.


I was in a recent PBF where the second-seat player not only chose Chief, but also pulled 2 Engineering in his starting draw. I was certain he was a Cylon. I was wrong. I suppose he was going for the strength of Scientific Research to be able to knock out a Crisis on his own, but it just looked to me like he'd be pulling a bunch of Repairs with nothing to actually repair.
 
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Mooseulie Ferenczy
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I will hazard to point out that airlocking Helo is an option while he is stranded, but that requires Pegasus. Also, the one time I was forced to reveal while stranded it did the humans absolutely no good.
Helo was always one of my favorite characters to play in the base game and in my mind took the hardest hit from admiral Cain's existence in Pegasus. But the reroll is nice, the moral compass can be a game changer and the stranded can occasionally be a blessing in disguise.
 
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j0frenzy wrote:
I will hazard to point out that airlocking Helo is an option while he is stranded, but that requires Pegasus. Also, the one time I was forced to reveal while stranded it did the humans absolutely no good.
Helo was always one of my favorite characters to play in the base game and in my mind took the hardest hit from admiral Cain's existence in Pegasus. But the reroll is nice, the moral compass can be a game changer and the stranded can occasionally be a blessing in disguise.
Problem is, executing him ends up helping him too.... he's already used up most of his skill cards to spike skill checks, he's used his OPG... now you need to spend 12YPT for that, and if there's a situation that warrants it, getting a cylon turn right away as opposed to having Helo spend the action to reveal can be worse. The super crisis cards are so hit and miss one you add either exp that they can be too swingy.

Even if he spends an action on Ress. Ship to draw a super crisis, it's really only worth it if you execute him from a crisis card, NOT spend the cards on the Airlock skill check.
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Darren Nakamura
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ackmondual wrote:
Even if he spends an action on Ress. Ship to draw a super crisis, it's really only worth it if you execute him from a crisis card, NOT spend the cards on the Airlock skill check.


I actually feel that way about anybody though; I don't think that's specific to Helo. It is rarely worth the cards and Action to execute somebody via the Airlock. The only time I can imagine is very shortly after the crew all drew a bunch of Treachery.

Of course, if an obvious Cylon Helo is terrorizing you from the get-go, your only options are to endure or execute, so there's that.
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Chris Hurd
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Dexter345 wrote:
Of course, if a obvious Cylon Helo is terrorizing you from the get-go, your only options are to endure or execute, so there's that.


Generally speaking, I am of the same opinion as you guys. I also tend to think that airlocking cylons helps them. It's just too expensive

As it relates to this topic, though, it's an interesting edge case. Helo has so many things going to him that if you can take one or two of them away from him, it might be worthwhile. ECO officer on cylon ship activations is such a big middle finger to everyone else in the game. Taking that away from him, or taking away the 5 cards from his draw, could be considered a minor moral victory.

So I can envision a scenario where someone picks Helo in seats 5 or 6 and soft-reveals "too early" on turn 1.1. Then people start XOing the non-president political leader in the press room in order to get cards quickly enough to airlock him on turn 1.4. That's especially true if the non-president is Tory, since she starts in the right place. I think that would be worthwhile.
 
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M. B. Downey
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If a cylon has a title it can be worth airlocking them. Especially if he is the president and Colonial One has already been blown to pieces.
 
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