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Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game» Forums » Variants

Subject: (Untested) Loyalty variant for "moderated" games rss

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Ossian Grr aka "Josh"
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Note: I have not thought deeply about the full implications of this variant, but it seemed interesting enough to share.

This is just a random idea I had for a loyalty variant which focuses on the probability of players being a Cylon rather than a hard and fast number in the Loyalty Deck. Adjust paranoia accordingly.

It does require one person to be an impartial moderator with the ability to obscure die rolls and card draws, so maybe it's best for PBF games.
But you could work out a system for a face-to-face game with an especially patient moderator.

Here we go:

At the beginning of the game, shuffle the "You Are A Cylon" cards. If you're playing with Personal Goals/Final Five, then shuffle all of the You Are Not A Cylon (YANAC) cards together in a separate pile (otherwise it doesn't matter if you shuffle, since all YANAC cards are the same). (This variant does not use any Sympathizer card, no matter how many players).

For each player, secretly roll the die. On an 8, that player gets a card from the Cylon pile. Otherwise, that player gets a card from the YANAC pile. Roll twice for Baltar.

At the sleeper phase, do the same thing again (roll twice for Boomer).
If there were zero OR one Cylon pre-sleeper, then add +1 to this set of rolls.
Don't give these Loyalty cards out until you have finished this set of rolls, because of this:
After this set of rolls, if there would still be zero Cylons, or if it's a 6+-player game and there would be only one Cylon, randomly choose one player who will receive a You Are A Cylon card instead.

Before the game begins, you can decide how Executing human characters works. Either Pegasus-style (no new loyalty card) or Exodus-style (roll a die as above for the replacement character).

You may even adjust probabilities up or down by changing the die type (with the top value of that die being the target for Cylonity, of course) -- d6 for a harder human game, d10 for an easier human game.

So you may end up with a 5-player-game with 3 Cylons, or even a 6-player game with 6 Cylons all wondering who they are screwing.. On average, though, you should have a similar experience to the base game with just a wee bit more uncertainty.

Is this worth an experimental game?
 
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Ossian Grr aka "Josh"
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Oh, kind of unintentional, but I'll let it go: If you are in a 6 player game with zero Cylons pre-sleeper and zero Cylons in the sleeper rolls, my rules as-written still only leave you with one forced Cylon.
But, sure, why not? That Cylon doesn't know he's alone, and might even pull off a win.

 
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M. B. Downey
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I think this is unneccessarily adding complication and destroying the balance with an already well-balanced game. YMMV.
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Robert Stewart
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Cost: more games with the "wrong" number of Cylons, tipping the balance too far one way or the other.

Benefit: More opportunity for bluff and paranoia.

Overall, the effect is similar in kind to that of the Exodus spare loyalty card, but with more effect, and the possibility of a pro-Cylon outcome as well as a pro-Human one.


There's a trade-off between the fact that having two cylons out of five players is ideal for balance, and the fact that knowing that there are exactly two Cylons post-Sleeper, no more, no fewer (assuming a double-Cylon reveals and hands off his spare) makes it much easier for the humans to sniff out the Cylons.

The ideal (in a 5 player game) is for there to be two Cylons, but for no player to know for sure that there are.
 
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Darren Nakamura
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rmsgrey wrote:
The ideal (in a 5 player game) is for there to be two Cylons, but for no player to know for sure that there are.


Spoiler (click to reveal)
So what we should do as moderators is tell our players that we're using this variant, but just use the regular loyalty card setup.
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Robert Stewart
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Dexter345 wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
The ideal (in a 5 player game) is for there to be two Cylons, but for no player to know for sure that there are.


Spoiler (click to reveal)
So what we should do as moderators is tell our players that we're using this variant, but just use the regular loyalty card setup.


Well, there's a problem with breaking trust - if players can't trust the moderator to not stack the decks, it puts them off playing...

And if there are never any games with the wrong number of Cylons, then someone will notice...
 
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Byron Campbell
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I like it. Maybe it's my lack of competitive spirit, but I have no problem at all with making the game "unbalanced" as long as the final experience for everybody is enjoyable. In the real world, the game is always going to be potentially unbalanced, because the different players will have different skill and experience levels, may not be very good at filling their specific role, etc. Besides, if you know the odds are stacked against you (as they would be in a true cooperative game), the eking out an unlikely victory would become that much more satisfying. On the flipside, it might become less fun for the team with the unfair advantage if they can just steamroller the little guys.

My major concern is the need for a moderator. This would work if you had a large group playing multiple games; the moderator could then be having fun elsewhere while the others are playing. For a common play environment, though, I would feel sorry for whoever got stuck with that role. Have you considered giving the moderator additional duties, making them more of a DM/GM figure with an active role throughout the game? That would, of course, potentially unbalance the game even further, but I can't think of a way to get rid of the moderator unless you programmed a computer to do it. Now that I think about it, you should program a computer to do it! It would even be thematically appropriate.
 
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J Holmes
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I generally like the idea, but I think the bigger flaws are at the ends, 0 cylons and 6 cylons. 0 cylons would be potentially amusing but other than the odd rogue story of everyone brigging everyone due to mistrust, the humans would likely win.

With 6 cylons if 2 cylons reveal, the others would probably reveal on their turns as well (since they realise theres at least 3 cylons and their super crisis and other abilities make it worthwhile), and/or the game ends reasonably quickly anyways.

A much easier solution for 5 or 6 player games is simply flip a coin, heads add 1 you are a cylon card, tails you dont.
This can be done in F2F and only one person out of 5 or 6 knows the make up of the deck, which is a small price to pay.

 
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Robert Stewart
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j_holmes wrote:
A much easier solution for 5 or 6 player games is simply flip a coin, heads add 1 you are a cylon card, tails you dont.
This can be done in F2F and only one person out of 5 or 6 knows the make up of the deck, which is a small price to pay.


If you want a simple route to the same result, without giving anyone complete knowledge of the deck, simply take two loyalty cards - a Cylon and a YANAC - and pass them round the table, with each player shuffling them under the table. Set one aside and add the other to the deck in place of a YANAC.

A variation on this idea to increase uncertainty without needing someone "in the know" would be to use Exodus' additional YANACs and build a double-size loyalty deck. That will tend to give the "wrong" number of Cylons more often than not...

Or as a compromise, put 1 fewer Cylon and 1 fewer YANAC into the deck initially, shuffle together 2 Cylons and 2 YANACs and put two of them into the deck - that gives 17% a Cylon short, 67% the "right" number, and 17% one extra.


On the other hand, it's not unusual for gamers to be gaming in the vicinity of non-gamers, so, while being pressed into an ongoing role that will require them to pay attention to the game for several hours rather than ignoring it as usual would require quite a bit of persuasion, it's quite possible they'd be willing to spend 5 minutes to help with setup - it's not suitable for every game-group, but where it is feasible, it's a usable variant.
 
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Ossian Grr aka "Josh"
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j_holmes wrote:
I generally like the idea, but I think the bigger flaws are at the ends, 0 cylons and 6 cylons. 0 cylons would be potentially amusing but other than the odd rogue story of everyone brigging everyone due to mistrust, the humans would likely win.


Well, the variant doesn't allow there to be 0 cylons.
The rule says that if there would be 0 cylons post-sleeper then you force one person to get a cylon card.
(And if there are 6 players, you do the same thing if there is 1 cylon)

The low-end "worst case scenario" is what I posted in my first comment: 5 humans vs. 1 cylon.
The rules are still tweakable though, to avoid either of the extremes.
Like I said, it was not the deepest of thoughts, just the idea of probability replacing a card deck.
 
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Mooseulie Ferenczy
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While I get the general idea for this variant and appreciate for the 'hey, wouldn't it be funny if...' value, but on a serious level I think you underestimate the power a change in the number of cylon players have. Go look at some of the 6p games with a CL with a cylons wins agenda or a 5p game with only one cylon or even go look at some 7 player games with 3 cylons. They tend to be 1 sided. While horribly unbalanced games can be fun and funny and memorable, BSG with expansions takes up a lot of time. Spending 3 hours playing a game that can only end one way isn't a lot of fun and is just frustrating. The ideal numbers exist for a reason.
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Roberta Yang
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I've been stuck in a 5-player 3-Cylon game once, as a result of an incredibly bad Razor Cut rule. And hey, guess what, it turns out games where one side autowins are boring for everyone. Similar effects from Cylon Leader agendas have lead my group to abandon the Cylon Leader mechanic entirely.

It doesn't even increase paranoia to say "Out of the five of us, we have no idea how many are Cylons" when the truth is that any number other than two Cylons is so grossly unbalanced that nothing you do makes the slightest difference, so you may as well just assume there are exactly two Cylons anyhow because that's the only case where your actions have any relevance.
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