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Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game» Forums » Variants

Subject: Base Game voluntary sympathizer variant? rss

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Roderic Day
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Bought the game a few weeks ago, played twice, it is amazing. However, I was musing about the symp, and the no-symp variant and how the game is best with 5 people, and how the sympathizer means people sabotage the ship just to get him on their side.

Why not let the sympathizer choose on his/her own? Maybe it's just my gaming group, but the desire to rock the boat as much as possible/be the MVP is usually much greater than the desire to just "win" the game. I guess the issue is that being a Cylon is not as fun as being a human, but I think if the game was a runaway humans win I'd voluntarily swing Cylon, and viceversa... but any attempts to "meta game" my allegiance by obviously messing with the game mechanics would make me want to play for the legit side.

I'm considering trying this out next time we play, since we've got 6 players instead of 5. Opinions?
 
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rodericday wrote:
Bought the game a few weeks ago, played twice, it is amazing. However, I was musing about the symp, and the no-symp variant and how the game is best with 5 people, and how the sympathizer means people sabotage the ship just to get him on their side.

Why not let the sympathizer choose on his/her own? Maybe it's just my gaming group, but the desire to rock the boat as much as possible/be the MVP is usually much greater than the desire to just "win" the game. I guess the issue is that being a Cylon is not as fun as being a human, but I think if the game was a runaway humans win I'd voluntarily swing Cylon, and viceversa... but any attempts to "meta game" my allegiance by obviously messing with the game mechanics would make me want to play for the legit side.

I'm considering trying this out next time we play, since we've got 6 players instead of 5. Opinions?
I'm sure I'm missing something, but you're saying just ignore whether or not which side is "(considered) winning" and just let the symp cylon pick if he wants to be human or cylon? I'd say that unbalances things even more, but 4 vs. 2 or 3 vs. 3 WITH the "who's doing better" condition already doesn't work out anyways.
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Ossian Grr aka "Josh"
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The problem isn't that being a Cylon is less fun than being a human. The problem is that if you get the Sympathizer card, you don't have any of the benefits of being a hidden Cylon. The game dictates your loyalty; you don't get to do any sabotaging or anything.
On top of that, you're a limited Cylon. You get no Super Crisis, and you can't activate Cylon Fleet.

Giving the person a choice doesn't really help the problems with the Sympathizer mechanic.
 
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Roderic Day
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It's not so much a "balancing mechanism" as it is a "stop people from gaming the mechanics" mechanism.

The problem, as I see it posted in BGG, is that smart humans will sabotage the fleet to get an extra player. Allowing the sleeper agent to decide which team s/he wants to be in removes this problem (for groups of sportsmanlike people).

However, I would also expect it to work as a balancing mechanism given the propensity of players in my group to side with the underdogs, whomever they are.
 
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Roderic Day
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Well, I see no way around the fact that you won't be a "hidden cylon" (it does say immediately reveal), but it certainly lets you side with whomever you want. It makes it a powerful position to be in, whether you love winning games at any cost or whether you love triumphing against adversity.

Basically I'm proposing no change other than instead of letting "the game dictate your loyalty", the sympathizer card lets the player CHOOSE their loyalty at the cost of being brigged or being a somewhat gimped Cylon, while avoiding the crew of the Galactica sabotaging their own resources or the Cylons pumping them up

It encapsulates the choice unto one player, instead of letting everyone sway it directly, and it makes the symp a player with an interesting, if weird, position, instead of someone shafted for the sake of a 6 player game.
 
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Robert Stewart
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My main motivation for metagaming the resources to make the sympathiser go to the Brig ratehr than the Resurrection Ship is to spare someone (possibly me) from being forcibly converted into a gimped Cylon at Sleeper. For me, your fix is equivalent to always sending the Sympathiser to the Brig and keeping them on the Colonial team...
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Ossian Grr aka "Josh"
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Basically, if you want to replace the Sympathizer with "someone gets to choose to be a Cylon", you're much better off playing with Cylon Leaders from Pegasus.
 
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Darren Nakamura
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rodericday wrote:
Well, I see no way around the fact that you won't be a "hidden cylon" (it does say immediately reveal),


There is a way around it, and you mentioned it in your first post. Official No-Sympathizer Variant. Take out the Sympathizer entirely, and you eliminate the goofy meta-gaming and the potential forced reveal.
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rodericday wrote:
It's not so much a "balancing mechanism" as it is a "stop people from gaming the mechanics" mechanism.

The problem, as I see it posted in BGG, is that smart humans will sabotage the fleet to get an extra player. Allowing the sleeper agent to decide which team s/he wants to be in removes this problem (for groups of sportsmanlike people).

However, I would also expect it to work as a balancing mechanism given the propensity of players in my group to side with the underdogs, whomever they are.
With this in mind, I'd say it has a good shot of working out then.
 
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Gerry Smit
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And as always, remember the meta-game isn't actually anti-thematic, but rather forces you to be a greedy Zarek slimeball to ensure you get what you want. ie, lower a resource in order to get an ally not an enemy.

I find thinking of it that way really makes it easier to accept the metagame mechanic as something that can/should be in the game. Basically everyone who draws a human card pre-sleeper has the Personal Goal "spend some resource lavishly so that I will do better later" , where "do better" is "have an ally, not an enemy".
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Roderic Day
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We only got 5 players in the end so I didn't even get to bring this up, but it also turned out that I first encountered the "runaway human" problem

As human Admiral Tigh in the first half of the game, I made a lot of really good calls. The cylon was not too good and we just sped ahead. Throughout the game I kept floating the idea, publicly, that perhaps we don't want to let the humans do too well since one of us will become a cylon, but people weren't receptive.

It turned out to be me, and I ended up with a non-salvageable game. It was quite frustrating, seeing as it was my calls that principally set myself up for losing in the second half.

I'll come back to this topic once I try my variant out.
 
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Roderic Day
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Ok so we brainstormed a bit about this variant and were about to try it out but we had to cancel the event, but here are the tentative rules.

If playing with 4 or 6 players, throw the Sympathizer card as usual, BUT make a separate deck with a single "You are a Cylon" card and a single "You are not a Cylon" card. The power of the card will never matter.

As soon as sleeper phase cards are distributed, whomever gets the sympathizer has to immediately reveal the card and be sent to the brig (thematic: They lost control and did something Cylonish and fucked up). The resource level is completely disregarded, however, and the player gets to look at both Symp cards and choose whether he is a Cylon or a Human. It is a voluntary choice, they could be bidding on the winners, or the underdog, or whatever. You just don't know.

From then on, it's up to the Human-Sympathizing Cylon to get himself out of jail/continue helping the humans win, or whatever.

I'm looking forward to trying this out. It shall be exciting, seeing as neither the Cylon nor the Humans will know whether they can trust the symp, so stuff like brig checks will invariably be interesting.
 
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Robert Stewart
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rodericday wrote:
Ok so we brainstormed a bit about this variant and were about to try it out but we had to cancel the event, but here are the tentative rules.

If playing with 4 or 6 players, throw the Sympathizer card as usual, BUT make a separate deck with a single "You are a Cylon" card and a single "You are not a Cylon" card. The power of the card will never matter.

As soon as sleeper phase cards are distributed, whomever gets the sympathizer has to immediately reveal the card and be sent to the brig (thematic: They lost control and did something Cylonish and fucked up). The resource level is completely disregarded, however, and the player gets to look at both Symp cards and choose whether he is a Cylon or a Human. It is a voluntary choice, they could be bidding on the winners, or the underdog, or whatever. You just don't know.

From then on, it's up to the Human-Sympathizing Cylon to get himself out of jail/continue helping the humans win, or whatever.

I'm looking forward to trying this out. It shall be exciting, seeing as neither the Cylon nor the Humans will know whether they can trust the symp, so stuff like brig checks will invariably be interesting.


Something that may be worth considering is whether a player who starts as a Cylon and draws Sympathiser should get the choice of which loyalty card to reveal, and which to hand over when he does reveal...
 
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