Chris Malme
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A classic "variants" post, as although I have played Exodus, I haven't yet played Crossroads/“The Trial/Boxing the Line”.

I realise that it is good advice to play before you change, but so much has been written about the original Crossroads cards and how a couple of them (The Opera House specifically) can eliminate a player through no fault of their own, I wanted to examine this carefully before we played this module.

I see the need for “The Trial/Boxing the Line”, as a way to make playing allies challenging to the players - there has to be a real danger to prevent people just using trauma tokens as they please. What I don't like is the idea that someone could have played their game carefully, and then be simply knocked out by chance or another player, without the opportunity to influence anything.

One way people have resolved this is by rewriting the Crossroads cards. I've had another idea, which is simpler, but I am not sure I have thought of everything; so I am putting it out here for folk to comment and/or criticise. Feel free to be brutal, as it is just an idea.

In the rules, the order of events are as follows:

1) Set Up Battle of the Ionian Nebula
2) Draw and Resolve Crossroads Cards
3) Resolve “The Trial/Boxing the Line"
4) Fight Battle of the Ionian Nebula, with either Galactic jumping away, or being defeated.

My idea is to rearrange these as follows:

1) Set Up Battle of the Ionian Nebula
2) Draw and Resolve Crossroads Cards
3) Fight Battle of the Ionian Nebula, with either Galactic jumping away, or being defeated.
4) Resolve “The Trial/Boxing the Line"

Edit: Use of Allies/Trauma continues after Crossroads, until “The Trial/Boxing the Line"

This does two things - the first is that anyone suddenly landed with additional trauma tokens have a chance (during the battle) of getting rid of them again. Of course, if they are concentrating on that, they are not playing optimally for the battle, which is the cost they have to pay; besides, by the old rules, they wouldn't be there, anyway.

Secondly, if a player *is* eliminated, they are at least eliminated at the end of the game, rather than having to go off and make a pot of tea, while the other players fight the final battle of the game.

Thematically, I don't think the order change harms anything, as the timing of "The Trial/Boxing the Line" is fairly arbitary anyway, with regard to the events of the series. By my recollection, boxing first occurs halfway through season 3, way before Crossroads. So I haven't broken anything in that respect.

In game terms, it gives players a final opportunity not to be eliminated, this is perhaps at the expense of their effectiveness in fighting, but it gives them control over their destiny. Furthermore it at least means that everyone is in the game until the end, even if an elimination knocks them out of being eligible for a win.

So, what do people think?
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Pieter
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I have played Ionian Nebula only three times, but I can tell you that player elimination, while it is a big problem of IN, is not the only problem of IN. IN basically comes down to a whole lot of random effects that you have little influence on and that can easily end the game in the Crossroads without the human players being able to do anything about it, or at least radically change the game for a number of players. All the game I played with IN ended in human loss either during the Crossroads phase, or the first turn after. I think it is a badly designed mess, that holds very little value and does not improve the game at all. Which is too bad, as all the allies are a fun addition to the game.

Also: trauma that can execute? Another completely random huge effect that sucks the fun out of the game. Ridiculous.
 
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Chris Malme
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Flyboy Connor wrote:
Also: trauma that can execute? Another completely random huge effect that sucks the fun out of the game. Ridiculous.

Personally, I don't mind execution too much - although the player is handicaped, at least they are still in the game, and picking a new character can be fun.

Having said that, I had already decided to play the splat token as "pick two more trauma" for both humans and cylons.
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Hendrik R
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Seems like an interesting variant to me. I don't have too much experience with Ionian Nebula myself, we only recently added it in my play group.

Apart from the things that you explicitly address, it felt a bit odd to us that after the Crossroads, the Allies suddenly decide to take the rest of the game off. This change would be a nice remedy for that.
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Mark L
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The Nebula would be far better without a Crossroads phase at all. Just allow people to draw/discard skill cards based on their Trauma situation and possible execution for having too much bad Trauma. Elimination is not fun and the Crossroads cards are just a mess. The most poorly designed part of Exodus second most poorly designed ... well, next to the characters and the PGs, they're not too bad.

Still, it's a shame considering how fun the allies can be. I basically bought Exodus for the CFB and the F5s.
 
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The CFB was worth the purchase IMHO. I will never play with the CACs again.
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Joseph Cochran
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I think IN is a great addition to the game as is: our group doesn't generally play without it anymore. The threat of elimination by Crossroads draw is there, sure, but it really doesn't happen often. We've played somewhere around 40 games with Exodus, most of those IN and IMO fears of luck-deaths are a bit overstated on the forums. If you accept the risk of going in with opposite tokens, then yes, it's a bigger chance, but once you know the possibilities you really do have a lot of control over things and random gankings are exceedingly rare. We've had a handful of eliminations, and it's worth noting that every single one has been a Cylon elimination (we did have a Human/Cylon tie once, but that goes to the Cylon) and in all but two cases, the Humans went on to win (we're actually still hoping for both Cylons getting eliminated and then the game finishing us off: that would be totally amusing). The Crossroads cards are slanted toward killing off Cylons and that feels appropriate because the rest of the Exodus expansion really does add challenge to the Human team. So it works well as a balance for things.

In other words, IN has been a resounding success for us.

That said, your variant does sound interesting. My worry would be that without the elimination the Cylons would have more victories. The elimination happens only 10-20 minutes before the end of a multi-hour game, which really doesn't seem that bad to me.
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jsciv wrote:
We've had a handful of eliminations, and it's worth noting that every single one has been a Cylon elimination (we did have a Human/Cylon tie once, but that goes to the Cylon)

Doesn't work like that. Both teams are looked at individually. In case of two Humans being drawed, only one is eliminated (Admiral chooses iirc). In case of Cylons being drawed they are all eliminated.
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Mooseulie Ferenczy
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This is mostly shaped by personal experience, but I honestly don't get why the thing people latch onto as the big problem of Ionian Nebula is the elimination. Eliminations are relatively rare and there generally is not a whole lot of game left after someone is eliminated. My biggest problems with Ionian Nebula is how little ability a cylon has to get rid of their trauma and how frustrating random executions can be. Or as I like to phrase it, I almost always have something to do in the minutes between crossroads and end of game if I get eliminated, but I don't have a whole lot of control over only getting one turn after Sleeper Phase because no one would XO me.
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I've played Ionian Nebula twice, and both times the Cylons won long before the special Endgame.
To be honest, that's what I think the biggest flaw of IN is. You have all this extra setup, micromanagement of trauma, and in the end, at distance 6 when the ship explodes, none of it mattered.
 
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Chris Malme
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I realise I invited comments, and even said ”be brutal”, but could people address more the variant I have suggested, and whether it might break anything, rather than rehash old arguments on why folk think or don't think IN sucks (most of which I have heard before)


Many thanks to those who have actually commented on the variant.
 
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jsciv wrote:
We've played somewhere around 40 games with Exodus, most of those IN and IMO fears of luck-deaths are a bit overstated on the forums.


Ah, if we were getting it to the table as much as that, I don't think I would worry so much myself. But BSG gets played by my group no more than once every couple of months. Which means if someone did get eliminated on the rare time I can get folk together to play, they probably would be a lot more disappointed than if we were playing it ever other week.

So, yes, I can see why it isn't so much of an issue with your group.
 
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Philoman wrote:
jsciv wrote:
We've had a handful of eliminations, and it's worth noting that every single one has been a Cylon elimination (we did have a Human/Cylon tie once, but that goes to the Cylon)

Doesn't work like that. Both teams are looked at individually. In case of two Humans being drawed, only one is eliminated (Admiral chooses iirc). In case of Cylons being drawed they are all eliminated.
Close... President chooses in case there are humans tied with the most type of incorrect trauma. So in a 7p game, up to 4 players can be eliminated (2 cylons + 1 CL who's uninfiltrating + 1 human).

j0frenzy wrote:
This is mostly shaped by personal experience, but I honestly don't get why the thing people latch onto as the big problem of Ionian Nebula is the elimination. Eliminations are relatively rare and there generally is not a whole lot of game left after someone is eliminated. My biggest problems with Ionian Nebula is how little ability a cylon has to get rid of their trauma and how frustrating random executions can be. Or as I like to phrase it, I almost always have something to do in the minutes between crossroads and end of game if I get eliminated, but I don't have a whole lot of control over only getting one turn after Sleeper Phase because no one would XO me.
This goes back to being selfish... sometimes, it's more important for you to get rid of trauma than to help the fleet. Everyone can think of it as a long term investment for the humans by keeping yourself alive.

Reminder since it may sound like it... if someone XOs you, you may NOT encounter any allies.


jozxyqk wrote:
I've played Ionian Nebula twice, and both times the Cylons won long before the special Endgame.
To be honest, that's what I think the biggest flaw of IN is. You have all this extra setup, micromanagement of trauma, and in the end, at distance 6 when the ship explodes, none of it mattered.
Well, this sort of thing isn't limited to the IN..... You explain how NC works, and it didn't even matter b/c you died before then. You explain how when you get to distance 8 or more, 1 more jump and then you win, but you died long before that anyways.

Hell, we had a game where we're explaining to the newbie CAG how space combat works... the CFB, escorting civvies, etc. After spending 5 to 6 minutes doing that, he commented how escorting civvies would be a really helpful thing for the Colonial fleet, and then promptly revealed!
 
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Chris__M wrote:
I realise I invited comments, and even said ”be brutal”, but could people address more the variant I have suggested, and whether it might break anything, rather than rehash old arguments on why folk think or don't think IN sucks (most of which I have heard before)


Many thanks to those who have actually commented on the variant.
Ahh right... this. I think it's mostly OK. FTR, I thought the IN as is was OK too. The only things I can think up of for this are:
--having allies still around can be very disruptive for humans since they also have to worry about cylon ships (though the right allies can help)
--some might be upset about playing a whole game, only to find out they still couldn't win even though their own team went on to win without him. In other words, they were against the idea of the lack of posthumous victory.
 
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Philoman wrote:
jsciv wrote:
We've had a handful of eliminations, and it's worth noting that every single one has been a Cylon elimination (we did have a Human/Cylon tie once, but that goes to the Cylon)

Doesn't work like that. Both teams are looked at individually. In case of two Humans being drawed, only one is eliminated (Admiral chooses iirc). In case of Cylons being drawed they are all eliminated.


My faulty memory, I suppose. We always look up the rare edge cases in the rulebook when they come up so I'm sure we did it right.
 
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ackmondual wrote:
jozxyqk wrote:
I've played Ionian Nebula twice, and both times the Cylons won long before the special Endgame.
To be honest, that's what I think the biggest flaw of IN is. You have all this extra setup, micromanagement of trauma, and in the end, at distance 6 when the ship explodes, none of it mattered.

Well, this sort of thing isn't limited to the IN..... You explain how NC works, and it didn't even matter b/c you died before then. You explain how when you get to distance 8 or more, 1 more jump and then you win, but you died long before that anyways.


Sure, but NC is "this minigame will happen when you reach distance 7", and Kobol is "reaching distance 8 and jumping again is a good thing".
Ionian Nebula requires an extra deck to shuffle, extra bits to randomize, extra stats to keep track of which encourage non-optimal play, and they don't really pay off unless you get to the endgame.
It is different, at least in my opinion.

 
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Chris__M wrote:
I realise I invited comments, and even said ”be brutal”, but could people address more the variant I have suggested, and whether it might break anything, rather than rehash old arguments on why folk think or don't think IN sucks (most of which I have heard before)


Many thanks to those who have actually commented on the variant.

You're right. I'm sorry.
I'll be honest, I don't see this making that much of a difference in play choices.
Quick question about your variant, if humans lose during the Battle and before the last jump, do you still go through the boxing? Because that could hypothetically change things, but that could also get really annoying because revealed cylons do not have a huge ability to control their pool of trauma. On the other hand, if you don't box if the cylons win then there is never much incentive for a cylon to manage their pool because they can never win when facing the prospects of elimination. Not that I believe that is necessarily a bad thing, but just something to consider.
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FWIW, I think this leads to uncomfortable meta-game situations. I don't think that, at distance 8 and with team victory on the line, you should give people a choice between helping the team win and trying not to get eliminated. Theoretically they've had the whole game to manage their Trauma situation, unless they totally got Trauma dump'd at Crossroads.

This obviously differs from group to group, but if my team wins but I get "eliminated" after the game ends I won't be too bothered, so for me personally it's not that big of a change. The Crossroads cards are still the biggest problem with the Nebula.
 
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j0frenzy wrote:
Chris__M wrote:
I realise I invited comments, and even said ”be brutal”, but could people address more the variant I have suggested, and whether it might break anything, rather than rehash old arguments on why folk think or don't think IN sucks (most of which I have heard before)


Many thanks to those who have actually commented on the variant.

You're right. I'm sorry.


That's ok. My comment was more of a nudge than a complaint!

j0frenzy wrote:
Quick question about your variant, if humans lose during the Battle and before the last jump, do you still go through the boxing?

Yes. I realise that revealed Cylons have less of an opportunity to get rid of trauma, although they will have a battle to try and kill off a few allies. From an emotional and enjoyment point of view, I think it is better that they have an opportunity to try to get rid of any trauma imposed in Crossroads, even if they don't succeed.

Also, although I note the comments about the final battle not being very long, I think that an elimination from being eligible to win at the end of the game is more acceptable than an expulsion from the game while it is still in progress. Looking at other games my group enjoy, there are a number of games where "player with the most X" is knocked out at the end, but very few (if any) games where a player is left twiddling their thumbs. (I am a great fan of Diplomacy, but never manage to get it to the table for this very reason).
 
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markino wrote:
FWIW, I think this leads to uncomfortable meta-game situations. I don't think that, at distance 8 and with team victory on the line, you should give people a choice between helping the team win and trying not to get eliminated. Theoretically they've had the whole game to manage their Trauma situation, unless they totally got Trauma dump'd at Crossroads.


That's a good point, but I don't think it's too much of an issue. Presumably most players will keep that in mind, and as a result, they'll only be trying to lose trauma post-crossroads if they had a very rough early game and took a calculated risk, or if, as you say, they got trauma dumped, in which case they'd normally be dead, so having them run around and Baltar it up while everyone else is fighting the battle is neither unbalancing nor even that unthematic. (Plus it makes the teams less likely to trauma dump in the first place, unless they really want to slow someone down in this way.)

I'd definitely be interested in giving this a shot.
 
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markino wrote:
This obviously differs from group to group, but if my team wins but I get "eliminated" after the game ends I won't be too bothered, so for me personally it's not that big of a change. The Crossroads cards are still the biggest problem with the Nebula.

Amongst our group, the others are more likely to say "Great, we won - oh, but not you, 'cos you were eliminated, weren't you. No, you don't even get credit, you're dead."

Note that all of this is in good humour, and an example of the kind of table-talk we have. But nevertheless, an elimination will definitely be viewed by all as a non-win.

As Evan points out, the folk most likely to be running around fixing trauma in the midst of battle are those that would have been eliminated and therefore not in the battle, anyway. So I don't think any harm is done by them not pulling their weight.
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Chris__M wrote:
an elimination will definitely be viewed by all as a non-win.


You may not win the game, but you are still a winner in life, because you got to play yet another amazing game of Battlestar Galactica! cool
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Chris__M wrote:
Amongst our group, the others are more likely to say "Great, we won - oh, but not you, 'cos you were eliminated, weren't you. No, you don't even get credit, you're dead."

That's the right way to play Ionian Nebula, IMO. It's important that the trauma gives you reason to play selfishly instead of for your team at times.

I don't like your variant idea as much as the original rules, because I think it would take the teeth out of trauma management. You wouldn't usually need worry about your trauma situation until after crossroads, and then it would be very clear when you were safe.

However, I think your idea could be a good way to introduce Ionian Nebula. You could play a few times with your rules and notice who would've been eliminated - then when you switch to the standard rules your players would understand the danger. It's very hard to get players new to IN to understand the threat of crossroads elimination until they've seen it in action. So with standard rules there's a good chance that with new players someone will be eliminated, but once everyone knows what they're doing eliminations become much less common.
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In the end, it was a bit moot, as we never got as far as the Ionian Nebula.

The session we were playing was a mega-variant, with all 3 destinations, over 12 distance. The Cylons won just after launching from New Caprica, but before they were due to get boosts on their resources to take them to the end of the game.

Details of the whole variant are at

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/964911/galactica-with-2-...

However, based on how players were playing allies and placing trauma, I think they were taking the danger seriously, so although we didn't get to carry out the change, the intent had the desired effect.
 
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