So, board games. I’ve done some actual play reports on both Team Manager (which is a card game) and Mansions of Madness, but before we got our hands on them, my partner taught me Battlestar Galactica.
And let’s face it, it’s a great game. Gritty - and very close to the TV series, but not reliant on it, for those that haven’t seen it - with some really cool mechanics.
Background: the premise of BSG is basically ‘human survivors escape practical genocide, grim dark ensues’. The four sets of characters, which happen to be lead characters in the series are quite good – and with the mechanics and group interaction, it really can be quite tense. It’s realistic enough that you’ll find that you’re actually falling into the worries that drive the game, and the pressure to preserve everything is realistically conveyed via both the background and mechanics.
You don’t need to be a fan of the show to play the game – in fact, I’d say sometimes that’s a hindrance because YOUR reaction might not be the character reaction.
Mechanics: a mix of pre-dealt and draw based cards, of different colours (each representing a skill set) – the pre-dealt card or cards are to do with your allegiance – human or Cylon. If you’re a Cylon, until you’re revealed, you’re supposed to subtly mess with the players, by playing your draw cards (from one of five colours) into a set that lets you pass, or fail challenges. Each character can draw from up to three of these five coloured ‘skills’. The amazing thing about this is there’s also a destiny deck, dealt two from each of the skills, and also drawn from – so you may, or may not be able to tell if there’s a Cylon in your midst from the outset. You get more ‘loyalty’ card(s) when you reach the halfway point – some might force you to reveal, others may not.
Additional mechanics include tracking the ‘health’ of your ship – the Galactica herself in the main game – there are four elements – food, water, fuel and people, which can be taken away from (or very rarely added to). If any of them hit zero, you lose the game.
Tactically, there are certain things you might want to do to ensure that you win, or lose the game – depending on whether you’re a Cylon or not. But what we’ve worked out is one thing has to be in the ‘red’ at the halfway point (when more loyalty cards are dealt) for the humans to stand a chance of winning. In every game we’ve played, that’s been the only way we’ve won.
The other thing we’ve learned is that subtlety is probably better than outing yourself as a Cylon, though, sewing seeds of confusion is also a lot of fun – and can be quite lethal to the other characters, which, as a Cylon, makes it even easier for you to win.
Overall I’d rate it 8/10 – it can get slow at points, and other times it feels like you can’t win – which means that sometimes you feel like it’s hopeless, which makes for a less than enjoyable game. Overall though, it’s a really worthwhile game.
This week, Kai broke her phone, so is now learning to talk to Siri – and writing a new novel.