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Games I Like: Battlestar Galactica

Let me tell you about a great game. That game is Battlestar Galactica by Fantasy Flight Games. I got it because the internet is abuzz about it, because I like the show, and because I opened up my amazon account one day to find $21 in it.

Before I even tell you about how the game works, perhaps the best review of it is the fact that Karen liked the game. Karen is more prone to like games that are rules light, have cute themeing, and don't take too long to play.

Battlestar Galactica is not cute, has a decent sized rule book, and took hours to play. But still, she enjoyed it, as did players that have never seen the show. In fact, it's one of the only games I can think of that is based on a show, movie, or book that
1) is good
2) doesn't require that you like the show to appreciate it

So here's how it works. Everyone is a on a fleet with the Battlestar Galactica as its flagship. Everyone picks out their character (picking from different political leaders, military leaders, pilots, and support staff). The humans, while dealing with other crises, have to fend off robots known as Cylons that appear in ships, send boarding parties, and cause havoc. The humans are trying to reach earth by making a certain number of jumps through space before they run out of resources.

Now where BSG gets interesting is that at the start of the game, everyone gets a loyalty card and an unknown number of players find out that they are actually secret cylons. So while the humans are trying to make sure Galactica makes it through things ok, the Cylons win by sabotaging the fleet. And on top of this, there's a second phase where it's possible for a human to find out that he was a cylon all along.

The main mechanic for sabotage in BSG is in skill checks. Every turn, a crisis comes up like a potential water shortage, riots in the fleet, or a call to impeach the president [characters can become admiral or president and receive special powers along with their title]. Each crisis has a target number that the humans have to reach by playing skill cards. Everyone plays cards face down. First, you take two random skill cards and put them out face down, then players go around the table and secretly add cards to the pot. Cylons are out there adding cards that work against the humans to make their checks. And so it's up to the humans, based on the type of skill cards played, to try and figure out the aftermath of the cards and figure out who might be the cylons messing things up for everyone. So if there are a lot of red piloting cards in there, it could be because they were among the random cards, it could be from one of the pilots that is a cylon, or it could be someone trying to frame the pilots.

Figuring out who is and who isn't a cylon is the most fun part of the game, and it's fun to play a game that's team based where you have figure out who is even on your team to begin with. If I had to compare it to other games, it is like a mix of Bang, Clue, and Arkham Horror [but far less rule intensive than Arkham horror].

So that's Battlestar Galactica. You can read/watch more about the game over on Drakes Flames or Board Game Geek. And there's always FFG's somewhat-cheesy but informative trailer [direct link to .mov file].

Be watching for future posts about games (board games and otherwise) I like

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