Monday, April 29, 2013

Battlestar Galactica: 2-Player Variant?

Snuggles commented on my revealed cylon post by saying he thinks the chaos spread by an unrevealed cylon is actually the biggest thing and he's strongly opposed to having both cylons reveal early. He posited the thought experiment of considering a game where the cylons start out revealed, and he asserted the humans would win almost every time. I feel the opposite, and that the cylons would win every time. I spent some time in the tub last night thinking about how to test this out. The easiest way would be to get 5 people to agree to a test game, but I've rarely found 5 people around to play an actual game of Battlestar Galactica. I don't know that I would even want to convert one of those games into a test game, and I doubt I could convince 4 other people to do it either.

On the other hand, if the cylons start revealed there's not really any need to have 5 people at all. It's a lot like Scotland Yard at that point... Ostensibly a 6 player game, but actually a 2 player game. BSG has a little bit of extra stuff going on (the humans get an advantage by knowing precisely what cards will be thrown in instead of having to use the 'little' or 'lot' of help explanations) but once you remove the randomness from who is on which team you get a pretty reasonable two player game. One with some wonky book keeping (needing to keep 3 separate hands and turn order), but probably still reasonable.

What sort of rules modification would you need? I'd think the following would be a good start...

  • Draft characters in order, human-cylon-human-cylon-human. Then randomly choose two of those five players to become cylons. This keeps the humans from overloading with strictly awesome for the human characters. I'd prevent the cylon from picking two supports, which means the humans are guaranteed to get to pick a second pilot with their last choice. My main reason for setting it up this way is to keep the human team from always being Helo-Starbuck-Apollo-Kat-Roslin, or whatever the optimal split is. This way the human has to decide if they want to deny the Boomer (by first picking a pilot) or lock in the Helo (the cylon will likely pick a military leader second pick if the human starts with a pilot, probably Gaeta). 
  • Turn order would be in the order drafted. So some games you'd get the cylons acting in sequence. Other games you'd get them split up.
  • I'd put some sort of 'announced punting' rule in. The first time a human player could add cards to a skill check the human has to tell the cylon if they're going to throw any cards in with future players. This is to try to bring back some of the 'secret hand' stuff from the main game. Though with the cylons drawing 2 cards per round and a max of 3 skill checks they may well have a card to throw in every time anyway.
  • Start the cylons on the resurrection ship with a super crisis each. I'd also start players 2-5 with 3 cards from their initial skill-set. If the first player is a cylon they only get 1 card at the start of that turn, which hurts, but they get to go first, which is pretty sweet. Launching a super crisis while the humans have drawn a total of 9 cards as a team could be pretty hot.
Depending on who is right between Snuggles and I you may need other rules tweaks to make the game not be an auto-win one way or the other. Options to do that would be...

If the cylons need to be buffed:
  • Deal out two 'you are a cylon' cards at the start of the game and resolve them to get some initial damage in there.
  • Reduce some of the starting dials.
  • Go back to the old version of the cylon ship space which lets you play a crisis by removing the jump prep icon again.
If the humans need to be buffed:
  • Don't start the cylons with super crisis cards.
  • Let the humans draft 3 characters of their choice and just randomize turn order/cylon seating.
  • Let the human player have one hand containing a max of 30 cards. (This has the advantage of reducing bookkeeping issues, but is a really serious buff.)
  • Add free resources to the starting dials.
  • Make it easier to shoot centurions?
  • Some sort of tweaks to allow repairing to be more reasonable? Though I think the answer to this problem is just to draft the Chief as a character.
Anyone see any flaws in this plan? Other suggestions for rules that need to be tweaked? Own a copy of the game and want to play?

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