Monday, October 14, 2013

Battlestar Galactica: Blatant Unrevealed Cylon

This weekend I played another game of BSG as the cylon leader (in a 6 player game) and I ended up getting 2 cards for each side and was able to satisfy all 4 conditions without much effort. (I did need to damage Galactica a couple times to make one of them work, and I needed the humans to not repair the initially damaged vipers.) At that point it was a matter of just ending the game and I went to work with the cylons. We ended up destroying Galactica primarily with raider shots which is something I'd never seen before. It's pretty rare for a raider to get even a single shot on Galactica let alone to get 9 hits with them. (We had 19 raiders in play and I used Al's once per game to activate all raiders 3 times in order to wipe out all the civilian ships.)

On the way home I was talking a bit with Dave about the new version of Gaius Baltar. His downside is the inability to reveal himself as a cylon unless he's in the brig. Normally I just reveal as soon as I can, but if I was playing as Baltar that wouldn't be possible. So I wanted to think a bit about how much damage you could do while staying as a human. Dave said he just stood around trying to throw other people in the brig and consuming their cards trying to fight off those skill checks. That seemed like a reasonable enough thing to do, but could the humans fight that by just not defending? New Baltar only draws 2 cards that are positive on that skill check so even if the humans never throw in a card he probably needs to throw in 5 or 6 cards to succeed. So once every three turns he can pull it off? Maybe he spends one turn playing consolidate power to get two more cards and then the next turn trying to brig someone? The big problem with trying to defend is he gets to go last, so you have to commit all your cards first and then he can just hold off for next time.

What else can he do? Obviously he can go around and steal once per game tokens from a couple people. He can give out a mutiny card, which might be a better way to try to brig someone. Hand out some mutiny cards and then use admiral's quarters when he can actually make it pass could be strong. He can use communication to shift civilian ships around, but that's always seemed weak to me. He also gets to throw in as many cards as he wants on skill checks, which may be the best thing he can do. Especially the one on his own turn, if blue is negative for it, he probably gets to make it fail. Again, the humans are probably better off just sacrificing the skill check on his turn. But then that means they're failing one per time around the table, and he gets to keep his cards and probably gets to make another fail every other turn or so. If they get lucky his crisis won't be a skill check at all. Water shortage or something!

One thing having a blatant unrevealed cylon is it makes some skill checks irrelevant. Pass the check or send someone to sickbay? That's quite the cough you have, Gaius. The main reason I reveal when I'm found out is to prevent this from happening. Giving the humans an easy person to send to sickbay or execute or brig is really strong for them. Gaius doesn't really care about getting executed or brigged because at least then he gets to reveal so he's not as bad off as a normal cylon. But it does still save them the cards to pass it, and the consequence by having an easy target, and it shuts down any annoyances he's providing. And since in order for him to be really annoying he wants to have a threatening number of cards in hand executing him is extra good.

None of these things sound nearly as good as being able to activate the cylon fleet spaces. Having the cylon remain human means they keep getting the 55% of a jump prep on his crisis card and don't lose the 38% of a jump prep from the cylon fleet so keeping him around is worth almost a full jump prep per round. I continue to assert that jump prep is really all that matters for the humans.

The one thing that may be useful is if one cylon is already revealed and built up a hand of super crisis cards. Then having a human cylon who can throw in a ton of cards to said check could be really useful. But I've been in games where a cylon has just drawn super crisis cards and I've never been impressed by it. I'm not sure that having two people taking suboptimal actions is going to work out well for them, but maybe the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in this case.

Having now thought it through a bit, I think if I'm in a game with cylon Baltar I'll advocate just letting him do what he wants and see what happens. I feel like we'll be better off having him draw crisis cards than wasting cards dealing with him. Maybe execute him if we get a free shot to do it from a crisis, but ideally sending him to sickbay to keep his cards under control while getting jump prep from his crisis cards sounds really awesome.

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