Friday, August 29, 2014

Battlestar Galactica: Newer Players

Earlier this week I actually got out of the house and went to Sara's to play board games. I learned a couple of new games (Bling Bling Gemstone and Greed) and also got to play my second favourite game: Battlestar Galactica. It was a five player game where Sara and myself both have tons of plays but the other three players combined for three previous plays amongst them. It was a very fun game (with a bit of a terrible ending) but it really brought home for me why I asserted in the past that the cylons win more games when people don't really know what they're doing.

In this game I was convinced, absolutely convinced, that two of the other players were cylons from the getgo. So much so that when Sara tried to throw one of them in the brig (and maybe execute them since Sara was Admiral Cain) I was all in to make it happen. Turned out all three other players were against it (as was destiny) so it didn't happen. It also turned out that all five of us started the game as humans. But one of the new players chose a 1 over a 3 when we jumped. Another sent all the civilian ships home in order to let a bunch of raiders shoot Galactica instead of just flying around on their next two activations. And the third guy got to draw 2 cards outside his skillset and he chose treachery of all things! He then single handedly made us fail a skill check (I suspect he was just trying to dump his treachery cards) and then single handedly made us pass one. He was president and kept playing quorum cards to help the humans, but then he'd draw cards that weren't useful (aforementioned treachery, also some piloting).

I didn't know what was going on. Sara didn't know what was going on. There was a lot of intrigue and trying to figure out why people were doing what they were doing instead of just knowing that a person was guaranteed good or evil because they know the game and were taking the right/wrong actions. In a sense it was refreshing, and certainly fun. But in another sense it comes as little surprise that the cylons won.

The end of the game took a long time to happen because at one point there was a revealed cylon and 4 people in the brig. So no crisis cards were being drawn, and no jump prep could come out. The character selections had only two people capable of drawing yellow cards (one of the two colours for getting out of the brig) and those two people happened to both be the cylons. I was new Gaius Baltar and had to throw myself in the brig before I could reveal, though continually trying to throw someone out the airlock felt like a good use of my time as long as I had treachery cards to proc in the skillcheck. We made fantastic use of the mutiny card mechanic to throw everyone in the brig. This mostly was possible because we just kept activating the treachery card to shuffle 2 more treachery cards into destiny. Over and over and over again. I'm pretty sure we shuffled 22 treachery cards into one pass through destiny!

I think the humans had an easy path to victory. If the CAG had just not sent all the civilian ships home at the start of the game he wouldn't have ended up in the brig (Sara sent him there by giving him a second mutiny card). Combine that with the admiral choosing the 3 instead of the 1 when we jumped the second time and the humans easily win. But the chaos and discord from people making sketchy plays through inexperience sunk the humans.

Again, it was still fun (well, up until the game stopped progressing with 4 people in the brig anyway) but I definitely think newer players swing the game heavily in favour of the cylons. The other cylon was misplaying his cylon position too (he should have revealed much earlier than he did but he held off trying to get a good use of his reveal ability of knocking off 2 jump prep instead of just revealing and denying 55% of a jump prep each turn) but I feel like the cost of bad unrevealed cylon play was a lot less than the cost of bad human play.

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