Folks, you may have heard of this game, or if your not a frakkin’ toaster, then you have at least seen the show. Battlestar Galactica is a cooperative game where the players assume the roles of the most recent series Battlestar Galactica to try to survive with what is the last people in the human race. With one warship and a fleet of civilian ships to protect, limited resources and no time to lose, the players have to try to work together to overcome the game.
But, there is a twist…..
Just as in the show, there are Cylon infiltrators among the players working against the group and looking for the best time to throw a wrench in the human’s plans to find a new world to set up a colony. On top of that, some or all of the players may start the game thinking they are humans but at what amounts to the half way point in the game the players have an opportunity to switch sides. Once a player knows they are a Cylon (or politely referred to as frakkin’ toasters) they may choose to continue to infiltrate the humans working with them in some instances and trying to sabotage a key vote or decision later in the game. After all, if things seem to be looking up, there is no sense revealing yourself. There will be plenty of time to wait until a friendly basestar and a few raiders show up to put the humans into action trying to fight that crisis while you reveal and put a manageable situation over the top where only luck will persevere.
While each player’s character has their own skill set that adds to the game experience, such as military leaders, political leaders, pilots and engineers the two of the more coveted positions are the Admiral and the President. These players have some special abilities in the game that can greatly impact the game. Woe are the human players if either of these players are Cylon.
During a players turn, a player moves to a location in the Galactica ship or if they are all ready in a fighter they can fly around in the space zones attacking Cylon ships as well. Players, once moved, can take an action and each area has it’s own specific action such as firing Galactica’s weapons or trying to force an early jump. One of the most important actions is the one located in the Admiral’s Quarters which allows a player to call a vote to have one of the other players thrown into the brig. Players want to do this early in the game to the Cylon players, if they can guess or figure out who they are as this hampers the Cylon player’s powers once they become officially revealed.
Once the player has taken their action, they draw a crisis card and have to determine if they are going how they are going to resolve it. Some crisis cards may take the decision out of their hands and put it in either the President or the Admiral, and some crisis cards don’t offer options but are rather encounters such as Cylon ships showing up to attack. The most common type of card are situations that call for a vote however, and this tends to be the meat of the game as players try to determine if they will try to mitigate the negative effects of an event or sometimes even gain materials (though rarely). This is where an unrevealed Cylon can play the most havoc and turn the votes. The game helps the Cylon players by throwing in random cards into the vote that can swing the outcome as well.
Overall, I think this game is brilliant. It’s the kind of game that players that haven’t seen the show will want to go watch it after playing. While I find that the game is overly balanced in the favor of the Cylon players, even when losing it’s more about the experience. The other thing I find is that while there are, I think, 3 expansions out for the game now, that unless your gaming group is a huge fan of the series or you are a completest in owning everything for a game (like I am) that you will find that you don’t need these expansions. To be honest, I own all of the expansions and the only parts I have ever used from any of them are the new plastic miniatures that come with them rather then the cardboard equivalents that come with the base game.
The other thing to note with this game is that you really want 5 or more players playing in my opinion. Sometimes it can be hard to get a group that size together, but this game plays better with more people. This also means that it adds to the total play time of the game so plan appropriately.