Monday, January 17, 2011

Battlestar Galactica - Pegasus

Today I'm going to post about one of my favorite games "Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game" (BSG for short).  Normally, a game based off a movie or show is usually less than stellar.  Everyone once in a while one will rise to the rank of "ok".  BSG is incredible in that it captures the tenseness of the show, the gritty fatalism, and the need to fight against that struggle.  There is also a sense of rising paranoia and, if you are a cylon, the dread that maybe they figured you out before your plans come to fruition.

I had the joy of playing two games of BSG at a convention recently, one with the Pegasus expansion and one with the Exodus expansion.  This is about the Pegasus version.

# Players: 7
Characters: Gaius Baltar(President), Saul Tigh(Admiral), Karl "Helo" Agathon, Cylon Leader Cavil, Anastasia "Dee" Dualla, Ellen Tigh, Starbuck
I was Ellen Tigh

Pegasus - Early Game
We found out after the game there were no cylons in the first half and the Cylon Leader wanted a Human victory (but with low resources).  As such, it went fairly well for the humans.  The cylon leader infiltrated the ship, and later executed himself.  Starbuck did what Starbuck does: eliminate cylon ships, and Ellen Tigh went to Pegasus for the Engine Room, ensuring there was a jump prep symbol on the card..

Crisis cards ate away at our resources quickly.  It would be nice to say that Ellen Tigh did a useful job, but it seems whenever she was XO'ed, or she did her Engine action, the card had a prep symbol (only once do I remember this not being the case).  So the game quickly progressed to the Second half.

We encountered several cylon attack cards along the way, but whenever Starbuck was in trouble Ellen was XO'ed to fire the Pegasus Main Batteries or the Pegasus canons. In Short, with Pegasus there, the Cylons would appear and promptly get torn to shreds.  "Dee" was executed via a crisis card, but no one seemed to miss her, and she was replaced by "Chief" Tyrol.

When attacking a basestar, the Pegasus damaged herself, twice: once in the Engine Room and once in the Airlock.

Pegasus - Late Game
I found out I was a Cylon!  Baltar was sent to the Brig, but used his special once-per-game action to look at Helo's cards and announced Helo was a cylon.  I now knew it had to be one of the two of them.  Accusations flew.  With Baltar in the brig, his power was neutralized if he was cylon.  I decided I had to spring him when it came my turn.

By a stroke of luck Helo's skill check succeeded, but with four negative cards.  Helo threw in three cards, the only player that did so (I admit, I threw in two negative cards), and everyone else threw in two or one card except for Gauis.  Gaius now had enough circumstantial evidence to get himself out of the brig successfully, the Humans had few cards in their hands to stop him if desired, and I had horded a my cards as best I could to get him out.

The round went ok for the humans with everyone out there.  Helo's turn saw a failed check, with two red cards turning the tide of the failed check (I imagine they came from the Destiny deck).  Baltar had throw in no cards.  So, with all the "evidence" piled against him, I XO'ed Baltar, who immediately travelled to Pegasus and repaired the Airlock.  Starbuck took her turn shooting cylon raiders, and then Gaius tossed Helo out the airlock.  When it was revealed Baltar was a cylon, I announced I'd royally screwed up and begged forgiveness.  Helo was replaced by Lee Adama, but it was too late.

Resources continued to drop dangerously low.  All the scales were reading 2 or less when the jump to eight was made.  This occurred on the Cavis turn, and it was too late.  A crisis card came up which would cause a loss of morale if failed.  The humans tried to prevent it, but it happened.  They were doomed even if they succeeded as my turn was coming up and I had a morale reduction special ability.

Pegasus Tactics
Pegasus really changes the game.  The ship itself is a cylon killing machine.  I would almost recommend focusing on killing the Pegasus as a revealed cylon.  It's firepower is overwhelming and potentially pilots are almost unnecessary.

Executing people to determine loyalty may sound like a good idea, but in a large group game that means a loss of potentially 5 morale.  In a smaller game it seems Pegasus would allow executions without major repercussions: 2 morale loss maximum to know the loyalty of every player seems acceptable losses to me.  In a large game, doing it when your sure of the loyalty is one thing, doing it when your uncertain is not.  Therefore, I'm holding judgement on that aspect of the game for a few more plays.

The Treachery cards had a small impact on the game.  They were crucial for airlocking people (Ellen is the only human to collect Treachery cards, and the only player collecting treachery cards in our game).  The only one which seemed to come into play often was the "Basestar" card.  Just luck of the draw there, I guess.  The Reckless skill cards did make an appearance once or twice, but they did not impact the core game play dramatically.

In all, Pegasus definitely adds some power for both the unrevealed cylon players and the humans.  I look forward to playing it again, but I would like to hear some comments on the overall impression from other people.

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