Board Game Night: Battlestar Galactica

I had a wonderful board game night last weekend. I wanted to write about some of the games I played, and enjoyed. As I’ve only played each of these games one or two times, These won’t be full reviews, more “first thoughts” articles. So these will be short and sweet, and not necessarily in depth. 

I have wanted to play this game for so long. The excellent sci fi TV series Battlestar Galactica is one of my all time favourite shows, and when I heard there was a board game based on it, I was ready to jump right in. However… The Fantasy Flight board game based on the TV show, is out of print. And being based on a popular IP, has meant that copies of the game that originally sold for $40USD are now going for anywhere between $200 to $500 AUD when you search price+postage on ebay. Which is a yikes from me, my friends. 

So I made a point at looking up the game online every couple of weeks, but was continually disappointed by the cost of them. Until, one faithful day, I managed to scrape in a reasonably priced bid at the last second, and only pay twice the RRP. Was it worth it? Well I’ve only played the game one, but so far, I’m going to go with a tentative yes. I’d been waiting for a copy to come up well priced for more than a year, and then waited another four months while Melbourne was in lock down. But last weekend, I was finally able to give it a go with my friends at board game night. 

Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game is a semi-cooperative survival strategy game, where the crew of the Galactica face crisis after crisis while trying desperately to escape the powerful Cylons. These robots were created by mankind to serve their masters, but the AI became aware, and has returned to eradicate what’s left of the human race. Some of them are disguised as humans aboard the Galactica and are hiding their identities to sabotage their human opponents. 

Each turn, players draw skill cards, have a chance to move around the board, then perform one action. Actions can be either played from a card in the players hand, or from the special activities of different locations. After this, the crisis for that turn is drawn, and everyone has to contribute to the discussion on how to solve it, and perhaps even play cards face down to try and succeed in skill checks. Failure to pass these checks can result in catastrophic failure, losses in morale, fuel, population or food, that when reduced to zero, result in the humans losing the game. The Cylons must try to lead the game astray, sabotaging skill checks and denying help wherever they can. But if the humans suspect them, then they can be sent to the brig, and rendered essentially powerless. If they can live long enough to reveal themselves, they can do so to devastating effect, crippling the human efforts for survival. 

As the hidden role cards are handed out in two lots, one at the beginning, and one at the halfway point in the game, it becomes a fantastic game of mistrust and doubt. Someone you knew was on your side before, might have just gotten a cylon card this turn, and you’ll never be one hundred percent sure of anyone around the table. At one point in our game, we voted to get someone out of the brig and try to put someone else in there and it was the pinnacle of stress and doubt. I worried that I was freeing a cylon just to put an ally away. Luckily, we did make the right call, and manage to cage the cylon, but the tension of that decision and lack of surety was nerve wracking, and made the game. 

Ultimately the humans have to evade the cylon attacks long enough to FTL jump a distance of  four to find the planet Kobol, and then once more get to their final safe haven of Earth. The Admiral  decides where the fleet jumps to and the President holds a number cards with significant political power. If either of these folks are also cylons, you might have a bad time, like our President who conveniently never drew crisis cards to help us jump away from our pursuers and towards victory.

I really enjoyed this game, and will be keen to bring it out again next board game day. It is a long slog, but there is so much apprehension and mistrust in the gameplay, reaching a screeching crescendo in the last few turns as the humans desperately try to escape, and the Cylons scramble to cause enough damage to hold them at bay. It is a nail bitingly tense experience, that I have no doubt will improve next time we play, as we get the hang of how to take our turns and good ways to deceive one another as Cylons. I can’t wait to give it another go. 

Here is where I would usually direct you to the game page on the publishers site, where you could look at the game, and perhaps buy it if you wish. But you cannot buy the game here anymore.

If you want to check out the game, be patient and wait for something to come up that isn’t asking for five hundred bucks, and probably only take a look if you really really love the show, and the semi-cooperative style game play. Which is me in a nutshell, but might not be you. 

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