December 2, 2008

Battlestar Galactica Board Game is Frakking Awesome


This nugget of goodness comes just in time for the Holidays, and just to work yourself up in a frenzy for the show's final season in Winter 2009. Yes, the Battlestar Galactica Board Game [Amazon, Funagain] not only succeeds as a TV -> Board Game crossover, but it does so very, very convincingly.

Battlestar fills the under populated niche of cooperative board games, and has usurped the previous crowned champion Shadows of Camelot (another great game worth your time btw). In BStar each player fills the role of one of the major characters of the show, like Admiral Adama, Starbuck, or the Chief Engineer.. Chief. Through numerous random crises the characters must use their individual skills and traits, as well as smart player sense, to pull together and keep the Galactica (displayed beautifully on the game's board) humming along on its epic journey to the Kobolian promise land.

But life isn't so easy. Somewhere in your mists is another player (or two) controlling their character just as you, but fulfilling the role of a secret Cylon agent. Throughout the game they'll attempt to sabotage your journey while remaining your closest friend and buddy. Thanfkully Fantasy Flgiht has done some masterful work to keep the game's mechanics dynamic yet easy enough, and enjoyable, for players to play the antagonist's role in a fun and intense expereince.

For instance, each turn two cards are flipped over from a Good Event Deck, and a Bad Event deck. The bad deck could force a player to make a horrible ethical and strategic choice that will harm the Galactica or a fellow player in some pretty nasty ways. The dilemmas here are fantastic, but for now lets just simplify things - instead a horrendous decision let's simply thing with this very concrete and specific example: you and your friends are eating your morning tastey wheat and all of a sudden your compatriot Lee Adama does a spit take and bolts out the door. You look over and see that Cylon Base Star has set up camp off of starboard and you see that some nukes have begun trickling toward colonial convoy, and your face.

Thankfully you've been given some tools to deal with this crisis. Every turn you and each character has been drawing from 3 of 8 different decks, depending on what your current skill set is you may be drawing from the Leadership, Piloting, and Tactics Decks, like creamed faced Lee Adama was. And now say that Base Star simply isn't going away and you're going to have to band together as a group to send some nasty shots across their bow.

BStarBoard.jpgThis scenario so far has been represented by a card drawn from the 'bad event' deck. It'll specify a point total that the group will need to attain to avert the crisis. Seeing as the Cylon Base Star has ships, and guns, it will probably require some tough piloting and good old fashion tactics to endure.

To resolve the crisis, the players place 2 cards drawn from a face down Destiny Deck. These cards remain face down and have been assembled pregame from all of the other various skill decks. Nobody knows whats in the Destiny Deck, nor if it will hurt them with negative valued cards or aid them with positive valued cards of the required skills. This unknown element leaves room for the hidden Cylon to sabotage the effort.

The players then each place their cards face down. They're all shuffled together. Those of cards matching the required skills for the crisis are tallied, and either the Humans won the day through well played cards and skills, or the Cylons act of subterfuge was good enough for a nuke to poke a new moon roof in Galactica's mess hall ceiling.

The game moves along like this with the characters fixing dents and bruises in the ship, while the hidden Cylon players attempt to undo all the good works that have been done. And as an added point of tension, there's a point in the game where even more Human players my secretly find out that they're now activated Cylons. Oh those poor soulless Final 5... will they dream?

As fans of Fantasy Flight Game's killer line of board game titles, as fans of cooperative board games, and as fans of the surprise hit TV show that is Battle Star Galactica, we're give the Battlestar Galactica Board Game two huge thumbs up.

BattlestarGalacticaBoardGame.jpgHere are the official details:

"Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game is an exciting game of mistrust, intrigue, and the struggle for survival which places each player in the role of one of ten of their favorite characters from the show. Each playable character has their own abilities and weaknesses, and all must work together in order for humanity to have any hope of survival. However, one or more players in every game secretly is secretly a Cylon, and wants the humans to perish."

From Fantasy Flight Games

  • Players: 3 - 6
  • Ages: 10+
  • Duration: 120 - 180 minutes
  • BGG Rating As of Writing: 8.0 (512 votes)

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Posted by Critical Gamers Staff at December 2, 2008 9:43 PM

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