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Humanity Wins, Barely

January 4, 2009

A review of the new Battlestar Galactica Board Game by Gem

Recently, five 13th Colonists got together for our inagural Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game experience. When I originally wrote this review it got a little novel-esque, so I’ve done my best to chop it down a bit. Hopefully, you’ll still understand the gist of the game without begging the Gods to spare you.

Massive Cylon AttackThe objective of the game depends on whether or not you’re a human or a cylon (a fact that can change mid-way through the game). At the beginning of the game, each player is secretly assigned a team, so unlike many board games, you win as a team, not individually.¬† As a human, there is one way to win: travel eight units of distance and jump to Kobol. As a cylon, the goal is to prevent the humans from reaching their objective. This can be achieved by running the fleet out of essential resources¬† (fuel, morale, population, food), or invading the Galactica with centurion boarding parties, and last but not least, by destroying the Galactica altogether.

The game board, cards, pieces, tokens, and character sheets all look great. The game board itself depicts Galactica in the center, Colonial One in the upper left corner, and cylon locations in the upper right corner. You have the option of choosing from 10 different characters. And, a head’s up for you Number Six fans, she’s not one of the options. Once you’ve chosen a character, you receive their token, which is basically a head shot, and their character sheet detailing that character’s skills, abilities, and weaknesses. An example, Colonel Tigh’s weakness is alcoholism. Shocking, I know.

We spent the first couple of hours (oh, who am I kidding…the entire game) playing musical instructions. I wasn’t counting, but I’m willing to bet we made more FTL jumps through the “Rules of Play” than Galactica made during the entire series. I’d say we had a decent grasp of the game after the first round of play, but the rule book did leave a few unanswered questions. However, I’m sure most of our questions will be answered once we play again. The index at the back of the rule book always saves some time too.

During each round of play, every player makes 4-6 steps during their turn depending on what is necessary at the time. First off, the player draws the type of skills cards listed on their character sheet. Next step, player has the option of moving to a different location on Galactica or Colonial One. Then, arguably, the most important step is the action step, which could involve performing the action listed on a player’s character sheet, location, or skills card. Step 4 is the crisis step where a card is drawn from the Crisis Deck and then resolved. The two optional steps at the end of a game turn are activating cylon ships or preparing for a jump.

As on the show, extra responsibilities come with being the President or Admiral. The President controls the Quorum Cards, which allow him/her to perform special actions. The Admiral begins the game with two nukes, which only he/she can use. The nukes are very effective against cylon basestars. Also, the Admiral is the player who decides which destination the fleet travels to when jumping.

One aspect of the game I particularly enjoy is the secrecy that should be maintained throughout. It adds that paranoia element for all players involved, and it doesn’t hurt to throw out false accusations from time to time to confuse or help out other players. And, if you’re fortunate enough to look at a player’s Loyalty Cards (which indicate if you’re a cylon or not), flat out lying is acceptable, not to mention, smart, if keeping their identity hidden is beneficial to your cause.

Of course, there are many more rules and actions that will take place during the game, however I suggest you play for yourself to find out. I recommend Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game for anyone who appreciates a good board game, but it’s especially fun for us BSG fans, and I’m guessing it gets better (and less time consuming) the more you play. The average playing time is 2-3 hours. It took our little group about….actually, let’s just keep that a secret for now. Bring snacks!!

P.S. We’ve now played twice and we still haven’t hit the 2-3 hour mark. In my opinion, 2 hrs is wishful thinking. Oh, and it’s 1 and 1 for each side. The cylons came back to win the latest game.

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2 comments

  1. I just recently got this game too and played on New Year’s Day. I agree about the learning curve and the time estimate being optimistic, but it was a LOT of fun, and if your players know the show really well and are willing to channel their roles a little, it makes the game even more fun. One thing I really liked is that the game’s rules, options and cause-and-effect relationships really made sense in the context of the show, so that made the game concept easy to grasp by the first jump. It was more the fiddly details that kept us running back to the instruction manual. And yes, the paranoia aspect really worked well, especially by the middle of the game. It was impressive how much I felt like I was in the middle of “Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down” by the last segment of the game.

    Nice review!


  2. Love this game, have played it about 4 times now and I am undefeated both as a human and cylon.

    The game combines elements or risk and a little poker, its pretty balanced for 5 people IMHO. It has always been a 5hr game for our group… not sure if with time it would get shorter or not.



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