Battlestar Galactica, BSG: Pegasus and BSG: Exodus Reviews

Battlestar Galactica board game with all expansions

Battlestar Galactica

Whereas I normally avoid games based off of movies and TV shows, I heard good enough things about Battlestar Galactica that I gave it a shot when it came out.

In Battlestar Galactica (which is based off of the Battlestar Galactica TV Show) each of the players takes on the role of one of the characters from the show. From here, each player receives a loyalty card. If you receive a "You Are Not a Cylon" card, then your objective is to reach Earth without having the Galactica damaged too badly and without running out of resources. If you are a Cylon, then you have the opposite goal - kill off the dirty humans (preferably without letting them know that you are doing it). Each turn, the active player draws skill cards, moves, and performs an action (and then is royally scrutinized about whether his action was helpful enough or not with lots of yelling and trash talking if you're playing it right). After their action, a "crisis" occurs - sometimes the cylons arrive, sometimes they have to worry about supplies, etc. One of the other things that the crisis cards allows is the FTL drive to get readied and cylons that are surrounding the Galactica to start shooting at it. Once the FTL drive is ready, the Galactica can jump. Once the Galactica has jumped 8 parsecs, then one final jump will lead the humans to Earth.

By far the best thing about the BSG board game is the complete lack of trust that you can put in any of your friends. It breeds paranoia better than any game that I've ever played. Whereas in games like Shadows Over Camelot there might be a traitor, in BSG there is at least one cylon (the number is dependent on the number of players). What is more, each of the players gains a second loyalty card after the Galactica has jumped 4 parsecs. This means that, even if things are going smoothly at the beginning of the game, suddenly any faith you had in any of the other players is completely shattered. This paranoia is the most intense that I've ever seen in a game - very well done.

The next pro to discuss relates to the difference between complexity and being complicated. Most games consider these to be synonymous. However, occasionally you will find the rare gem that lets you play a game that has great levels of depth and complex strategies but without 30-60 minutes worth of explanation before the game begins. BSG is an example of this. The game has many layers of strategy but the actual time to learn it is fairly short (assuming you are learning it from someone who has played - I don't know how long it is to read through the rules).

The final pro that I will mention is related to implementation of theme. Of all the games that I have played, I don't know any that have integrated game mechanics into a theme as well as Battlestar Galactica.  Now, the down side of that is that people who enjoyed the television series will enjoy it much more than people who either disliked the show or never watched it, but, hey, that's life.

The biggest con of BSG is the flip side of it's greatest pro. Because of the amazing ability in this game to generate paranoia, I am not able to play the game all that often. I think that if I started playing BSG on a daily basis, I would quickly stop having any friends. I wouldn't trust anybody. However, the occasional endeavor into the game of BSG I am able to look enjoy immensely.

Overall, I give Battlestar Galactica a 9.0/10. Fans of board games and the Battlestar Galactica TV show should all try this. In fact, anybody that does not completely hate games of suspicion should try this game.

Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus Expansion

Now for The Pegasus Expansion.

If you have played through the base game, you have probably realized one thing: you want to be a cylon. Of course you want to be a cylon - everyone wants to be a cylon (at least everyone that I have ever played with). Because of this, Pegasus adds Cylon Leaders. These Cylon Leaders allow a person to start out as a revealed cylon, along with extra abilities (like the Non Cylon players have). What is more, each of the Cylon Leaders has a secret victory condition, and so they might not even be trying to kill the humans. Their condition may be that the humans win but have less than a certain amount of population, or that the cylons win but the humans have gone a certain distance. Nothing like adding extra levels of paranoia to the game that I already consider to be the most paranoid game I have ever played.

The other main things that Pegasus added were the Pegasus itself (which includes several new locations in which the players can perform actions), Treachery cards (which are cards that help cylons mess with the humans during a human crisis), and the New Caprica game scenario (which occurs when the humans have gone a certain distance). Oh right, and the airlock. You can start killing those players that you don't trust - good stuff.

Overall, I give Pegasus an 8.5/10. It was well executed, and it added to an already high quality game. If you have played and enjoyed Galactica, you should consider adding this to your set.

Battlestar Galactica: Exodus Expansion

Finally, it is time to discuss the new Exodus Expansion.

In Exodus, there is a new basestar location that is placed out alongside the Galactica (and Pegasus if you are using that expansion). First of all, this new location adds to the options that a revealed cylon can perform. Also, it prevents the humans from ever really getting a free pass. In the previous versions, if a "raiders activate" or "basestar fires" or some such icon appears but there are no ships surrounding the Galactica, then nothing happened. Now, whenever this situation occurs, new ships appear on the basestar card, and once this situation has occurred a certain number of times, all of the ships jump to surround the Galactica. This mechanic works well, and I'm glad that it was added.

The next main addition that Exodus adds is the concept of "allies." To start the game, each player gets 3 "trauma tokens" and there are 3 allies placed out on locations in Galactica with a random "trauma token" assigned to them. Whenever a player ends their movement where there is an ally, the trauma token flips over. Depending on what this trauma token is, the ally will either help you in some way or make your situation even worse. Allies can throw people in the brig, destroy cylon ships, reduce resources, etc. What is more, once an ally has been revealed, the player that revealed the ally places one of their trauma tokens with the newly dealt ally - secretly of course. There's nothing like adding yet another way of not being able to trust the other players in the game. After all, a fully loyal human may place negative trauma tokens every time simply because that is what they were dealt. It sure won't look loyal to me, though.

There are some other additions to Exodus like a new scenario at the end of the game to replace New Caprica, some new skill cards, new player cards, etc. This all adds new life into the game if it had started becoming stale somehow and is all done well.

Overall, I give Exodus an 8.0/10. It wasn't quite as dramatic of an addition as Pegasus (no Cylon Leaders), but it was still a very solid expansion. Players of BSG should seriously consider adding this to their collection.

Like Fantasy Flight's games? Try reading about Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, Blood Bowl: Team Manager, and Talisman.

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