Battlestar Galactica – Boardgame Review
Battlestar Galactica The Boardgame. Boardgame Review. Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games. Developer: Realmforge Studio.$49.95
Passed Inspection: Amazingly immersive game play, tons of things for every player to do, very high quality components, great replay value.
Failed Basic: Instructions need an index and a table of contents, specific rules can be difficult to locate on the fly, need at least 4 people to make it really fun. It can be a little too hard for humans to win the game.
Based upon the wildly successful 2003 reboot of the 1978 science fiction series, Battlestar Galactica the Board Game, places the players in the role of their favorite characters from the series as they either attempt to escape the attacks of the Cylon armada or attempt to covertly help the Cylons conquer the last remnants of humanity.
The game can be played with three to six players but really works best as a five to six player game. At the start of the game, each player gets to pick the character from the show that he or she wishes to play. Each character has a game card and an icon. The card details the special abilities each player can use during the course of the game. Pilots such as Apollo and Starbuck are best played by those who crave space combat and action, while lovers of strategy might play Commander Adama or Colonel Tigh, while those who love politics may want to play President Roslin or the ever scheming Gaius Baltar. At the start of the game, each player must draw from a loyalty card deck and keep the result hidden. The player may be a human, Cylon sympathizer, or even a sleeper agent Cylon! These loyalty results will help dictate the goals for that character. If you are a human, you want to escape and/or defeat the Cylons but if you are on the other side of the war, you will want to make sure that the humans fail at all costs.
The game board, itself, is a work of art. The central focus is a graphic representation of the Galactica with main sections such as Baltar’s laboratory, the bridge, Adam’s quarters, etc. blocked off. Characters can travel between these areas as well as fly off ship in Colonial Vipers or even to Colonial One, President Roslin’s personal ship. The fleet of human stragglers is represented by fleet cards which follow the Galactica. Other tables on the map indicate the number of Cylon soldiers who have boarded the Galactica, Cylon locations, holding areas for both undamaged and damaged Colonial Vipers, the status of the light speed jump engines, etc. Dials keep track of the Galactica’s food supplies, fuel status, population and overall fleet morale. When one of these dials reaches zero, the Cylons win the war. All of these items must be closely monitored by both the humans and the Cylons if the war is to won.
High quality plastic and cardboard representations of Base Stars, Vipers, Raiders and other ships add considerably to the experience of space combat in the game.
Threat cards are played during the course of play and these cards represent everything from a shortage of water, bomb threats, mutiny or even the arrival of Cylon attack fleets. The players collect skill cards of various types (tactics, politics, engineering, piloting and leadership) in order to overcome these threats. When a threat is drawn, the players pay various types of skill cars from their hands in order to either overcome the threat or help defeat the humans. These cards are usually played upside face down so that the players are constantly kept unaware of who is a sleeper agent and who is not. Halfway through the game, another set of loyalty cards are secretly played. Players who thought they were human may suddenly find themselves having to switch sides as they have found themselves to actually be Cylon agents.
The ultimate goal is for the Galactica to escape the reach of the Cylon fleet but this is very difficult. In three plays of the game (with each play taking around three to four hours to complete), the humans won zero times! Obviously “It’s good to be a Cylon!” Other players have told me that it is possible for the humans to win 50% of the time, but one of the players at my games told me he’s played five times and the humans have never won. In a co-operative game (such as Galactica), this is perhaps realistic but maybe a little too tough. In the last game I played before writing the review, the humans came very close to winning but then two Cylon sleeper agents were revealed. One of them was Baltar (believe it or not) and he set off bombs on the ship, costing the Galactica precious supplies before he was killed and re-awakened on a Cylon Resurrection Ship. Then our Chief Engineer set off bombs damaging several portions of the ship just as two Cylon Base Stars jumped in to the system and launched massive waves of fighters. Even amazing flying by Apollo and Starbuck couldn’t save the fleet from being ravaged by the “toasters” and prevent Galactica from being destroyed. Just before the Galactica blew up, Commander Adama had launched two nukes at the Cylon Base Stars sending them to toaster heaven but it was too late; the Galactica was destroyed by the waves of Cylon Raiders that penetrated our fighter screens.
Each of the three times I have played Battlestar Galactica the Board Game have been three different experiences. The first game was mostly ship battle action. The second time I played, the game ended up focusing on President Roslyn and Tom Zarek’s fight for the presidency. The third game focused on trying to find the Cylon Sleeper Agents and cumulated in a huge space battle. Needless to say, this game has a high degree of replay value with no two games playing alike.
Expansions such as Pegasus and Exodus add even more to a very dynamic gaming experience.
All in all, Battlestar Galactica the Board Game is a highly immersive gaming experience and a great way for five or six friends to spend an evening! Highly recommended!
Armchair General Rating: 90 %
Solitaire Rating: 0
About the author:
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War 1 and 2 gamer who can remember war games that came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!