Sunday, January 10, 2010

6th Jan 2010 Session Report: First Attempt At Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica

Matt brought back Battlestar Galactica for me recently and I had been eager to give it a go. The opportunity finally arrived and the bonus was that I was able to round up a posy of 5 to give it a go. I have read that the game plays arguably best with 5, without the sympathizer. Furthermore, I suppose it's more fun to have 2 on the Cylon side yet avoiding the increased downtime with 6.

The rules overwhelmed me the first time I read through it. Thankfully, there were player aids and summarized rules on BGG which helped organize the material more logically than the FFG rulebook. I did realize however that the way to intro the game was probably not to bog the other players down with the book-keeping details but simply present the pertinent info necessary to play.

Marcus was the only one who had attempted the game before while it was the first play for Van, Ivan, Ben and myself. As it turned out, Ivan and I drew Cylon cards from the go. I chose to play a variant that shortened the game, in hope of not having Van sour on the game because of its length.

The variant dialed down resources to 6 fuel, 6 food, 7 morale and 10 population. In addition, Galactica starts with one less raptor and two less vipers compared to the original set-up. The Sleeper phase is triggered after a jump distance of 3 and the humans win if they jump unscathed after a distance of 6. The only other change is that centurions that board Galactica begin on the 2nd space of the boarding track.

The variant worked reasonably well and we completed the game in about 2 hours, including rules explanation. Fuel, food and morale ended in the red zone although no centurions successfully boarded the ship throughout the game.

I took Roslin and held on to the role of President for majority of the game till Marcus wrested it from me towards the end with strong support of Ben. Unfamiliarity resulted in no Quorum cards being played and player action tended to concentrate on the use of Galactica's guns to take out the Cylon ships. There seems to be many options unexplored and hopefully, there will increased variability with more plays. I mistakenly assumed that it was the President who chose the destination card when it should have been the Admiral. I suppose it did give an added advantage to the Cylons since I ended up choosing instead of Van who was playing as Saul Tigh with William Adama out of the game. Although there was only one choice that made a significant difference where I chose the destination card with a distance 1 instead the other with a distance of 3.

Ivan did not take any risky moves all game due to his unfamiliarity of the game. He didn't reveal even to the end of the game. Van was on to me from the start due to a couple of unnecessary risky discards although the attempt to brig me failed. In order to avoid further suspicion, I played my cards duely but took every opportunity to dump my cards, so that I lacked any to be of help during crisis checks. Apparently, there are many opportunities to 'lose' cards when you are the President. The humans managed a distance of 6 and were heading for their victory jump when I revealed, and my Cylon action allowed me to deal the final blow taking fuel to zero.

I enjoyed the game because it feels remarkably different from my other games. Van wasn't impressed since the theme didn't appeal to her. I also suppose the group playing the game is important since much of the fun hinges on the metagame. Looking forward to more plays most definitely - hopefully it will see play sufficiently to hold a place in my collection.

The Princes of Florence

This was Van's pick and since we had 5, I was all for it. I wasn't sure if it was Marcus' first play but he played extremely well, thanks to him obtaining 3 Jesters. I was feeling good about my chances mid-game through and planned to end the game strongly by producing 2 works in each of the final two rounds. Alas, Marcus managed to do the same, robbing me of the work bonus in the penultimate round and outbidding me for the recruiting card I needed to produce an additional work in the last round. I gambled instead on a second Prestige card and drew a good one but still fell short by a point, 59 to his 60 points. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the game tremendously and the play once again cemented the PoF as one of my favs.

Hansa Teutonica

Marcus taught Ivan and Ben Hansa and before long, we had a go at a 5 player game. I was behind most game but managed to garner enough points for a 2nd place finish. The points were all rather close though Marcus took the game by a significant margin from the rest of us. Van had control of a good number of offices but failed to string them together for valuable network points. I found myself thinking about game strategy after the play, which is always a good sign. 5 player did drag a bit longer especially since we were still new to the game but even so, I wouldn't consider it a long game by any means.

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