Disclaimer: the board game is massive and currently has 4 expansions. I will be giving a brief overview of how to play the game and highlight from each expansion the main differences.
“Sometimes you have to roll the hard 6”. Vipers zoom past and dodge shots from incoming Cylon raiders, trying to eliminate the target before civilian ships are taken out. Out of nowhere a basestar appears looming in front of Galactica when just as suddenly a nuke is fired, leaving the basestar crippled and unable to attack. A few moments later Galactica and the rest of the fleet jump to safety. This could be a description from an episode of Battlestar Galactica, but it is actually a fairly basic encounter in the expansive and amazing Battlestar Galactica board game. BSG is one of those epic, multi-hour games that allows for not only combat game play, but also for some casual role-playing opportunities. While it can seem complicated, after a turn or two, it becomes amazingly simple to play, and I would say is good for both those who are just getting started with board games and veterans alike.
The main game, Battlestar Galactica, comes with the Galactica board, and includes ships, basic characters, destination cards, crisis cards, and cylon ship pieces. I have found that it is typically always better if you have one person in charge of each section instead of letting people move items and pieces around. There are a lot of pieces to the game and it can get jumbled really fast.
The game is played with 4-7 players, and honestly the more people you have, the better the game gets. Each player starts by choosing a character from a specific role group to play. These include politics, support, pilot, and military leaders. It should be noted that only one character from each group can be selected until all groups have been selected. For example, if you have 5 players, there must be one character from each of the roles filled before there can be a duplicate role chosen; leaving the 5th player to be able to pick any role they would want to play. Each character comes with a special “once per round” and “once per game” ability, as well as a complication, which in some cases are literally game changing when played at the right times.
Once each player chooses their character, they receive skills cards as designated on their character cards, and then one person passes out loyalty cards. Loyalty cards are each player’s way of knowing which side they are on. You can either be, as my group calls them, “Team Human” or “Dirty Fraking Cylons”. These cards are a secret and should never be revealed until the player is ready to deal with the consequences. Loyalty cards come at the beginning of the game and again halfway through during the “sleeper phase”. During this time a “sympathizer” card is slipped into the deck and could result in the character being either a human or cylon, depending on the number of resources Galactica has.
A basic turn for each player is to take skill cards, move, action, crisis card, and resolve crisis. During these actions players can attack cylons, use character specific abilities, utilize military or political abilities (being able to nuke or raise resources). Every turn is resolved with a crisis card which causes the group to either pool skill cards together for a skill check or there are cylon attacks, which the human players must defend off until the Galactica can jump to its next destination. The game is won if either the humans make it to Earth after 8 jumps with all resources above 0 or if the cylons knock down any of the humans’ resources to 0.
Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus Expansion
This might be my favorite expansion and is honestly the one we play the most. In this expansion, Pegasus is added as a location where players can travel, and also includes new characters. In this expansion the players also have the opportunity to travel to New Caprica and try to outlive constant cylon invasions and imprisonment. Also available are certain Cylon Leaders as player characters and “treachery cards” have been added which allow for even more sabotage and deception. From the experience I have had playing this expansion, it is something that is definitely difficult when you have constant cylon armies attacking each round.
Battlestar Galactica: Exodus Expansion
The Exodus expansion allows for there to be a few more options when it comes to the drama players want to incorporate into their game. If space fights are what really get them going, they can take the option to fight and try to survive incoming attacks from cylon raiders. Or if the players prefer to have more internal drama then they can opt to include more areas to Galactica. The difference is with these locations, players might deal with cylon-influenced “NPCs” who are out to betray the group. As with each expansion, Exodus, also has a slew of new characters including the “Final Five” cylons, who can be played by the group.
Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak Expansion
Daybreak is the newest expansion to come out, and I feel it will be probably the most used besides Pegasus. In this expansion, players are able to gain the ability to reuse of their once-per-game abilities, as well as the opportunity to play 12 new characters. As in the show, this expansion also touches on the problem of mutiny on the ships and so players can opt to include these new cards into the mix. In addition there are also new crisis cards, skill cards, destinations, and super crisis cards for the revealed cylon players.
Ever since the first time I played BSG, it became my favorite game. A typical game does take about 4 hours, but don’t let the time commitment scare you away from trying this game out. One of my favorite things about the game is that it is completely customizable when it comes to the expansions. You can mix and match parts of the expansions that you want to include on your game, whether it is just new characters, game locations, or just using new crisis or skill cards. The expansions let players choose which whatever aspects they want to include, and it allows for a completely different game every time you play. There are so many aspects of the game that make it incredible, the ability for some casual role-playing, the rich and complete world, and the all encompassing parts of the game allow for the players to make their own episode of Battlestar Galactica. So grab some friends, bring in the cat, and get ready to “So Say We All” with Battlestar Galactica the Board Game.