Friday, December 13, 2013

...and they have a plan

Interesting historical note: the look and feel of the original Battlestar Galactica television series is very similar to that of the first Star Wars film. This is probably at least partially due to the fact that John Dykstra did a lot of the special effects photography on both Star Wars and the Battlestar Galactica pilot episode.

Additional interesting historical note: one of the designers of the Battlestar Galactica Collectible Card Game, published by WizKids Games in 2006, was Chuck Kallenbach, who was also one of the designers of Decipher's Star Wars CCG back in 1995. Coincidence?

Granted, the Battlestar Galactica CCG is based on the more recent SciFi Channel series, so my metaphor doesn't really hold up to close scrutiny, but it's still an interesting connection.

We played this unfortunately short-lived game quite a bit in the year it was released, but we hadn't played it since then, so we decided to start with the demo set that we just happened to have a copy of. The demo did a good job of re-introducing the game's structure and core concepts, and after a few turns we were ready to play a game with the full decks that we had customized seven years ago.

The game reflects the tone of the television series very well. Players control both human and Cylon characters and ships in a race to control the Colonial Fleet by gaining a certain number of influence points before the other player does, while at the same time needing to work together to fight off constant attacks by the Cylon fleet. And extra kudos to the design team for putting the show's trademark diagonal corners on all the cards.

What makes the game interesting, and true to the source material, is that characters and ships can challenge each other regardless of whether they are human or Cylon, representing the constant infighting on both sides of the struggle. As an added complication, at the end of each turn the players as a group face a Cylon attack (represented by each player flipping over the top card of their deck and referring to its Cylon value). So if you use too many of your resources fighting with the other players, you won't have anything left to fight the Cylons with, which causes you to lose influence.

Unfortunately, the middle game turns into a bit of a slog, as each player's influence score rises and falls, and the game doesn't end in triumph for the winner so much as just stop out of attrition. But I suppose that does reflect the bleak nature of the show as well, with the Galactica's exhausting quest to evade the Cylons and find Earth, which always seems just out of their reach.

Rating: 2 (out of 5) A fairly immersive game that is true to its source material, but the game play can be a little tedious.

Date played: November 30, 2013

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