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Battlestar Galactica review

Score : 10

Hugely involving

Incredibly thematic and true to the show

Well balanced and games usually close

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I couldn't have scripted this any better. Suspicion was rife that there was a Cylon (traitor) on board and accusations had started to fly at everyone. The president was adamant that I was that Cylon and was trying to convince everyone that I should be thrown in the brig. However, it hadn't happened yet and it was now my turn, and luckily I was in a position to run a Cylon test on any player of my choice. I chose the president, looked at their card and announced gleefully to the table "we have found the Cylon". The president looked genuinely shocked, and so they should. No-one said that I had to be truthful when I declared the result. As second in command to the president, who had been thrown in the brig, I was now the acting president. A president who also happened to be a Cylon.

Battlestar Galactica is based on the recent(ish) TV series of the same name where humans live on a giant spaceship trying to find a new home, while trying to run from the Cylons (robots made by the humans) they are at war with. Players pick a character from the show, each of which will have special skills and weaknesses, as well as a career (engineer or pilot etc) and determines who starts as president and admiral. Players are then dealt loyalty cards, which will detail whether they are human, or secret Cylons. 

Players then act in turn, where they will draw skill cards based on their career, and then typically move to a section of the ship to perform an action such as launching vipers, firing the guns or jumping Galactica for example, playing skill cards from their hands or using their characters' skills to pilot vipers or make repairs. Then, the dreaded end of turn where a crisis card is turned over. These could result in Cylon ships attacking, skill checks or events.

In combat, a die is rolled to determine damage, with the basestars being harder to kill than the raiders for example. Each time Galactica is hit, not only does it get one stage closer to being destroyed, but an area of the ship is damaged and must be repaired before it can be used.

Event cards will have different instructions on the cards but often lead to a choice to be made, perhaps by the current player, the admiral or the president.

Crisis cards will explain a situation such as a food shortage, and each players can contribute cards of a certain skill type to ensure the target number of skill points are played. Sounds simple enough, except the wrong skills will count as negative points, this is done player by player, with  two random cards also used, and each player plays face down. A perfect situation for a Cylon to sabotage this, and ensure that not only are skill cards wasted, but that the test is failed, with consequences such as the food stores depleting.

Should any of the resources such as food or morale reach zero, the Cylons win. As they do if they destroy Galactica, or if a boarding Cylon gets far enough into the ship. The humans need to jump to Kobol to achieve victory. Certain cards including many of the crisis cards will advance the jump track, and after a number of advancements, the ship can be jumped, potentially taking damage if it jumps too early. A choice of two jump destinations will be chosen by the Admiral, in secret, to see how far they jump towards Kobol.

About halfway through the game, another round of loyalty cards will be dealt, which can activate another Cyclon. Whilst the Cylons often spend the first half of the game sowing suspicion and trying to subtly sabotage things, they can reveal themselves at any point, allowing them to take overtly destructive actions, including using actions on the Cylon ship that weren't available while they were hidden.

There are moments of frustration and whoops of joy as Galactica manages to jump just in time to avoid being destroyed by the Baseship, or the Cylons watch a crucial skill check fail.

Battlestar Galactica is an incredibly thematic game and really represents the source material fantastically. Whilst everyone is notionally working together at the start, there is always a strong sense of distrust and suspicion, especially when something goes wrong. Then, as resources start eroding, or the cylons make themselves more obvious or even reveal themselves, the tension ramps up and the game usually finishes in a narrow victory for one of the two sides. There are a wealth of actions that each character can undertake and rarely is someone left feeling useless. Even a Cylon in the brig can reveal themselves and start wreaking havoc!

Games can be long and the rules can take a while to get to grips with, and this is certainly not for those who don't enjoy confrontation or accusations, but to everyone else, we would hugely recommend trying to get hold of a copy, as sadly, this game is currently out of print.


Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Designer: Corey Konieczka

Number of players: 3 - 6


Play Time: 2 - 5 hours

RRP: Out of print

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