Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game

 
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Sci-Fi Robo-Werewolf at Super Slo-Mo Speed
Rating 
 
3.5
tl;dr — Just like the series, it goes on far too long, spreads itself far too thin, to support what it does.

Some games require you to bring more to the table than others—the best games are far more than the sum of their parts, and contain possibilities that are not spelled out in the rulebook, or even hinted at. They must be invented by the players. "Experience" games, especially, demand much of the players. BSG is guilty of this in spades. It's intimately tied to the show, requiring that you watched it, liked it, and are willing to engage in role-playing the paranoia and terror of tooth-and-nail survival and religious genocide. The rules and mechanics serve merely as a foundation for this play—dumping cards into a skill check is boring. Paying attention to who is dumping cards and how many, who is abstaining and why, demanding explanations for a player's behavior during that check is the game. That's where facial expressions, body language, and too-passionate denials trip up the wolves and damn the innocent.

The mechanics of BSG are not, in and of themselves, sufficiently interesting to entertain for more than 15 minutes. They are indeed "boring, fiddly and repetitive". But as a foundation to support the emergent play of like minds, it's pretty damn fantastic.

So... is BSG a good game? It all depends on who you have to play it with.

UPDATE: After a 6p game, this locks in at a solid 4 stars. The mechanical aspects of what's happening on the table are nothing compared to what's happening at the table. If you sit down to this game thinking you'll be playing out tactical space battles and puzzling to solve sci-fi crises co-op style, you'll be bitterly disappointed. Oh, sure, you'll be doing those things in a small way—but really, they are only there so you can watch how enthusiastically and competently (or not) people work to handle them... The real game lies in the social interaction of wolves slinking among sheep while bleating helplessly. It's all about poker faces, plausible deniability and hiding in plain sight. It's playing on emotions, constructing compelling arguments, and working at the chinks in others'. It's pure sociopolitics, more RPG than board game—it's Werewolf with a sci-fi theme and more moving parts.

PS. With the right people, it's a hoot!

UP-UPDATE: Bumping this up to a well-deserved 4.5 stars. Now that we have the rules down to the point where the mechanics fade into the background, BSG's true potential shines through. An incredible experience!

4.5 --> 3.5: Too long for what it does, too tied to a time and place that recedes into the past without any staying power for the future. The TV series stepped on its own dick and tore it off just before the finish line (DICKUS EX MACHINA: Angels! God did it!), stripping the timelessness out of what should have been a science fiction classic.* Besides, there are other games that do the same thing in a shorter timeframe without my unborn grandchildren scratching their heads over what a "Starbuck" is.

*Protip: If you stop at Season 4 / Episode 12 "Revelations" the whole shebang becomes literature.
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Really awesome... except when it kind of sucks.
Rating 
 
4.0
Full article here: http://fortressat.com/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=BSG-A-really-awesome-game...-except-when-it-kind-of-sucks..html&Itemid=240

In a nutshell, depending on the way a particular game plays out, it can be terrific and tense, or tedious and repetitive. But it's a terrific implementation of the TV show (though I hadn't seen it before playing the game, and that didn't matter), and a great complement to Shadows Over Camelot in the "cooperative game with a traitor" genre.
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Rating 
 
4.0
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