It’s been quite a while since I’ve played Battlestar Galactica. More than two years, actually. Not out of any dislike for the game; it’s just a pretty good time commitment, and there have been so many new games to try, it just sort of fell by the wayside. So when I got to game night last night and there was an open spot in a game just about to start, I figured the time had come to give it another go.
Part of the set-up of the game is giving everyone a loyalty card. Most of the players will be nice fleshy humans. But some will be evil Cylons, plotting against the other players. Then, about halfway through the game, more loyalty cards get dealt, representing the Final Five from the TV show awakening and realizing they’re Cylons. So someone who’d been loyal to the cause may all of sudden be with the bad guys now. Along the way there’s suspicion, paranoia, back-stabbing, and good-natured vociferous accusations of lying and betrayal. A night of board gaming fun, in other words.
So we chose our roles and commenced the dance of doubt and mistrust. Things seemed to be going well for the humans. We were making progress, passing challenges. The Cylons were massing a pretty good number of ships, but we always managed to jump away before they could attack. All this success started making us suspicious, however. Were we being set up? Made to lower our guard for the inevitable betrayal? Soon, every benevolent act had some nefarious ulterior motive behind it. Launching Vipers? Oh, you must want to get them destroyed! Discarding cards? You’re getting rid of things that could help us!
The paranoia reached its height when the Baltar player eventually used his ability to flat-out look at another player’s loyalty cards, accusing them of being a Cylon. But they weren’t. And as it turned out, they had a loyalty card that executed anyone who looked at it. And since we executed a human, our fleet’s morale went down. Even more, that same player had another loyalty card that executed her when it was revealed. So now we had two dead humans. On the bright side — if there can be a bright side to accidental murder — we now knew two people who definitely weren’t Cylons. Which only ramped up the mistrust; half the remaining players had to be Cylons.
Then, with only one more jump to make to win the game, the assembled Cylon ships attacked us. The Galactica took heavy damage. Nearly all of its locations were damaged, and most of the players ended up in sickbay. With the store about to close, we decided to call the game, but even if we’d gone on, we were likely to lose. Four of us were in sickbay from the attack, and two of us were in the brig from previous actions. Our options were limited. The Cylons had won. All that remained was to find out who had been traitors to the human race.
Yeah, about that.
Turns out that during set-up, while adding cards from the various expansions, we had forgotten to actually include the Cylons among the loyalty cards. So there was zero chance of any of us being Cylons. We’d had no real obstacle in the way of victory aside from our own suspicions. Which is what the game is supposed to do. But even without anyone actively working against us, we still managed to lose to the frakkin’ toasters. Some saviors of humanity we turned out to be.
Even with this misstep, this was a good reminder of why I liked the game so much in the first place. It needs to be less than two years before I play it again. Let’s just remember the Cylons next time, okay?