The Fury of Dracula (and he was FURIOUS)

English: A screenshot from Dracula (1958), an ...

English: A screenshot from Dracula (1958), an Hammer Horror production (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve played a few more games of Fury of Dracula since I last spoke of it. You know what? I getting to like it more and more.

Early advice, and games, indicated the best strategy for Dracula was to run, run, run. Many people bemoaned “Fury of Dracula is a bit of a misnomer. Shouldn’t it be The Fleeing of Dracula?” Well, let me just tell you how these couple of games have panned out.

The first was a bad one for me. I was Dracula and the very first card the hunters drew for me was Evasion. This is the big, key, “get out of jail free” card for Dracula. I can teleport to any city on the board… but drawing it first? Useless! I was nicely squirreled away in Eastern Europe and without even a full turn finished yet, that was something the hunters certainly couldn’t have known.

I decided I’d pretend to evade, so if they found my starting city they’d think my trail was broken (but it wasn’t!) Next, the hunters drew Newspaper Reports which reveals the last city on Dracula’s trail. Since all I’d done at this point was faked using Evasion my starting city was revealed. The annoying thing here was Newspaper Reports says that if the card would reveal Dracula’s current location, it doesn’t work. So this would have done nothing for the hunters if only I’d opted to NOT use Evasion!

Map of Eastern Europe as defined by the 2007 T...

Map of Eastern Europe as defined by the 2007 Time Almanac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other thing here is if I’d decided to bounce to the other side of the board with Evasion – just because I could – Newpaper Reports would have revealed exactly nothing about my whereabouts. My brother correctly surmised I probably didn’t go far from my starting location so turned to Eastern Europe to corner me. Well, long story short, he was sharing my city on practically the next turn. It was ridiculously uncanny that he guessed that I’d faked Evasion and which city I’d ended up in. So we fought during day time, and I lost a huge chunk of health before slipping away.

By then, though, they were hot on my tail and I was hurt. I probably could have made it to a port, slipped out to sea and gave them a merry chase for 2 hrs but there was really no point. They would have got me in the end. There was no opportunity to drop a New Vampire and I couldn’t survive for 6 days and nights to secure victory. So after just 20 mins, I conceded.

We jumped straight into another game, since that one went so quickly. This one went far more normally. It went for 2 hrs and I had decided to start in Ireland. It was a game of “double-think.” You see, Ireland only has two cities, so after two moves I’d have to take to sea (which they’d see.) However! I had correctly surmised that they’d know, that I know that… and therefore would assume I’d be anywhere BUT Ireland, pretending to be in Ireland. Unfortunately for me they drew a card early on that let them check any city on the board. They just checked one of the Irish cities (just to be sure) and confirmed I had, in fact, just boarded a ship from Belfast.

Well, after that I dropped on Mina who was looking for me in London, and I successfully bit her. This gave me two points. That same turn a vampire I’d left to mature in Belfast matured (just a turn before Val Helsing would have arrived to stop it.) That gave me 4 out of 6 points.

Meanwhile I’d taken to sea and fled to Spain. My opponents calculated I could have disembarked at any one of up to 13 cities… but it’s really quite amazing how quickly they can work you out with a process of elimination.

I had considered circling around the UK and landing back in London, but they seemed poised for that move. So, as I said, I fled to Spain and Portugal figuring that while the most obvious move, with all the other options on the table they couldn’t possibly cover all their bases.

English: Map of Spain

English: Map of Spain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was right. They decided they simply couldn’t check the UK, so abandoned it. (CURSES!) Then made a bee-line for Spain, as the most likely drop-off point (clearing up other possibilities on the way to eliminate them.) Not long after I landed the next day dawned and gave me 5 out of 6 points. I only had to make it until the next dawn to get my final point.

Well they had me cornered at one point, so I used Wolf Form to slip past … but they guessed what I was doing and then proceeded to surmise the city I’d skipped to. My brother’s ability to predict my moves is ridiculous. At the time they worked out my Wolf Form trick AND which city I’d run to, they actually hadn’t seen any of my trail since London. Simply through a process of elimination and guess work they more-or-less knew where I was. We fought in Bordeux and I bit him. Unlike Mina, this doesn’t kill my opponent outright – but it does let me fly up to two cities away (even though they’d tried to play garlic to keep me in place.) The two city headstart was all I needed to finish off the day and win. Scarily enough, a second hunter could have entered Bordeux the same night, so if I hadn’t successfully bitten him, I would have had to survive battle with him for 3 more rounds then faced a second (who I believe was packing garlic too.) Even with such a tremendous start I still could have lost it there.

We have played once more since then. In that game my brother bit Mina twice and survived 2 days to win the game. The amusing thing is that I had coaxed my fellow hunter to move into Paris then out of the blue said: “Well I’ve been keeping this to myself, but I suspect Dracula is actually hanging out in Spain. Why don’t you catch one of these fast Paris trains down there and surprised him?” Mina did and amazingly dropped right into the town Dracula was in. (That’s how she got bitten the first time.) So it seems a brother’s uncanny ability to guess cities cuts both ways.

The other take-away after those two games is that Mina is a real weak point for the hunters. We knew she would be, but so far it seems like the strongest Dracula move to play is to try and bite Mina on the first night, and even possibly on every night. Everyone else had recommended fleeing and trying to mature vampires but we’ve found it impossible to shake the hunters once they pick up the trail, and they always do on the first day or night (and if not, it’s the first thing they do with the Resolve they get on the start of the second day.)

Good times!

I’m going to see if I can supervise a game at a Halloween party this weekend. Let’s see how it goes, shall we?

Some Many Games, So Little Time

I picked up 4 games this weekend. Well – ordered – most haven’t arrived yet.

Space Alert: The Final Frontier. I already really like Space Alert, and I couldn’t really imagine an expansion being worth the money… but I’d heard SO MANY GOOD THINGS. Too many good things. It was sold out ages ago. So imagine my surprise, when stumbling around the boardgamegeek boards I saw a reference to a little Australia store that happened to have 1 in stock! Well, I wasn’t about to take any chances, so I ordered it.

Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak. I have talked about BSG and it’s expansions quite a bit. It would have doubled the cost for me to order this box from the US (due to shipping costs) so I waited until one of our Australian stores got it in. I was fairly impressed – I was expecting a longer turn around, or higher price, but those guys get it in in bulk, I guess, and mitigate the shipping costs. If you want the game the moment it is released, it’s still a tough wait, but a few weeks to get it in store isn’t too bad. I can’t wait until it arrives.

Spartacus: Thanks to the ever-popular Dice Tower, I watched this review and immediately went hunting for a copy. The game itself was easy to find, but the expansion seems to be completely sold out. I guess that’s probably a good thing until I know for sure I love it. Also… I’ve never watched the show, and now want to. I may or may not have gone and grabbed the first series…

Fury of Dracula: I’m a huge fan of Fantasy Flight Games, of course, and this game looks to simply ooze awesome theme. Unfortunately, it looks like basically a co-op game – which I’ve talked about before except instead of being against the board mechanics, the four hunters are against another player – Dracula. So the hunters are going to play by committee – but in this case I think it is at least a little mitigated by needing to out-think Dracula.

The thing about Fury of Dracula is that it has been out of print since 2009 (I think?) and for those who like it… well, they already have it. And those that don’t like it, traded it away long ago.

If you dig you can find a few copies floating around, but nothing I could get here in Australia… until, this weekend, while at a Fete, I wandered past a little comic store. I decided to pop in. They had a small selection of board games and lo! Behold! Fury of Dracula. Due to it’s dubious co-op mechanics, and the fact it was basically impossible to get I had given up on it. I didn’t let the opportunity pass,though, and picked it up. I just need to get my mates around for a game, now.

What do you all think of these games? I haven’t really had a chance to play any of them. Are they all as good as I’ve heard?

Getting My A-Wing On

My newest addition, an A-Wing and TIE Advanced (for those not in the know, this is Darth Vader’s boat in A New Hope.)

So now I have quite good variety in my forces. I can’t quite do a “spam” of TIE Fighters yet (they’re still as rare as hen’s teeth, and I can’t get my hands on any) but I can do a nice mix of Rebel fighters and, as my brother proved, drop a sizable fleet of mixed TIE’s for them to shoot at.

So my brother and I had two battles. I played as rebels first, and imperials second. Neither went too well for me but it was nice to get so many mini’s out on the table.

Rebels – yay! Empire – boo!

First up I went with a mix of Rebel ships and flew them in tight formation. My idea was to use the abilities of pilots like Biggs and Dutch that give allies within range 1-2 advantages. The biggest problem I found with doing this was the Y-Wing really slowed the A-Wing and X-Wing down… also the imps had WAY MORE GUNS! The extra skill of my pilots was largely off-set by “swarm” tactics that elevates pilot skill and Darth Vader’s ability to give low-ranking pilots an extra action… that was all on top of the fact that Soontir Fel and Darth Vader have better skill than most Rebel pilots anyway. So the only advantage I had was in my pilot’s special abilities, and they just don’t cut it against nearly 2:1 odds.

The biggest problem my brother had was his own ships. This is why you should fly in formation, boys.

The A-Wing is pretty damn hard to hit, so it survived until the end, but we hardly made a dent in the TIEs. I tried to get them with an Assault missile – I had the perfect opportunity to damage every single ship in one shot, but the force was not with me.

On the other hand…

The next game I wanted to see how Darth and two TIEs would go. Wanting to have a fairly elite squad, I opted for two TIE Interceptors to assist Darth.  I even gave Darth an engine upgrade so he could boost with the INTs and they could stay nicely in formation – hopefully for the whole battle. My Brother also had 3 ships – an A-Wing flanked by 2 X-Wings.

My brother’s formation fell apart almost immediately, and I was able to get my squad looping around and behind him… unfortunately a couple mistakes (such as not correctly understanding how “turning while keeping formation” works) meant my formation broke down. As my ships broke off to engage individuals, I made a grievous error with Darth and he (effectively) lost two turns crashed into an asteroid. (NB: I think a lot of people play this rule incorrectly. If you hit an obstacle, and the front guides are not fully through the asteroid, when you move, the maneuver template will overlap the asteroid for the second turn. That means if you end up largely in the MIDDLE of an asteroid, as Darth did in my game, you have to roll for damage two turns in a row, and you get no actions two turns in a row. Particularly for Darth Vader who gets 2 actions a turn… that’s painful.)

There was a dramatic turn where 3 ships blew up. The below two images shows the before and after.

So there I was. One on One. Interceptor vs A-Wing. They’re very similiar, the two ships, but my brother’s A-Wing had an unbeatable combination of higher pilot skill, and “Push the Limit.” This meant that no matter what maneuver’s we picked, he could correct by boosting twice to ensure that he was out of my arc, or get me into his. It was a little ridiculous actually.

Truth is, though, if I hadn’t driven Darth into an asteroid for two turns, there is very little chance he could have avoided those two in combination. Oh well. Next time, I guess.

Weekend Games – X-Wing again!

I quite like X-Wing Miniatures, but really I’m just trying to get my money’s worth out of them.

I had a couple of games with my brother again. We take a novel approach to force-building. First we randomly pick a side, and build a 100-pt force for that team. Then, we randomly pick which team we play… so you only have a 50-50 chance of actually playing the side you built. This works pretty well because you have to take a fairly serious approach to building the force, as you might end up with it … but at the same time you can afford to play around a bit, because you’ve only got a 50-50 chance of having to play with your own crap.

So I built the Rebel Alliance and I decided what would be cool would be Luke Skywalker in an X-Wing, then Han Solo and Chewie in the Millenium Falcon. I built Luke quite defensively, and Han quite offensively both had maximum bells and whistles.

Meanwhile, Scott had decided it would be cool to load Boba Fett in Slave I up with pretty much every expendable item available – homing missiles, proton torpedoes, proximity mines, you name it. For escort he had two fairly blank TIE fighters – Dark Curse and “Black Squadran Pilot.”

My tactic was to try and keep Boba Fett at range so he could use all the missiles and bits and bobs Scott had saddled him with, and use the two TIE fighters as bait. So I swung a path through the asteroid field that took me generally away from Han and Luke. I had planned to drop a mine somewhere there in the hope they’d fly into it when trying to follow me, but I totally forgot.

The bait worked well enough. The no-name TIE fighter came under heavy fire and was all but destroyed… when, on 1 hp, he pulled off an amazing 3 evades vs 3 hits that kept him alive one crucial round longer.

He used that turn to pull out of range, and Dark Curse became the target of choice. Meanwhile, Boba Fett had looped around and started to unload missiles and heavy cannon fire.

Luke was the first to blow up due mostly to Boba Fett’s fire, but Dark Curse got in some key hits as well. In fact, Luke was having so much bad luck I’m not at all convinced the force was with him one little bit.

Shortly afterwards 1-hp “Black Squadron Pilot” came back into range and Han finished him off. We were 1 loss for 1. Great odds for the empire.

As the fight drew on, I spent several turns hot on Han’s tail, shooting him with my primary weapon. I had him locked, but was saving it for a proton torpedeo – if he ever pulled away that is! Dark Curse had over-shot the Millenium Falcon and was weaving back and forth in front of him slowing him down a lot. In fact, things got REALLY tight there between Dark Curse and Han several times.

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Eventually Boba Fett over-shot Han and dropped his proximity mine, but Han utilised a house rule to pull away and both free himself from Dark Curse and dodge the mine. (The house rule is that ships can spend one turn outside the bounds of the board, so long as they are fully within the bounds of the board at the end of the next turn.)

With some breathing room Boba Fett did a Koiogran turn which put him out of range but the up-side was that he’d soon be able to fire the proton torpedeo. Han, meanwhile, was able to dispatch Dark Curse with that same breathing room.

Things were pretty even with Dark Curse gone, but in the same turn Han dispatched the final TIE, Boba Fett fired the proton torpedo, and it did tons of damage to the Falcon. Due to the sustained damage, and that final hit, Han ended up having something like 4 damaged components. His agility had been reduced to 0, he couldn’t do any red manoeuvres without risking damaging his ship further, his console was on fire (potentially adding 1 more damage each turn until the fire was extinguished) and he’d been nailed with a direct hit which counts as 2 damage.

Slave I and the Millenium Falcon passed each other head on. Han shot with his 360-degree turret, but although it brought Boba Fett’s shields down, it did no damage. Boba returned fire with his rear-firing gun, and blew Han Solo away. Empire wins!

Big Weekend of Board Games – X-WING

 

My brother, cousin and a friend came around over the weekend and we cracked out the X-Wing miniatures game, and the Battlestar Galactica board game. It took a few hours, but it was time well spent.

My brother (Scott) and I had played X-Wing plenty of times before, but my cousin (Ryan) and his friend James had not. So we decided to have a game of 2 on 2. Scott and James vs Me and Ryan. Scott and I built the sides, since we knew what we were doing, and then randomly assigned who took which force. We found we didn’t have enough miniatures to make a 200-point force on the imperial side, so we made it 150 points each.

For the Rebels we had Chewie in the Millenium Falcon, Biggs in the Y-wing, Luke and Wedge in X-Wings. Scott controlled Biggs and Luke. James had Chewie and Wedge.

On the Imperial we had Kath Scarlet in the Firespray, Soontir Fel and Turr Phennir in TIE Inteceptors, Night Beast and Mauler Mithril in TIE Fighters. Ryan controlled Kath and Night Beast, while I took Soontir Fel, Turr Phennir and Mauler Mithril.

Ryan and I decided that our tactic would be for the firespray to lead the charge, while the TIEs flew in formation behind. Deciding the asteroid field presented too much of an obstacle in the middle of the field, we’d fly on the left, and try and focus on the Y-Wing first. Its 360-degree ion turret is very annoying, and although a tough ship, it should wither under the combined firepower of all our ships. The Falcon also has a 360-degree turret, but it’s just too tough to focus fire first.

Things started well enough, with a nice smooth opening move, however from there it went poorly. Ryan flew Night Beast into an asteroid, where he remained mired for 3 turns (!) I made a great barrel-roll move with Soontir Fel to get a clear shot on Wedge, while avoiding his fire. Unfortunately, I forgot the order of play and after I fired, I used Daredevil to barrel roll back into his path. I thought he’d already fired, and the barrel roll would have set me up for a better run through the asteroids.

Proton torpedeos and general focus fire hurt Kath badly. Perhaps I should reconsider not focusing the big ships. They are simple to get within a firing arc, and they are pretty brutal unattended.

From there, things just slipped out of hand. Ryan couldn’t get Kath to use her lock for many turns, as we chased the Y-Wing. It had remained at the back  and even manoeuvred in such a way as to stay out of danger for several turns. Soontir Fel was able to slip through the field, and Wedge and Luke, but ultimately fell prey to the Y-Wing’s Ion turret (damn 360-degree arcs!!)

Kath didn’t last much longer, and Night Beast – having just escaped the asteroid field – promptly crashed into a friendly. All in all he had 5 turns, 3 in an asteroid field, 1 crashed into a friendly, and 1 with a stress token. It was not a good day.

At the end, there was only Mauler Mithril left, and not a single Rebel ship was down. Sticking to the original plan, I was able to dispatch the Y-Wing and one turn later, the Falcon finally removed the pest.

Well, after all that we set up Battlestar Galactica. 4 players isn’t the best balance, because we need a sympathiser or something similiar. So next post – BSG with Pegasus expansion and a Cylon Leader. Tune in to hear the scandal of Detector-Gate.

The Battlestar Galactica Board Game and its Expansions

box

The Battlestar Galactica board game is probably my favourite of all time. Not only does it have exceedingly clever mechanics and nearly endless replayability, but it also captures the theme (one that I didn’t even like that much before the board game) perfectly in nearly every way.

So let’s pretend that my two sentences convinces you of this fact. Or, perhaps, you are already part of the choir. I’d like to talk a little about the expansions.

There are 3 (well 2, with a 3rd coming later this year):

1. Pegasus, covering events in the second season and the season opener of the third.
2. Exodus, covering events of the rest of the third season.
3. Daybreak, which looks to cover the rest of the series (season 4, essentially.)

Pegasus

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The thing about Pegasus is that it was the first expansion and afterwards I believe the game designers decided to take a more modular approach. Pegasus, therefore, does not benefit from this. It is often considered a “rules patch.” For this reason I have heard many dismiss it as “not worth the money” but I personally think this is terribly unfair.

It is true that the Pegasus box is the same size as the base box, but far lighter. It is also true to say there are a lot more bits and pieces in Exodus. For my money, though, I think Pegasus is a far more important expansion.

It tries to achieve two main goals.

First it attempts to rebalance the “sympathiser” mechanic. It is a very unpopular mechanic and many people feel that it is both too “gamey” and also prone to wild balance swings between the two teams. The expansion provides several options for alternatives that generally centre around a enigmatic Cylon Leader. They’re almost a third faction that wins with one of the teams, but only after a series of criteria are met. They’re designed as a balancing factor hindering or helping both sides at different times, depending on their secret agenda.

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Secondly it tries to tidy up a few core game mechanics that didn’t work so well. It achieves this through a number of rule tweaks, but mostly through a new “Cylon Location Overlay.” This changes the way several of the cylon locations work fairly dramatically. For example, cylons can wait in the resurrection ship after revealing and draw more super crisis cards. They cannot, however, go back in to the resurrection after they leave it. It also introduces the Pegasus board. 4 new powerful locations for the humans to help fight raiders and basestars.

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The expansion does also add in some new content – new characters and a new skill deck, for example. These are nice, but don’t impact the play all that much and feel more like bonus material rather than important additions.

Our group found it incredibly difficult for the humans to win with the base game. Our human win to cylon win ratio was probably on the order of 1:10. However, since introducing Pegasus things have evened out considerably. Cylons still win more often than not, but we find the games go down to the wire far more often.

I had originally shied away from Pegasus because of the new Pegasus board taking some of the space-combat limelight away from the pilots. This is certainly true, but we have found it’s not really as bad as we expected. The pilots do still see a bit of action, and everyone is still needed to pull through. I was also deathly afraid of the addition of Admiral Cain. Her once-per-game ability to “blind jump” seemed so strong as to make her a “must pick” character. While she is certainly a powerful character, in practice I don’t find her quite as game breaking as I expected.

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Lastly, I’ll quickly mention the occupation on New Caprica. This is an alternative ending condition for the game where a mini-game is basically played that the humans need to try and survive. Things are very different to the rest of the game, so it was not received very well. We typically don’t play with it, as it is optional, but like other additions with the expansion it can add a bit of extra flavour.

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All-in-all, I think Pegasus is a “must-have” expansion.

Exodus

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I actually picked Exodus up as my first expansion on the recommendation of several people on BSG forums I frequent. They told me how it makes it so that those that pick pilots were not always so bored, and it balances the game better, and makes Cylon attacks less random.

I was a little surprised by some of the comments, since pilot roles were very popular picks in our groups and they were always extremely busy. I couldn’t imagine why they would be described as “boring.” Cylon attacks were certainly brutal, but I really enjoyed them nonetheless. If Exodus improved on that, then all the better.

Exodus went for a far more modular approach than Pegasus which I think most players appreciated. There was not much in Exodus that was absolutely required, instead it shipped rules broken into 3 totally independent sections that could be added to the game. So you could play with 1, 2, or 3 of the Exodus components, or even just add in the new Exodus cards and characters (and the couple rule clarifications) and play with none of the new components.

Although there was a little bit of tweaking to the rules (for example, some adjustments to Pegasus additions – such as execution – that had a few flaws) most of Exodus was designed to shake up well-established strategies and tactics the community had developed. It tried to provide more ways for people to behave seemingly contrary to the human’s goal, but in actual fact are keeping the toaster threat at bay. In this way cylons could more easily sabotage the fleet without being immediately outed. Suspicious, sure, but this whole game is about sowing suspicion.

By far and away the biggest addition in the Exodus expansion is the “Cylon Fleet Board.” It removes cylon attack cards from the crisis deck entirely relying instead on having a cylon fleet build up on a secondary board. When this fleet catches up to the human fleet, you transfer the accumulated pieces on to the main board. Thus the attacks are more like a gradual build-up, followed by a large attack, rather than a fairly random collection of small attacks that may add up to large ones.

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I didn’t realise that pilots were less utilised at the time because of the Pegasus expansion, and I’m not entirely convinced that Exodus fixes anything. We found our pilots spent all of their time “escorting civilians” off the board, rather than shooting at toasters.

I personally find the whole process very silly. The problem is in the details, which I won’t get in to, but here’s an example:

It is often times good for the humans to have a basestar attack. Due to the way the rules are written, if a basestar attacks there is almost no chance of the rest of the cylon fleet showing up. The idea is that the whole massive fleet shows up at once, but various conditions can make a lone basestar show up. A lone basestar is really not much threat, so it is definitely the humans preference to let it show up and they make no effort to kill it, knowing that it effectively gimps the rest of the cylon fleet.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of strategy involved with the board – on both the human and cylon side. There are a lot of choices to what might be the best action to take… but they often don’t make much sense, such as the above basestar tactic.

I also don’t like that removing the attack cards reduces the strength of abilities such as scouting, or Roslin’s Religious Visions since attacks can no longer be avoided through those abilities.

character_political_roslin

The other additions brought by Exodus are interesting, but not necessary. They’re also simply problems for the humans to overcome – they bring very little positive power to the humans. As a result, they just make the game harder (and when you’re looking at 1:10 lose:win ratio, that’s a tough pill to swallow!) It doesn’t make it that much harder, but anything that sows suspicion – by making it dangerous to look at each other’s loyalty cards for example – makes it harder on the humans even if only by a little.

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Finally the ending condition is mixed up once again. It’s mostly fluff – as opposed to New Caprica which can be difficult and game changing – but that suits fine. It’s a fun way to mix up the game as it winds towards a close finish, without greatly changing things.

As far as I’m concerned, Exodus is good but not necessary. I think you’ll probably have the best time with both Pegasus and Exodus, but if you HAVE to pick one, go with Pegasus as it is better suited to improving the base game. Exodus is mostly fluff and loses some of its re-balance without Pegasus.

Daybreak

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Daybreak is not out yet, but from what we’ve seen so far it looks quite good. They’ve had another go at rebalancing the sympathiser mechanic. Now it is replaced by a new title. Between the original “President”, “Admiral”, and Exodus’s “CAG” most players had a title already. Now there is an interesting new one called “Mutineer.” The idea here is that the everyone gets powers that are presidential-like but you can only hold one of these “mutiny” cards at a time. If something forces you to pick up a second, you are immediately brigged as a mutineer. Therefore, it is probably wise to play this card – unfortunately most cards are both good and bad at the same time. Usually helping in some significant way, but also hurting the human cause in another way. It is probable that sometimes you can afford to lose one resource to gain some benefit… but other times it is not a good idea at all. So – are people trying to stay out of the brig, trying to help, or actively harming the human cause? Who knows!

The mutineer, meanwhile, can hold more of these cards than normal. This means they hold a special role of being able to utilise these special cards more effectively… or to greater devastation. It all sounds very interesting and fun.

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A further reveal of Daybreak shows the new destination and the new ship (The Demetrius.) This ship gives the humans even more decisions – they can now run “missions” from there which are like higher-stakes crisis cards. If the humans are feeling confident they can use The Demetrius to try and squeeze out some extra juice… or alternatively a hidden cylon player may drop an unrequested mission on the humans that they have no hope of passing. The effects of these missions cards tend to be really good or really bad. I’m not sure yet whether this addition will be nice to have, but not necessary; mostly ignored among all the other options the humans have (with so few turns!); or a great must-have addition to the game. One quite siginificant addition is a new Rebel Basestar board. Presumably this is somewhat like Pegasus in that it grants quite a lot of firepower – the catch is… it could join either the humans OR the cylons.

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All in all Daybreak sounds like it’ll be a lot of fun. I don’t know if it will be a “must have” but since I already have the other expansions I’m not about to stop now. I have a feeling that Pegasus will still be necessary, but after that Exodus or Daybreak will be either-or options.

A Final Note

I’m wondering if I can run 4 sessions in a row one long weekend. I’ll start one game with the base game, then work through each expansion with some rules to allow people to “carry over” to the next expansion. I have a few ideas floating around for that… but I don’t know if I’ll convince my friends to settle in for that much Battlestar Galactica!

Why the Game Of Thrones Board Game Disappointed Me.

My gaming group are all very pragmatic. I rather suspect this is the problem we face with the Game of Thrones board game.

I picked it up after many recommendations (such as the above one.)

The mechanics, I thought, would suit our group perfectly. We love to trick and fight each other, but it never hurts our friendship. We also like the nitty-gritty details and longer games are no problem. Lastly, we all love the Game of Thrones stories. All in all, the game sounded perfect.

So what went wrong?

Well, the first couple games were pretty fun. They took a lot longer than I expected, but they were our first games so I thought they’d pick up. They also contained a fair amount of wheeling and dealing but they all ended fairly flawed. In the first two we were all easily beaten by sneak attacks performed by a much more experienced player. Those sea attacks can be very hard to spot!

Ok. Fine. We’ll get better.

The first game where we all had equal experience saw one of the players(Baratheon) that were well on their way to victory with a game-long truce with a much weaker player (Tyrell.) So as the game wound down, Baratheon moved to the verge of victory. Everyone knew it, and all previous alliances were restructured into Us vs Baratheon… except… Tyrell didn’t break their truce. They ended the game by moving their pieces OUT of one of their strongholds to allow Baratheon to move in uncontested for the win. “Ha ha!” the Tyrell player crowed, “We win!” Um. No. The silver lining was that in hindsight it looked like we realised Baratheon had the game too late. We’re pretty sure we wouldn’t have been able to stop him any way. Well played, Baratheon.

Baratheon and Tyrell cementing their alliance

Baratheon and Tyrell cementing their alliance

Still, I started to suspect the game wasn’t what I was after. Even if Tyrell HAD switched sides (as logically he should have,) it wouldn’t have exactly been a Game of Thrones-esk betrayal, would it? It would just be a pragmatic attack to improve one’s odds (however slim) of ultimately winning.

Subseqent games pretty much played out the same way. Any discussion of non-aggression pacts, alliances, or truces were done on the understanding of: This is just to improve my chances of winning. That is, it may improve yours as well, but we all know I’m only suggesting we stop fighting because otherwise neither of us have a hope. Fine, fine. But if one of us turns this around and starts to win… it’s back on. Ok, that’s the point of the game, but the problem is that it’s not a betrayal, or surprise.

The above video reviewer mentions how not a game goes by where the Lannister player doesn’t get stabbed and, containing his rage the player will simply threaten: “A Lannister always repays their debts.”

Never have I seen a betrayal that would warrant this sort of fist-shaking. It’s just too risky. Occasionally I could see a chance to grab a “free” castle if I tell the guy sitting next to me, who I’ve had an unspoken agreement with since the start of the game, “Oh, that’s a power token. I have no intention of attacking your castle, I just don’t have the resources.” Then, “Surprise!” it’s a march order and I grab me a free castle. Occasionally. And then – is it worth it? Due to all the above issues, no-one is silly enough to leave a castle completely exposed to a so-called ally.

“Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”

The best scenario would be one where, in a series of cleverly orchestrated back-stabs you surprise everyone by suddenly getting 8 castles and instantly win the game. Never. That’s when that’ll happen. We can all count, you see. You have 6 castles? Well then, everyone is watching your armies like a hawk. Your allies, even if they decide it’s not time to go on the offensive surely aren’t going to leave a castle next your armies without sufficient defenses. Ser Loras is the only way such a move might be pulled off (“I can afford to lose this castle because there’s no way he can get a second.” Oops. That army that wasn’t adjacent to any castles has suddenly bounded up and taken 1 extra castle.)

So essentially, a Game of Thrones board game turns into a fairly lack-luster war game. One that hasn’t failed to take 8 hours, yet. Since betrayal on the board rarely amounts to anything, the vying for power becomes the most interesting part. Using the raven to look at the wildling deck, or the blind-auctioning for position on the influence tracks. Unfortunately, these make up a very small part of the game compared to moving armies around and my play-group has house-ruled a few small things that makes this part even less interesting.

I decided a while ago that it would be a good long while until I break out the Game of Thrones board game again. I broke that rule after a month or two, mostly because it was with an entirely different gaming group… and that 6-hour marathon convinced me that I will probably never break the game out again unless I get begged and begged. Things were no different. Everyone was practical and pragmatic. No alliances, no back stabbings, and the player with the best military strategy won. It was so. Freaking. Boring.