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Thursday, November 05, 2009

I shall have my rewen-ge!

Recently preoccupied with a new member of his household- a kitten (cue pause for wave of 'Aaaaahs' from the audience- including yours truly I must confess: Andy and I visited Gav later to meet Kai the kitten and she is indeed the cutest little furball), Gav was missing from the table last Sunday. This was a bit of a shame because with Dave and Tony present we'd've made six for a Sunday session for the first time in many moons.

Battlestar Galactica
Anyhoo, it was my turn to choose our first game. After all that I've recently written on the subject, it was a cinch that I was going to choose Battlestar Galactica. There was more to this decision than the obvious desire to play the game over which I'd expended so much digital ink to expunge my doubts about its lasting merits. No, I had a whole other agenda, a 'political' agenda if you will. Y'see all that analysis had also convinced me that BSG gameplay could be improved if you brought ulterior motives and other sources of paranoia to the table.

And so I entered Sunday's game determined to do my best to deal with a legacy from previous games. Not only that, I made sure everyone else knew this (what's the point of having a private agenda in a game about politicking and paranoia if you don't tell people?); even if, as it turned out:
  • Nobody understood what the frakk I was talking about: I only announced that I had an agenda, because it'd've been easily foiled if I'd told everyone what it actually was.
  • My goal was achieved without any effort on my part in any case.
I can't therefore reveal what this agenda was because I'll be bringing it to the table for our next game of BSG, let me assure you!

What went down
Sunday's group of Cylon suspects and would-be heroes of humanity were:
  • Tony: Gaius Baltar.
  • Me: Lee "Apollo" Adama.
  • Andy: Saul Tigh (Andy'd wanted to be a pilot and flat out refused to let me change my character when I offered, preferring instead drunkenly to nurse a grudge while plotting nuclear destruction).
  • Donald: "Chief" Galen Tyrol.
  • Dave: Kara "Starbuck" Thrace.
To say this game was eventful would be one of the understatements of my gaming year. The 'Besieged' Cylon attack Crisis card was followed by 'Declare Martial Law' then the 'Ambush' Cylon attack so that after a mere 3 turns the Cylon threat to the fleet was unprecedented, as 5 Vipers led by Apollo found themselves pitted against:
  • 2 Basestars,
  • 8 Raiders,
  • 1 Heavy Raider;
in defence of 8 civilian ships.

As the second wave of this attack closed in Andy had instituted the military dictatorship which turned out to be merely Phase 1 of all those years of less-than-petty scheming by Tigh after his failure at pilot school. A few turns later, with 1 Basestar largely crippled Andy took out the other with a nuke; an act which was later to prove just how devious the bitter old drunk had been all those years.

The Cylon threat looking managable for the first time all game, we barely had time to draw breath (a mere few turns) before we were hit by 'Thirty-Three' and we saw our population drop to a mere 3 (from 12: unheard of in 7 previous games) under the relentless Cylon onslaught. Unable by virtue of this perilously low population to make fast jumps (because they cost population) we were lucky to be able finally to make our first jump out next turn- turn 11; which left us at 2 population and with a Centurion boarding party on Galactica.

By the time we finally reached the midway point on the journey to Kobol, and the Sleeper Agent Phase which decrees the final Cylon dispositions, we knew for sure that Dave and/or Tony were Cylon (there are 2 in a 5-player game). Our resources were:
  • Fuel: 3.
  • Food: 5.
  • Morale: 6.
  • Population: 1 (15 from 38: bad even if we weren't teetering on the brink with that 1 population).
Sad to say humanity's time proved to be as short as you'd expect in those dire straits.

Sure enough, Tony soon revealed himself to be Cylon and he quickly availed himself of an opportunity which we'd never seen in action before, but which I was half expecting: he made his way to the Cylon Resurrection ship so that he could pass off 1 of his 2 'You are a Cylon' cards to Andy (dealt 2 Loyalty cards at start because he was Gaius Baltar, Tony had started Cylon and had been dealt his second 'You are a Cylon' card during the Sleeper Agent Phase); a wise choice when you consider all the power that Andy had concentrated in his hands. I held out the hope that Tony was just playing mindgames; but the hope was faint, and false.

Andy cruelly fanned the flames of this faint hope by keeping his true nature secret and we were able to reach Jump 6, with our resources down to:
  • Fuel: 3.
  • Food: 4.
  • Morale: 4.
  • Population: 1.
These last desperate hopes of humanity's survival were soon extinguished when Andy turned up the 'Riots' Crisis card and used his powers as the Admiral to wipe out what remained of our once proud species.

Afterthoughts
What a great game! Fast, furious and eventful, this was everything I've always thought Battlestar Galactica could deliver as a gaming experience. It's just a shame Gav wasn't there to share the thrills and spills. Apart from the terrifying speed with which the crisis went from bad to worse, the game's high point had to be Tony's use of the Resurrection ship to pass his 'You are a Cylon' card to Andy. The possibility of Gav finally enjoying Cylon status by being given it in this way was something I'd been wondering about; I just forgot the precise mechanic which could deliver it. I'll warrant that the chance to pass on Cylon status must be second only to the fun of playing Cylon.

Andy gaining the Cylon victory without actually having to reveal his nature was also neat. In a final irony, the postgame discussion revealed that there is in fact a way by which we might perhaps have saved ourselves: the Galactica location 'Communications', which we'd never used before, and of which we were barely aware. In mitigation I have to note that the Cylon threat to civilian ships in this game was unprecedented, so that we've never really needed this location before. That's my excuse and I'll be sticking with it!

Score
Toasters 1
Toast 0
:-(

Judge Dredd
Casting around for our next game, it was Tony I believe who suggested Judge Dredd. Well overdue as I'd been thinking only recently, it was nice to introduce this GW classic to another fan of the strip, namely Dave. Donald was convinced that he was reigning serving Chief Judge of Megacity 1. Unfortunately for Donald I must correct that mistaken impression: Gav- AKA. Judge Jules, holds that office; as records and RD/KA! both show.

In any event, evidently the sight of Judge Jules seated in his office stroking a cat with the inevitable evil gleam in his eye was enough to persuade everyone that he was in no way suitable for this supreme office. Donald was able in the end to find that much sought after seat in the Chief Judge's office, although he has to share it (the office, not the seat; though what happens behind those closed doors is their affair I guess...) as a 3-way tie:
  • Andy: 34,
  • Donald: 36,
  • Dave: 36,
  • Tony: 36,
  • Me: 26;
means that an iron-fisted triumverate now rules over the Megacity.

Score
Inhuman and tyrannical 2
Just plain inhuman 1
Tyro tyrants 1
Burnt toast 0
:-0

Fluxx
Dinner loomed. We needed a quickie filler to get in any more games before I had to repair to the kitchen. Munchkin was suggested, but my taste for that game is strictly limited- ie. preferrably not 2 weeks in a row. Fluxx was therefore an easy choice all round. We weren't far into our first game before Donald helpfully pointed out that if I didn't win a game of Fluxx I'd be on my second duck in a row for a Sunday session. Sad to say the would-be Evil One's prediction came true, as our 2 games went to:

  • Donald: with the Appliances (another frakkin' toaster!).
  • Dave: Hearts and Minds.
Score
Inhuman tyrant
2 
Capricious tyrants 2 
Tyrannical and devious toaster 1 
The bum's rush 0
:_(

Oh yes, and there were more games of Fluxx but nobody took notes while I was slaving away in the kitchen, so the world shall remain ever unaware of whether Dave, Donald or Tony came out on top of the struggles in the Chief Judge's office in Megacity 1. Perhaps that's for the best, don't you think? ;)
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