Tuesday, August 25, 2009

By your command -- Tinkering with Pegasus


Now that the gang has many games of the BSG expansion, is there consensus on the cylon leaders? We all (basically) agree they don't work, but they are intriguing. One idea I've had is to make two decks for the "Sympathetic Cylon" and "Hostile Cylon." A "Pro" and "Con" deck. The "Pro" deck would by like the standard victory conditions from the 4/6 or 5 deck, but balanced out. These should be things that are all under the leader's (somewhat) control. The "Con" deck would be pretty hard to achieve, but would require the leader switching sides (to the cylon side in 4/6, in the human side in 5), but would give the side he's abandoned some strong leverage to compensate for having an odd number. To take the "Con 5" example ... "You win with the humans if Galactica has 4 or 5 damage." Sure, the cylon player is 1 v 4, but at some point Galactica is going to become ripe for the pickings. Making these two decks (instead of one) means that just because you know a leader's "Pro" condition, you can't automatically guess his "Con." This would take a lot of work. But right now I don't have a better idea, other than playing with five.

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14 Comments:

At 6:14 PM, August 25, 2009, Blogger Chris said...

Giving the cylon leader a variable agenda is tricky.

Currently, all of the agendas have two parts: which side you win with, and which conditions have to be met. So, say you have an agenda that says "You win with the cylons if..." Do you make it so the conditions are hurtful to the humans (like you have to have 4+ damage on Galactica, or a human has to be executed)? If so, the Cylon leader is essentially a guaranteed revealed cylon without a super crisis (infiltration aside), which drastically tilts the game balance. Or do you make the conditions hurtful to the Cylons (like you win with the cylons but have to have one resource in the blue, or you win with the cylons but have to have destroyed at least one basestar)? Then they are essentially a neutered, or ineffective Cylon. And who wants to play that? Furthermore, you're getting to what we didn't like about the sympathizer mechanic--that you have to HURT your team's side in order to win.

So, having both a specified winning side AND a specified set of conditions just seem bad to me. But what if you made it a set of conditions without specifying which side actually had to win? In other words, you win REGARDLESS of which side wins IF conditions X+Y are met? I think that opens things up a bit and makes a Cylon leader more of an agent of chaos. You don't know at any given point if they're going to help or hurt a given side, because all they care about is their own winning conditions. If I recall correctly, Werewolf has roles like this where you win independent of the humans or wolves if certain conditions are met--I'm sure Michael could give examples--and the Cylon leader might be more fun to play like that. But still, I'm not sure if that concept really captures thematically the role that Cylon leaders played in the series, and the game probably needs to stick to that at least somewhat.

I don't think my solution fixes everything, but I figured I'd just brainstorm and see what else people came up with.

 
At 6:16 PM, August 25, 2009, Blogger Chris said...

By the way, that picture is a little too much Dean Stockwell. It's pretty harsh.

 
At 7:44 PM, August 25, 2009, Blogger Ben said...

Perhaps I'm just subconsciously lazy, but I've always been strongly averse to tinkering with house rules.

 
At 8:52 PM, August 25, 2009, Blogger Ben said...

Does anyone actually krylon clear coat their cardboard counters? The guys I'm playing a GMT game on Vassal with seem to do it right after they clip the corners... Heck, I thought sleeving was a bit extreme...

 
At 9:46 PM, August 25, 2009, Blogger Chris said...

I've always been strongly averse to tinkering with house rules.

Of course, if they're "house rules", then you've already tinkered with them...

Just kidding--I know what you meant. ;)

 
At 10:09 AM, August 26, 2009, Blogger scott said...

First, I am not sure that the current set up is broken since I only have 6 games and only 4 with leaders under my belt and have not yet played as a leader.

Second, my fear with Chris' solution is that it would make it too easy for the leader to win and too difficult for the side they would have otherwise been supporting to win.

Third, my off the cuff suggestion; have the leader look at the undistributed loyalty cards at the beginning of the game and if there are no cylons off the deal then they get a very pro cylon agenda for the first part of the game and if there are all of the cylons off the deal then they get a very pro human agenda for the first part of the game. Then at the sleeper phase they get a second agenda. Whether the leader wins is dependent on their performance of both their pre sleeper and post sleeper agendas.

 
At 10:16 AM, August 26, 2009, Blogger Michael said...

I think of the proposed solutions so far (including do nothing) I think Brian's has the most potential.

As is, I think the leader mechanic is preferable to the sympathizer mechanic, but still not very good. I would still always choose 5 or 4 and 6 at the moment.

I also think that 4 and 6 agendas should probably look somewhat different to account for the fact that a cylon leader has much less control in the latter.

 
At 12:46 PM, August 26, 2009, Blogger scott said...

So to really guarantee Michael's support how about each player before each game creates a pro condition and a con condition and the cylon leader pulls a random one from each pile of what that tables participants created; giving it all a Celebrities like air?

 
At 3:34 PM, August 26, 2009, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

I like Chris's suggestion the best. I love the idea of no one being able to trust the Cylon leader from beginning to end. In fact, that's how I thought they were going to work: the leader has a very specific, hard-to-reach endgame condition, and if he/she reaches it, everyone loses but the leader!

Not sure what those conditions would be, but one thing I've thought about is A>B conditions, like:

You win if morale > food
You win if intact raptors > fuel (or fuel > intact vipers)
You win if executed players > basestars destroyed
You win if pop lost from civ ships > all other sources of pop loss

In each case, you're trying to hit one thing while protecting another, so no one can fully trust you. And it could lead to some hilarious plays (like arguing against scouting, then infiltrating to scout the destination deck for high fuel-consuming worlds).

 
At 6:46 PM, August 26, 2009, Blogger Brian said...

The reason I suggested the "two cards" idea is that the Cylon leader should be someone that neither side can really trust. Chris' suggestion gets to that as well.

I've also considered agendas that determines which team you play for ("You win with Cylons unless Pegasus is destroyed." "You win with the Cylons as long as Morale is greater than one.")

One issue with my idea (and Chris's) is that there is a discovery mechanism for Cylons, but not for agendas. That means that having agendas that are too similar puts the other players in a position where they just can't know what the cylon is doing. There should be some possibility of one side (or the other) trusting them.

 
At 7:19 PM, August 26, 2009, Blogger Michael said...

At least from my experience with werewolf, solo victory conditions like that are extremely bad.

If you make them extremely difficult (ala morale > food at game end) it will just be a study in frustration for the leader who in reality has very little control over such specifics.

If you make them too easy (majority of pop loss must come from civ ships which in our games so far would be a 100% win rate for that condition) then it will be extremely frustrating for the remaining players who have no way to play around such conditions without ruining their ability to compete against the other team.

 
At 7:37 PM, August 26, 2009, Blogger scott said...

So why not have a bi or tri furcated agenda that gives the leader a hard to reach but theoretically possible solo victory as well as a chance at a group victory on another agenda (or combination of 2 other partial agendas).

 
At 8:26 PM, August 26, 2009, Blogger scott said...

Who is Mike M? If he is still reading the blog or if anybody else is still interested in joining the football league it is an espn league; league name SABG and Friends; drafting 9/1 at 8pm ET.

 
At 10:35 AM, August 27, 2009, Blogger pat said...

brian, you are scaring small children and a few of us adults with that picture...

 

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