Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Monday Night Recap

When I arrived, four people were involved in Roll Through the Ages. It was a typical SABG game, in that there was much complaining that Brian was getting all the rolls, and Michael won despite constant protestations that he was getting killed. Part of my wants to try the game, but another part of me can't shake the image that everyone playing it looks like they are taking the SAT.

Next came five-player Snow Tails. I snuck around the first corner, blew down a tree, and took a two-move lead over Brian. But trouble ensued at a tricky spot near the end, where the track narrowed to one lane, then widened with an obstruction in the middle and a 4-speed limit immediately after. I came in at high speed (dogs 5/5, brake 2) but one lane left of center, and no combination of cards would get me through the choke without brazenly violating the speed limit. The solution was to play a 4 on the left dog, shift into the middle lane, and then slam into the obstruction at ludicrous speed, taking a second dent. I then had the right cards to squeak around it and reach top speed again before crossing the finish just ahead of Brian. I still like the puzzle aspect of the game, but it felt cheesy to use a giant rock as a speed brake with so little repercussion.

Next was my 12th Pegasus game. Jon was the early Cylon, using a Critical Situation and Zarek's one-shot to drop population before revealing and brigging Michael. After two jumps for three distance, every ship in the game came out (no joke, even the heavies), costing several population, destroying Pegasus, and adding two boarders. Jon drew the sleeper Cylon and handed it to me for an immediately reveal. But the humans killed the boarders on the last possible turn before a loss, and made it to New Caprica with the dials at 2/4/6/4. At this point Scott had to leave, so Jon played both Cylon hands and I became human again. Jon pushed occupation forces hard to blow up ships, and our first few crises were jumpless. But thanks to high food and morale, we were able to use the oft-ignored "drop the highest dial for a jump" space twice. Jon's inbound nukes brought us to the brink, but thanks to everyone drawing XO's, we evacuated the last ship and jumped with the dials at 1/2/4/1 for possibly the tightest human win ever.

- That's twice we've nearly called a game due to hopelessness, only to see the humans hang on by their fingernails on New Caprica. Awesome.
- Humans are now 7-5 in my 12 games, with only one failing to reach New Caprica.
- Have we played Pegasus with the Kobol destination yet? I'd like to try that.
- Having gone from human to Cylon and back to human, am I happy or sad that the humans survived?

The last order of business was to covet my Space Hulk pretties. I'll have them assembled this week, but painting will take a lot longer.

Also played: Statis Pro Baseball, Rum & Pirates (at least a little), Merchants of Venice, presumably other stuff after 9pm.


At 4:23 PM, September 01, 2009, Blogger scott said...

And after BSG is tried with Kobol destination I would love to try a hybrid, 3 phase game; essentially do New Caprica and then after jumping away require a certain additional distance and/or number of jumps before victory; ie going from New Caprica to Kobol. Needless to say this would require starting the dials a bit higher. Initially I would say just add the need for one more jump or perhaps 2 more distance after the jump away from New Caprica and increase the starting dials by 1 or 2 each.

At 4:26 PM, September 01, 2009, Blogger Brian said...

Masters of Venice takes about half a game before you have an idea of what you are doing. I won with a score of 14 to 11 to 5 (or so). If Chris hadn't messed up the ending, he'd have jumped from 5 to 13.

What also happened last night? Alexfrog posted his groups solution to the Cylon Leader problem, which seems promising.

At 4:56 PM, September 01, 2009, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

I like Alexfrog's fundamental idea, but I disagree with his statement that 33% Cylon is balanced. I would put the number at 40%, since 5-player games with two Cylons are always the best experience. This is why the sympathizer, while gamey, works so well in four-player games -- if you think of it as a half-Cylon (since you either submarine the first half of the game or the second half), then the Cylons are 1.5/4 = 37.5%, close to the optimal 40% figure. In 6-player games, it's 2.5/6 = 41.6%.

33% versus 40% may not seem like much, but when you are deciding how many Cylons to have in a four-player game (and Alexfrog recommends just one), it's enormous. I just don't see how a Cylon could win 1-vs-3 without massive help from the crisis deck, especially with Pegasus and New Caprica in play. 6-player is not as bad (2-vs-4), but still bad.

What to do? I'm not sure, but how about something like this for a four-player game. There will always be one Cylon card. If the leader is pro-human, he/she ensures that the Cylon card is always dealt at the beginning. If the leader is pro-Cylon, ensure that it is dealt after the Sleeper phase. It's not perfect, but it's closer to the ideal of 1.5 Cylons (with either the pro-human leader or the post-sleeper Cylon as the half-Cylon).

At 5:19 PM, September 01, 2009, Blogger Brian said...

Yes, I think the basic idea is sound, but obviously we're winning 5 player games a lot more than his group. So with five, I think his idea is sound (if the cylon is human, shuffle two cylons into the deck).

The four player game idea is interesting. The one thing that 1v3 (hostile leader, no cylons) is that the players can't outright trust each other for a lot of the game. Imagine if the leader infiltrated, resurrected and got a supercrisis (like a pro-human cylon may have to) and the humans keep getting more paranoid, and spending time vetting each other, then when they are finally done the cylon unleashes a supercrisis.

The possibility of having no cylons but churning through the motions isn't something to discount lightly, although I suspect your "Sleeper versus not" is a reasonable balance...

At 9:32 PM, September 01, 2009, Blogger Chris said...

The things I like that I've seen proposed here and by Alexfrog:

1) A way to have a variable number of cylons (but still have game balance). I'd love to have a game where you're never sure if you've found all the Cylons, or you keep suspecting someone as Cylon even though the only ones left are humans. Not only would this create tension, but it would solve one of the things I like the least about the New Caprica end game--the constant XO'ing to get all the ships off. Once all the Cylons are known to be revealed, the XO's come flying fast and furiously. It would be nice if there was a way to mitigate this. It would also be nice if there was a way for an unrevealed Cylon to do anything useful on New Caprica, but there really isn't. If an unrevealed Cylon had the ability to blow a couple of ships (and the humans were forced to stop him), it would be much more interesting. Yes, you can bump the occupation forces, but I'm in agreement with others that this takes too long.

2) I really like Scott's suggestion of additional jumps required after the departure from New Caprica. This would fix a couple of things:

a) the Cylons would have more opportunity to use their Super Crisis cards, especially Cylons that turn at the Sleeper phase.

b) it would make the "double nuke" strategy when Galactica returns a bit more risky, especially when combined with the possibility that ships and/or a Super Crisis or two may still be coming later.

c) it would make it a more dicey proposition to sit there and calculate "Ok, we need to rescue 6 ships from NC and we're safe, so we can leave 4 behind...we don't care about those." Now, if you've got more jumps to come, then those extra ships ARE important again, and leaving NC with the bare minimum of ships necessary to keep pop above zero becomes very risky.

3) Adjusting resource dials to account for poor game balance with suboptimal numbers of players.

At 9:41 PM, September 01, 2009, Blogger Chris said...

Another thing I've seen that I like is the random draw of a new character when executed. I think that makes a lot more sense. It takes away the "Let's execute Tigh so we can bring Will Adama into the game" strategy.

That, in combination with extra jumps after New Caprica, would also make the humans less likely to leave fellow humans on NC when Galactica departs.

Something else to think about: what about having characters in the Brig on Galactica start NC in Detention? It bumps Boomer back down to the penalty she had in the pre-Pegasus game, and makes her a lot more interesting because the ability of the humans to XO each other on NC is so important. Leave her in Detention or get her out? At the very least, you'd have to spend a human turn and some cards to do it.

At 9:54 PM, September 01, 2009, Blogger Chris said...

BTW, I really liked Masters of Venice. Rob and I spent quite a while chatting via IM about all the game nuances. I liked that feeling of the game "clicking," when you have that moment where you realize, "Oh, THAT'S what I'm supposed to be doing." It really does a good job of simulating an economy, although I agree with Brian that the value of goods sometimes move in unintuitive directions. And I'm still not quite sure how to use church favors effectively, although maybe Brian will figure it out and show me in a future game.

I'm surprised that it doesn't get much love on BGG, but I'm not that concerned. Games like Goa and Caylus are ranked pretty highly, and how often do we ever play those? I'd say our gaming habits are not particularly beholden to BGG rankings, except that we must play the 17th ranked game all the time.


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