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Flashback Friday - Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game

U Updated
Battlestar Galactica board game

Game Information

There Will Be Games

Love it or hate it? Do you still play it?

Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game, released in 2008 by Fantasy Flight Games, took our site by storm. Described by the publisher as "an exciting game of mistrust, intrigue, and the struggle for survival," it did not disappoint. Although it may not have been the first hidden traitor game, it's initial popularity certainly conrtibuted to the many subsequent hidden traitor games designed and released over the next decade.  

Its many expansions were recieved with a bit less enthusiasm, and some argue that they may have lead to a decline in Battlestar Galactica's popularity, along with waning interest and disappointment in the direction of the TV series on which the game was based. 

What do you think? Is Battlestar Galactica the rular by which you measure all hidden traitor games are measured?  Love it or hate it? Do you still play it? 

There Will Be Games Battlestar Galactica board game

Battlestar Galactica board game
Shellie "ubarose" Rose  (She/Her)
Managing Editor & Web Admin

Plays boardgames. Drinks bourbon. Writes code.

Articles by Shellie


Battlestar Galactica board game
Shellie "ubarose" Rose
Managing Editor & Web Admin

Articles by Shellie


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Legomancer's Avatar
Legomancer replied the topic: #287665 07 Dec 2018 09:40
I'm not a huge fan of traitor games to begin with. Galactica was one that I played a few times but it never super wowed me. It's too goddamn long, and each round is essentially just the previous round again. There's only so many times you can say "that's what a Cylon would say" and have it stay interesting.

I much preferred Dark Moon, but it has an issue as well, in that it's just not that interesting once the aliens are revealed. It doesn't get much play in my group and will probably be heading to the sell pile.

I hated Dead of Winter, which was the go-to traitor game for a while there.

Ultimately this is just a genre of game I don't really care for. I just got a new co-op that has an optional traitor mode and it's unlikely I'll ever use it.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #287666 07 Dec 2018 09:49
I wanted to like it, because it's obviously a slick design. But we tried three times and every game was just kind of "meh." The only thing that encouraged us to play the 2nd and 3rd time was me, insisting that the game had something that we might be just missing. But by the third try, I gave up and traded it.
jpat's Avatar
jpat replied the topic: #287667 07 Dec 2018 10:00
I've had some of my best gaming experiences with BSG. My wife and I participated in an annual Geekway game for three or four years, and we also had other enjoyable plays (and my plays predated me knowing her). I'm sure some will argue that the game itself has been surpassed or whatever, but this one of my first and still one of my best experiences playing a game where you actually played the theme rather than just read about it in flavor text.

The expansions are a mess. I have all three sets but have only played with a few options from the first two, and while I appreciate the opportunity to flex just about every option in the game, collectively they represent the worst of late-aughts/early-tens FFG design and expansion philosophy, with later expansions even correcting/invalidating parts of earlier expansions. I'd be more inclined to dig into the expansions at least on occasion if I didn't have to figure out how everything interrelates.

You're probably wondering whether I still play it, after all that. I haven't played it since May 2017, but I'd pretty much always play if anyone wanted to.

A couple of my old session reports, back when I did them:
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #287668 07 Dec 2018 10:17
I got the BSG base set based on strong word of mouth here at the Fort, despite never watching the modern version of the show. The base game was so good that I ended up watching and enjoying the first three seasons, until season three started sucking. I didn't bother watching the final season, and I have likewise avoided playing with the expansions. I haven't played in years, because the only local players who still want to play are desperate to junk up the game with all the expansion crap.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #287669 07 Dec 2018 10:23
Aside from the player count scaling problem, I thought that the base set was great, and we played it a lot for the first two years. Eventually I got a little burned out because certain regular players only wanted to play the same characters every time. For example, we had a married couple that always wanted to play Adama and Roslin, so they often controlled the game. Except when one of them was playing a traitor, and the other one of them could tell. Another regular player always wanted to play either Boomer or one of the two guys who was banging her, because he had a thing for Asian women. So I often ended up playing Apollo or Starbuck.
jur's Avatar
jur replied the topic: #287671 07 Dec 2018 10:27
The strong point of the game was always that the feel of the game was so close to the atmosphere in the series. I haven't found other traitor games that I enjoyed as much because of that. Perhaps atypically, I watched the show after playing the game a bunch of times.

This still gets back to the table once a year to great enjoyment.
Mr. Bistro's Avatar
Mr. Bistro replied the topic: #287672 07 Dec 2018 10:27
I still love this game, even if I seldom play it. Some of the best times I’ve ever had around a table were playing this.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #287673 07 Dec 2018 10:32
This is the only game I regret selling. Phenomenal game and still the best traitor design due to its strong fidelity.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #287675 07 Dec 2018 10:50
The issue I had with the game for a bit was that it could be really hot and cold. Some sessions were a breeze, others were intense and close.

About the time I gave my copy away I played someone else's and it was really a super high quality session. I was a Cylon, everyone knew it, no one could say for sure, and I hadn't done a thing to sabotage what was already a very difficult play of the game. Their suspicions took their minds off of their business, and that resulted in them letting the fuel run out when they didn't have to. All I had to do was sit there and look clearly not-guilty, further compounding their suspicions. Really an interesting session, that made me put this game back in the top-shelf category.

As with those above I'll agree -- the base game is fully sufficient and should be the best-practices way to play. Keep it clean and you'll enjoy it more. Avoid the player count that has the Sympathizer thing going on.
Grudunza's Avatar
Grudunza replied the topic: #287677 07 Dec 2018 11:01
Still great. Play it maybe once a year. At this point, though, I don't really want any of the expansion bloat stuff. Just give me the original game... maybe with new characters included from the other expansions (that still work with the base rules).
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #287678 07 Dec 2018 11:03

Mr. Bistro wrote: I still love this game, even if I seldom play it. Some of the best times I’ve ever had around a table were playing this.

*incoming thread hijack*

Holy moley! Mr. Bistro is back! I haven't seen you around here in like, 2 - 3 years. How are you doing? What have you been up to?
SuperflyPete's Avatar
SuperflyPete replied the topic: #287680 07 Dec 2018 11:51
It’s still one of the best games for larger groups ever made. I’d always play it.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #287684 07 Dec 2018 12:12
Waaaaahhhhhhh - now you've upset me for the weekend ... and maybe the month. This is my favourite game, bar none, and don't get to play it anymore (one play in over four years) because the most people I can get who will play it is four (me included) and I refuse to play with less than five as that is the only completely underwhelming (even poor) aspect of the game - you need five people for it to work perfectly, while six can work with expansions.

With people who are very familiar with the series, and sometimes those who haven't even seen it, this game is just supersonic as the theme and people make it one of the best gaming experiences you can have. At our small club, when there were boardgamers around, I think there were four or five copies of it within the year. By about the sixth game it had been renamed by some people as 'Kill Toaster Tom'.

Conversely this game is absolutely a horror if you play with the wrong people - usually dry, pattern searching, mechanic pining eurogamers. I had one game at a predominantly euro-friendly club that I just couldn't wait for it to end fast enough - one guy just read all his cards (constantly) and said hardly anything, another person just didn't get it and was as silent, and one guy (a mate I play with in a euro group) just got anti everytime I suggested he may be a cylon. I cringe whenever I remember back to it.

I enjoyed the expansions as it gave more theme to us fans of the show - Pegasus had New Caprica, the mechanics were not quite there but it was fun (I remember turning cylon as Ellen and launching Galactica with still most of the humans on the planet) and it provided Pegasus, Exodus provided the Cylon board plus new types of loyalty plus the Boxing, Daybreak I didn't play much (coincided when our player numbers dropped) but it did provide a different arc for the game.

Now to go find some anti-depressant medication - thanks Uba.
DarthJoJo's Avatar
DarthJoJo replied the topic: #287685 07 Dec 2018 12:24
The first time I played Battlestar Galactica was even before my wife I began playing Pandemic and really dove into the hobby. The other three players were all a little loopy from some major med school test. They figured out I was a Cylon because I was reading the rules for revealing myself. They spaced me and lost two turns later because the game is still hard.

That was the last time I played Battlestar Galactica.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #287691 07 Dec 2018 13:38
I maintain that this game is still one of the best of these types of traitor games. It has enough game meat around it to be interesting beyond the traitor element.

My biggest beef with the game is length, and it's so close to being perfect w/5 in the base game. The game really needs to be calibrated to be just *one* jump shorter imho.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #287695 07 Dec 2018 16:45
This is a prime example of a game that has a time, and that time passes.

It is a great game- a watershed title for FFG and still one of their best. It dominated the conversation for a long while. It was everywhere and everyone played it whether they liked the show or not.

I remember there was concern at the time that the license might go out of date...but the reality of it is that the themes- real themes, not just setting- are perennial. And it remains the best traitor game ever made.

But I never want to play it again.

I had lots of good times with it. Lots of fun memories, like when Richard Launius came to my table and lured players over to his, his booming voice declaring “folks, we’re playing a fully painted copy of this game over here”.

I just feel that I’ve moved on and design has moved on. I don’t even really feel nostalgia pulling me back to it. In retrospect, there are a lot of things that are really kind of klunky about it and I’m not sure it needs to be as long as it tends to be. The last time I played it, with a full table and all the expansions, I thought that session was just dreadful.

Regardless, a seminal, important game no doubt.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #287697 07 Dec 2018 16:55

Michael Barnes wrote: This is a prime example of a game that has a time, and that time passes.

Oh so wrong ... another disciple of 'The New' eh, or just listening to your GW overlords to clear the decks of competition ;-p
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #287700 07 Dec 2018 17:52
*wakes up, stumbles out, reads this thread while chugging Mountain Dew*
*Has Eureka Moment*
Reservoir Dogs: The Board Game = Ultimate Traitor IP
(Someone has thought of this, right? Checks, yep, they have.)
*stumbles off to eat something*
Bernie's Avatar
Bernie replied the topic: #287717 07 Dec 2018 20:21
Love this game. I really miss WBC because we have had some awesome games of it there. It does not always go great with a ton of drinking though.

I think parts of the expansions are great and add real life to the game. Mostly the parts that slot in with ease.
* I like the Cylon Leader for better player count optimization. If you have more than 5 it really helps.

* Treachery skill cards. They are great. Can clog p a hand, or let someone really do some devious stuff.

* More skill cards. I think these more than anything breath new life into the game. With only the base skill cards it became too obvious who the Cylon was depending on what skill cards were drawn. The extra cards helped fix this.

* More characters, really don't need to say more.

* The fleet board. This is the only thing I would argue has more value than the skill cards. This makes the game so much better and adds so much. It, while not diminish the importance of President and Admiral makes the pilots rock stars. Pilots can win and lose you games. The CAG title is great. The build up of the enemy fleet really livens the game up and makes being a reviled Cylon suck less.

* More crisis cards. Lots of goodness with little overhead, the variety here helps too.

* Pegasus Board. Great risk reward options. Not needed, but little overhead for the added value.

* The 0 Skill cards. Wow, these are great on so many levels. The bad things that can happen cause they were in a skill check. The great things they can do, or random ruin they can cause. Just a great thing. Little more overhead than the other additional skill cards.

Have not played the game for a bit, but I would in a heart beat. Really rewarding with a group of awesome players and repeated plays.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #287732 07 Dec 2018 21:43
I will argue for the Pegasus board too, I think it's closer to what the strength of the base Galactica should have been to balance the game.
san il defanso's Avatar
san il defanso replied the topic: #287740 08 Dec 2018 07:49
This is a game that was very specifically tied to a time and place for me, and all attempts to recapture that time and place have mostly flopped. It reminds me very strongly of the early years of my marriage, when my wife and I frequently played games with other people. It reminds me of a time when I did not own a lot of other big thematic games, so there were no other 3-hour games vying for my attention. It reminds me of a time when I had a pretty steady group, and was able to play it a lot with the same basic matrix of people. It reminds me of a time when the show was still fresh, and I was enjoying it along with everyone else. It also reflects an age when a single game could really capture the zeitgeist in the hobby, before it became so fractured.

I don't think I am willing to say with certainty that the expansions sank it for me, as we started having kids around the time those were coming out. But the expansions, on balance, didn't help the scenario. The truth is that this is a pretty chromey design, and while I don't think that's a bad thing, it's easy to gum up when you add too much more mechanical grit. The Cylon Fleet board is a good example. It balances out the swingy nature of the Cylons, but at the expense of having to manage one more thing, and of dissipating a little bit of the atmosphere in the game. The expansions were full of stuff like that, though I do like what the Pegasus board added to the mix.

The truth is that I think with experience the game becomes too easy for the humans. I'm willing to admit that this could easily be a product of our group, but the Cylons need a few things to line up to really screw with everyone else. They need to have the opportunity for skill checks, they need to have a group of fairly inexperienced humans who aren't naturally tuned into the gamier parts of the designs. If those things don't pan out, failure rarely seems like something that wasn't dictated by bad luck, though the Cylons still have great potential to mess with certain people. That might not be a very good analysis since this game can be very group specific, but we became so familiar with the game that it almost didn't matter who the Cylons were. It just didn't hold up with extensive familiarity.

But for about two years it was easily my favorite game. I've played over 50 times I'm sure, and I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything. It is one of the great thematic experiences I've had, and along with Cosmic Encounter it was formational for me in helping me not be afraid of big thematic, somewhat random games. It is also the game that got me posting here. Even though I am pretty much done with it, that's still a heck of a legacy.
Jexik's Avatar
Jexik replied the topic: #287744 08 Dec 2018 12:10
One Thursday night 9-10 years ago I found a game group on BGG randomly, just 10 minutes before they hosted their game night on a Thursday night.

That first night, I probably got the usual baptism of having to play Rairoad Tycoon with a group of regulars who would basically make all of your decisions for you, and "you" would often even win that first game! Yay!

On following nights, I usually sat with the table that was oscillating between Stone Age and BSG, depending on player count. I was the only sub-30 guy in the place, but I really wanted to get out and play some more board games that my normal friends were less excited about. A few months later a few more younger guys came, and we became friends. Going to one of their houses today to go play Smash, even though I'm not a Nintendo guy.

As far as BSG itself goes, we eventually got those 5-6 player games down to 2 hour plays because we'd pre-discuss whether crisis cards were even worth passing or not. It felt a bit samey after awhile, but I also didn't like bogging it down with much more than the Pegasus. I'll still play it now, but I don't own it and never did, since the people I'd play it with have it. I think I did gift it to a cousin who loved games and the show. His wife didn't like it because she never wanted to be a Cylon and have to betray people.
Jarvis's Avatar
Jarvis replied the topic: #287787 09 Dec 2018 01:20
Still one of my favorite games and play it a few times a year. In fact I played a great game last night with a bunch of friends that I don’t get to see very often.

The expansions are a bit of a mess, but we took a few pieces (characters, Pegasus board, cylindrical fleet board) but none of their endgame variants.

And also, I totally disagree that the new games have replaced it. All the ones I’ve tried are fine, but there’s nothing special about them (cool I can play Avalon/Resistance in a fraction of the time. What happened again???)

This is still my go to hidden traitor game when people want to play it.
Msample's Avatar
Msample replied the topic: #287792 09 Dec 2018 10:13
Haven't played it in a few years, but more due to lack of opportunity than lack of desire. The expansions are a mixed bag to be sure, but cherry picked properly, make for an even better game IMO. The game really conveys the theme well and really immerses you in the paranoia of the show. While I'll admit the game is perhaps balanced a bit against the Cylons, its still fun trying to spike the humans chance of runnning away. Its survived several game collection purges and I don't see getting rid of it.

If you don't like it and have a copy, sell it, you'll get decent money judging on recent sales history .
mads b.'s Avatar
mads b. replied the topic: #287802 09 Dec 2018 14:47
When it works as it's supposed to, it is one of the best games ever. But there are just so many things that can make it *not* work out in the optimal way, and while those things don't ruin the game, they tend to make it a bit less interesting which is just bad considering it's length.

Overall I think it's a bit too fragile. If you you don't draw any fleet cards early on, it tends to drag. If you don't have any cylons in the first half, it tends to be a bit easy. If the humans are strong in the second half, it just feels wrong.

What I especially like about the game thought - apart from when everything clicks - is that solving crises feels like an actual game. It's not just a way of sussing out who the traitors are, but you have to manage ressources and make actual decisions. Unfortunately that is also something that adds length.