Thursday, October 08, 2009

Tuesday Gaming, 10/6/09

Mike's back on track hosting again (despite what surely appears to me to be some of the best fall golfing weather we've had in the Portland area in at least seven years, knock on wood), and this time it was Alex, JD, and myself who joined him for a couple of games.

First up was Zircus Flohcati, or Flea Circus. I have the original German edition with translation, while Mike has the clearly inferior RGG edition with a lot of rule changes. OK, one big one - if you complete the gala, you don't get an extra +10 points. This seems to me to be a pretty stupid rule, as it negates any reason you would have for ending the game other than to prevent others from improving their hands. Since you can almost certainly improve yours at the same time, why bother ending it?

Oh sure, I also *lost* the game because I ended it, by three points to Alex (53-56), which would have been 63-56 had that rule been in place. I think the other rules have to do with a couple of the draw cards special action cards, but I can't recall. The 10 point rule is pretty important, to my mind, and not just because I lost.

I should note that we were playing ZF because we were waiting for Dave to show up, but he never did, so we started a four player game of Battlestar Galactica. I've now played the game with four, five, and six, and I have to say that I prefer the game with five or six. Four was fine, but once one Cylon has been tagged then the suspense kind of drops off a bit.

The game started out with an extra basestar jumping in and kicking serious viper ass - by the time we managed to jump (and it took a *long* time) we were down to two vipers in the bay and the rest in the damaged box. Our first seven or eight (or more) Crisis cards didn't have jumps on them. We had quite a bit of damage done to the Galactica, including the Command Room (launch unmanned vipers, not that we had any free), the Weapons Room (Galactica shoots at stuff), and the FTL room.

Oh, and we figured out Mike was the Cylon before the first jump too. Good thing, as he had picked Admiral Adama, and so he never got to slow us down when we did manage to jump. He'd managed to get the heavy raider on the board set to offload centurions in his next turn when we managed the jump. However, it was expensive because so many civvie ships had been wiped out, and we were down to 5 population after the first jump. That's a Bad Thing, and the rest of us thought it was all over but the shouting.

That made me the Admiral (Helo), while Laura Roslin (JD) and Starbuck (Alex) got right to it. Because we'd used up all of the non-jump Crisis cards, we were able to do a lot of good things moving forward, getting Vipers back in shape, repairing Galactica, and getting some good jumps. In fact, we'd gotten more than halfway after the second jump. Unfortunately, the Sympathizer card put me in the brig for the rest of the game, as we couldn't seem to get enough of the right kind of cards to get me out. However, I was still drawing tons of cards and could use them to give other people actions, which I did.

We made two more jumps that put us at 8, only one jump away from a win for the humans. Unfortunately, Morale and Population were not doing well, and it was now that Mike managed to launch another attack of Cylons, as well as throw a Nuke Missile with his Super Crisis card. Fortunately for us, the Destiny Pile was good and we managed to *just* avoid the nuke (which would have killed us).

What didn't work out so well was that Mike then went after our last population (down to 1 at this point, as was Morale, with at least one more tick to go on the jump track before we could attempt anything) in the form of a Civvie ship or two. There was one unmanned viper guarding it from five raiders, and Mike started rolling terribly about this time. However, he had a few Piloting cards that allowed him to reroll, and after all the shouting was over he'd killed the ship and our last population point.

Or had he? It turned out after the fact that Cylons can't use the text on ability cards, so he couldn't have rerolled anything, although *we* could force rerolls. At this point, though, it was 10pm and we decided that it was close enough for government work. It was also possible that one of Mike's Crisis cards he'd played while on Caprica also got used for advancing the jump token, so we figured it was close enough. In any event, the game came right down to the wire, just the way we like it, so even with a botched rule we were happy.

I have to say that BStarG remains one of the premiere semi-coop games out there, certainly one of the best evocations of the theme of the original franchise it represents.

Next time, we plan to try the Pegasus expansion when we have a full load of experienced players who know all of the rules. Well, *almost* all of the rules... ;-)

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