Monday, October 12, 2009

It Doesn't Look Good

I've been playing a play-by-forum game of Battlestar Galactica on boardgamegeek. Granted, it's been painful at times. While not a complicated game, it has a lot of issues with regards to players interacting with each other with card play and dice rolls and such on each others turns, and so pretty much after every event that happens, every player needs to "check in" with how they are responding to the current pace of things. Playing around a table, it's pretty easy to do this, online and in a forum environment, well, it's takes some time.

Additionally, it's hard to believe that there are people who moderate this (for free!), for fun. Again, the rules are are pretty straightforward, but there's a lot of bookkeeping kind of stuff that needs to be taken care of. Kudos to the moderators!

Aside from the length of time, it's been a fairly entertaining game, with some pretty good role-playing-ish banter. One particular humorous exchange occurred during a food shortage crisis; during this the President needs to decide between food rationing (which results is discarding cards) or just keep eating (which results in dwindling away at our already dwindled food). President Baltar had already earlier decided on "eating the veal" instead of rationing, which was already leading to him being a cylon traitor.

Tigh: "Adama, I'll be preparing the Brig for Baltar if he eats any more of Galatica's food."

Baltar: "We're having Caprican rost beef again this week? Well of course I'll take an extra plate, it's not like we're running out of the stuff anyway. Better enjoy fine cuisine now, food rationing will help, but it'll taste terrible ..."

Anyway, things aren't looking very good for our ragtag group of humans at this point. Our food is down to 2, our fuel is down to 1. And we are running out of space to add Cylon ships.

One of the things I particularily like about the game is that a player is pretty free to take whatever action he wants (and there are usually a lot to choose from). There's no reason why Starbuck can't waste her time running for President, for example, or have Baltar running around launching and controlling Vipers. However, the special ability modifiers that each character gets really defines what is optimally a better choice for that character to do; Starbuck is much better off flying around in a Viper because she gets an additional action when in a Viper. A lesser game would just say, "she's a Viper pilot, so that's where she is all the time, and here's her list of actions she can take."

As another example, I have just gotten done reading the rules to Agricola. While it is a highly rankied game, and well-respected, it has a worker placement rule that annoys me. Players take turns placing their workers on various actions; these actions are then triggered. However, each action can only be triggered once per turn. So, if there's an action that is "bake bread" or "rake leaves" and someone has placed a worker there, a subsequent players can't trigger that action.

Why the hell not!? I guess from a game standpoint, there's the strategy of "pick this now before it disappears;" but jeez, why can't I rake leaves just because another player is raking leaves? It's things like this that make me appreciate the "do whatever the hell action you want" ability of BSG so much more.

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