Friday, September 23, 2011

Session Report - Battlestar Galactica - Can You Jump Any Farther?

My FLGS had another gaming day last weekend and the group played another 2 games of Battlestar. Here is the first session report.

This was a base game (no expansions) with six players and a sympathizer.


President Roslin - Me
Adama - Jeff
Apollo - Craig
Boomer - Matt
Helo - George
Chief - Remmington

I am not a Cylon

The game starts with the Galactica being surrounded by Cylons very quickly. Someone pulls the Cylon virus card, which we fail. A total of 14 Raiders surround us, along with the Basestars and a Heavy Raider. Galactica is hit right off the bat, sending Adama to sick bay and 2 vipers are damaged. We fail the Cylon Virus crisis and are boarded. Laura XO's Boomer who rolls like a champ and kills 5 raiders. Helo XO's Adama, who kills another raider. We jump and pull the distance 3 card. Adama kills the boarder on his turn and the ship is safe. No suspicion has been raised at this point.

So far so good. The next jump will take us to the sleeper phase. The Chief picks the crisis that allows him to look at a loyalty card. He chooses me, and reveals to everyone that I am not a Cylon (the truth). Helo finally gets into the game. Rescue the Fleet Crisis is pulled Adama chooses to lose 2 population instead of pulling out a Basestar and Raiders. As we are close jumping, I immediately suspect Adama of being the Cylon. We jump and Adama picks a distance of 2, putting us at a total distance of 5 with only 2 jumps. If he is the Cylon, he is sure trying to get us to Kobol in a hurry.

Boomer is placed in the brig twice, one for being Boomer and she reveals that she has the sympathizer card. Since at least one of our resources is below critical, she does not become a Cylon. The next Crisis is Terrorist Investigations and Apollo's loyalty is checked. Boomer gets out of the brig easily as no one suspects her.

The next crisis is Forced Water Mining which we fail. This is the first indication that there is a Cylon. Boomer is acting suspicious. She is putting in cards when she has none of the type to help the skill check. Before anyone can put her in the Brig, Boomer reveals and brigs Apollo. Apollo can't get out on his turn. Raiders a civilian ship and population is reduced by one more. We jump a distance of 2 for a total of 7.

Boomer plays her Super Crisis, Bomb on Colonial One, which we pass. We jump again. Apollo finally gets out of the brig.

Due to the fact that the President has not been doing anything useful, Adama gets suspicious and suggests she be brigged. I deny that I am the Cylon. Just before Laura's turn, they brig her. With resources at Morale 1, Fuel 1, Food 6, and pop 7, I reveal. My loyalty card allows me to reduce morale by one if I was not in the brig. Humans save themselves from defeat. The next crisis is Tactical Strike. There are 12 raiders and 4 heavy raiders on the board. If the humans do not jump soon, it could be all over. Helo goes to FTL, and with 7 population left, risks the -3 pop and jumps.

Humans win.

Post Game: I drew my Cylon card in the sleeper phase. Boomer was a Cylon from the beginning. Boomer says she suspected I was also a Cylon. I caught Boomer several times giving me the "Are you the Cylon?" look from across the table after she revealed. I guess my blank stare back said more a nod or a shake. I don't think I am going to use the sympathizer rule next time.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

XCOM Defence - Part 2

Part 1

If you want to gets some information on the upcoming "remake" of XCOM (and I say remake in quotes, as there is a lot of discussion as to if it is really a remake) check out their site and these two videos:

XCOM site

XCOM Demo walkthrough (June 2011) 22 mins

Dev Diary #1

Just to put my own preferences in perspective, shooters are not my favourite game type. If I do play shooters, it tends to be those very heavy on the story side, such as Halo and Gears of War. I find those stories well written and engaging. If I am looking for multi player carnage, I will switch from console to PC and play something like Battlefield: Bad Company.

There is quites a bit of discussion on IGN and Blue's News as to whether or not this upcoming game from 2K is really a remake of XCOM.

The original XCOM was a turn based while this remake has become an FPS. Does this deserve to be part of the XCOM legacy?

In a word? Who cares!

What we want are great games. If this XCOM can deliver a great game, I don't care if it is a true successor or not.

However, let's look at soem of the details. Probably the most obvious aspect of the original was the turn based squad movement. While I enjoyed this aspect, some of the battles could become tedious at the end. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, the key aspect of the original XCOM was the tension, the not knowing what was in the fog, what horror I would see next. When those evil aliens attacked my base (something I never expected) I was pissed. I don't think we took any prisoners on that mission. If this remake can maintain that tension, they are a long way towards following in the footsteps of the original. Unfortunately, I think some of the video they are releasing will make it harder to capture that tension. Imagine walking through those towns in the video and seen that black stuff and thinking "What the hell is that?!" If you have seen the videos some of that tension is already lost. Note to 2k if you are reading this: Don't release any more details of the enemies the player will face. No more screenshots, nothing. It will make the game that much better.

What also made the original so enjoyable was that you could recruit new agents, develop those agents, capture alien tech and aliens, and research them to discover new weapons (and mind powers). It seems this remake has all of that (not sure about the mind powers). You can recruit new agents, take them on missions to gain experience, find tech and use it to research new stuff.

For me, the jury is still out on this remake. However, if it captures the tension of the original, along with the ability to recruit/develop agents and discover new tech, it will have covered the key aspects that made the original so compelling.

Your mileage may vary.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gears of War 3 Released Today

I picked up my copy of Gears of War 3 that I had preordered from my Friendly Local Gaming Store(FLGS).

Can't play it until after the kids go to bed. The 5 year old is already gets upset when Daddy dies in Halo. Gears is much too scary and gory for her.

I may post up a review in a week.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Joy of XCOM - Part 1

I remember the first time I played the original X-COM. It was the mid 1990's (1994 or 95). The internet was just starting to see widespread use at speed of 14 or 28k. I did not even own a PC, but a friend of mine lent me his when he went away for a few weeks.

I remember finding the game on his hard drive and starting it up, not knowing anything about it. The game didn't really explain what was going on (or at least I did not bother to read it). The first thing I saw was the globe with the terminator marching across it. I had one base and I remember clicking on it to open it up and wondering what I was supposed to do with these agents and fighter jets.

Suddenly the screen lights up and something is invading our airspace! I scramble my fighters to engage. The first one escapes without me even getting off a shot. I am better prepared the second time, but the enemy shoots me down! Third time is a charm, and I shoot them down. Now what? I guess it might be a good idea to find out what I shot down. Unfortunately, by the time I get there, they have left. Nuts! What is going on and what are these things?

Another incursion, this time I am ready. I shoot them down and have my troops ready to land on the site and find out what is going on. I remember the scene, a farm area with hay bales and most of the map dark. Where are these things? I spread out my troops and advance, moving from cover to cover, having no idea of what kind of monsters lurk in he shadows. I few turn pass and still no enemy, is anything even here? I scan the map several times and finally see a pair of non human feet poking out of the fog of war. What else is there? What are these aliens up to?

No game since has captured that level of tension. I never did finish the final Mars mission, but the sheer delight of not knowing what will happen, what new weapons I might be able to research and what these aliens were up to made the game a joy to play. I have been searching for a game with that level of joy of discovery ever since.

Part 2 - A discussion of the new FPS version vs the turn based.

X-COM Wiki

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Session Report - Battlestar Galactica - Who Shuffled These?

Who Shuffled These?

At my FLGS I have been bringing Battlestar for the last few sessions. It is popular and fits in with the crowd, although most are Warhammer 40K players (I am trying to convert them to more boardgames).

This was a six player game with four players having had 2-3 games and 2 having never played before. Surprisingly enough, most players have not seen the show (with some only starting to watch due to playing the game). I quickly explained the concept, went over turn order, talked about reveling and cylon strategies, and we started.


President Laura Roslin (Me)
Admiral Adama

I am not a cylon

The game starts our normally, with the pilots taking off to blast cylons. Adama is being played by Matt (he runs the store) and he is sneaky, so I am automatically suspicious of him. Getting into the spirit of the game, one of the new players immediately accuses everyone of being a cylon. This seems to make the cylon nervous and he lays low. Skill checks pass and there is no indication of a cylon in our midst. I am always suspicious of Adama (Matt) but we are jumping well, and he even gets the event card that moves us one space.

So far, we have been getting through our events fairly well, passing most of them but losing some population and food along the way.

Near disaster strikes. Someone pulls one of the cylon Attack Crisis cards. I go next and pull 2 Attack crisis cards. All of a sudden space is full of cylons and we are in trouble. At that moment the Chief revels, hoping to put the nail in the coffin. We jump at -3 and barely make it out, heading to the sleeper phase.

After the sleeper phase, things go fairly quietly, until the cylon uses his Super Crisis card to put some pressure on us. We make it through somehow getting to 8 distance with our population down to 2. Through the last few rounds, a bunch of "President loses skill cards or lose population/food" have been coming up, resulting in me having 3 turns with no skill cards. As a result, when I pull up the next "President discard 3 skill cards or lose two population", I have no choice, we lose 2 population and humans lose. Anti climatic to say the least.

A string of Cylon Attack Crisis cards and then a string of "President discards.." events. Who shuffled these?

Anyone else think it unusual to have a cylon revel before the sleeper phase?