Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Session Report - BSG Pegasus - The Most Epic Adama Betrayal Ever?

This game was played on Saturday, 26 November 2011. We used the Pegasus Expansion with seven players. We had one Cylon leader and we did not use the Sympathizer rule.

Caprica Six - Matt
Starbuck - Brandon
Baltar (Roslin) - Nate (President)
Tyrol - Remmington
Helo - Will
Apollo - Jeff (BSG Virgin)
Adama - Me (Admiral)

I am a Cylon.

This is two games in a row that I have been a Cylon right off the start. Adama is my favourite character from the show and I hate to see him as a Cylon. Adama is the last person who should be a Cylon. It just seems wrong. 

As a Cylon, I usually try to play it as straight as possible and try to revel at the worst possible time for the humans. As the Admiral, the most epic Cylon win would be to wait for Galactica to return during the New Caprica phase and then jump the ship with all the humans and civilian ships still on the planet. Can I pull it off? I decide to go for it. I will play it straight for as long as possible and focus on lowering morale and population during the game. If I can get morale down to between 2 and 4, it should be a sure win.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

XBox Live Update on 6 December

The XBox Live Update will be out on 6 December.

Look back here for a review of the new features.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Session Report - BSG Pegasus - Finish the Humans When You Have The Chance

This game was played on Saturday, 12 November 2011. We used the Pegasus Expansion with six players. No Cylon leader and we did not use the Sympathizer rule.

Gaius Baltar (President)- Nate
Admiral Cain (Admiral) - Me
Apollo - Remington
Chief - Will R (Matt)
Starbuck - Will B
Helo - Ryan (BSG virgin)

I am a Cylon

This is the first time in a while that I have been a Cylon right off the start. As it is my game and I have played the most of our group, I am often in the position of giving advice or suggestions to other, newer players to get them into the game. All of my suggestions revolve around helping the humans, so if I suddenly stop giving advice, they will suspect me. I decide that I better play it straight at the start, and do everything to help the humans win the game.

All our games seem to start with people going to Sickbay on the first play, and this game is no exception. Chief Tyral goes first, shoots at the Basestar and for his crisis, the Basestar hits weapons control, sending him to Sickbay. The rest of the first round is fairly typical. Pilots shoot Cylons, Cain (me) XO's Starbuck to shoot more Cylons. For my crisis, I pull Guilt by Collusion. We pass it and the Chief is brigged. Baltar is getting aggressive right off the bat, mixing things up to see what happens.

During round 2, the Chief fails to get out of the Brig, but we get to jump. Both the cards I pick are 2 distance, so that will help me avoid suspicion. One destination loses us 1 fuel and 1 of another resource, the other loses 2 fuel. I choose to lose 2 fuel, thinking that I will control the ability to get fuel throughout the game, so I will focus on that resource.

Round 3 puts more Cylons on the board right from the start. Pilots are spending their time killing raiders and I am XOing them. Baltar is getting out of control. He is accusing everyone of being a Cylon and threatening to put them in the Brig. He is causing so much chaos, I am sure he is a Cylon as well, although he claims not to be. Yet he is coming to me for suggestions and advice. We are starting to form a bit of a team. I figure I can use him to cause chaos. On his turn he gets Code Blue which allows him to check a loyalty card. I figure this is unnecessary to pass, as I know I am a Cylon and suspect he is the other. Since he is asking my advice on who to check, I figure I am safe and decide not to risk spiking the skill check. Surprise, he decides to check me! (After the game, Baltar says he decided that since he was going to trust me so much, he had to be sure I was human.) He doesn't say anything.

My turn is immediately after Baltar. I revel I am a Cylon. Although I prefer to remain hidden as long as possible, I do not fully trust him. Although he did not immediately revel that I was a Cylon, he did not say I wasn't. I figure I better get out now before I am in the Brig. If he is also a Cylon, it may remove suspicion from him. I send Helo to the Brig for my revel. Admiral passes to Apollo. Helo fails to get out on his turn. 

Round 4 sees more shooting of Cylons (my poor brothers!) and we jump another distance 2, for a total of four and the start of the sleeper phase. On his turn, Baltar executes Helo for some reason (further convincing me he is a Cylon). Helo is not a Cylon and is replaced by Dee. I am next and I go to Caprica and try to use a crisis to cause the humans problems. But they don't really need my help, as Dee goes next and is executed on her turn. Dee is human and is replaced by Saul Tigh. This must be the record for fastest executions.

Round 5 begins with the Chief shooting Scar and killing him. He had just come up and I was looking forward to using him to cause problems, so much for that. The board is pretty much free of Cylons, so much so that Starbuck is repairing Vipers. The Chief goes to sickbay and Apollo, who now also suspects Baltar, successfully brigs him. Baltar uses Quorum cards to Brig Apollo. This is going well for the Cylons. Baltar is acting like a Cylon. The president and the admiral both suspect each other, yet both claim to be human. If both are telling the truth, the humans will tear themselves apart with suspicion. I am chortling with glee, still thinking Baltar must be the Cylon. He is doing a great job of acting indignant and swearing revenge on Apollo.

Round 6 starts with the Chief and he revels! Oh no, what are you doing? The humans were just getting ready to tear themselves apart! So much for that plan. Baltar and Apollo quickly make up, both pass their checks to get out of the Brig and start to focus on the reveled Cylon threat. 

Round 7 starts off badly for the humans. There are already a lot of Cylons on the board and they are getting close to doing some real damage. Starbuck goes to FTL and jumps early, distance of 2 for a total of six. Apollo gets the Tactical Strike crisis and Baltar uses his Quorum cards to raise morale. My turn. The humans have not been paying attention. There has been a Cylon Boarder on the ship for some time now and he is one step from venting oxygen. If I go to the Cylon Fleet location I can activate Heavy Raiders and end the game. With the recent draw of the Tactical Strike crisis, there are a lot of Cylon ships on the board and they are far from being able to jump. My Super Crisis card is Massive Assault, so I decide to play that, thinking we will get them by attrition with our ships (a much more satisfying way to victory). I may regret this.

The humans are now in a bit of a panic, with so many Cylon ships on the board. Tigh uses a nuke and severely damages a Basestar. This doesn't really help them. But for his crisis he pulls Legendary Discovery, which allows the humans to advance 1 distance if passed.This would put them in the New Caprica phase and render useless all the ships above them. They throw everything into it and pass by a lot. 

The occupation of New Caprica begins. As this is our first time getting to the New Caprica phase, there is a lot of delay and rereading of rules. Resources stand at Fuel 3, Food 2, Morale 4 and Population 10. Another food is lost immediately on Starbucks turn, setting food at one. I am at a bit of a loss for Cylon strategy. We can force ships to be destroyed and hope to get lucky that one will contain food, but this seems risky and is putting the fate of the Cylons on luck. Both sides get to it. The humans focus on preparing ships, while the Cylons try to advance the Centurians. The humans prep 4 ships, the Cylons destroy one. One population is destroyed.

Galactica returns. The Chief has to leave (it is now 3 am), so Matt steps in to finish the game. We discuss the best strategy to defeat the human threat. The humans try to get more ships off the planet, but Cylon Cain moves to the Cylon Fleet location, advances the Heavy Raiders and the Cylon Boarders end the game by destroying Galactica.

It is now almost 4 am. Everyone is very tired. I regret not ending the game earlier.

Overall, a good game, if a bit long. I enjoyed the New Caprica phase, it added a nice twist, putting the focus on civilian ships. I think we will use it again. 

However, there is a new house rule. All BSG games must start before 10 pm.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

History of the XBox

This is an ineresting article on the development and launch of the XBox.

The Making of the XBox - Part 1

The Making of the XBox - Part 2

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Session Report - Battlestar Galactica - Why Random Execution Can End A Game

This game was played on Saturday, October 29th. Seven players were present and we used the Pegasus Expansion for the first time with the Cylon Leader rule.

Ellen Tigh - Matt
Chief - Johnroy
Saul Tigh - Me
Kat - Will
Admiral Cain - Remmington
Starbuck - Brandon
Cavel (Cylon Leader) - Nate

I am not a Cylon.

This was our first time playing the Pegasus Expansion and a few people were quite excited to try it out. I tried to give a quick rules review and go over the new stuff, but our group is a bit impatient, preferring the "pick it up as we go along" route. This may have contributed to the fail.

Also, some people were quite interested to try out the airlocking rule (I am looking at you, Matt). It was a forgone conclusion that someone was going to get airlocked, Cylon or not, just to see what would happen. This did strongly contribute to our fail.

Admiral Cain starts the game our poorly, hitting a Basestar for structural damage but we fail our hanger accident crisis, losing 1 population and damaging 2 vipers. Starbuck does the usual and launches herself, Ellen Tigh (president) starts collection Quarum cards. Cavel (Cylon Leader) pretty much declares himself as having a Cylon win goal by placing a Basestar and activating Raiders on his turn, and pretty much guaranteeing he will be airlocked if he tries to infiltrate. Tigh XO's Starbuck, Kat uses max firepower and kills 3 raiders. A pretty average first turn. 

The second turn is average as well. The group finally convinces Cain to move to Pegasus and she destroys a Basestar. The pilots kill some more raiders, the Chief repairs the Armoury, and I move there and kill our boarder. We lose another population and a fuel to failed crises, our Cylon enemy wastes his turn and the president continues her Quarum card collection. 

The third turn is also very average except that Kat is put into sick bay and to vipers are destroyed. Cavel XO's Starbuck to kill more raiders. Trying to get back into our good books?

The fourth turn heats things up. Cain pulls Thirty-Three as a crisis and puts more Cylons on the board. Starbuck is next and pulls up Jammed Assault, losing civilian ships and 2 population and a fuel. Things go from under control to a Cylon swarm after 2 players. I state out loud that I wish I was a Cylon. We have to get out of there and fast. Ellen Tigh XO's Cain so she can use her once per game ability and blind jump the fleet. We make out pretty good, jumping a distance of 3 and even getting a fuel out of it.

For the Chief's next turn he pulls the Assassination Plot crisis, which allows the President to execute someone. No one has acted suspiciously, but the one player who really wants to airlock someone has the choice. Ellen Tigh picks Admiral Cain to execute. I warn about the cost if Cain is human (loss of morale), but if she is gone, I get to be Admiral. Plus, Cain was a bit of a bitch on the show, so it is not like she doesn't deserve it. Ellen decides to let the fates decide. 1-4 and Cain is executed. Fates want Cain to pay for being a bitch and a one is rolled. Cain is human.

This causes some reviewing of the rules for me to ensure we do this right, as it is our first time. Remmington (the one executed) picks Boomer as his replacement. Everyone is watching him as he gets his loyalty cards and he has the worst poker face ever. Everyone immediately knows he was dealt a Cylon card and calls him on it. He immediately declares and revels he is a Cylon. In disgust, he throws all his loyalty cards on the table and he has two "You are a Cylon" cards, letting everyone know that no one else is a Cylon and that whomever he gives his card to will be a Cylon. 

Epic fail and the game is pretty much ruined. Fortunately, we had started this game late (after midnight) and it was already 3 am, so by mutual agreement, we decide to end it. I don't think anyone was too disappointed. I was already really tired and, at the rate we were going, we were going to be there until breakfast. 

Overall, a fail, but we got a good introduction to the new rules (treachery cards, etc) and no one will make the mistake of reveling all their loyalty cards again next time. It is unfortunate we did not get the chance to try out New Caprica, but it gives us something for next time.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Next Gen XBox Rumours

There have been a few rumours over the last few months about the NextGen consoles. A 2014 release seemed to be the consensus, but also talk that the next XBox would be announced next year (2012) possibly at E3.

Two more recent rumours:

Nexrt XBox is codenamed "Loop", it will have a main processor and additional assisted cores for graphics, AI, physics, sound, networking, encryption and sensors. It will be smaller and have a cheaper price to encourage adoption of Kinect. (Original MSNerd link). Interestingly, the GamePro article that links to MSNerd states that they think this means the next XBox will not be released until 2014. This ties in with Microsoft stating the 360 would have a ten year cycle (this would have it end 2015).

Contrast the above with this rumour which says the next XBox will be integrated very closely with Windows 8 and will be released for Christmas 2012. Also is a quote from the CEO of the team that developed the Anniversary of Halo:CE where he states he would be "shocked" if Microsoft doesn't launch its next gen before Sony.

Not sure how to read what seems to be quite a difference in dates.

Update 21 Nov: Analyst says it would be "silly" to launch next XBox before 2014.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Bioware Franchise

This screenshot is all we have about a new Bioware franchise, information for which will be released next month during the Spike TV Video Game Awards (December 10, 8pm EST).

I find this interesting as I had heard a rumour that Bioware may be working on a followup to Jade Empire, an IP which they own. Jade Empire had a distinct medieval East Asian look and feel to it. A crashing Jeep seems to be pretty far from that.

Update: This link is a 20 second video clip which teases this new game from Bioware. It looks like a modern or near future military style FPS.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mass Effect 3 Beta Leak

As you may have heard, elements of Mass Effect 3 were leaked last week through the XBox Live. It seems that users with access to the XBox Live Dashboard beta (set to be released next week and mentioned here) got access to a 1.8GB download. This was to be an internal only beta to Microsoft, but someone released it to XBL.

It appears the game will have 3 main types or styles of play: Action Mode, Story Mode and RPG Mode.

Action Mode emphasizes combat over story, using automatic replies to move things along. Story Mode is the opposite, with fully conversation options and low combat difficulty. RPG Mode is full conversation options with normal combat difficult. You are still able to select such things a combat difficulty. 

This seems to be a short cut way to get into the action with presets. I am not sure why you would want to play Action Mode (it's an RPG, if you just wan the combat, go to Battlefield 3 or Modern Warfare). There are some who think Bioware is trying to make the game more accessible to the Modern Warfare crowd. As long as they don't dumb the game down to try to get this group, I don't see that the hard core fans will be affected.

From the article:

“We want to stress that these features are still in the early stages of development and will receive considerable iteration and refinement,” he said. “These modes are designed to give players an even finer degree of control over their game experience than ever before. Whether it be someone who finds the combat difficult but wants to experience the amazing story, someone who wants to focus on the action and combat game play, or fans who want the rich, story-driven RPG Mass Effect experience they’ve come to love – Mass Effect 3 will support all of these options.

The beta was supposedly devoid of sound, animation and textures, but from these screenshots, it seems to look great, even without textures. Note that at the above link, there is some links to YouTube video, but these links have been taken down.

Some may feel some of the images are spoilers, but they all seem to revolve around combat against the Reapers on Earth, something you should already be aware of if you watched the trailers on the Mass Effect site

More Mass Effect: Interview with Mass Effect 3 Producer Jesse Houston

Update: It seems some story documents were also leaked yesterday. I am not following up on this, as screen shots are one thing, but I don't want to know any more about the storyline.