Sunday, January 31, 2010

Board Games for 12: Pit, Battlestar Galactica

12 players generally means "split into three groups of four", unless you like party games, which many of us (at Friday night dinner) don't. But I still wanted something quick and slightly strategic to bond the group, so Pit is the natural choice.

I usually play Pit with two standard decks of playing cards, but I had acquired the actual game at some point so I decided to use it. Unfortunately, the actual game only plays for up to seven, so that meant Team Pit: pairs of players divide the cards and then not only have to trade but periodically coordinate. It works fine. it worked fine.

After that we played six-team Battlestar Galactica, a game I hadn't played yet (neither had half of the other people). My partner left before the game started, so it was 11 of us.

Battlestar Galactica is a good game for those that like that sort of game. I don't like that sort of game, but I didn't hate playing. I thought it was ok. The other cooperative games I've played were Shadows Over Camelot (several times) and Pandemic (once). They were, also, both ok.

It's a cooperative game with hidden traitors, where the traitors don't have to stay hidden long, unlike SoC where the traitor needs to stay unrevealed to cause the most havoc. It's also a dice rolling, card picking game. The danger of cooperative games with random elements where you "play against the board" is that it can feel like the game is playing you more than you're playing at all. And that's the way it felt here.

It didn't feel like what we did mattered very much; if we drew nasty cards, we were going to lose. If we drew nice cards (or nasty cards that simply didn't apply to our particular situation), we were going to win. Whoopde do. In our game, we drew nice cards and sailed along, and then some nasty ones, finally, when the traitors started revealing (including me). By then it was 3 hours after the game started, we were nowhere near ending, and we decided in favor of the traitors.

With ten other players deciding what to do on their turn, I fell asleep a few times. I had to wake up once in a while to toss in a skill card.

For those of you who like random elements and dice rolling, and some theme and hidden traitors, you'll probably like the game, as you pray that certain cards are not drawn at just the wrong moments.


Brenden said...

As a straight up *game* especially for a gamer, BSG isn't all that great. It is all about the theme and playing with the right group of people who really get into the theme.

I have a group of friends that the game is a blast to play with. The few hours long narrative and story that unfolds as we go along is most of the fun.

But I can't imagine playing with 10-11 other people. Yikes. How did the cylons keep themselves hidden with two people trying to keep a straight face?

Ian Schreiber said...

If you like Pit, you might also like Knizia's "Wheedle" which plays similar, but with more information (you say the actual cards you're trading, not just the number; uneven trades are allowed, and you can complete multiple sets). Plays up to 6, but I see no reason why you couldn't team up as you did with Pit.

Yehuda said...

It was late, and everyone was goofy. So smiles were lost in the crowd.

Yehuda said...

Ian: Wheedle looks interesting, although, even more than Pit, it seems to require several games in succession to work.

Chris said...

Have you not played Arkham Horror? I'm very interested in how Battlestar Galactica compares to that.

I get the impression that using your imagination to generate narrative dynamically from a boardgame is not something you participate in, nor respect. Hence your claim that this kind of play is passive. Which makes me suspect that you do not (or would not) enjoy Arkham Horror either.

My wife and I have played nothing but Arkham Horror for weeks now, and she loves it precisely because of the implicit narrative elements. She can play a decision-based game - she loves Power Grid, for instance - but the narrative experience is closer to her tastes.

Best wishes!

Yehuda said...

We played Arkham Horror with the same kind of result. Flavor is one thing, but the game needs to be a game, too. I think these types of games are substituting for RPGs without giving you real control over the story.