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Battlestar Galactica is a semi-co-operative game based on the epic and highly regarded recent TV series of the same name. The theme is that the players are the leaders of the humans are on the run from the cylons, trying to find safety despite growing fuel and food shortages and the consequent political unrest. This is dealt with through a challenges generated by cards, which the players have to overcome by playing cards from their own hands. Occasionally the cyclons will find the Battlestar and attempt to destroy or board it, with their actions controlled by straightforward rules. The humans have to decide how to use or conserve their limited resources, fight off the cylons and work out when and where to 'jump' to next.
None of which sounds terribly exciting. What elevates this into an incredibly tense and enthralling game is the fact that one (or possibly more, depending on how many people are playing) of the humans are in fact disguised cyclons. But until they reveal themselves, no-one knows who the traitor is, though suspicions and accusations abound. Was that challenge lost because of treachery or merely because players didn't have the right cards? Was that a deliberately sub-optimal move, or just a different idea? What's worse is that you may not know that you are a cylon yourself until half way through the game - the ultimate sleeper agent! One consequence is that even as a human, you don't want to do too well just in case it turns out you are really working for then other side........
When you first open the rather large box it is quite overwhelming. There are huge numbers of pieces, made of both plastic and cardboard, including some nice models starships for both sides. The rulebook is reasonably easy to get to grips with, especially with experienced games players, though as always it is much easier to be taught by someone who already knows how to play it.
There is a huge amount of detail in the game, from the special abilities of each character to the rules for using raptors, throwing players into the brig, seizing the presidency and many more. One downside of this is that it is a long game - several hours at least. And a daunting one for the beginner. Also, it works best with at least 4 players, preferably 5, although the box says 3-6, so you need a number of committed players.
If you are a fan of relatively complex and thematic games, and especially if you are a fan of the series, this heavyweight game (in all senses) will suit you very well. It produces genuinely exciting and nerve-wracking moments, and whichever side you are on, winning always feels like a real achievement. As a cyclon, your acting and tactical skills are put to the test; as a human, logic and intuition both play their part. And if someone says they're not a frakking toaster? They nearly always are!