So I am really late to this party, I know. There are already a bazillion reviews of this, I know. I watched the show and movie years ago, and loved it. However, I never even thought about playing the game, as I am more of a fantasy game guy. Yet this holiday season a friend gave me a copy of the game as well as the Pirates expansion, and I wanted to share my thoughts. This review will brush on the base game, and the expansion. As always with my reviews, since there are already so many reviews that cover gameplay mechanics, I will not spend much, if any time on them.
So let’s jump right in. I really like this game. Is it as much fun as the show? Probably not, but that is a really high bar. Is it my favorite space game? Probably not, but in my mind Battlestar Galactica is one of the best games ever made. So why do I like this game so much? First of all, it really immerses you in the theme and the world. All of us who played have said “Man, I really need to go back and watch the show again.” There are not many games based on a show that make me want to do that. Second, at its core, this is a simple game. I know what you are thinking, “I have looked at pictures of this game and that is not simple.” Initially I was with you, but the gameplay is just…elegnant (yes I used that adjective…I stand by it). Each turn you can take two actions; there are four actions in the game. That’s it. Done. The fun is that there is such incredible variety in these four actions. There are so many places to make deals, or to buy gear and hire crew. There are so many characters to hire, and so much gear to buy; the combinations are, seemingly, endless. I am a big fan of games that keep is simple but give the players tons of ways to spice it up. Next, I love the art. The screen caps from the show are excellent, the old/future western style of the “Misbehavin” cards is a delight, the money is gorgeous, and the board art is a step above functional. Next, I really enjoy that there are many ways to win. Yes, everyone is pursuing the same set of win conditions, but there are so many ways to go about it. Each of the games I have played has been quite close (except the first game where my wife obliterated me…she thought it was one of the greatest games ever at that time), and in all of them we all used distinctly different strategies. Finally, the game packs up quite small considering how large of a footprint it has.
Now the middle of the road. I only have a couple things that stand out as things that could be better. First the board. It just seems like there is no way that it is going to remain in one piece. Brand new it seems like it is almost ready to break apart. On the other hand this is not a complaint I have seen in other reviews, so maybe it is sturdier than it seems. It has not broken on me as of yet, so that is why this lives in neutral land. Next, other than names, and color, all of the ships are exactly the same. I understand why the designers did this, but ship variety makes the game SO much better. As I mentioned, we added the Pirates expansion, and having another type of ship to really change the tactics is wonderful. Additional ship expansions, or the pirates expansion are relatively inexpensive, so it is an easy fix, but one that needs to be done. My last middle of the road thought is that the game is not what I expected. It really is a race game at its core. Everyone is racing to do the same thing, and there is not a ton of interaction (Pirates expansion helps this). This is alright, but I can imagine it is not what many folks expect it to be from the show.
Now the bad. The footprint is ginormous. Did I say ginormous? That is not a big enough word. Shakespeare could not have invented a word to describe how much space this game takes up. The board is massive for no good reason, it easily could be 20% smaller. Yes, I know it represents the entire “’verse”, but considering there are board expansions (which require you to purchase a second home to put it in if you actually want to use them), it does not represent the entire universe. So they could have calmed down a bit. And don’t forget the 13 different decks of cards, all of which need an available discard pile; 100+ tokens and counters, a stack of monopoly money, and player ship boards. When we played a four player game we were unable to use chairs around the table, we had chairs set back, and most of us stood up to play. When I tried the solo mission on my large coffee table, I still had to use the floor, and the couch next to me. I can play Gloomhaven solo on that coffee table. This game is huge.
Quit yappin’ and get to the gorram point!
*Thematically it nails it. You do get a good immersion feeling. Makes you want to watch the show again.
* The core mechanics are simple, but there is a lot of variety built into it. Easy to understand, hard to master.
* Artwork on the cards is superb.
* Game packs up very well
* The board seems like it is going to break apart. It hasn’t yet…but it has to sooner or later
* Core game lacks ship variety. This is a miss for me. Luckily adding a few different ships is relatively inexpensive, at least at the time of this review.
* The game is really just a race. This is not what any of us expected it to be based on the show. It’s fun, but probably not what many people thought it would be.
*Sweet merciful crap this game has a huge footprint. It is cosmically colossal.
This is a fun game. I was hesitant when I first tried it, but it is simply fun. It is not hard to understand, it has a nice dose of luck that can knock you out, or bring you right back into a game. If you enjoy the show,