Boardhammer: Battlestar Galactica: Starship Battles

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BSG: SB Box

Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, the last Battlestar, Galactica, leads a rag-tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest… to a shining planet known as Earth.

From the Publisher:

After 4,571 days, the Cylon War ended with a sudden armistice. Peace lasted 40 years. But now the Cylons are back, as fierce and combative as ever. They want to exterminate what remains of Mankind. And they have a plan.

The Twelve Colonies are wasted and in ruins. But the Colonial Fleet is there, to face Cylon spaceships and protect what it is left of Mankind.

In BATTLESTAR GALACTICA — STARSHIP BATTLES, players take control of Colonial and Cylon spaceships and face each other in furious dogfights and daring missions.

The innovative game system features easy to learn rules, a unique set of maneuver cards for each spaceship, and two exclusive devices — the control panel and the rotating miniature base. You will be able to relive the exciting combat sequences from the TV series on your tabletop, just a few minutes after opening the box!

Publisher: Ares Games
Designer: Andrea Angiolino, Andrea Mainini
Year Published: 2018
Number of Players: 2+ (multiples of 2)
Playing Time: 30+ minutes

Intro

In Battlestar Galactica: Starship Battles, we take the roles of either a Cylon or Human in their search for Earth, with the goal of annihilating the other race. Using a few miniatures, some tokens and rulers, each player attempts to outmaneuver and blast their opponents into fraking space.

Now these are not your parents Cylons, on my goodness, no. There are no tin-men walking around repeating ‘By your command’ at what they think is an order. These look human, are faster, smarter, deadlier and have many different models. They have evolved, learned, made improvements and have a plan. Humans? Ehhh, not so much. I mean, while the Toasters, I mean Cylons, have improved themselves, and made better ships to fight in space, humans kept their old, outdated ships, and instead of improving them for when Cylons return, they make them into museums and, well, yeah. But hey, our guns go brrrrrr now, so we have that, right?

Wait, you want to know about the miniatures game? So say we all.

We created you. Us. It was a stupid, frakked-up decision, and we have paid for it. – Lt Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace

Game Setup & Rules Overview

BSG: Starship Battles comes in a 2 player starter box, which includes everything needed to get started. You will want to have a 36”x36” (91×91 cm) flat area for the game, though this really works only for the starter box. As you add more ships, you’ll want to get more table space to move the squadrons around on. Have each player pick a side, take their ships, control panels, cards, and tokens. Place the blue tokens in a container in the middle, and let’s get ready for some battles!!

The base game comes with two different ways to play, the ‘Quick Start’ set of rules and the ‘Complete Rules’ method. I strongly recommend at least 2 rounds with the Quick Start rules in play before moving to the complete set of rules, as you’ll want to have a basic understanding of how the ships move, and how firing works before adding in shields, acceleration, ship rotation, and other advanced features. A ‘Quick Start’ game will not take a long time, and you will typically be done in around 30 minutes. The below synopsis is of the Quick Start rules, after which I will talk about what the Complete Rules adds. And fear not, Ares Games included additional rules for fuel, aiming, bluffing and all sorts of fun. Still not enough? How about asteroid fields, planetoids, or pilot specific cards full of maneuvers, flaws, and experience? Yes, we are still talking about the starter box.

If you keep running from the school yard bully, he keeps on chasing you but the moment you turn around and stop, you punch him really hard in a sensitive spot. He’ll think twice about coming back. – Cpt. Lee ‘Apollo’ Adams

Each round consists of 3 different phases (Planning, Executing Movement, and Firing Weapons). Once damage has been finalized, start again with the Planning action and keep going at it. In the Planning Phase, both players will select 1-2 cards from their hand and put them face down next to their control panel for their ship.

You keep my planes flying. I need my planes to fly – Cpt. Lee ‘Apollo’ Adama

I am going to pause for a minute and talk about the control panels. Each ship has a panel (above) that is what you use to show what your ship is doing, what direction it is facing, and what its speed is. When playing with the complete rules, you will also use the parts of the panel that cover other aspects of flying in space.

In the Planning Phase, both players will select up to 2 cards from their ships maneuver deck and place them face down next to their control panel. You will then set the speed of your ship on the indicator on the control panel and also put that face down next to the cards. Once all players have placed their cards for the ships down and set their panels, everyone will flip the cards and control panel over, and move to the Executing Movement phase.

Movement—the one that most people struggle with when starting a new mini’s game—has been simplified by the inclusion of movement cards with lines on them to show exactly where your ship will end. That’s right, all you have to do is line up the marker on the base to the line that matches the speed you signified and move your ship to the end of that line. Moving backwards? Just place the card on the back marker on your base and follow the line. Overboosting? Guess what – place the tiles down and follow the lines!

We’re the children of humanity – Number Six

Phase 3 is now the one where all the magic happens… firing weapons!! That’s right, now’s the time to take some righteous judgement out on your opponent’s ships. As with most other games, this is based on line of sight using the rules. To make it a bit easier, the bases that are holding your ships also include groves in them to help determine the firing arc. Typically this happens at the same time, with all damage being dealt simultaneously, but you can decide to defer your firing action if you want to let another ship go first.
Damage is determined by rolling 2 dice, adding the numbers together and seeing if they are equal or higher than the attack value of the defending ship. If you have cards or skills that have modifiers, you can add them at this time. When damage is dealt to the ship, the ships controller will draw a damage token, look at the value, and place it face down next to the ship. As damage is dealt at the same time, it is possible to destroy the opponents ship in the same turn that your ship is destroyed. A ship is destroyed at the end of this phase when the damage taken equals or exceeds the structure value of the ship. Game play continues until one ship remains, though there are different win conditions on the mission cards included in the game.

Game Mechanics

Mechanically, the game is solid. The design of the ship bases makes this very easy to pick up and play with minimal issues. For those familiar with other miniatures games, the mechanics and style of play is remarkably similar to a lot of other games out there, making this very easy to get on the table to play and teach. The game can ramp up in difficulty very quickly when adding in all of the optional rules and scenarios. That being said, even with everything on the table being used, the usage of a separate control panel per ship helps in keeping track of each ship’s actions and status.

We’ll sleep when we’re dead, c’mon! – Chief Galen Tyrol

Game Play

A 2-player game, as mentioned before, can take around 30 minutes to complete, depending on the players knowledge level of the game. Beginners using the Quick Start rules and not familiar with this type of game will take the full 30+ minutes, while those more familiar with other space-faring mini’s games might play it a bit faster. With all the rules in place, a game with experienced players still only takes around 45 minutes, with the time going upwards when additional players and ships being added.

Expansions

Tired of playing with the same Vipers and Raiders? Lucky for you, Ares Games has already released new ships and cards to expand the game play and abilities for the game. Not only that, but they’ve released the base components if you want to just add some more Vipers and Raiders to the game and start full squadrons for the play. As of this month (July of 2020), the following ships are readily available (NOTE: this list includes a few limited edition models that may not be available outside of conventions)

NameName
Viper Mark IICylon Raider
RaptorCylon Heavy Raider
Viper Mark VIIStarbuck: Viper Mark II
Starbuck – Captured RaiderScar Cylon Raider
Apollo Viper Mark VIIPegasus Viper Mark VII

Artwork & Component Quality

Artwork for the cards is taken from the TV show, and accurately reflect the tone of the show. With darker colors on some of the cards, and clear distinction between the humans and cylons, most of the cards are easy to differentiate between the two factions. The card stock is a little thin, though, and will easily start showing wear along the edges after a few games of shuffles. You’ll start to see white edges on the cards pretty quick, especially if you are hard on them. The only other comment I’ll make on the cards is that they’re all different sizes, so if you’re one who likes to sleeve their cards regardless of the game, you will not find any sleeves that will work.

Yes, we’re tired. Yes, there is no relief. Yes, the Cylons keep coming after us time after time after time. And yes, we are still expected to do our jobs! – Colonel Saul Tigh

Enough of the cards, let’s talk the plastic components of the game. The control panels are very sturdy and have a great feel to them. When Ares Games made these, they knew the type of players who would be using them might not always be the most gentle when moving the sliders and parts around, and they did a great job in making these put up with some abuse. Solidly made, and with a good click when moving a marker around on it, these really are meant to take a beating.

And what would this be without talking about the bases and ships. All ships that come with the game are pre-painted. While the control panels look like a certain mechanical grey, the ships all come in their appropriate detail and colors based on the show. And the bases are partially clear,sturdy, and again knowing the audience, made to put up with a lot of shifting and clicking around.

What works

There’s so much to the game that clicks, especially for those who don’t want a super heavy mini’s game that’s going to run for hours, or more importantly, want to play a lighter game between rounds and can get it done in around 30 minutes. Regardless of previous experience in playing miniature games, the game allows you to meet the player levels and adjust the game. If you want a tougher experience, throw in some asteroid fields or adjust the pilot skills to nugget or rookie. Just really love BSG and want to play something that matches the show? This scratches that itch, and in a pretty satisfying manner.

I have a soul. I see patterns. – Leoben Conoy

What doesn’t work

As I mentioned above, the card-stock does leave a bit to be desired. After around 10 games, I can see white along the talent card edges. There are sleeves available out that you can use, but you will need to trim the edges and use tape to keep it closed. Additionally, depending how you play, you can end up with a ‘busy’ play area, which is good, but when you have 6 people playing with 4 ships each, you can end up with some confusion. A way that I found to get around this is to use colored stickers for each control panel, ship, and pilot to keep track of which goes where. The only other issue I have with the game is the apparent lack of support from Ares games. With the game being out for a while, we’ve seen a few scenarios on their website, but no new ships have come out, nor new cards to enhance the game. They’ve stated publicly that they are bringing new models from the original TV series, and new ships so hopefully the game will continue to grow.

Final Thoughts

I love the show. Really. And when Ares threw this out there, I knew I had to get it on the table to play with the family. I mean, it’s good vs evil (you decide which is good, which is evil) in space. What can go wrong? And I love miniatures, so this seemed like the perfect fit! And honestly, the game is good. Solid gameplay and mechanics, great looking models, and really easy to get a game in. You’ve read my thoughts on the game, the simplicity of the game play, This should be easy for me to say ‘go buy this now!!’; Gameplay, loved it. Theme, obviously great. Mechanics, simple, clean, and solid…but, I can’t recommend it. It’s not the card stock that stops me from doing that, it’s the apparent lack of support for the game. When you get a license like this, you have to milk it while it’s hot! And when this came out, this was on-fire. Then a few models were released, then silence. Lots and lots of silence. And that’s never good. As a publisher, you’re paying lots of money for the license. As a retailer, you want expansions, updates, something to keep players coming back in to play and buy more. As a player, you want that plastic and cards to add to your game, and try new maneuvers. But it’s been quiet.. too quiet. And that makes me hesitant.

 

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