What the Frak?

I feel like I've already covered how I feel about general sci-fi multiple times, and should basically just set some sort of macro that automatically copies the first paragraph of this entry every time I write about it. So...me and sci-fi...rocky relationship. There, you're caught up. Sometimes it forces its way into my life, though, mostly because I hang out with a bunch of other nerds. A lot of my friends adore sci-fi, and I'm an avid gamer, which also heartily embraces the genre.

That's how, though before now I've never had more than a passing interest in the cultural juggernaut that is Battlestar Galactica, it has suddenly made itself an unignorable presence. My weekly gaming group rotates through plenty of titles, but a few weeks ago, someone suggested we play the board game version of Battlestar Galactica (released in 2008, with multiple expansions in the years since), and after ascertaining that I didn't require any specialized knowledge of the show to be able to play, I agreed.

Wow, was it fun. Though I like cooperative games a great deal, there's definitely something to be said for games where a subset of the players are secret schemers. On my first playthrough, I was indeed an evil cylon, and had to plot against my buddies without being exposed. On my second, I was an innocent human. Both play styles had their own challenges, which makes the game far more interesting than it would be otherwise.

When you're a human, your responsibility is to make it through the game alive, and to uncover the cylon(s) along the way. When you're a cylon, you try to stay under the radar for as long as possible, throwing up roadblocks without making it too obvious. You won't even know who your fellow conspirators are. There are additional intricacies, because two of your group will have special powers (one political, one military), and they could be on either team. The writing isn't everything it could be, and it's not as fun on the replay as much as some of the other games we've tackled, but for the most part, it's been a solid choice for game night.

Once we were done playing that first game, a couple of my gaming friends wondered at the fact that I'd never actually clapped eyes on the show itself. They decided this was unacceptable, and the next time we hung out, they made sure to set aside 3 hours so that we could plow through the Battlestar Galactica miniseries (2003), which introduced what would later become the regular series on SyFy. Now I could actually get the plot behind the game! For those as in the dark as I was, it's about a solar system of humans destroyed by a race of artificial intelligence called cylons. Cylons have advanced to the point that they can pass themselves off as human, so everyone is under suspicion.

The remnants of the human race escape to a group of spaceships and are now trying to constantly outpace the pursuing cylons and find a new homeworld. There's even an old legend about a place called...Earth. DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN! There's all sorts of political and military intrigue, but for the most part, the miniseries is a fat wad of exposition in order to set up what would come after. It was a little too much set dressing and not enough meaty plot, but I can forgive it in this case. It at least captured enough of my interest so that I've agreed to keep on watching. Who knows, maybe later, I'll become such a fanatic that I start to look like a toaster. That was a cylon joke. Like I said, you can't trust anybody in this universe!

Battlestar Galactica (game): B
Battlestar Galactica (miniseries): B-


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