The second Cylon war is waiting for new heroes. They will have to stand next to the heroic captain Adama and his squadron of pilots, togehter with ace pilot Starbuck. But what if one of them is actually the other side’s spy? These are the worries, that have to be considered, when they are aboard a fleet flying to a mysterious planet. Home. But once they sit in the cockpit of their Vipers, everything is forgotten.
Just as the box says. They evolved. They rebelled. Cylons are a legend. And its the same with Battlestar Galactica series, from which one unique game was born in the past already. And now there is potential for the second, because ARES Games has taken the classics into their hands. Pair of designers – Andrea Angiolino and Andrea Mainini – signed under the game, and the result of their development was given the clear name Battlestar Galactica: Starship Battles. Its based on the popular flying Wings of Glory mechanic.
There is a lot under the cover of the box, which attracts with BSG 75 inscription, rather than with some graphics. And candidates get a chance to peek inside through a transparent window. This presents potential customers with a complete set of four aircrafts. There are also sets of different cards, but above all a clear plastic control panel present for every player. It contains three sliders (height, speed and kinetic energy) and one rotary pointer. With the help of a cardboard ID, they assign this control tile one to each spacecraft. This is, what the player get under control and place these panels in front of themselves. Playing area between players should not be less than 75 times 75 centimeters big.
Each ship also has its card specifying statistics (attack, hull compactness – structure and acceleration), base token, and most importantly a maneuver deck. This makes the players ready and it is only necessary to prepare combat scales and a set of tokens. In addition, players must also comply with the specific rules for the selected scenario from the second book, which usually prescribes the starting position of the ships and possibly also the position of the various celestial bodies.
In the game, players progressively go through three stages before the round ends and the next one begins. First, each of the pilots prepares a plan of his movement, by secretly determining the speed of his vessel on the control panel and to do so, chooses one card corresponding to that maneuver from his deck. Three are three speed leves to choose from, but the fighter can also stand still or even move backwards.
Once everyone has finished planning, they will reveal their wishes together. One at a time, he places a maneuver card on his model and links the line corresponding to the selected speed with the tip of the ship. The ship will follow that route and end its movement according to the indicated line.
But when maneuvering, players must not forget, that they are in space. And there, the basis of everything is inertia, because there is no air, that will slow ships down. It limits players in their choice of speed and maneuver, but also affects how well, it is reachable. The so-called sitting duck without movement is much more easier target, than a space-rushing machine. However, in addition to moving forward, the fighters may also spin around their axis and thus shoot at the other side, than they are flying. Again, maneuver cards are used.
Depending on the quality of the planned movement and anticipating the opponents‘ maneuver, one of the enemy fighters may enter the ship’s field of view. However, in order to open fire, the vessel must be within range. In addition, according to the distance, which is divided into red, orange and light brown segments, the attack modifier (+ 1/0 / -1) is added. And if – after the addition of the roll – sum of two dice results is greater than or equal to six, the shot was successful. The attacked player must now draw a damage token to reduce the value of his ship’s structure.
Once fired, players perform a second scheduled move and again have the ability to shoot targets, that appear in their viewfinder. Finally, the survival of the aircraft decides about the winner. The player, who remains as last fighter celebrates victory.
Battlestar Galactica: Starship Battles is a dueling treat. The game offers a sophisticated (and already by a number of games proven) system, that allows players to really tactically fight in the vacuum. But it also brings a number of interesting elements, that make the battles even more interesting.
In the basics, of course, its all about the classic maneuvers with the help of cards and shooting, which is mainly based on range and the right direction. Players must well anticipate each other’s intentions, fly behind their rival or shoot at each other in a flyby. From these moments, the film atmosphere is absolutely pure and everyone can enjoy it to the fullest.
Unlike the biplanes or ships, the battle in vacuum has its own specifics, which fortunately the authors have not forgotten. As a result, we will see kinetic energy and shooting elsewhere, than you fly. In addition, when shooting repeatedly at one target, the pilot’s focus improves, giving him better hitting conditions. Conversely, acceleration has an effect, that can be used to overcome larger distances at once.
And we haven’t mentioned the special abilities of the characters yet. For example, they may have a modifier to hit, and individual pilots also have their own specific talents and defects.
Of course, the results of shooting are controlled by chance, because you can never say with certainty in reality, that you will hit your moving target. Each ship has its own deck of cards, that allow the individual fighters to be truly different in their maneuvers.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, is that each scenario is linked to a particular episode of the first series of Battlestar Galactica. Generally, these stories are four in the box. But it is possible to link them into a campaign. This allows players to gain experience and transfer them between games. And soon, new fans‘ scenarios will probably start to appear.
Of course, the theme is the icing on the cake. Fortunately, its not Star Wars or Star Trek again, as we encounter them at every turn. This time, we get a fresh theme, that hasn’t been explored well yet. This will be a success not only for fans of the original series, but certainly for all those, who like science fiction.
It is clear, that this will be the best experience in two players. At least until the expansion boxes with new ships and especially pilots appear on the market. Many players may be disappointed, that there is only Lee Adama in the base box and you will not find any other pilot from the popular series. There are still enough ships in the box for four players. In doing so, it is possible to use a complete set even in two and play a battle with all four fighters, where each participant controls two of them.
The processing of the whole box is top-notch. Everything looks fabulous and figurines are the best of it all. Details on ships are absolutely precise. But we also have to praise the choice of plastic control boards. Everything just works from start to finish and there’s nothing to complain about.
All these elements mean, that Battlestar Galactica: Starship Battles is the best dueling game out there and definitely outperforms its competitor X-Wing. The game overflows with atmosphere and focuses on piloting, which is exactly the center around which every such game should spin the most. We can’t wait to expand our box, because Battlestar Galactica: Starship Battles is a hit!
Battlestar Galactica: Starship Battles is a completely different experience, than a competing X-Wing in a space battle genre. It is much more focused on piloting and differences between machines. Moreover, it is after a long time, when we really have nothing negative to report about a game at all. Everything is fine-tuned to last detail, and coincidence serves only honestly to build the atmosphere and experience. Battlestar Galactica: Starship Battles is a safe bet, if you like dueling, flying, BSG or just science fiction.