Fan-Created Mod Reinvents the Battlestar Galactica Board Game

Board games are intended to be permanent objects that can be enjoyed for years, if not decades, so I've always been fascinated by the concept of a board game becoming obsolete. Such was the the case with the Battlestar Galactica, a game cut off at the knees last year when Indie Boards & Cards published The Resistance. This new game on the block played in a fraction of the time with as much if not more suspense, relegating Battlestar Galactica to the back of the game closet.

Yet while I primarily play games as a test of skill, there is something to be said for an enjoyable theme. Battlestar, with its Cylons, always served as the perfect setting for the "hidden role" genre of games. Enter user Evan Derrick, who has followed tradition for the website by creating an "express" version of this popular game. BSG Express aims to bring the original game's weighty playtime down, while also adding the luck of the dice to spice up a game prone to dragging on. Since revealing his design to the community, BSG Express has shot up the ranks of BGG's "Hotness" ladder, calling much attention to the fan-made game.

Cards and markers for the unofficial "express" version of Battlestar Galactica

As part of the "hidden role" genre of games, both Battlestar Galactica and The Resistance draw inspiration off of the classic game of Werewolf. Players are assigned roles in secret at the game's start, and must tilt the game in their favor by eliminating players of the opposing faction in public votes. These games have built on the basic formula by adding special powers and abilities to aid in revealing a player's true motivation, but at their core, every match still comes down to a tense social game of accusations and body language.

Battlestar Galactica used the secret threat of Cyclons to great effect, but the 2-3 hour play experience needed to be trimmed down. BSG Express slashes that to about one hour, which is great, but the unexpected twist is the inclusion of die rolls.

During the game, players complete actions, hold votes, and resolve crises by rolling the skill dice with a mix of positive and negative numbers on their faces. The results of each roll are private to the person who rolled the dice, who then submits only a portion of them to the public vote. If a popular action is sabotaged, now you can bluff your secret Cylon status on a bad die roll, or frame another player who honestly did fall victim to the luck of the dice.

For those curious about exactly how BSG Express works, the game is available to play via virtual table as a Vassal Engine module, or you can download and print our your own home copy.

The board used to track game progress in BSG Express