GTM #225 - Battlestar Galactica: Starship Battles




Get ready to take control of Colonial and Cylon spaceships and engage in furious dogfights and daring missions, piloting beautiful miniatures, faithfully representing the spaceships from both the Re-imagined and Classic versions of the Battlestar Galactica show in the new miniature board game created by Ares Games, Battlestar Galactica – Starship Battles, which features everything a fan of the show expects to find in the game, with spaceships maneuvering and fighting in the same way seen on screen.

Designed by Andrea Angiolino (Wings of Glory, Sails of Glory) and Andrea Mainini (Sails of Glory), Battlestar Galactica – Starship Battles uses a unique game system, inspired by its “glorious” predecessors. Easy to learn but at the same time including many new features, it faithfully represents the cinematic, yet realistic space battles of the show.

The game debuts with a Starter Set featuring everything needed for two to four players to play different scenarios. The Starter Set is a complete game with four ready-to-play miniatures, but it is also a starting point for the full range of Battlestar Galactica — Starship Battles products.

Thanks to the simultaneous planning and movement system, there is no limit to the number spaceships to play with, or to the number of players who can take part in the game. Players can add more spaceships to their games with additional Spaceship Packs. The initial release includes the Viper Mk. II and Cylon Raider, which will be followed by new additional packs, featuring Raptors, Heavy Raiders, Viper Mk. VIIs, and more. Each spaceship will release in a “standard” version, and in special variants including the markings of specific pilots, and his or her pilot and skill cards.

The Quick Start Rules allow players to begin play by jumping right into the action, explaining how to handle a simple dogfight. Once the basics of flying and fighting with a spaceship are learned, the Complete Rules open a broad range of different possibilities: rotate a starship and shoot opponents on the right and left, while the fighter speeds ahead due to inertial movement, drift in space, handle thrusters to take kinetic energy into account, and feel the vibe of piloting a “real” spaceship in a dogfight. The rulebook also includes Optional Features to add special elements to the game, from pilots’ abilities to the use of asteroid fields and planetoids to Faster-Than-Light jumps.

Moving and fighting in space

To simulate realistic starship movement, each starship has a deck of maneuver cards, hexagonal in shape like the playing cards used on board the Galactica. The set of cards varies from ship to ship: Viper Mk. II’s are different from Raiders, Raptors, Mk. VIIs, and so on, so each one actually flies differently in the game. Each ship fits on a rotating base and is complemented by a special “control panel,” where you set the speed and keep track of the energy, rotation, and vertical movement of the ship (when playing with the Complete Rules).

At the start of each turn, players secretly choose one card (or possibly two) for each starship. Each card shows up to four arrows, of different lengths: High speed (H), Medium speed (M), Low speed (L) and sometimes even one for Reverse (R). On the control panel, the player must also set the speed. When cards are simultaneously revealed, the arrow matching the chosen speed is put in front of the starship (or at the rear, in case of a reverse) and then the starship is moved along the arrow to the tip.

To move faster, players use Overboost cards, played in combination with another maneuver card. Another unique possibility is that a spaceship can stand still, by setting speed to Stop (S): in this case, the planned card is ignored (it is just a decoy so other players will not spot the real intentions of the pilot).

Choice of maneuvers is free at the start, but can become restricted from one turn to the next. Changes in speed are limited by the acceleration value of your ship, while the combination of maneuvers is limited by their G-value – there is a limit to the energies your ship and pilot can withstand. In addition, some maneuvers are considered difficult and two cannot be played in a row. Complete rules allow starships to rotate while flying, traveling in one direction while pointing the ship - and firing - in another.

Fighting in space is successfully simulated thanks to a simple and immediate combat system, with shooting arcs shown directly on the base of each spaceship, and range measured by using a special combat ruler clearly indicating the different shooting ranges and relative modifiers.

First, players check if one or more opposing spaceships are in their spaceship’s attack range - framed in the shooting arc of the spaceship and within a suitable distance, determined with the proper combat ruler. Then, they throw 2 normal 6-sided dice to verify the target has been hit. Finally, if a hit has been scored, damage counters are drawn to determine the extent of the damage. Each spaceship has a given structural resistance to damage and, once the accumulated damage equals or exceeds its resistance, the spaceship is eliminated. Players may also need to deal with special damages, which limit the pilot or spaceship’s capabilities.

Playing with the optional rules adds even more strategy to gameplay – especially important are the rules and components to take into account the three-dimensionality of space, using combat ruler like a “calculator" to determine the effective distance between two spaceships at different levels.

To add flavor and atmosphere to the game, the game designers tapped into the richness of the Battlestar Galactica universe to introduce other elements and game situations, such as planetoids and asteroid fields with different characteristics, FTL (Faster Than Light) movement, pilots who directly impact the performance of their spaceships in combat - in the TV series, the strong personality of many pilots, starting with Apollo and Starbuck, decisively contribute to the compelling events, and game scenarios aligned with the most significant episodes of the TV series.

Battlestar Galactica – Starship Battles Starter Set and the first Spaceship Packs are the beginning of a journey. Future releases for the game system are planned during 2019 and beyond, to include atmospheric combat rules, missiles, and, of course, new spaceships!