Games that Teach – BattleStar Galactica and Long Term Planning

Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game is, as of now (on BoardGameGeek) one of the greatest board games of all time. And it is definitely the most played in my gaming group, which may or may not be a good thing. It can be gamed, and it can be a little annoying, so we can get a just a little mad sometimes. But really, it’s just fun, it’s one of the most fun times I’ve had almost every time I play it.

But there is something about BSG that I just love, and it isn’t revealing you’re a Cylon on the first turn to game the system. (Though I’m not sure this is a problem in the base game, or that it’s even really a good idea. It hasn’t been when I’ve been playing) It is the planning, and the treason (okay, I like the treason and the intrigue that comes with it), but the planning.

The game requires one to envision the endgame when surviving the present situation seems unlikely. While one is dealing with the current enemy warships, skill checks, and entering enemy robots, they must also constantly be thinking about who is and who may be a traitor, and if you might become a traitor in the future.

While you’re spending all your cards now to stop a Cylon (evil robot) invasion of the ship, or prevent a food shortage, you must think about how far this ship will move, is it really worth it to give up all of your cards now? (Yes, yes it is) Now, usually the worst happens, but if one has experienced teammates’ it usually ends in human victory. But what if it doesn’t, what if your teammates’ actually a Cylon? What if you are a Cylon? As long as there is the possibility of someone becoming a Cylon you have to remember to not do “too” well to avoid later suspicion.

And while avoiding doing too well as a good guy because you might become evil isn’t a realistic scenario, it does apply to various aspects of everyday life. Like, should I sink all of my money and/or time into this project, what will it prevent me from doing in the future (being a good villain)? Will it make other things I want to do harder? Etc. And I believe that it has really positively affected me and the way I look at future scenarios. Not to say that I was bad at long-term planning in the past and now I’m magically good, but I do have a bit of different perspective to look at things from and assess the future by.

In the end BSG is just a fun game of intrigue, bad stuff happening, and betrayal (Okay, I promise it’s fun, that sounded better in my head). But it can give a little push in the right direction when it comes to long term planning. It is by no means perfect, and by no means a class where one can develop the skill, but it could easily help with the development. Which is all we can really ask of a board game. (And Treason, we can ask that, too.)

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