The Humans Are Dead
Played a second game of the Battlestar Galactica board game this afternoon (with four players – all you “five players only!” people are crazy, it’s fine). Once again the humans lost – this time pretty miserably, and this time with me playing a human all the way through and thus feeling the loss much more personally.
In fact, though, one of the best things about the game is how much it sucks to be the the humans. Our game this time ended with a climactic, one-sided battle against the Cylon fleet in which they ripped through all our civilian fleet and killed humanity. Our previous game ended in a wonderful act of last-minute betrayal just as the humans were in striking distance of home.
In effect, the board game portrays the various ways in which the actual show should have gone. In complete opposition to the obscene “manifest destiny” of the humans in the (contemporary) TV show, in the board game, the humans suffer the multitude of far more likely fates they deserve. Their fuel runs out and the float aimlessly in space. They’re all massacred by the insanely more sophisticated killing machines that are hunting them. They become so depressed that they (I guess) all kill themselves. They run out of food.
While I don’t always love (or understand) the ins and outs of the gameplay itself – I’m not a particularly good player, and it’s actually a game you need to be good at – it so far never fails to portray an interesting and fundamentally good alternative narrative to the TV show it mirrors. It’s like one of those mirrors that makes the thing it reflects look better. The Cylons win most of the time because, frankly, they ought to. The humans lose most of the time because they’re in a terrible situation and, frankly, they mostly deserve to die. Even when I played on the humans’ side this time, at the end of the game I couldn’t help hearing a certain wonderful Flight of the Conchords song in my head and quietly cheering for my robotic murderers.