Last night, I was number 6 to arrive at VTES night.
(Yes, I made the evening-gown joke, and yes it was just as bad as you think. So stop.)
After a rousing game of VTES where my cruddy Marconius+Krassimir vote deck managed to win a 6 (ugh) player game (partly thanks to my grandpredator's Anathema giving me 10 yummy pool), we decided to play Galactica.
Now, see, I like Galactica. I think it's a great game.
But the last 2 games have soured it a bit for me.
In the EliCon game, the humans lost before the sleeper phase, due to randomness and unfavorable crisis deck shuffling; mechanically a total flop. The No Sympathizer rule didn't even enter into it, but you've heard my feelings on that.
In last night's game, which used Pegasus (but not New Caprica), another house rule was introduced to me:
If there is a Cylon Leader in an even-number-of-players game, he modifies the Loyalty Deck to ensure that there won't be 3-on-3 cylon-vs-human action.
I was on the Human side, playing Ellen Tigh, and didn't feel like we were ever in danger or challenged at all. I didn't ever even feel the need to use my special abilities, and spent the whole game tossing Treachery cards into the Engine Room boilers.
And, even though Morale got down to 1, it still seemed like an easy win for the Humans.
The Cylon Leader (John "Eno" Cavil) had a Hostile Agenda, and so the house rule dictated that there was only one other Cylon. It was Admiral Cain (played by Chris), who didn't get her Cylon Loyalty until post-sleeper phase after blasting us 6 distance forward.
Had there been another Cylon loyalty card in circulation (as per the standard rules), then there would have been a lot more sense of tension in the room; granted, the Cylons probably would have won in that case, but I think it would have been a more interesting game.
Despite winning, it kind of gave me a "meh" feeling about the game; especially the feeling by most players that House Rules are necessary "to balance things", when in fact they often don't matter or don't actually balance the game in the intended way.
I still don't know if I'm ever going to pick up Pegasus.
But whenever I am in charge of setting the "House Rules" for a game of BSG, I'm always going to be in favor of being minimally invasive.
That is, when playing the Base Game, leave the Sympathizer in a 6p game (unless someone twists my arm real hard) and only use the new rules from Pegasus that apply to the base game, and no other "house rules". I'd even love to play an "as-written" BSG base game sometime, which isn't really that outrageous. The Forum game I played (which barely counts) used completely unmodified base rules and I didn't have too much of a problem with, for example, old Investigative Committee...
When playing Pegasus, I'll encourage playing by the rules as-written, except for the choice between New Caprica (which I'd love to try, incidentally) or not.
You can say I'm overthinking it in the other direction, but as much as I love inventing house rules and variants, I really want to try the game as-is to be able to judge the imbalances for myself. Because, in my observation, none of the Major house rules (especially the respective No Third Cylon rules) have really accomplished what they set out to accomplish in the games I've played with them.
Ideally this game would get another expansion; there's plenty of plot left to work with, and I've even written down a bunch of ideas for a "wish list" for an expansion that covers the rest of the show.
I'm not holding my breath on that, but I'm sure it would address balance issues once again in its own way.