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Posted on Dec 20, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Smoke that Toaster! – Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles Board Game Review

Smoke that Toaster! – Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles Board Game Review

By Rick Martin

Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles Starter Set.  Publisher: Ages Games  Designer: Andrea Angiolino  and Andrea Mainini Price  $59.90


Passed Inspection: Beautiful components and miniatures, innovative movement system simulates zero G space combat, exciting game play, multiple difficulty levels, tons of value for the money


Failed Basic: Kinetic movement and Acceleration rules need more examples, maneuver cards storage not deep enough to hold the cards in place in the box, slight problem with space ship bases not rotating (but Ares has an easy fix for that)


After 4,571 days, the Cylon War ended with a sudden armistice. Peace lasted 40 years. But now the Cylons are back as fierce and combative as ever. They want to exterminate what remains of mankind . . . and they have a plan.



The Twelve Colonies are wasted and in ruins. But the Colonial Fleet is there to face the Cylon spaceships and protect what it is left of mankind.



As a kid, I grew up on Star Trek, UFO, Space 1999, Star Wars, Planet of the Apes, Buck Roger, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica!  The early to mid 1970s were a great time to be a kid!  Battlestar Galactica had a warm place in my heart as, unlike Star Wars at that time, you could watch it on television and every week was a new adventure.  Many years later, I was enthralled by the Battlestar Galactica reboot which raised the bar for adult oriented science fiction television.


Now, thanks to Ares Games, we can pilot Colonial Vipers and Cylon Raiders and relive the breathtaking space battles of the Battlestar Galactica reboot!  But wait, there’s more!  Ares promises that in 2019, we’ll be seeing ships from the original classic Battlestar Galactica series as well!


Ares Games is famous for their innovative miniature game systems Wings of Glory (known in a previous release as Wings of War) and Sails of Glory.  Wings of Glory features World War 1 and World War 2 aircrafts while Sails of Glory is a game of sailing ship combat in the 1700s and early 1800s.  The great thing is, if you know how to play those games, you’ve got a leg up on learning the basic game of Battlestar Galactica as the systems are similar.


The Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles Starter Set has burst out of hyperspace and hit the store shelves just in time for Christmas!  It includes everything you need to play whether you are a human pilot trying to survive or a “toaster” trying to subjugate those pesky humans.


The Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles Starter Set includes:

  • Rule book
  • 1 Scenario Booklet
  • 4 fully painted Spaceship Miniatures with Gaming Bases (two Vipers and two Cylon Raiders)
  • 4 Control Panels
  • Maneuver decks
  • Pilot Cards
  • Spaceship Cards
  • Special Cards
  • Rulers
  • 2 Dice
  • Counters, Tokens and Markers
  • Asteroid Fields and Planetoids Templates



The only thing not included in the starter set would be a black table cloth to set on the table over which your space ships will travel.  While this is not necessary to play, it does look more dramatic to have your ships “flying” through space then just “flying” over a wooden table.


The 32 page rule book is divided in to the quick start game rules, complete game rules and optional rules.  The quick start game rules cover only 12 pages.  Movement and weapons combat are very abstractly represented and these rules can be learned in less than 10 minutes.  The complete game rules add in features that simulate combat in a zero g environment as well as adding critical hits and other things which make the game more “realistic”.  Optional rules add in 3 D space combat with different bands of “altitude”, targeting rules, fuel usage, tailing, asteroids, pilots, campaign games, etc.  As with Wings of Glory and Sails of Glory, rules can be added piecemeal as players become familiar with the game mechanics. All rule books and other papers in the game have a corner missing just like in the TV show (nice attention to detail Ares)!


The miniatures space fighters are beautifully sculpted and painted.  The game includes two Colonial Vipers and two Cylon Raiders.  Each ship has a rotatable base and four stands.  If you are using the 3 D flying rules, you add stands to the ship to show its “altitude” which, in space, would be its differential on the Z axis.  The stands easily fit in to the base unit.  The base is marked with a zero for straight ahead and a 1 for behind.  If using the complete game rules, the ship can rotate from its direction of travel to shoot at targets to the sides – just like they do in the TV show.


For each ship on your team, you’ll use a control panel to set its throttle and using the complete and optional game rules, you can set and track your altitude, your kinetic energy and your ship’s rotation from its 0 degrees forward path.  More on this later in the review.


Using fast start, complete and optional rules the ships maneuver using hexagonal maneuver cards.  Lines on the card show how fast and in what direction you move at up to five different speeds.  Simply set your throttle on the control panel to the speed you want to move and then pick the maneuver card you want to use.  Line the front of the maneuver card up with the front of your base and move the miniature as shown on the card – very close to how you do it for Wings of Glory and Sails of Glory!  Battlestar Galactica also adds backward speeds and overboost movement which allows you to effectively move two cards for the price of one (but at a price paid by increasing your kinetic energy in all but the quick start rules).


The turn sequence is quick and easy to learn.

1) Plan your movement and speed

2) Play your maneuver cards

3) If in range and your target is in your firing arc, take a shot at your foe

4) Apply any damage from the shooting

5) Go back to #1


If you are playing with the complete or optional rules, there are additional steps but these 5 steps are the foundation of this game.


The complete rules add in some of the more complex features of the game.  One such addition is the Kinetic Energy rule.  Basically, this rule states how the speed you are going affects what speed you’ll be going next turn.  If you were going super fast in the previous turn, a combination of the Kinetic Energy and your fighter’s Acceleration rating will dictate how much speed you can either gain or lose on this turn.  This was the rule that confused my gaming group the most but with some practice and by watching some video examples on YouTube of how this rule works, we got it figured out after a few plays.  In my opinion, this rule could have used a few more examples in the rule book – examples of both speeding up and slowing down would have unpacked this rather complex system and made it much more intuitive.


In addition to the Kinetic Energy rule, the complete rules add in the ability of a fighter to use its thrusters to rotate the front of the ship from its flight path.  This allows the player to bring a target in to its arc of fire even if the target is not in the fighter’s forward gun arc.  This is a somewhat risky maneuver as the fighter will still travel down its original flight path and it may even drift in to a dangerous situation.  To show that the ship is rotating, the ship can be turned on its base stand to the direction that you chose.  One of the bases in my starter set wouldn’t turn so Ares was kind enough to let me know of a quick fix as this situation has happened to other players.  Simply boil some water and set the base in the boiling water (without letting it touch the bottom of the pan) for one minute.  Carefully take the base out of the water and let it cool for a few seconds then twist the base and it should work fine.  Mine did!


Combat is fast and furious.  If the enemy is in your firing arc which is marked on the base of ship, you lay out a measuring stick to see if the range is close, medium or long. At close range you add 1 to your die roll, at medium you just use your die roll and at long range, you subtract 1 from your die roll.  You add or subtract modifiers based upon your speed and other factors.  If your total roll is equal to or greater than the attack value of your ship, you hit!  The person who is hit then draws a chit from the damage chit bag or bowl and the number of damage is subtracted from your ship’s structure hull points.  Critical hits may show up on the damage chit pulled and include such things as engine or control system hits, drawing an extra damage chit or even a wounded or killed pilot result.  When the damage on your ship is greater than or equal to your ship’s structural hull points, your ship is destroyed.


Optional rules are included for asteroid fields or planetoids, using heroic pilots from the TV show, linking battles to form campaigns, tracking your own pilots and adding skills and detriments to your pilots, faster than light travel and much more.


More ships will be released in starting in early 2019.  Ares is also promising capital ships such as Cylon Base Stars and the Galactica, itself!


The only other slight negative to the game is that the storage space in the box isn’t deep enough to keep the maneuver cards from falling all over the inside of the box when you’re traveling with your game.  Armchair General reviewer Greg Johnson came up with a great way to fix this by using cardboard covers which slip over the maneuver card storage areas!  Way to go Greg!


All in all, the Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles starter set is amazing!  It perfectly captures the frantic star fighter combat from the TV series!  If you are a science fiction fan, get this game!  By My Command!





Armchair General Rating:  97 %


Solitaire Rating: 2 (1 is not suitable, 5 is perfect for solo play)  **Some fans have started writing solo rules so this rating may change soon**


About the Author


A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!