Gaeta: There was another nova... Seen 4,000 years ago, around about when the Temple might have been built. It's 13,000 light years from our present position. It's a cloud of gas known as the Ionian Nebula.
Adama: Maybe it was a road sign... showing the direction that they headed to next.
      -Battlestar Galactica, “Rapture”

A Signpost on the Road to Salvation

On a journey to an otherwise unexceptional nebula, the next marker in their quest to find a new home, the crew of Battlestar Galactica nearly buckle under the intense psychological burden of their many challenges. Although the fleet is full of allies ready to help and hinder, each character must ultimately face his own crossroad if he hopes to prove his worth.

Welcome to another preview of Exodus , the upcoming expansion for Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game ! Exodus introduces three fundamental options to your Battlestar Galactica experience, and so far we’ve seen two of them. With the Cylon Fleet option , constant pursuit by Cylon ships will keep your crew’s pilots on their toes. Meanwhile, the Conflicted Loyalties option ensures that no one can be fully trusted. Today, we’ll explore the final the option: The Ionian Nebula.

An Engaging Personal Narrative

The Ionian Nebula option is the most mechanically complex of the three, adding many new elements to the game and profoundly affecting the overall experience. It turns Galactica into a living, breathing community of diverse individuals, and these personalities must be managed if you hope to further your own agenda. In short, both player characters and the new non-player characters will experience “Trauma” based on the hardships they encounter as part of life in the fleet. The important question is, how will these characters’ suffering shape their attitudes? Will a traumatized character become pessimistic and embittered, taking on a dark worldview that could endanger the fleet? Or will he rise above his suffering, finding a purpose in it and deepening his sense of compassion for humanity?

When using the Ionian Nebula option, you’ll find that your character develops a compelling personal narrative over the course of the game, culminating in an unforgettable climax. By the end, fierce fighting will rage in the void of space, paralleling the emotional turmoil raging in the heart of your character. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves; first things first...

Your Favorite Supporting Characters Join the Cast

Ally Cards represent the many individuals inhabiting the fleet for good or ill. Some denote characters who are also playable, but those Ally Cards are removed if their playable counterparts are in use (so no, Gaius Baltar couldn’t meet himself in the Research Lab). At any given time, three allies populate the fleet (their cards lie faceup near the board, and their tokens are placed in spaces on Galactica or Colonial One). If you wish to use a space occupied by an ally, you must “resolve” that ally first. This act thematically represents soliciting the character for his aid. But will he help you, or hinder you?

An Ally’s disposition is dictated by the Trauma token sitting facedown on his card. Take a look at Tom Zarek’s Ally card to the right (you can also see his Ally token, which marks his location). The location under his portrait indicates that this ally will occupy the Administration space on Colonial One; he’ll never move, and he’ll only be removed when resolved, or if his location is damaged or removed. What’s more, any player who ends his movement phase in a space with an ally is immediately forced to resolve that card (and indeed, this is the only way to resolve it)... so even if you suspect that Zarek has ill intentions, you’ll have to encounter him if you ever want to access the Administration space again. By flipping his Trauma token to reveal his disposition, you’ll determine whether he helps you (and subsequently lets you use the Administration space, should you choose), or whether your illicit association with this lowlife gets you sent to the brig!

Trauma tokens come in three types: Benevolent, Antagonistic, and Disaster.

Benevolent Trauma tokens represent a character’s resolve to keep an encouraging outlook despite intense personal suffering. When an ally is encountered, revealing a Benevolent token results in the positive outcome, after which both the ally and Trauma token are discarded.

Antagonistic Trauma tokens represent a person’s tendency to become bitter, brooding, and despondent in the face of tragedy. When an ally is encountered, revealing an Antagonistic token results in the negative outcome, after which both the ally and Trauma token are discarded.

Disaster Trauma tokens represent a terrible event, such as a death, and there are very few of them in the token pool. However, in the context of resolving Ally cards, they mean nothing. You receive neither the positive nor the negative outcome of the ally, and both the card and token are discarded. What, then, do these terrible tokens do? Read on!

Influence the Dispositions of Your Crewmates

Psychological distress strikes the men and women of the Colonial Fleet indiscriminately, so Trauma tokens aren’t just for allies. At the start of the game, each player takes three Trauma tokens, secretly looks at them, and places them facedown near his character sheet (you cannot begin with a Disaster token, so if you get one, redraw). One also goes facedown in the Brig, and another in Sickbay (visiting either location is a traumatic experience; should you do so, you’ll collect the token on this space before replacing it with one from the pool). If a game effect (such as starting your turn in the Brig or Sickbay, or certain Ally card effects) causes a human player to take a new Trauma token, he secretly looks at it and adds it to his personal pool... unless it’s a Disaster token, in which case he’s immediately executed!

Due to the slight risk of sudden execution, taking additional Trauma tokens is seldom desirable. On the other hand, when a player resolves an Ally card, that player replaces it with a new Ally card and secretly places a Trauma token from his own pool facedown on it, thereby determining the outcome for whoever resolves it! Does that mean that anyone who places an Antagonistic Trauma token on an Ally card must be a Cylon? Not necessarily. A genuine human may not have any Benevolent Trauma tokens to place... or he may be trying to “slough off” his Antagonistic Trauma tokens before the start of the Crossroads Phase, the alternate endgame introduced by the Ionian Nebula option.

When playing with the Ionian Nebula option, the final moments of the game are a feverish battle against both Cylons and personal demons. The Kobol Objective card is replaced by the Ionian Nebula Objective card, with instructs players to engage in the “Crossroads phase” after traveling eight distance. This is a pivotal moment in humanity’s search for salvation, as the Cylons launch a massive assault against the beleaguered fleet, and each character searches his soul and faces his own personal crossroads. Finally, each character’s peers will judge whether he still belongs among his own kind. Is your conscience clear?

Face the Judgment of Your Peers

The Crossroads Phase is completed in three steps:

  1. Set up the Battle of the Ionian Nebula
  2. Draw and Resolve Crossroads cards
  3. Stand Trial

After setting up the Battle of the Ionian Nebula, each player draws a single Crossroads card . Everyone now secretly chooses a Trauma token (from his own pool) to determine the outcome of his individual card (if you possess no Trauma tokens, then you're an emotional rock; choose whichever outcome you prefer). In turn, each player’s decision is revealed, and the effects of his Crossroads card are resolved. Naturally, you’ll want the result that’s best for your team... but this is also your last chance to get rid of undesirable Trauma tokens before all players must bear their souls and stand trial for their transgressions. Do your needs outweigh those of your fellows?

After the Crossroads cards are all revealed, the time comes to face final judgement. Each player reveals all the remaining Trauma tokens in his personal collection. All humans discard tokens with the benevolent symbol, and all Cylons discard tokens with the antagonistic symbol. If, at this point, you have two or fewer Trauma tokens remaining, you may discard them as well; you’ve beaten your demons, and can stand among your peers as a gold standard.

If, however, you still hold Trauma tokens in the end, your peers will judge you harshly . For the humans, this means a death sentence. For the Cylons, it means the “boxing” of your entire line, and indefinite exile into cold storage. Either way, you do not draw a new character, but are eliminated from the remainder of the game! When eliminated in this fashion, you've lost... regardless of the outcome for the other players.

A Familiar Face Takes the Helm

The Ionian Nebula option delivers an additional layer of conflict to your Battlestar Galactica experience, while engaging you in an even deeper narrative. Can you defeat your personal demons in time? For more on how best to manage your Trauma tokens, refer to this brief excerpt from the rules (pdf, 2.8 MB). Finally, below is a character who (though a bit misguided) is no stranger to personal trauma. Felix Gaeta receives a range of Skill cards, and his ability to lead a well-timed coup could save the fleet... or doom it.

Keep checking back for more on Exodus , the upcoming expansion for Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game !

Based on the hit Syfy series, Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game is an exciting game of mistrust, intrigue, and the struggle for survival in which three to six take the roles of their favorite characters from the show. Each playable character has their own abilities and weaknesses, and all must work together in order for humanity to have any hope of survival. However, one or more players in every game is secretly a Cylon, and wants the humans to perish.

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