News for December 2008
What Humans Find Suspicious
A guest BSG strategy article
Battlestar Galactica | Published 23 December 2008

By JT Smythe

Chapter 1. Don't be the only saboteur, encourage incompetence in everyone.
I have found that sabotaging skill checks is often not the best way to sabotage the humans efforts. Although it is the most obvious and easiest way, it also tends to be the most suspicious. Failed skill checks draw a lot of suspicion, bad decisions that everyone agreed to, doesn't. You can generally do a hell of a lot more damage than you think just by talking and encouraging others to take bad actions and decisions.

Chapter 2. "No No, Madam President, stay on Colonial One and let us fight the Cylons" How to get the humans to do stupid things that don't really help them.
What sort of things can you convince the humans to do that doesn't really help them. There are two basic ways to get the humans to screw themselves, both beautiful in that they are exact opposites of each other and so one will usually seem appropriate to the humans.

First, get everyone doing something different. "Starbuck you take out the cylon Raiders in your Viper, Madam President you keep drawing Quorum cards. I know we're under attack but Starbuck and Commander Adama can handle that, you are the only one who can draw Quorum cards. That's a very special ability, you should use it. Commander Adama move those civilian ships out of the way of those cylons, don't worry about Starbuck being outnumbered she can take care of herself. Colonel Tigh, take out those Cylon boarding parties."

Most of the time there are one or two real problems and a couple of not so urgent ones. Every person handling a non urgent problem is someone not helping with a critical one. It doesn't do the humans any good to have not lost a single civilian ship or viper if galactica is destroyed by boarders. This method is most effective with characters who are the only one who can do something, like the president or the only engineer, or only pilot etc.

Second, Get everyone doing the same thing. "Starbuck take out those Raiders in your Viper, Madam president get over here and order those red shirt vipers to take out that raider in front of the ship, No don't wait for Commander Adama to do it, there might be more raiders spawned by the time its his turn. Forget the quorum, we've got a basestar and 2 cylon raiders attacking us, hit them before there are more. Commander Adama, Colonel Tigh, go to command and order some vipers to cover Starbuck's butt. Sure she can probably handle it herself but I don't want to take the chance. Forget the boarding party for now, we can deal with that when the raiders are gone."

Pick a problem and stick with it, no matter what else is happening insist that this problem must be dealt with before doing anything else. Get everyone ultra focused on the biggest problem and before you know it a couple of the small ones that were not handled will be big problems in their own right.

Chapter 3. You're not fighting the humans. You're "helping" them destroy themselves
You don't need to fight the humans. Simply "help" along their more self destructive tendencies. Most groups of humans will be well on the way to self destruction after half a dozen turns without any intervention on your part. In picking ways to help them destroy themselves simply find the course of action they already want to take and encourage it. If Boomer wants to take an early jump to evade a Cylon fleet support her destructive desire. When choosing a method of destruction from the previous chapter (everyone do the same thing, everyone do something different) don't fight their natural tendencies, go with the flow. If it looks like they want to do focus on one problem and ignore others encourage that, if not, encourage the opposite. Either way will work just fine. Ultimately you don't need to do much, you don't need to destroy them before the first jump. All you need to do is get them doing the wrong thing for a turn or two longer than they wanted to do anyway. Your role is to keep edging them towards extreme behavior, what extreme that is doesn't matter.

Chapter 4. Turn on each other human scum, it's what you do best
The surest way to destroy the humans is to get them to turn on each other. Or more precisely (as they will be at each others' throats by the third turn anyway) to tweak their divisions and keep them divided a little longer than they would on their own. I know sending innocent men to the brig is what first springs to mind, but there are many other divisions to foster. Some players may think it more important to repair damage to the ship and vipers. Others may want to boost the skill cards in their hands. In combat, some may want to destroy enemy raiders, others heavy raiders. Some may want to jump early, others to wait. Try to encourage these divisions, especially when you can get one or two crew taking actions to help one strategy and others taking actions to accomplish the opposite strategy. Do the best you can to keep half the crew trying to do one thing and the other half trying to do something else. Stop them from acting on a concerted coordinated strategy.

If you've got some damaged vipers and damage to galactica and are under attack, and Commander Adama and Apollo want to jump early but Starbuck and Colonel Tigh want to hold out a little longer. Encourage Starbuck and Tigh to fend off the Cylons until we can jump safely, then grudgingly agree that Commander Adama was right and we should jump early. That way you get the benefit of Jumping early (and the lovely risk of humans dying) plus Starbuck and Tigh have essentially wasted their turns fending off an attack that they eventually retreat from. If the humans had acted with a more coordinated strategy Tigh could have initiated the jump letting Starbuck and Adama start fixing the ship and drawing extra cards.

Now that you know what to do, here's how to do it.

Chapter 5. The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. or "Don't look at me it was all his idea"
Whenever things go wrong the humans always look for someone to blame. And that blame inevitably falls on the guy who thought of the bad idea. So, never be the one to suggest a course of action, just jump on the bandwagon of someone else's stupid ideas. You won't have to wait long. Before you know it someone will want to jump early, or wait to jump even though you're getting creamed, or accuse some poor sap of being a Cylon. Never be the one to think of something bad just agree with someone else who does, if he looks like wavering encourage him. "NO, they're not right, you're the one who's right. I'll back you all the way, send that Frakker to the Brig". Speaking of the Brig...

Chapter 6. There's a party in the Brig and everyone's invited
As tempting as it is to put innocent people in the brig sometimes it can be more disruptive to break them out, especially when you know that several other players are going to try to put him right back in on their next turn. That way everyone wastes all their cards and actions twice not just once, and the Frakker still ends up in the brig anyway. Also it will gain the trust of the guy in the brig and anyone else who thought he was innocent. In a bizarre way it seems to earn the trust of the gaolers as well, no one ever thinks the Cylons will try to bust out an innocent man. Stupid humans.

Chapter 7. Failed skill tests are suspicious, passed ones aren't. Or "How to fail Skill tests without looking like the Frakking Skin Job you are."
Something that will be hard for you to do because it is so tempting is to refrain from adding bad cards to skill tests. Failed skill tests are suspicious, passed ones never seem to garner the same scrutiny. The best way to fail skill tests is to pass the previous one spectacularly. Dump as many good cards as you can get away with on one test and then cry poor for the next 5,or however long it is before you can refill your hand, "Gee guys I'd love to help but I blew all my cards on last turn's skill test".

Chapter 8. Be consistent
Humans love consistency and find it comforting. They will rarely suspect someone who is consistent. Once you jump on someone's bandwagon stay on it, If Gaius Baltar is conviced Roslyn is a Cylon and you jump on the bandwagon, then keep suspecting her. Never give up, never change your belief, even if Baltar does. Take every opportunity to say "I still think she's guilty, we should throw her in the brig". This works for anything, not just the brig "I still think we should repair the vipers before dealing with the boarding party. I still think Chief Tyrol is innocent". As long as you weren't the first person to suggest it, you can always defend yourself by pointing out "I'm not the Cylon for wanting her in the Brig, Baltar wanted it too, it was his idea, I just agree with him". Obviously there is a limit but you should stick to it a lot longer than others would. As doubts grow in the game people will periodically come back to the idea, at worst it will sow doubt and division, at best you will convince people to take the wrong course of action.

Chapter 9. Don't be aggressive
The biggest thing that gets God fearin' Cylons caught is being too aggressive in demanding a course of action. Don't ever do something unless close to half of the humans want you to do it. Fundamentally you should be concentrating on getting them to do the wrong things rather than doing them yourself. You should constantly support other people's bad ideas and try to convince more of the humans that it is right, but you should never do it without at least some humans saying its not such a bad idea. That way when it all goes wrong you can say, "It was a bad call Ripley I mean Starbuck, but I'm not a Cylon, Baltar and Tigh agreed with me, we can't all be Cylons" Its even more effective when you can say that it was all Gaius's idea that shifty git. Constantly support bad ideas but don't do it without support.

Chapter 10. So you've found yourself in the brig. Or "When you tell a lie, you tell the same lie to everyone, you keep it simple and no matter what happens you stick to it"
Despite your best efforts you may be found out and put in the brig. Or more likely the paranoid psychos put you in there completely at random. Oh they may think they have logical reasons but the number of innocent people that have been sent there far outweighs the guilty and even a broken clock is right twice a day. Once in the brig you will naturally consider yourself well caught and decide to hoof it to the nearest resurrection ship to continue causing strife. But hold on, are you really that screwed in the brig or can this be your master stroke. If you haven't been blatantly obvious there should still be some doubt as to your guilt (well, at least from everyone who didn't get to inspect your loyalty cards). So while it is often a good idea to make with the slashy slashy and wake up safe and sound on the nearest friendly neighborhood resurrection ship, you can continue to do a lot of the same stuff as you did before your unfortunate incarceration. If someone got to look at your loyalty card accuse them of being the cylon and act indignant, especially to the traitor. If not, people just suspect you because they think that piloting card that failed the skill check came from you, it is probably best to:

Stay calm.

Continue to try to reassure them you are innocent.

Stay consistent.

If you always thought Colonel Tigh was right and the boarding party should be dealt with, continue to say so, humans find consistency reassuring, remember.

Above all be helpful. play executive orders whenever you can, do not add cards to skill checks if they ask you not to (hey, at least now you have a great excuse for not helping them, because they asked you not to).

Seek Support.

Go to the people whose daft ideas you have supported in the past (or anyone who seems unsure of your guilt). Remind them of how you were the only one who believed in them (don't say they owe you), and what you did couldn't be suspicious because then everything they did would be suspicious too because you agreed with it. "Why would a Cylon agree with all your good ideas". Pick someone most of the others trust and who is the closest to trusting you and give them your absolute obedience. If they say use an executive order on the president, do it. If they say play a Strategic planning card do it.

If you follow these steps you are at worst sowing the seeds of doubt in people who were once convinced you were guilty, perhaps even still convincing some of them to continue following some hair-brained scheme. At best your good conduct may convince enough of them to spring you.

In conclusion

These are just the early strategies I have noticed in our group, and we haven't been playing for long. After more plays, and people get more sophisticated in play style these strategies might stop working. People might get less paranoid, realizing that paranoia is crippling and taking the risk of an unopposed skin job in their midst rather than the destructive and possibly futile attempt to unmask him or her. It will be interesting to see how play styles change with more play.

JT Smythe

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