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In the Battlestar Galactica basic game, what is the most critical resource between Fuel, Food, Morale and Population?

Does it change with the 6-player FFG optional rule where humans start with 8 Fuel, 7 Food, 9 Morale and 10 Population?

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In our gaming group, we have a saying: " humans never lose on food." It's not quite literally true, but it's very rare. –  ruds Feb 3 '13 at 7:48

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As with most games, it depends. It would most likely shift some using the variant rule as well, but it isn't clear to me exactly which way. You lose the game if any resource hits 0, but depending upon different game states, different resources may be more important than others. For example, if you are already at 8 distance, you can probably safely allow Fuel to be reduced to 1 rather than Morale which comes up more often on the Crisis cards. If your President is a cylon on the other hand, they most likely won't be giving Inspirational Speeches to improve your morale (even worse, if your Admiral is a cylon too). Which characters are being played in the game, and which (if any) are cylons probably has the biggest effect on the importance of individual resources.

Here is an analysis that someone wrote up on BGG. The major points are:

Fuel: You start with 8, and you need to travel 8. There are 21 destination cards, and most Destination cards allow you to move one, at the cost of one fuel. You need to save/gain fuel at some point. One third of the cards allow you to move 2, but only cost 1 fuel. Of the 70 Crisis cards, 10 can cost you fuel, but in half of those the Admiral is given a choice of losing other resources instead. If the Admiral isn't a cylon, it is unlikely you will run out of fuel.

Food: You start with 8. Food is a volatile resource. Food Shortage shows up 9 times in the crisis deck, and the President has the option of throwing away cards or losing food. On 6 other skill check cards, if you fail to pass you lose food, these vary in color. Food is one of the few resources where it is possible to lose two steps in a single turn. If the President isn't a cylon, it is unlikely you will run out of food.

Morale: You start with 10. Morale is very skill check dependent, and in 19 of the 70 cards it is possible to lose morale. Most checks are Green and Yellow. Most of the skill check are pretty easy to pass. In 9 of the cards, the Admiral has a choice of losing Morale or other resources. The president can give Inspirational Speeches to raise morale (4 of 17 Quorum cards). Horde Yellow and Green cards to avoid losing Morale, and pray your Admiral isn't a cylon.

Population You start with 12. Most civilian ships have 1 population. 12 Skill checks have the potential of losing population, but 4 of those give you a choice, leaving only 8 must pass skill checks. The checks are usually very hard to pass, and usually require tactics. If you defend your civilian ships, you can use the FTL early, and lose 5 skill checks, and still not lose due to 0 population. If you don't lose civilian ships to cylon attacks, you can jump early and avoid more Crisis cards.

You also might want to check out a rather detailed distribution of the cards in Battlestar Galactica.

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+1 Great answer –  Johno Nov 7 '12 at 12:04

It really varies based on how things turn out.

Fuel: this you know you will be using it as you travel. If you're low, you can always scout ahead to get the good destinations, but it's hard to regain and you have to burn fuel.

Food: with all of the food and water shortages in the deck, some games can drain this quickly. If you're getting these, it becomes quite vital. Galactica and civilians have some to lose also.

Morale: many cards have morale losses. It's easy to lose and is on cards with options of losing it. Keep in mind the president can make a speech to improve morale. Other than that, it's hard to regain.

Population: cards don't kill as many people. Some do, but be careful. If you draw lots of blue cards, or can't scramble pilots quickly, you could be in trouble. The civilian ships have a lot of population. Lose the double population ships, and you'll go down fast. Late fame, if you haven't had civilian ship loss, this can still be very high. It starts higher than the others, so it makes a great spot to dump losses.

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It's different with each game. That's why you can't just give the humans an advantage and arbitrarily picking one resource to start at one more. You'd have to make it dynamic where the first one to go to 0 gets bumped back up, then whichever resource is at 0 at the end of any player's turn will result in human loss and game over.

Fuel -- mostly lost through Destination card. The admiral has solid control over this, although other characters who draw purple can use Launch scout to make this more favorable or less. Oh, the Destination cards (Tylium Refinery) that let you risk a raptor to get +2 Fuel is a lifesaver if you're low on Fuel, but at only 1 distance, you're subjecting yourself to more crisis cards, and can lose via Morale more easily now. If you have a cylon admiral, you definitely need to brig him to strip him of that title. Losses also include 1 civvy ship, 1 Galactica damage token, and few crisis cards, especially Admiral Chooses ones.

Food -- mostly lost through crisis cards, like President Chooses. 1 Gally damage token for food. However, Food tends to be a dump resource. A sort of gag is if you lost by Food, than that's a bit shameful. However, I've played over 80 games, and we have lost to Food b/c we couldn't afford the other resources, and in the end, something had to give.

Morale -- Even though you start off with 10 Morale and only 8 Food, Morale losses are more common since the crisis deck disproportionately targets Morale. 1 civvy ship that results in loss of this. While there are 4 Inspirational Speeches in the Qcard deck, the Quorum cards still need to be gone through, and a 6+ still needs to get rolled, so don't count on this!

Pop -- mostly through civvy ships, although some games, more of these are lost in using FTL Control at -3 or -1. Some crisis cards also cause loss of this.

For all of them, Destination deck also contains a few scant losses and getting them back

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