I'm a big fan of Battlestar Galactica, but have an issue with games with an even number of players. For these games, the game recommends replacing a Cylon with a Sympathiser to help balance it.

For the unfamiliar, at the half-way point, the Sympathiser basically becomes a (weaker) Cylon if the humans are "winning" (i.e. all stats are above half-full) or remains a human (but is brigged) if the Cylons are winning (i.e. when any stat is below half-full). This helps to balance the game since having an extra full-privilege Cylon would be really tough on the humans, but having a human makes it a bit of a cake-walk.

It's not a bad mechanic, but in games my group plays with a Sympathiser, I find there's a lot of meta-think and the humans intentionally allow one stat to drop (normally one that's not too tough to raise or keep steady like Morale) to ensure that the Sympathiser is on their side.

Has anyone faced (and hopefully overcome) this issue before? Does anyone know of a good house-rule alternative to the Sympathiser?

I've been tempted to use a full Cylon but use some method to make things a little easier for the humans (e.g. have the second loyalty distribution come a little later, or ensure that at least one Cylon card has to wait until the halfway point), but I'd love to hear others' solutions.

  • 2
    It might be worth taking a look at the Pegasus expansion, which has alternative rules intended to address this.
    – Tynam
    Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 16:12

2 Answers 2


FFG actually have a variants document posted on the Support Page for BSG: Optional Rules PDF

Whilst the humans do start with slightly reduced resources, it should be noted that this still makes it quite a bit easier for the humans to win. Your Cylons will have to be very good if they're to stand a chance!

Alternatively, you can pick up the Pegasus Expansion which provides a new "You are a Sympathetic Cylon" (that replaces the original Sympathiser loyalty card) and changes up the rules a little to keep things interesting for whomever happens to draw the Sympathiser card.

  • 1
    Pegasus also adds a Cylon Leader character type, who has a personal, hidden win condition (e.g., you win if the humans survive but have 2 resources in the red). If memory serves, that also does away with the sympathizer. Since you're a big fan of the game, I highly recommend Pegasus. It's my favorite board game expansion. Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 18:52
  • I get the impression that everyone thinks I should get Pegasus... :P
    – Johno
    Commented Jul 15, 2012 at 16:07
  • Well, it is good, but it's fairly advanced as well. If you've only played the base game a few times I wouldn't plump for it just yet. It adds a whole load of new rules, new mechanics and an entirely new end game. As much as I love Pegasus, I do think the base game is beautifully... "pure".
    – Daniel Lim
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 16:45
  • 1
    So, thanks for the recommendation guys. I played the Pegasus expansion yesterday for the first time and really enjoyed it. We had an even number again, and I opted to play as a Cylon leader (who was likely to be pro-Human because of the numbers). It was really interesting to infiltrate as a Cylon who was probably a good guy but no one was sure if they could trust. (Surprise! They couldn't, and those meatsacks met their inevitable doom! :P) Wasn't a huge fan of the New Caprica mini-game, but my Cylon concerns were definitely appeased, so thanks for the tip.
    – Johno
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 10:43

No sympathizer is FFG's official variant, but they warn it does make the game easier for the cylons http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/ffg_content/Battlestar_Galactica/BSG_optional_rules.pdf

If playing with Pegasus, you can use the Cylon Leader mechanic or Sympathetic Cylon (not to be confused with the base game's Cylon Sympathizer).

The CL starts off revealed, but has Agenda cards instead of Loyalty cards. They call for him to be "half and half", like you win if cylons win, but distance is 6 or more, tugging him in both directions rather than full blown you're either human or a cylon. Some of the Agendas are difficult, or rather easy, but FWIW, it's a game where you're at the mercy of card draws or die rolls. CL can also infiltrate into human locations Symp Cylon card gets dealt at sleeper, and that player effectively turns into a CL. However, unlike actual CL, the Symp-Cylon has no skill set (draw any 2 cards of different colors, 3 if infiltrating), no OPG, no special, nor weakness. Some say having only the 2nd half of the game to fulfill Agendas is just bad, but it's generally deemed to still ben an improvement over Cylon Symp

If you have Daybreak, you have 2 options over Cylon Sympathizer... use CL, where the Motive cards replace the Agendas, or the Mutineer.
Motive cards can still lead to some imbalanced games, but are overall improvement since the CL gets 2 of them in the beginning, and 2 more at sleeper phase. These combinations make the CL's goals more unpredictable, and also forces the CL to often keep the game going at least till Sleeper phase.
Mutineer must be revealed immediately, but forces more of Daybreak's Mutiny cards onto him, forcing him to spend more actions on dealing with them, lest he get brigged.

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