Battlestar Galactica Deadlock: The Broken Alliance30 May 2018 0
Battlestar Galactica Deadlock: The Broken Alliance
Released 29 May 2018
Battlestar Galactica Deadlock was one of 2017's quiet achievers. Black Lab Games had proven their skill in a home-grown fleet action game prior, and the formula dovetailed beautifully into the BSG universe. While Deadlock is a prequel to the reimagined sci-fi goliath of the 2000s, it retained the trademark grit in telling the story of the first Cylon war. The game wasn't perfect, but it was very good. With The Broken Alliance now available, Black Lab Games' WEGO starship combat game upgrades from very good to great.
Deadlock is one of the best space-strategy games around. You should check out the others!
One of the niggles in the base game was the lack of life with the twelve Quorum member systems. Each faction paid its tylium tithe, which was upset by Cylon blockades. Colonial resource throttling was the sole reason to see to Cylon raiding fleets outside of the main campaign, but I never got a sense of the people and factions. Given the series' emphasis on Quorum machinations, injecting personality beyond a main campaign cameo was sorely needed.
Thankfully, The Broken Alliance adds a slew of tailor-made auxiliary missions that are discrete to both Cylon raiding fleets and the main campaign. Eight detailed side-missions pop throughout the main story, building a compelling narrative with good scenario design and unique assets. Campaign mission variety was one of Deadlock's strong points, but in the intervening skirmishes, it all generally played out the same.
The Broken Alliance's new missions aren't just basic Cylon mop-up jobs. One moment, you're using Raptors to defuse mines around a suspicious penal station under fire, the next you're overseeing the arrival of guests to a royal festival. Of course, capital ship combat is never far away, but the setups and mission parameters in Broken Alliance are refreshing.
The expansion also comes with some new toys. The colonial fleet gets the Celestra, Assault Raptors and the Minerva-class battlestar. The Celestra offers a good shake-up to her offensive fleet mates, given her dedicated supply role. The ship is able to apply ablative armour packets to ships requiring a patch-up, which takes a few turns and rolled out to a limit of thirty points per application. The Celestra also comes with a complement of supply Raptors, able to deliver ordnance to the fleet when needed. Up until now, players have only had Raptors in support roles, and usually only bolstering Colonial ship systems against Cylon hacking. The Celestra is a logical addition and does wonders to help illustrate the logistics of a military fleet.
Assault Raptors are a plucky combat variant on the garden variety support and ECM vessel. Equipped with short-range missile racks and a target painter, it's nice to have the chubby ships in the thick of it. Target painting is especially good when leading capital ships into range; having the Assault Raptors lighting up an enemy as a fleet moves into contact is worth trading risk for upped accuracy.
The Minerva itself isn't the toughest battlestar class but bristling with weaponry makes this a heavy hitter with a light step. It's a good addition to a game where big ships set the pace, and the Minerva is a class palate cleanser in terms of speed versus firepower.
The expansion also adds two capital ships and a sentry drone to the Cylon pool, bringing a bevy of new tactical options to the table. The Hydra is ostensibly the Cylon Celestra, however it combines a repair ability with the accuracy improvement package of the Colonial Assault Raptor, however exclusive to missile ordnance. The game's biggest vessel and base star progenitor arrives in the Argos, a colossal carrier and missile platform. The Argos goes nowhere fast, but armour, strike craft complement and ability to unload swathes of long-range missiles is not to be underestimated.
Scorpion Sentries offers a tidy wrinkle, being self-propelled deployables that can be given either munitions or capital ship firing parameters. They make excellent pickets for the Cylon heavies, but also as midfield interdiction for early missile salvos - the catch being, they're -- ahem -- toast if caught in transit.
The expansion launches alongside the long-awaited visible damage modeling as well as an overhaul of the strategic management screens. The former adds so much to combat, particularly if a fleet hasn't been repaired between encounters and jumps into a fresh battle looking scuffed and bedraggled. This also feeds into unit-specific statistics tracking. At a menu's glance, players can see a vessel's combat history. When Deadlock launched, it was crying out for this sort of visual and statistical carry over. The game is all the better for it.
The Broken Alliance expansion is an important one. It is to Deadlock as Brood War was to Starcraft; interesting unit additions and thoughtful writing elevate a dry but highly competent base game. Essential for Deadlock fans, and compelling for the curious. So say we all.