Home > Humor, Pop Culture, TV > Am I A Cylon?

Am I A Cylon?

I’m not a fan of the board game adaptation of Battlestar Galactica, but I am an ardent fan of one particular running joke that it’s spawned. In the game, the players are all working together as a unit, except for one or two who are secretly designated as the Cylons.* One of the central goals of the game is for the humans to identify and neutralize these hidden saboteurs in their midst.This leads to many spirited accusations—“So-and-so’s the Cylon!”—which are enough fun to bandy about that they become part of the group’s running banter even absent the game (the way such context-free running jokes ingrain themselves in the lingua franca of any circle of friends).

*If you’re still reading a blog post that began with the phrase “board game adaptation of Battlestar Galactica,” I am going to respect that your nerd quotient is high enough to obviate a explanation of “Cylons.”

This story is not about a game of BSG, however. It’s about a game of Risk Legacy, a new and unorthodox twist on the conquer-the-world-through-the-power-of-dice-rolling stalwart. I and four friends have been playing it each weekend for the past few weeks.

Legacy differs from its ancestor in a number of ways, fundamentally this: You play the game 15 times, ideally with the same crew, and after each game the players alter the board, and the rules, irrevocably. Whoever has won the plurality of those 15 games is the champion of that particular avatar of Earth. The winner claims the game board, to be framed and mounted and never played upon again, the planet as prize ten-point buck.

In-game events can also trigger permanent changes to the world up for grabs. Sealed envelopes marked with “OPEN IF” fill the box.** This weekend, in the homestretch of our fifth go-round, I unlocked one such envelope. According to the new piece of the story that emerged, I was unmasked as a secret collaborator with a race of alien invaders.

You see where this is going.

As you could imagine, we all got a good laugh out of a turn of events that inspired the most thematically apt ever evocation of a beloved chestnut.*** One perk of my newfound status as a traitor to the human race was the right to place a new territory on the board which would connect a new sea lane, said territory represented by a menacing white sticker announcing itself in boldface type as “ALIEN ISLAND.”

I decided a new route into strategically secluded Australia was called for. I plunked ALIEN ISLAND in the middle of the Indian Ocean, linking Western Australia to Middle East.

A moment after placing the sticker, I noticed that its precise position was directly below the tip of the Indian subcontinent—in real world terms, precisely where Sri Lanka is located. It was then that someone else reminded us of Sri Lanka’s former, colonial name: Ceylon.

The evidence was against me. Not only am I a Cylon (or at least a Cylon sympathizer), I am also risibly awful at disguising it. Nothing to do now but sit back and wait for the Dylan tune to roll through my synapses like a pitiless, retconning tide.

**Our favorite is the envelop stating, quite ominously: “Do Not Open. Ever.” We absolutely cannot wait to open it once our adventures is complete, no doubt to unleash some vengeful spirit tasked with punishing hubristic board gamers.


***Yes, yes. The Cylons are not ACTUALLY aliens. They are robots. They were created by man, they evolved, and ET CETERA. I get it, I do. Ease up, nerds.

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