Theme has always been a central focus in BSG:TBG and every iteration so far has captured the atmosphere of the show perfectly. The desperation and political tension of the doomed New Caprica (Pegasus expansion), the character-defining choices between revenge and redemption of the Ionian Nebula (Exodus), and the persistent feeling of paranoia and dread that runs through the core of the game are all an indispensable part of the experience and have been realised brilliantly by FFG so far. Daybreak seems to be attempting to channel the more religious, supernatural forces of season 4.5, as well as a deeper exploration of human-cylon integration.
The focal point for the former aspect appears to be the new Miracle tokens, which are nicely rendered in the "eye of Jupiter" style in an apt reference to the show. Their primary purpose is as currency for activating each character's Once Per Game move, which would seem to add an interesting new twist to a familiar mechanic, and will likely lead to plenty of new intellectual stalemates around the table as new strategic options emerge and players are forced to relinquish some of their sovereignty over the previously untouchable OPGs. I would like to see some "miracle transaction" opportunities on crisis cards and the like, for example having the chance to trade a player's miracle for some powerful printed effect, or the ability to steal or deprive other players' miracles.
Daybreak comes with two new game boards, the Rebel Basestar and the Demetrius. The most important appears to be the latter, as it unlocks the new Mission cards, which trigger major developments in the fight for survival on both human and cylon sides. The rebel basestar is one element of this struggle, as it is a common ground which can change sides depending on the events that unfold. It's not yet clear how contested this board will be, but in addition to the invaluable Basestar Bridge in Exodus it is likely to add some much needed variety to the occasionally stale revealed cylon game. By striking a balance between human and cylon utility, it may also mitigate the danger that the Basestar Bridge presented of making revealing early too strong of a move.
It's almost certain that there will be no involvement of angels Six or Baltar in this expansion, which is something that fans have been speculating about as the board game advances into the later seasons of the show. The human-cylon dichotomy has already been dissolved by the cylon leader mechanic from Pegasus, so it's plausible that more third parties could enter the fray, and there may be more incidental expansions to come from FFG in the future.
In terms of new characters, Daybreak is the most abundant expansion so far, and in fact contains even more than the original core game. Most of the sheets are already available on the preview site. The four characters fitting into the traditional class moulds are Hot Dog, Doc Cottle, Romo Lampkin and Louis Hoshi, amply demonstrating the starvation of new character ideas that the designers are facing. The first three seem to have fairly uninspired designs and don't threaten to be particularly useful or fun. Hot Dog and Cottle both have some emphasis on civilian ships, which may imply that the space combat stakes are going to be raised again, hopefully capitalising on the outstanding Cylon Fleet board in Exodus. Hoshi, on the other hand, imbues new usefulness into the increasingly overlooked ship locations and gives him a personal specialisation that compensates for the growing skill decks which become ever more practical with each installment. I'm looking forward to playing a game as him, which sadly can't be said for his 3 mediocre companions.
The next set of new characters is of the innovative new format of re-imagined characters, cultist Baltar and political elite Lee, reflecting the stark contrast between their roles at the start and end of the series. To me this is the most exciting development as it allows the designers to explore new aspects of the characters without diluting their roles. Baltar's abilities both entail playing around with other people's miracles, which will inevitably echo some of the slipperiness and manipulation of the original.
Finally, there is a host of new cylon leaders, now encompassing all 7 "contemporary" models and having new Motive cards instead of the old Agendas. The motive mechanic appears to give leaders a degree of freedom as to which side they fight for, and possibly a chance to change allegiances at sleeper phase, which will be a profound improvement on the occasionally highly imbalanced agenda system. There is also yet another new cylon fleet overlay, including the option to destroy the Resurrection Ship, and hopefully this will come with new opportunities for cylon leader-human fleet co-operation in the struggle for resurrection technology.
At this point the most enduring feature and criticism of BSG:TBG is the sheer amount of clutter on and around the many boards. Although the excellent design accommodates this, it makes setting up and packing away a grand chore, and makes teaching the game a very daunting and time-consuming prospect. If this can be addressed in Daybreak, it would be a blessing. Another minor issue with the current game is the lack of fun variants for 4 players, but the Mutineer will probably put an end to that.
Given the obscene amount of content and sensible design choices that Daybreak is bringing to the table, I strongly suspect that it will be the best expansion yet, although that was true of the previous two as well. Alongside the effortless cylon fleet and loyalty implementations from Exodus, the collective BSG experience is going from strength to strength.