Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game
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Babylon 5 CCG Card (reverse)
|Designer(s)||Ran Ackels, Edi Birsan, David Hewitt, Paul Brown, and John Myler|
|Players||2+ but typically 4 or 5|
|Setup time||10+ minutes, excluding deck construction|
|Playing time||max 2 hours (tournament)|
|Random chance||limited (draw)|
|Skill(s) required||Card playing
Basic Reading Ability
Babylon 5 CCG is a discontinued collectible card game set in the universe of the sci-fi television series Babylon 5. This CCG is distinct from most others of the genre for being specifically designed to be played by more than two players. The gameplay tends to have strong political elements encouraging significant player interaction aka "table talk" which is appropriate for a game based on a series which featured such a strong element of political intrigue. The CCG was released by Precedence Entertainment.
The first edition, Premier, was released in 1997. In late 2001 Warner Brothers chose not to renew Precedence's license to produce the game. This brought the game to an abrupt ending and tournament prizes in the form of Babylon 5 cards could no longer be provided. The company went out of business in 2002 although this was not as a direct result of the ending of the Babylon 5 licensing agreement with WB.
The Precedence website is still active.
Two World Championships were sanctioned by Precedence for the Babylon 5 CCG during its brief existence:
The first B5 CCG World Championship was held at Vorcon 1 in Pomona, California, October 16–18, 1998. Held at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center, the eventual champion was Serge Lavergne of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He had used a Narn hybrid Vorlon military speed deck with the “Order Above All” winning agenda.
The first World Championship featured regional and national qualifiers from around the world including representatives from the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, USA etc.
The second and last sanctioned B5 CCG World Championship was in Aachen, Germany, October 8–10, 1999. The champion there was Martin Franz who used a Human deck with the agenda “A Rising Power”. The Final table comprised Marco Schütz (Narn), Michael Brand (Minbari), Peter Ender (Centauri) and Paul Sheward (Non-Aligned).
The second World Championship again featured national qualifies, but there was also a pre-qualifying tournament run the day before. This allowed a number of locally based players to qualify for the World Championship itself and led to the makeup of the "top table" i.e. 4 out of the 5 players were "local" Germans. It was commented upon that this turned the World Final into a team event with the German players ensuring that one of them won the tournament.
Each player in the original version of the game assumes control of a specific faction, represented by one of the four main races in the TV series - Human, Minbari, Centauri or Narn. Later expansions allowed people to control the League of Non-Aligned Worlds as well as separate "Home Factions" of the four main races. The Vorlons and Shadows, although not a playable race in their own right, are available as supporting characters and fleets, as are Babylon 5, the Drakh and the Interstellar Alliance. The object of the game is to use various agendas, events and conflict cards to build power and influence points for your faction. Actions in the game have to be carried out by the characters that you control, for example if you only have one character in play you can only initiate one action per turn. Unless otherwise stated, Characters can only perform one action per turn. Politics and alliances between players become very important in a multiplayer game, in fact there are certain cards which require the calling of a player vote in order to pass. If one person seems to be surging ahead, the other players will often band together to prevent him from winning. The makers of the game deliberately incorporated roleplaying elements into the game to try to give the feel that the participants are telling the story of Babylon 5. Although not strictly necessary, players are encouraged to take on the persona of their Ambassador and develop an in-game narrative to explain why they are playing the cards they are.
Each player begins with a starting hand which includes their Ambassador and 3 other cards of the players choice, a draw deck of cards (45 or more) and 4 influence points. Each player takes it in turns to initiate conflicts and spend influence points to bring different cards in their hand into play, then uses those cards to try to either build up more influence for themselves or prevent other players from building up influence. When everyone has done everything they want to do, any conflicts in play are resolved, points are allocated and players have the opportunity to play Aftermath cards. Finally, all players draw a card from their draw deck and take it into their hand.
Example: A Narn player decides to play a Diplomacy Conflict against a Minbari player. The card specifies that if the Narn player wins, he will gain 1 influence point. In order to win, the Narn must put more diplomacy points into the conflict than the Minbari. The Minbari player, not wanting the Narn to gain the extra influence, chooses to oppose the conflict. The characters available to the Narn player have a combined diplomacy of 8, whereas the Minbari players available characters have a combined diplomacy of 10. The Narn player puts all his diplomacy points into the conflict, but the Minbari is still winning by 2 diplomacy points. The Human player decides to help the Narn and supports the conflict with 4 of his own diplomacy points. The Narn player wins by 2, and increases his influence rating by 1 point.
Play continues in this manner until one player either reaches 20 power/influence points or fulfills a specific game-winning criteria.
Since this game is no longer in production, there has been a decrease in the number of players for this game. For those who can not find others to play with in person, programs such as LackeyCCG and Vassal allow players to meet and play online.
- Starter Decks and Boosters
- Four playable races - Human, Minbari, Narn & Centauri
- The Shadows
- Boosters only
- Boosters only (Premier starter decks were not reprinted)
- A re-issue of the Premier series with errata and other minor updates
- The Great War
- Starter Decks and Boosters
- Added the non-aligned races as a playable "race"
- Added opposing factions for the existing playable races
- Psi Corps
- Starter Decks and Boosters
- Added the Psi Corps as a playable faction
- Severed Dreams
- Boosters only
- Wheel of Fire
- Boosters only
- Boosters only
- A never-released expansion which was being planned at the time WB pulled the licencing rights from Precedence
- The Masterpiece Collection
- A never-released set of 12 special foil cards.
- Cards which are played at the end of the round during the resolution of a conflict, representing plot developments and character growth in the game as a result of these conflicts. Won or Lost Aftermaths can be played on the conflict's initiator, depending on the outcome of the conflict (with Won aftermaths typically providing a benefit and Lost Aftermaths further damaging the initiator's faction). Participant Aftermaths can be played on any faction or card that took part in the conflict, regardless of whether it was won or lost, and typically represent simple development of the ability used in the conflict.
- A faction may have one Agenda in play at a time. The effect text of an Agenda will either provide benefits in pursuing a certain strategy towards victory, such as increasing the Diplomacy of the faction's characters in a diplomacy-oriented deck, or can create new victory conditions by stipulating what the Agenda's owner must achieve to win the game.
- Each card features a character from the TV series and includes a short explanation of what the character can do in the game as well as a sidebar indicating what stats they possess and their values. A character's stats can be of four types - Diplomacy, Intrigue, Psi and Leadership. The main character in a deck is known as the Ambassador, and acts as the player's avatar in the game.
- Conflicts are the main way in which players build up influence points. At the start of the round, players can declare a conflict, either from a conflict card or another effect that allows a conflict, such as a state of war or another card's effect text. There are 4 main types - Diplomacy, Intrigue, Psi and Military. Each conflict can only be supported or opposed using its specified stat i.e.: Diplomacy conflicts use a characters Diplomacy stat. Military conflicts typically only allow Fleets and their Leaders to participate in them.
- A special type of card that is played on a card already in play and usually remains hidden until the card it is played on is affected. These cards usually negate the action that an opponent has played on that card, such as preventing a character from being neutralised.
- Improves a targeted card of the specified type, usually with a stat bonus. Most cards that remain in play (characters, agendas, fleets etc.) can be enhanced.
- Event cards are usually played in order to disrupt an opponents current strategy or enhance your own.
- Fleets, like characters, can use their stat (military) in conflicts or can, by attacking, target an opponent's fleets to try to damage them, impairing their abilities or removing them from play.
- Similar to Enhancements, groups are often used to enhance stats or abilities of characters, but may have other effects.
- Locations are planets or space lanes that grant bonuses to the faction as a whole. For example, Homeworld locations can be used to increase the amount of influence gained from winning a conflict. Locations have a military value and can oppose Military conflicts if they are targeted by them.
Precedence randomly included cards autographed by actors from the show in booster packs in every set/expansion that was produced. With the exception of the Premier edition, these cards were also embossed with Precedence's logo to confirm authenticity.
In most cases these boosters were also "God packs" i.e. where every card in the booster was of rare rarity replacing the normal distribution of common and uncommon cards.
Precedence also produced promotional cards for each of the sets/expansions. The cards were distributed as tournament prizes, box toppers, with hobby magazines such as Scrye and also by mail-in offers.
The card "Surprise" was produced and printed as a test of the print process and of the card design and layout e.g. the placement of "marks". It is the only card that was declared illegal to play in a tournament environment due, in the most part, to the illegal placement of the Shadow Mark on the card. In the history of the game, only one player out side the Precedence development team was ever authorised to be able to legally play Surprise. That player is Hayden Gittens who won that privilege when he was the victor in a "beat the designers" game held at the 1st World Championships.
Typically Surprise was awarded to the winners of major tournaments and the World Championships.
"The Rarest of the Rare"
Many players believe that Surprise is the rarest and hardest to obtain card in the game due to its origins as a test card, that it was never included in any starter or booster distribution and because it was typically only given to the winners of major tournaments such as regionals or the World Championships. Actually this is not the case. A very small number of embossed Defector Revealed cards signed by Claudia Christian were distributed as part of a charity auction and some may have found there way into booster packs, although this is uncomfirmed. There are believed to be less than 20 of these cards in circulation and this number maybe as low as 12.
When the Premier Edition was reprinted, as the Deluxe Edition, the card "As It Was Meant to Be" incurred a misprint. Intended to be a Major Agenda, one of the two cards on the master sheet was incorrectly labelled as just "Agenda". Most of these misprints were pulled prior to distribution in boosters but an unknown number did make it into circulation. Rumour has it that Kevin Tewart, the competitive play coordinator of the Babylon 5 CCG, had a large box of these cards under his desk at the Precedence offices.
But even those are not the rarest cards in circulation...
The rarest card in circulation is a signed and embossed Doctor Franklin signed by the late Richard Biggs. At the time of writing there are only 2 of these cards known to exist.
- The Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game (TM) - History
- CCG Workshop - No longer active
- Vassal - Online game play
- LackeyCCG - Online game play
- Vorlon Space - Fan site, card database, trading zone.
- Precedence's discontinuation statement - Statement on the old Precedence site about the disconinuation of Babylon 5 CCG