Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game
Babylon 5 CCG card back
|Designer(s)||Ran Ackels, Edi Birsan, David Hewitt, Paul Brown, John Myler, Kevin Tewart|
|Players||2+ but typically 4 or 5|
|Setup time||10+ minutes, excluding deck construction|
|Playing time||max 2 hours (tournament)|
|Random chance||limited (draw)|
The Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game (B5 CCG) is a discontinued collectible card game set in the Babylon 5 universe. The game is ideally set for 5 players but can be played from a minimum of two players to as many as 20 if using multiple Non-Aligned Factions and Home Factions. 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. During its brief six-year existence under the Precedence Entertainment banner it released two core sets, five expansions sets and one revision set. There were three World Championships during that time. The game still continues to have a cult following as further expansions were made available online.
Initially hoping for a November release, the game hit store shelves on December 11, 1997 in North America with the release of Premiere. Precedence then began hiring more staff to promote the B5 CCG as quickly and completely as possible. A large part of their success came with their promoting of the game. Not only would they give free starter decks at major conventions but they offered solid prize support for local tournaments through their Ranger program. Precedence was also the first company to begin a successful promo chase card program, where various promo cards were made available through different means of acquiring them, some more difficult then others. This, as opposed to other companies who offered relatively common cards as promos, gave Precedence an edge in marketing not seen before. They followed up their debut with the Shadows expansion and within the same year released the Deluxe edition, a reprint of the Premier Edition (minus the starter decks) and the Great War expansion. By the beginning of 1999, they found themselves near the top of the CCG market at that time.
"1998 was a year of triple digit growth for Precedence, much of it spurred on by the broad based international success of our Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game," reports Precedence Entertainment CEO Paul W. Brown III
"For some months now, Babylon 5 has been one of the best selling and most played hobby card games in every country where the game is sold; particularly in North America, the UK and as far abroad as Australia. The enthusiasm and support of the fans has been overwhelming," stated Brown. "We're most proud of the game's reputation for being true to the show. When your die- hard players even include people who have written for the actual series, like Babylon 5's original executive story editor Larry Ditillio, you know you're doing something right."
In 1999, Precedence and Warner Brothers came to an agreement to renew the licensing to continue use of the Babylon 5 franchise until June 2001.
After their breakout year they released Psi Corps, an expansion dedicated to the world of telepaths. To promote this release, Precedence ran a contest where booster pack purchasers could collect 5 randomly inserted psi corps identicards (chase cards) to redeem them for a chance to have dinner with Walter Koenig, the actor who portrayed Alfred Bester on the show. This was followed by Severed Dreams the same year and in 2000, Wheel of Fire and Crusade.
In June 2001 Warner Brothers chose not to renew Precedence's license to produce the game. This brought the game to an abrupt ending and they could no longer print, sell B5 CCG product and found themselves unable to provide tournament prizes in the form of Babylon 5 cards could no longer be provided. This caused the cancellation of the Collector's set which was already at the printers, and the well into development Anla'shok expansion. The company closed its doors in 2002 although this was not as a direct result of the ending of the Babylon 5 licensing agreement with WB.
The Babylon 5 CCG was released as a base set (Premier) and the following expansions:
- The Shadows
- Deluxe (basically a reprint of Premier including the "fixed" cards from the starter decks but no starter decks themselves)
- Great War
- Psi Corps
- Severed Dreams
- Wheel of Fire
The Collectors Set was at the printers at the time that the games production was stopped.
A number of fan sets have been created and there is an active Facebook group led by Bruce Mason, one of the senior Rangers, that is re-imagining the game under the name the B5 Virtual Card Game (B5VCG)
During the course of the B5 CCG lifespan, Precedence Entertainment held two World Championships before declining sales force them to abandon the practice. Each featured a large proportion of players from around the world and fierce competition:
First World Championship
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 winner was Canadian champion, Serge Lavergne of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He had used a Narn hybrid Vorlon military speed deck with the “Order Above All” winning agenda.
Opposition came from Australians Steve Green and Les Allen, Marcel Kopper of Germany, UK Champion Mike Pemberthy, Pan-European Champion Hayden Gittings, as well as Americans John
Paiva, Pete Simpson, Kyle Bennick, Mike Jasperson, Anthony Oshmago, David Sisson, Paul Beaman, Kyle Sykora and John and Johnna Golden.
Second World Championship
The second 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 qualifiers, 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.
Cancelation of World Championships
In January 2000, Precedence announced that it was cancelling the planned third B5 CCG World Championships. This brought to an abrupt end a very popular aspect of the game.
No further World Championships were ever sanctioned or held by Precedence afterwards.
Zeta Squadron was the official member club of B5 CCG players registered with Precedence publishing. They received newsletters which informed them of upcoming events and expansions. They also received promo cards such as the Na'Toth (variant).
An equivalent newsletter "Black Omega" was published in the United Kingdom supporting the European player base.
The Rangers were tournament organizers from around the world who conducted sanctioned tournaments, game demonstrations and arranged playtesting on behalf of Precedence.
There are several variant tournament formats that can be used when playing the B5 CCG. Below is a listed of most commonly used formats.
|Basic Constructed Deck||Players have a 60 card minimum deck and can have a 20 card reserve which they can use to transfer cards to and from between rounds.|
|Sealed Deck||Players are given one sealed starter deck and normally two or three booster packs. From those cards they must create a 60 card deck to play with|
|Third Age||Third Age is a variant of Basic Constructed Deck, with the following additional rules:|
1.Any card, except for characters and fleets, that was printed in Premier or Deluxe is banned in this format. Cards which were in Premier/Deluxe and were reprinted in the Non-Aligned or Psi Corps starter decks, such as Earth, Universe Today Feature, and Trade Pact, are banned (again, characters and fleets are NOT affected, so Drazi Sunhawk and Talia Winters are still allowed).
2.Zhabar is banned.
3.Promotional cards released at the time of Premier or Deluxe are not banned as they are not part of the standard print run.
|Battle for Earth||Battle for Earth Tournaments use the standard Basic Constructed Deck Tournament rules, with the following exceptions:|
1. There are three factions, all Human. The starting factional ambassadors are Jeffrey Sinclair, William Morgan Clark, and Bester.
2. All factions have a starting tension of 5 towards all other Human factions.
3. Babylon 5's influence start the game at 0, and no effect in the game can raise or lower this starting value.
4. There are no effects that can generate a Babylon 5 vote. Effects that would do so are ignored.
|Spoo||Also known as the "Highlander Tournament", this is a variant of the "Constructed Deck Tournament" but players may only have one copy of any given card.|
|Master of All||Same as Basic Constructed but deck size is set at 45.|
Game Cards, Mechanics and Rules
"Precedence & Babylon 5 News", Precedence Announces Additions to Management Team, FORAY Roleplaying Journal, retrieved April 7, 2016
"Convention Reports", A Visit to GenCon 1998, Moonrise.org, retrieved April 6, 2016
Fighting the Beast from Within, Century, retrieved April 6, 2016
"News Releases From Precedence Publishing", Precedence Reports Record Year Of Sales, Expands Management Team, FORAY Roleplaying Journal, retrieved April 6, 2016
"Gaming News From Precedence Publishing.", Precedence and Warner Brothers Renew Contract for Babylon 5 CCG – Crusade Expansion Green Lighted, FORAY Roleplaying Journal, retrieved April 6, 2016
"Top 5 … Popular CCGs Before 1999 Not Called Magic", 5. Babylon 5, The Cardboard Republic, retrieved April 8, 2016
"For Immediate Release …", Babylon 5 Card Game Explodes Into “The Great War”, FORAY Roleplaying Journal, retrieved November 30, 2010
"Gaming News From Precedence Publishing", Precedence Entertainment Ups The Ante On The “Get The Best Of Bester” Contest, FORAY Roleplaying Journal, retrieved April 6, 2016
Precedence Entertainment (2001), Precedence announces the discontinuation of further design, production and sales of the Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game., Precedence Entertainment, archived from the original on June 7, 2001, retrieved April 6, 2016
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Precedence Entertainment, retrieved April 6, 2016
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"Anla'shok", Background, b5quest.pbworks.com, retrieved April 6, 2016
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"VOR Convention USA", Precedence Announces World Championships For Babylon 5 Card Game, Vorcon1, retrieved April 6, 2016
"Vorlons Take Vorcon" (PDF), Serge Lavergene Wins B5CCG World Championship, b5quest.pbworks.com, retrieved April 6, 2016
"Vorlon Space", The Road To The World Championships, Mahasamatman, retrieved April 6, 2016
"Worlds Collide" (PDF), Championship Cancelled, b5quest.pbworks.com, retrieved April 6, 2016
Fighting The Beast From Within, Century, retrieved April 6, 2016
"Vorlon Space", The Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game, Mahasamatman, retrieved April 6, 2016
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- Varney, Allen (October 1997), "Inside the Industry", The Duelist (#19), p. 78
- Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game rules