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Ian K
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I have now deleted and re-started my review of this game 5 times.

I have decided to cut to the chase and sum up my thoughts in as few paragraphs as possible. After all, this game hasn't been made for 15 years now so I figure that the only people likely to be reading this review will fall in to one of three categories:
1) someone feeling nostalgic
2) someone who still plays this game with friends
3) someone who has an opportunity to get a load of cards and is wondering whether it is worth the cost.

This review is aimed at those in the third category and I am going to abandon my usual review structure.

Succinctly put, the answer to the question suggested in point 3 (whether or not it's worth getting some cards from eBay) is: Yes, with the following provisos.

a) You need the starter sets for each alien race. You can't play by just buying a whole load of booster packs and finding the rules online, you have to have the starter pack for a race and certain cards found within. Each player needs a Starting Ambassador card and these cards are only found in the starter sets.

b) This game is terrible 2-player; it's OK with 3 players; it flies with 4 or 5 players. Thus, unless you already know someone with other starter packs, you need to buy 4 or 5 different starters and have 4 or 5 players willing to play.

If you can find and afford A and B, these are the most important two points. Once you've done that, there is:

c) Assuming you are looking to make this game a hit with your gaming group, you need to make the decks balanced. This can be tricky. This is especially tricky if you manage to find some power Rares for one or two of the races but not the others. The cards from the earlier sets in particular are grossly over powered by the later sets.

d) How themed do you want to be? If you don't know the show, I would suggest that there are better multi-player CCGs out there. Fantasy Flight's Lord Of The Rings comes to mind. But if your interest in this game is sparked by your love of the show, you're going to want a Centauri Shadow deck and a Minbari Vorlon deck. If those weird words mean nothing to you, try a different game. But if you love the idea of controlling Londo Mollari while he tries to gain power off the coat-tails of the Shadows, you're going to need to hunt down the Rares. This will increase the cost.

If you can afford the investment to get all the cards needed to recapture the characters and plots of the show and you have three other players looking to play, it is a great game. 7 out of 10.

If you can't afford that much but are still a fan of the show, consider your investment carefully. Yes, it's nice to have a game called Babylon 5 and control Delenn but what's the point of Delenn without hair? To get her to have hair, takes lots of Rares! And if you only have two other players prepared to play, you will be missing out on the best this game can offer. 6 out of 10.

If you don't know the show, thank you for sticking with the review this long but I really do mean it when I say there are better games out there! 5 out of 10.



Note: I have learned from bitter experience with this site that I need to stress that all reviews – including this one – are entirely matters of opinion. I am not claiming that anything I have said in this review is fact, it is all entirely my opinion and I am sure that many others have different opinions. If you wish to reply with yours, I welcome it. I enjoy discussion but will not respond kindly to aggressive replies.
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Michael Schwarz
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Stenun wrote:
Yes, it's nice to have a game called Babylon 5 and control Delenn but what's the point of Delenn without hair?
One rare (Delenn Transformed), two uncommons, (Triluminary, and Chrysalis). Also (arguably), one of the alternate starting versions of her from Severed Dreams (rare). (Though, you can just use And So It Begins to fish out all the transformation cards, as I recall.)

That said, in essence, what you're saying is entirely true. A lot of the more complex elements of the show require you to start stacking together multiple rare cards, and increasingly contrived situations. Want to play Sheridan Reborn? You'll need to play Strike at The Heart (uncommon) (and win the conflict), You'll need to replace Jeffery Sinclair (fixed) with John Sheridan (rare), or have one of the two versions of Captain Sheridan (both rare), then you'll need Lorien (rare), and once you have all of those conditions met, you can play Sheridan Reborn (rare).

As Precedence went on, they started printing more cards that were directly interrelated, to the point that you really need (near) complete collections to get the most out of the game.

Also, the power creep was insane at times. Especially when you started seeing cards that incentivized starting the Shadow War.

Honestly, the better comparison to B5, from FFG, would probably be Game of Thrones, and that is a pretty easy recommendation if you're into aggressive and political games. It's a similar game structure. LOTR is coop. So it can absolutely be fun, but it's not in the same vein as GoT or B5.
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Henry Rodriguez
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Or try to find the Babylon 5 Component Game System (expandable boardgame, but much less needed compared to the CCG).
 
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Ian K
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StarkeRealm wrote:
Honestly, the better comparison to B5, from FFG, would probably be Game of Thrones, and that is a pretty easy recommendation if you're into aggressive and political games. It's a similar game structure. LOTR is coop. So it can absolutely be fun, but it's not in the same vein as GoT or B5.


Fair enough! I've never played it so I can't comment. :-)

I just reached for the best multi-player CCG/LCG I know and that happens to be Lord Of The Rings. :-)
 
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Henry Rodriguez
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Stenun wrote:
StarkeRealm wrote:
Honestly, the better comparison to B5, from FFG, would probably be Game of Thrones, and that is a pretty easy recommendation if you're into aggressive and political games. It's a similar game structure. LOTR is coop. So it can absolutely be fun, but it's not in the same vein as GoT or B5.


Fair enough! I've never played it so I can't comment. :-)

I just reached for the best multi-player CCG/LCG I know and that happens to be Lord Of The Rings. :-)


Well, I suggest you get to know Vampire: The Eternal Struggle. That is the best multi-player CCG/LCG I have ever played (Game of Thrones & Dune are second & third, not sure in what order though). It is the pinnacle of aggressive gameplay layered with political machinations & negotiations. But then again, I am not a fan of co-ops.
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Michael Schwarz
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callidusx3 wrote:
Stenun wrote:
StarkeRealm wrote:
Honestly, the better comparison to B5, from FFG, would probably be Game of Thrones, and that is a pretty easy recommendation if you're into aggressive and political games. It's a similar game structure. LOTR is coop. So it can absolutely be fun, but it's not in the same vein as GoT or B5.


Fair enough! I've never played it so I can't comment. :-)

I just reached for the best multi-player CCG/LCG I know and that happens to be Lord Of The Rings. :-)


Well, I suggest you get to know Vampire: The Eternal Struggle. That is the best multi-player CCG/LCG I have ever played (Game of Thrones & Dune are second & third, not sure in what order though). It is the pinnacle of aggressive gameplay layered with political machinations & negotiations. But then again, I am not a fan of co-ops.


I freakin' love V:TES, but that might be because I was a huge fan of the RPGs. That said, the one thing I didn't like was how the basic game structure was round robin, instead of free for all.

I was never a huge fan of Dune. It was a really solid game, just, not my thing.

I haven't played second edition, but first edition Game of Thrones was shockingly similar to B5 at times. The biggest differences were that there was no inner circle concept, you could (and probably would) store power on characters (meaning an opponent could potentially kill them, reducing your progress), challenges (conflicts) were initiated via mechanics, rather than cards, and there was a seven card plot deck, which you picked and played a card from each turn.

There was smaller stuff like how characters had a single unified strength value, and then icons to represent which kinds of challenges they could participate in. And characters could participate directly in military challenges without needing to lead an army (armies are technically just character cards, instead of a different card type). But, on the whole it is a very similar game.
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G M
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Stenun wrote:
Each player needs a Starting Ambassador card and these cards are only found in the starter sets.


This isn't entirely true anymore. The Severed Dreams set included alternate versions of the Babylon 5 faction starting ambassadors and they could only be found in packs, as the set had no starter decks.

Edit: I see the variations were already mentioned, but it was worth stressing they don't require starter decks.
 
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Michael Schwarz
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ThatOtherGuy wrote:
Stenun wrote:
Each player needs a Starting Ambassador card and these cards are only found in the starter sets.


This isn't entirely true anymore. The Severed Dreams set included alternate versions of the Babylon 5 faction starting ambassadors and they could only be found in packs, as the set had no starter decks.

Edit: I see the variations were already mentioned, but it was worth stressing they don't require starter decks.
Effectively, the game does. The only starting Ambassadors that made it into boosters were the Non-Alligned Races, and alternate versions of Sheridan, Delenn, G'Kar and Londo, while the only ways to get an ambassador's assistant from a booster were restricted to home faction only (with the singular exception of Lockley.)

Building from boosters is theoretically possible, but the game really wasn't designed for it, and putting together decks without starters would require an (otherwise) nearly complete collection.
 
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