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Subject: Any Babylon 5 fans out there want to inspire ideas for a board game? rss

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Chris J Davis
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I've been re-watching all of Babylon 5 recently and it's made me think about what a board game incarnation might be like. The problem is, I own some of the B5 CCG which already seems like it could be the perfect game to represent B5. The further problems to that though are 1) it's collectible and b) it's discontinued. Plus, I'm not really into the whole "customisable" aspect of CCGs.

So the CCG is clouding my thoughts on how a board game of B5 could operate. Whenever I try to think of ideas, they're always remarkably similar to the CCG. So can anyone else inspire me? The only requirements are:

1) It's an actual board game (it can primarily use cards if need be, but not on the scale of a CCG), and
2) It's primarily about the political machinations of the races, NOT some space tactical combat game.

Any ideas?
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bleached_lizard wrote:
I've been re-watching all of Babylon 5 recently and it's made me think about what a board game incarnation might be like. The problem is, I own some of the B5 CCG which already seems like it could be the perfect game to represent B5. The further problems to that though are 1) it's collectible and b) it's discontinued. Plus, I'm not really into the whole "customisable" aspect of CCGs.

So the CCG is clouding my thoughts on how a board game of B5 could operate. Whenever I try to think of ideas, they're always remarkably similar to the CCG. So can anyone else inspire me? The only requirements are:

1) It's an actual board game (it can primarily use cards if need be, but not on the scale of a CCG), and
2) It's primarily about the political machinations of the races, NOT some space tactical combat game.

Any ideas?


Would love to see such. Thought about a BSG retheming at one point. I've played the CCG a few times, but not much and not lately.

Brainstorming:

* Each player represents one of the races (or maybe, the League of Non-Aligned worlds) (or maybe one of several factions for that race, depending).

* Any board would likely be abstract, like the BSG.

More as ideas come, but I started following the path of another game I'm designing, so I'll need to clear my head.
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Charles Phillips
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Shadows, First Ones and Vorlons could not be player positons, they would have to work in as game mechanical constructs; probably have a deck for each, players draw from the deck when appropriate.
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afaik the last aired episode released a poison gas in Earth atmosphere, and the franchise was poised to move to a galaxy exploration by starship follow-up that never came.
That's where the game could set in, the players ought to find components of the cure. Maybe there are different poison possibilities, and only the player that finds the ones related to the poison (unknown at the beginning) wins? So one needs to be as widespread and open in the search as possible...
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bleached_lizard wrote:
I've been re-watching all of Babylon 5 recently and it's made me think about what a board game incarnation might be like. The problem is, I own some of the B5 CCG which already seems like it could be the perfect game to represent B5. The further problems to that though are 1) it's collectible and b) it's discontinued. Plus, I'm not really into the whole "customisable" aspect of CCGs.


I had a bit of the CCG and agree. It's really a shame this was released as a CCG, because it really had potential.

As a side note, I never played it, but there was a Babylon 5 board game of sorts called the "Component" game or some such. As I said, I never played it, but it appears it was not collectible, but was somewhat "modular" in that there was a separate box set for each race, and presumably each player would need one.

Quote:
1) It's an actual board game (it can primarily use cards if need be, but not on the scale of a CCG), and
2) It's primarily about the political machinations of the races, NOT some space tactical combat game.


Both sound good. Also, in regards to combat, I do agree that it should not be a tactical combat game (we've already had three of those, set in that universe) but it should also NOT be ignored.

I'd tentatively say something superficially similar to Diplomacy would be a good start, though of course, it would have quite a bit more chrome than straight up Diplomacy.
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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Chris,

I would be very interested in a B5 game.

I confess that I don't know much about the CCG. I played it one time, but that was several years ago.

Some game possibilities:
1 An adventuregame or cooperative game in which the heroes are trying to stave off the Shadows (re-theme of Middle-Earth Quest or Lord of the Rings?)
2 A game in which each of the players takes the role of one of the groups (Minbari, Human, Narn, Centauri, Shadows, Vorlons, First Ones) and tries to achieve a goal. This could be an asymmetric game, with a different ability and special goal for each group. (Re-theme of Dune?)
3 A game (based mainly on Season 5) in which the Teeps take on the Psi-Corps to win the hearts and minds of the Mundanes. (Re-theme of Twilight Struggle?)

b

P.S. If you haven't already done so, I recommend that you check out The Babylon Podcast.
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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salish99 wrote:
afaik the last aired episode released a poison gas in Earth atmosphere, and the franchise was poised to move to a galaxy exploration by starship follow-up that never came.

This sounds like one of the episodes of the short-lived spinoff series, Crusade. I don't know what the original airing order of the episodes was, but I think the poisoning happened fairly early in the chronology of Crusade. There were several episodes of Crusade in which the exploration was taking place.
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bwingrave wrote:
salish99 wrote:
afaik the last aired episode released a poison gas in Earth atmosphere, and the franchise was poised to move to a galaxy exploration by starship follow-up that never came.

This sounds like one of the episodes of the short-lived spinoff series, Crusade. I don't know what the original airing order of the episodes was, but I think the poisoning happened fairly early in the chronology of Crusade. There were several episodes of Crusade in which the exploration was taking place.


The posioning was the reason for Crusade. The posioning happened in the B5 movie, "A Call to Arms," set on the 5th anniversary of the Interstellar Alliance. The surviving Excalibre class prototype ship from "A Call to Arms" was the ship used in Crusade, albeit, with an entirely new crew. Crusade also featured more interaction with the annoying arrogant TechnoMages. TechnoMages would also probably have to work into any B5 board game somewhere.
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Anyway, what I stopped back to say is that you have to figure out first whether the game is going to be competitive, cooperative, or somewhere in between. If the game is going to be cooperative, you have to create a game mechanical menace that will doom the players collectively unless they can beat it; in B5 it would not be difficult to create such a menace. Interstingly, if you go in that direction, you might look to Shadows Over Camelot for inspiration (and B5 does have a bit of Camelot worked into the mythology, Sheridan is King Arthur, Delenn is the Lady of the Lake or pehaps Gwendelyn, B5 is Camelot...also, "A Late Delivery from Avalon").

If the game is competitive, then it will be about superiority of various races. That seems anti-B5, since the series was about the opposite ("humans build communities"), so I am assuming you had a cooperative type game in mind.
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I have the CCG and I absolutely hated it. Then again, it's probably the entire CCG-concept I hate. I bought 4 starter packs and in my mind that should be enough to play the game, but we played for 45 minutes and the game went nowhere.

I bought Babylon 5 Wars today and can't wait to try it. However, the descriptions say it's a Star Fleet Battles - lite. A hex-and-counter battle game does not capture what B5 is all about, especially the political-intrigue.

My suggestion would be a Card Driven Game, like We the People or Twilight Struggle. The cool thing is that CDGs can capture the specific events of the game just like the games I listed capture specific events of the American Revolution or the Cold War. Also, since the Shadow War was a type of a Cold War, there is a type of congruency with Twilight Struggle.

I was thinking one version could have the players be the Shadows and Vorlons spreading influence. This could be like the war that has gone on ever 1,000 years (before Sheridan told them all to "get the hell out of our galaxy.") Another variant could be to have players be the 4 major races spreading influence/trade/empire...which might lend itself well to a Race for the Galaxy-format (military/trade objectives).

Those are some thoughts. I have no idea how to pull off a CDG (Card-Driven Game) like the first 2 listed. To me, We the People is a work of art as much as a game, and the idea of trying to replicate it into a B5-format is beyond a mere mortal like myself. However, if someone were wanting to try, I would definately be willing to playtest it
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Brian Crawford
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I play A Call To Arms and really enjoy it. Its basically a light miniatures game that tries to capture some of the theme.
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bwingrave wrote:

2 A game in which each of the players takes the role of one of the groups (Minbari, Human, Narn, Centauri, Shadows, Vorlons, First Ones) and tries to achieve a goal. This could be an asymmetric game, with a different ability and special goal for each group. (Re-theme of Dune?)
[/url].


AFAIK FFG owns the rights to the Dune game, but not the Dune part. It was assumed that they would release it with the game mechanics more or less intact, but taking place in the TI3 universe.

I would really really like it to be transferred to the Babylon 5 universe. I think they would fit together like hand in glove.
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airjudden wrote:
I was thinking one version could have the players be the Shadows and Vorlons spreading influence. This could be like the war that has gone on ever 1,000 years (before Sheridan told them all to "get the hell out of our galaxy.")

That is an interesting idea. When I said previously that the Vorlons and Shadows could not be player positions, I was thinking of a multi-player game. But if you wanted to make it two-player game, then this would be an interesting way to go.

So, I guess the next threshold question is, how many players do you anticipate? It is either going to be a two player game, or a multi-player game.

Though it can be done, two player cooperative games are probably not that interesting. So, in a two player game, you certainly could have a competitive (and the series provides plenty of ready to use diametrics) game, but in a group game where the players each represent the major races or factions, it probably should be cooperative against a story game mechanical threat.
 
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A couple ideas.

- Since you like the CCG so much, see how many cards you can get ahold of, and then construct well put together decks, and just play 2-9 (Number of playable characters in the CCG, according to it's BGG page).

- A political with an exploration them. The best way I can sum it up (As I'm kind of tired), is to think of Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) with the Babylon Station at the Metacol Rex position. You also have a separate board representing the station itself. Your goal is to gain as much political influence (Maybe use VP chips, and keep them secret), while trying to maintain good relations. Alternatively, you could have certain cultures trying to bring the whole thing down (Think the traitor aspect from Shadows over Camelot).
 
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airjudden wrote:
I was thinking one version could have the players be the Shadows and Vorlons spreading influence. This could be like the war that has gone on ever 1,000 years (before Sheridan told them all to "get the hell out of our galaxy.")


Okay, I so want to play a B5 re-theme of Twilight Struggle now.
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ClineCon wrote:
airjudden wrote:
I was thinking one version could have the players be the Shadows and Vorlons spreading influence. This could be like the war that has gone on ever 1,000 years (before Sheridan told them all to "get the hell out of our galaxy.")

That is an interesting idea. When I said previously that the Vorlons and Shadows could not be player positions, I was thinking of a multi-player game. But if you wanted to make it two-player game, then this would be an interesting way to go.

So, I guess the next threshold question is, how many players do you anticipate? It is either going to be a two player game, or a multi-player game.

Though it can be done, two player cooperative games are probably not that interesting. So, in a two player game, you certainly could have a competitive (and the series provides plenty of ready to use diametrics) game, but in a group game where the players each represent the major races or factions, it probably should be cooperative against a story game mechanical threat.


It can still be competitive and be multi-player. The goals would be assymetric though. Just look at what the major races were trying to prove within the show and not what the main characters were doing. Remember that Delenn did not represent what the core of the Minbari wanted, and Sheridan flew in the face of the Human government (to the point of starting the civil war). Only Lando and G'Kar were representative of what their races really wanted.

You could have goals such as:

Centarui - Return to former glory, they win if they get enough victory,influence,wealth,etc

Narn - Enlightenment, they win if they get enough enlightenment, respect, wisdom, etc

Human - (President Clark victory) Dominance, they win if they get enough military or political power
(Sheridan victory) Alliance, they win if they can build enough alliances within the game.

Minbari - (Religous victory) Prophecy, they win if the humans win with an alliance
(Military victory) Dominance, they win if they get enough military power
(Worker victory) ???


For the Human victories, it should start out with victory condition 1 and have either a trigger (time or player choice) to switch. For teh Sheridan victory there should be ways to generate alliances with non-player races.

For the Minbari victories, I'm not sure what a worker victory would be. To represent the grey council and thus the current victory condition there should be a vote mechanism that the Minbari player has limited control over. Perhaps reveal the top two cards of a deck (or roll two dice) if they are the same then the grey council votes that way, but if they are different the player chooses.


The Shadows & Vorlons would be the "power" in the game tipping the game towards the victory conditions but with a timer till bad things start happening.

The League of non-alligned worlds would be the balancer in the game causing the B5 council to aid or hinder players. The B5 council could have a mechanic like the destiny deck in BSG.

The Firsts would be color for the game and possibly something the humans could target for an alliance victory.
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Here are some of my thoughts. Again, a lot of this is influenced by how the CCG operates, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.

The idea of a sort of BSG re-theming had occurred to me also, but I realised it wouldn't quite work, mostly because the game engine of BSG is built around there being two teams with all players (except the "traitors", of course) banding together to try and overcome the crises that are thrown at them. This wouldn't really fit the B5 plotline.

I was thinking that the game should be competitive, but with a semi-cooperative aspect. Each player represents one of the main factions - human, Minbari, Centari and Narn (possibly introducing Non-Aligned and other sub-factions later) - trying to gain the most power for their faction. However, each race can also ally with either the Vorlons or the Shadows. Those allied with the Vorlons could/would work together in some way. I think it wouldn't really be appropriate to have Shadow allied players working together, but maybe they receive some kind of bonus that helps them work against all other races in return for some other penalty.

I was also thinking that the story of Babylon 5 is simply too epic to fit into a single game, and so it should more appropriately be designed as one base game and four "expansions", similar to the way in which BSG is being released. The base game would focus primarily on season one, with "everyday" power-posturing between the races and very little influence from the Vorlons or Shadows. Later expansions could introduce aspects relating to the Shadow War.

One part of the CCG that I thought was genius was the idea of "conflict" cards, which were the main driving mechanic of the game. Basically, each turn each player could play one conflict card. Conflicts came in three types: diplomacy, intrigue and military. After everyone had played a conflict on the table, players could then commit their characters to either support or oppose a conflict, using the character's numeric abilities (again, diplomacy, intrigue or military) to add or subtract from the conflict's point total. If total abilities in support of the conflict were greater than those opposed then the conflict was "won" and the player who played the conflict would receive some kind of bonus. If opposition was greater than support, then the conflict was lost (in which case usually nothing would happen). I think this basic mechanic should be retained.

One thing I'm having problems with is the concept of how characters should be represented in the game. Should there even be character tokens, or should the players just represent the factions in an abstract way? One of the problems with having characters is that most of those on the station are human. And if you have characters, should there be character tokens to show where those characters are located, or should they just be abstracted? There aren't really many locations of importance that characters can move between. Usually the ambassadors would either be on B5 (where the only place of importance is the council chamber) or on their homeworld.

Lastly, combat: again - tactical combat or abstracted? For the area around B5 I can imagine something simple like in BSG would work, but a lot of the important battles in the B5 story didn't take place at B5. Thoughts?
 
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There was a game a few years ago that was meant to be bought with components added on later. It was hex like Twilight Imperium and there were sets to represent the Narn, Minbari, Humans, Centauri, etc. I have a copy but never got a chance to play.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1873/babylon-5-compon...

It looked fairly good but if I remember correctly the rules are a train wreck.

And for some reason, Twilight Imperium reminds me alot of Babylon 5......
 
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mikoyan wrote:
There was a game a few years ago that was meant to be bought with components added on later. It was hex like Twilight Imperium and there were sets to represent the Narn, Minbari, Humans, Centauri, etc. I have a copy but never got a chance to play.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1873/babylon-5-compon...

It looked fairly good but if I remember correctly the rules are a train wreck.

And for some reason, Twilight Imperium reminds me alot of Babylon 5......


TI would be good as a sort of "Babylon 5: Empires" game (i.e, you're more representative of what's going on on the homeworld rather than what the ambassadors are doing on B5). I'm trying to focus more on the politicking that went on on the station itself.
 
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I think basically I just want to simplify the CCG... But best how?
 
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figarojones wrote:
A couple ideas.

- Since you like the CCG so much, see how many cards you can get ahold of, and then construct well put together decks, and just play 2-9 (Number of playable characters in the CCG, according to it's BGG page).

- A political with an exploration them. The best way I can sum it up (As I'm kind of tired), is to think of Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) with the Babylon Station at the Metacol Rex position. You also have a separate board representing the station itself. Your goal is to gain as much political influence (Maybe use VP chips, and keep them secret), while trying to maintain good relations. Alternatively, you could have certain cultures trying to bring the whole thing down (Think the traitor aspect from Shadows over Camelot).

You mean this game which already exists, is much much better than TI:3, but whose company went under?

An upgrade with beefed up components (ala Fantasy Flight) and a more reasonable sales model would be good. I played this a lot in the 90s, and have fond memories. But the show is a little too far into the past to get much momentum for getting it on the table now.

Babylon 5 Component Game System: Core Sets
There was this core set (2258), then a follow on (2259). There were also individual sets for a number of races (Shadows, Vorlon, League of non-aligned worlds, Psi-corps, etc).

You had individual deck construction, a board set up similar to Twilight Struggle...and could win the game via various routes (military, political, economic). Unlike TI3, all 3 of these methods were viable. The political phase in particular was really cool, since you could call votes and then bribe each other (the votes were events from cards you'd place in your decks...and some were pretty nasty).

The components look weak by today's standards, but the game engine was excellent and held the theme incredibly well.
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bleached_lizard wrote:
I think basically I just want to simplify the CCG... But best how?


(Disclaimer: it's been **years** since I've played the CCG.)

One of the things that stands out in my mind about the CCG is the mechanic of the Doom and Destiny Marks. As I recall, there were certain events that affect you if you have more than (n) Doom or Destiny Marks. So that got me thinking:

Start with something like Arkham Horror: a cooperative game where the players have to fight together against a common foe (the Shadows?). Now add in a couple of possible "individual win conditions" for each player, some of which might be contingent on other characters' win conditions (at least some of G'Kar's possible win conditions would probably include "Londo does not achieve his win condition," and probably vice versa as well), and have each player secretly select one at the beginning of the game. "Encounters" might, in some cases, award or remove Marks of different kinds. "Events" (the Mythos cards) might, in some cases, affect characters that have more (or less) than a certain number of Marks of a kind.

So you have a pseudo-cooperative game (like BSG or Shadows over Camelot) where there is an "apocalypse" situation where everyone can lose, but if a "possible win" situation is achieved, each character then checks against his own secret win condition to see if they "won."

Obviously, this is a very sketchy beginning situation, but it's a thought.
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How about this as a rough idea (a bit of a mix between the CCG and BSG):

Each player just starts with their player mat which represents their ambassador. Each turn, six "conflicts" are drawn from a common deck and passed around the players, each player secretly drafting one of the conflicts to be theirs for the turn (with two left over). All players then reveal their conflicts simultaneously.

Each player mat describes the attributes of each ambassador using the three traits diplomacy, intrigue and leadership/military. These numbers represent how many cards of that type the player draws each round (similar to the "skill sets" in BSG). Skill cards can be used for either their special effect text, or for their "strength" when played to support or oppose a conflict (again, similar to BSG skill cards).

Each player mat also has a space for you to display your current conflict, as well as eight spaces (two for each race) to hold cards you have played to either support or oppose that race's conflict. Conflicts will usually award "influence" (VPs) to the players, but may have other effects as well.

Some cards (both conflict and skill cards) will have a Vorlon icon and some a Shadow icon. Whenever one of these cards is played, the race that played it gains one Vorlon/Shadow token (players cannot hold both Vorlon and Shadow tokens at the same time) and the relevant Old One race (Vorlons or Shadows) also gains one influence. Cards with a shadow icon will have more powerful effects in helping your race win, whereas cards with a Vorlon icon will have more powerful effects in preventing the other races from winning. If ever the Vorlons or Shadows have enough influence to "win" (however much that might be) then the game ends. If the Shadows won, then the player with the highest influence wins the game; however, the player with the most Shadow tokens is automatically disqualified from winning. If the Vorlons won, then all players with Vorlon tokens win the game.

Still not sure how combat will work yet, though.
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Oops - couple of ideas that I forgot:

Some of the skill cards you draw will be characters from the show which can enter play as "permanents". These will usually be high strength cards (i.e, high strength for playing into conflicts) so it will not be an automatic choice to put them into play rather than play them in a conflict. Each character will have attributes like the ambassador and will allow you to draw more of the specified types of skill cards by "tapping" the character. Each character may also have a special ability that can also be used by tapping.

Additionally, each player starts the game with a random secret agenda which if fulfilled can win the game for them.
 
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Actually, as an amendment, I might say that if the Vorlons "win" then all players lose.
 
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