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CCGaDay Day 6: Favorite CCG I Never Get To Play

The list of games I'd like to play more often is long and exhaustive. But if there was a single game that ,y local group keeps bringing up as "something we gotta get together and play again", it's the Babylon 5 CCG. Why? Because it's easily the best multi-player CCG ever made. And the reason it's the best is because it's designed top to bottom for multiplayer - to the point that it's really terrible at 2-3 players. A proper game of B5 needs at least four people, and the game will support over ten (although some coordination is needed once you pass six players or so).

The big strength of B5 (and it's weakness), is that uniqueness is board-wide. (Meaning that if *anyone* at the table has Bob in play, no-one else can.) And that includes your starting cards - which enforces faction separation (it is possible to have two players in the same faction, but without some planning beforehand it's really awful.)

But the faction separation gives the game it's flavor and scope. Each faction plays differently. Starting values for things like agression differ (Narns and Centauri are a harsh-word away from open war, while Human-Centauri are happy pals). Each faction has it's own cast of cards - not just characters and ships, but even enhancements and sometimes conflicts (the main method towards winning the game). Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, but you're forced to interact with your opponents on every turn.

But what really sells the game is that your deck is only a means to an end. The best technical player with the best deck in the world can not prevail if the table turns against them. Politics is core to the game, but you're political might is limited by what you have on the table, and your characters in particular are pulled in many directions at once - do you use them to support your conflicts, or oppose your opponents? Or do you use them to play more cards to increase your abilities next round? And your plans will easily fall apart when an opponent decides that you're winning your conflict just a bit too easily (or left a valuable character exposed) and opposes or attacks you. And since there's no my turn/your turn dynamic (everyone's trying to move their agendas forward simultaneously), it takes very little for the tide to turn for/against you mid-round.

The only real flaw of the game is that it pretty much demands that you organize your match in advance to make sure everyone is playing different factions. But you can turn it into a positive by combining collections with your friends and sharing costs that way - that's how our collection is set up and it works beautifully.

Unfortunately, this is a very hard game to find retail these days (partly a testament to it's popularity, partly because Warner Brothers made some very short-sighted decisions when they pulled the license). If you're willing to put in the time/work, you can find the card images here. And if you're looking for a good group CCG, you'll be hard pressed to find one better.