"Several years ago, when Babylon 5 first came on the air, it arrived in the midst of something of a television science fiction glut. At first, it seemed like just another syndicated show, made all the more likely to fail due to the fact that it was difficult to find in some markets. In our area, our local channel adopted the practice of putting it on at midnight Sunday, which is not a stellar ratings period.
"Babylon 5, however, quickly grew into one of our favorite shows. As the third season was under way, Rob Glass came up with an idea which, as the time, seemed impossible: contact Warner Bros. And pitch the idea of creating a tactical board game based on the show. Somewhat to our mutual surprise, our idea was accept by WB! Fortunately, Bruce Graw already had an established game company, Agents of Gaming, which at the time was operating exclusively in the play-by-mail market (with a few tentative forays into the realm of production). This provided the initial starting point for the new business venture. Kelly Lofgren joined the team with a variety of computer skills which would soon be put to the test, for we quickly found the world of game design much more complex than we expected!" - Babylon 5 Wars, First Edition
Thus Agents of Gaming introduced themselves to Babylon 5 fans in the First Edition Babylon 5 Wars core rules book in 1997. This small gaming company operating out of Dayton, OH would over the course of five years produce dozens of Babylon 5 Wars supplements, a Second Edition of the game system, and literally hundreds of starship miniatures.
|The First Edition|
The First Edition of Babylon 5 Wars, published in 1997, was one of the first licensed products to appear for Babylon 5. Babylon 5 was on the air and slowly gaining a reputation for not only its use of continuing, guided story arcs but also for its use of computer generated graphics. Many fans of the television show took notice of the new game system and soon the game had developed strong following.
Those that were around during the life of the First Edition remember it well. Babylon 5 Wars allowed you to take the ships and fighters of the Earth Alliance, Minbari Federation, Centauri Republic, and Narn Regime into battle. However, the ship choices were extremely limited: the Earth Alliance had the Omega Destroyer, Hyperion Heavy Cruiser, and Starfury Heavy Fighter; the Minbari the Sharlin Warcruiser, Nial Heavy Fighter, and Flyer; the Centauri the Primus Battlecruiser, Vorchan Warship, and Sentri Medium Fighter; and the Narn G'Quan Heavy Cruiser, T'Loth Assault Cruiser, and Frazi Heavy Fighter.
In 1998, The War of Retribution supplement was finally released. The long awaited supplement detailed the war between the Centauri Republic and the Narn Regime that took place during Babylon 5's second season. The War of Retribution expanded the ship selections of both the Narn and Centauri, giving them each a full range of ships, including everything from dreadnoughts to patrol boats. However, the EA and Minbari remained lacking in units, and for a time the original twelve units plus the new Narn and Centauri ships were all the available ships available for the game. Then something happened that would address that problem and change the B5W community forever: the Ship of the Month (SOTM).
The Ship of the Month concept added new life and an element of excitement to the players of Babylon 5 Wars. When you consider that every month a new ship would be added when not long before only twelve ships existed for ALL the races, this was indeed a marvelous thing for players. Through the Ship of the Month, Agents of Gaming would post a single ship per month to their website with any related rules. In many cases this was used to either flesh out existing races' fleets (Tinashi, Nova, Thunderbolt) or to playtest new rules additions to the game (Olympus and Missiles). The Ship of the Month met both the needs of Agents of Gaming, as they did receive playtest data from these new ships, and the desire of the fan base for new ships.
It was also during this time period that an upwelling of new, fan designed ships for Babylon 5 Wars first began to appear. Not content to play with the few official ships that were available, fans created new ships for the Babylon 5 races. Many of these new designs were an attempt to update Babylon 5 Wars with the new races, ships, and technologies that had appeared on Babylon 5 but had not yet appeared in the game. Some even designed new, original races and background for races that could fight against (or alongside) any of the Babylon 5 races.
One of the most notable websites from this period is the Early Years site developed by Rich Bax. This site developed both Dilgar and EA vessels for the Dilgar War time period and was one of the first representations of a directed approach to develop new ships and technologies within a specific historical context by extrapolating the data from all sources currently available.
|The Second Edition|
It was becoming obvious with each passing month and with every Ship of the Month that the direction and flavor of Babylon 5 Wars was changing. The ship control sheets (SCS) were becoming sleeker, casting off the boxy format of previous supplements and replacing it instead with a much more visual system of displaying each ship's vital stats. It had also become painfully obvious that there were several game mechanics that needed changed. In short, it was time for an overhaul. It was time for a second edition.
The very mention of a second edition to a game which had only been out for a little over a year and for which only a single supplement had yet been released caused an outcry among fans. But the fact remained that the game was in need of some vital changes to correct problems.
The result was Babylon 5 Wars Second Edition and the Atlas of Earth Alliance Wars supplement that followed hot on its tail. The new products looked both more streamlined and well developed in many respects than either of the previous Babylon 5 Wars offerings.
Releases continued steadily and new players were brought into the game system as it continued to expand, including dozens of new races over the course of three years of releases. The Militaries of League 1, The Dilgar Invasion, Raiders, Pirates, and Privateers, Coming of the Shadows and numerous other supplements were sold over that period of time, each one expanding the material in the Babylon 5 Wars universe and giving players more options. The Rules Compendium and Ships of the Fleet products provided players a way to jump into the game, making it more accessible to new players.
The changes that the game underwent in such a short period of time and the amount of new material released by Agents of Gaming altered Babylon 5 Wars. The selection of both races and ships was adequate and players were no longer locked into only two or three designs for their race of choice.
Despite the end of the Full Scale Babylon 5 Wars miniature line in 2001, the game itself remained strong and vibrant.
|Sleeping in Light|
On September 19, 2002, Agents of Gaming announced that its Babylon 5 license would expired and that Warner Bros. was not interested in renewing it. On October 31, 2002, Babylon 5 Wars and all other Agents of Gaming Babylon 5 properties officially ceased.
In the wake of the end of the license, Babylon 5 Wars fans have continued to support it.