Things That Routinely Pop Up On The Mailing List

My comments are in italics
Comments from other people have a > in front of the first line of the paragraph
Comments said by Bruce Graw has -- in the beginning and --A1 at the end of his statements

If you have something that you want to see posted, mail me


What is Babylon 5 Wars and where can I find more info?

Babylon 5 Wars is a starship tactical combat game set in the universe of the Babylon 5 television series which uses a hex map, miniatures and dice. For more information the game or about mailing lists look at Agents of Gaming's website: AOG

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Information regarding unsubscribing can be found on the AOG website. What more needs to be said?

Questions that have been answered many times, such as "who are THK and what have they told AoG they must have," "why no Excalibur," "why all the variants," "what's this energy web thingy," etc.

Send 'em to me, I'll put them here.
--We're still not sure if we can use Drakh, or if we would be limited to only the couple of types of ships seen in Season 5. Remember, our contract limits us to only what is seen on B5 (not Crusade or the movies). If they had never done Crusade, we could make up Drakh all day long, but since they did and they used more Drakh designs, we're in a quandary. As for the other question, we eyeball the value and let playtesting figure out the final combat point cost. --A1

The forbidden/taboo topics and their AoG answers.

--I'm not going to be baited by certain insulting comments posted recently on the List. I do, however, appreciate the supporting emails from many of you who have responded, and for this reason I will continue. I apologize if my original post seemed like such a snippy response. It was written rather in haste, as IIRC I was late for an appointment, and may have given some the wrong idea about the way things are done here. While we may not respond to every email to the list (and really only a fraction of them) they all get read, and when we see complaints about a rule or mechanic, we listen. However, since the production of Second Edition, we are committed to making as few changes as possible to the basic game in order to avoid creating errata. Therefore, when a problem or complaint surfaces regarding the Core Rules, we evaluate it, and make a decision about it. Sometimes this decision comes quickly, especially when it has been a suggestion previously made and rejected (e.g., vectored movement). Other times we debate or playtest it. Such was the case with the suggestion that ballistic weapons impact after other weapons fire. This debate was performed months ago and we at AOG made our decision and stated at that time that no change would be made. At this point the matter was closed, and bringing it up again serves no purpose, nor does demanding an explanation, which is a waste of time. This is what I was trying to say in my original post, but unfortunately, it came off sounding like I was too important to be bothered by explaining. For this, and this only, I apologize.
Please note, by the way, that the above refers to the CORE RULES. That is to say, the basic way the game is played, as published in Second Edition form. For PLAYTEST MATERIAL, we do things differently. Arguing and heated discussions are not only encouraged, but demanded! You can see the results of this sort of thing in the recent adjustments to the Vorlon ship on the SOTM page. In fact, we expect to see debates about new material even after a new product has been published. However, once this occurs, getting something changed becomes 10 times more difficult, because of the stigma of "errata." We will still listen, but once we have made a decision (as with the Core Rules items) we are going to stick with it. Naturally, we'll be more likely to adjust point costs than we will printed rules, unless some serious error managed to creep into the product. Anyway, some of you may not agree with the way these things are done, but that's how we do it here at AOG. --A1

    Primus lasers
This topic has come up countless times on the mailing list and Warner Brothers/Babylonian Productions insist that the Primus has lasers even though they were never shown in the show. AOG's hands are tied and this is not going to change. They're also tired of people still bringing it up.

    Ballistics rules/ballistic weapon fire order
It may not make any sense but AOG like how it works and thus it is not going to change. Wait until 3rd Edition is announced before bringing this up again.
>Here is a question: Why was it [ballistic weapons hitting at the end of the combat sequence] considered and rejected? Several people, outside myself, have provided quality justifications and ideas about why they don't believe in the sequence. After having read all of those, there must have been some very good reasons for rejecting it, after consideration, and I'm probably not the only one curious about them, but probably the first to be direct about it. If we understood the rationale behind the decision and sequence that superceded the other various interpretations, we'd all be happy.
--Rather than cause further arguments (because that is all that would happen) I'm not going to bother explaining. I have found that when we try to justify our decisions, all we get is more complaints, arguments and further browbeating by people trying to convince us theirs is the only way or the correct way. Suffice to say, we considered all the arguments (which were good), weighed the effect on play, and decided we liked the way things worked now, with the sole exception that players would always target whoever foolishly forgot to put up DEW. This was easily corrected with a simple tweak; what you describe totally alters the way ballistics work and would completely invalidate every single ship in the game that uses ballistic weapons - IF we wanted to make the change, which we DON'T. So please quit beating a dead horse. --Agent One
>2) Seeing a ship going fully on the offensive (no DEW), I target it with ballistic missiles, ignoring the fully defensive one just beside it.
--This rule is being changed; you'll see the official announcement in Showdowns-2. The new rule will require you to write down your targets at the same time you determine EW, so you can't take advantage of anyone who forgets to use DEW. This rule will take effect on 1 January 2000.
BTW, there have been a number of debates here suggesting we change the impact sequence so they strike at the same time as, or later than, other weapons, but this has been considered and rejected. --A1

    Vector movement
Another case of AOG liking how the movement system works and will not change it. It would also require the rewriting of all of the books and supplements and re-pointing of all the ships. Basically, it's too big of a pain to change it now so don't bother wasting your breath (until 3rd Edition gets announced).

    Fighters not reflecting the show
AOG likes how fighters work and won't change it any more than they have already in 2nd Edition. 3rd Edition isn't going to be coming any time soon so until they announce it, don't bother arguing this point.

    Overstocking fighters
WB already approved how many fighters the ships carry even if it is directly contradicted in the show. The consensus is treat the number of fighters the ships carry the average number and it may be possible for them to carry more but that would be in scenario specific battles.

    Energy web and its origin
Whether you call it magic-tech, science fantasy or whatever it was mentioned in the show and WB insists it exists so we're stuck with it. No point in debating it any further because it won't go anywhere.

    Impulse movement/Initiative problems
AOG wants a simple game system and impulse movement adds a layer of complexity they don't want. It also suffers from the same logistical problems as the Vector movement debate.
> I don't understand the purpose of the initiative handicap for moving at a slow speed.
> If I have two ship moving at speeds 8 and 6 towards each other they will see a closing speed of 14. However if the speeds are 13 and 1 the closing speed is still 14 but one suffers a penalty. Why ?
> If you based their movement against a different planet both their speeds could be in the thousands or minus thousands. All I see the initiative penalty doing is making the system both more complex and less accurate.
--In reality (which we do not pretend to represent), your ships should actually all be moving simultaneously. (People who want to switch the game to such a system recommend what is called an "impulse chart" to represent this.) However, we chose to keep the game quick and simple, so you move your ship its entire movement all at once. Since this eliminates some of your tactical opportunities to react to an opponent, we "simulate" the effects of slower movement by giving you an initiative penalty. --A1
>I think AOG have chosen not to go down the impulse movment system quite deliberately, in the same way that missles don`t have counters a speed and get moved on the board. These are deliberate choices made for the speed and playability of the game, and by simplifying some detail is lost, I do think they are good choices they help make the style and feel of the game, otherwise B5Wars could have been a set of alternate SFB rules which it isn`t and for which I am quite glad (much as I love SFB).
--That pretty much hits the nail right smack in the middle of its head. --A1
>Just add Impulse movement as an optional rule in an upcoming product, it's really not that much of a problem.
--That's what we'll do. Our reasons for using the system we chose are: (1) It's fast and easy, (2) it's not SFB. We already get enough complaints that our game resembles SFB (when it really doesn't, except that we have boxes on our control sheets). We don't need another similarity. --A1

    Missiles don't fit B5
AOG likes how missiles work and won't budge on it. Don't waste your breath until 3rd edition is announced.

    If it wasn't on the show, it isn't B5
AOG is concerned with making an enjoyable game first and making it accurate to the show second. While it's true most of the new ships they've created were never in the show, if all we had to play with were the few ships that were in the show, it would end up being an accurate but very limited game. Bringing this up won't change anything.
>How have the Shadows held up to ballistic attacks? I believe that when Shadow Wars was in playtest that ballistics didn't really exist since NCW wasn't out and we hadn't gotten the Olympus as a SoM. They seem very vulnerable to this sort of attack.
--We've never seen that on the show, so we don't know, and can make up any
interaction we choose. --A1

    This ship has more weaponry than the SCS shows and I can prove it
AOG has had to take some liberties when designing the ships. They may not be completely accurate but that isn't their intent - they're trying to get the flavor and style of the B5 combat we see in the show in a somewhat simple and playable system.
Take the Omega Class Destroyer for example. The age-old question of "Why does the SCS have only 12 SPBs when the ship clearly has 24?" (among other similar questions) There's lots of ways you can explain away the reasons why the SCSs are the way they are and other reasons why they should be changed but simple fact is that AOG isn't going change the sheet no matter how much people complain so what's the point of arging it any further?
>I really REALLY hope this doesnt invalidate my entries BUT...remember that lovely weapons list on a Sharlin display in one of the episodes? Might be a good idea to try to get that in there so no one can point to it and say 'See! See! They arent following the show!!' :) As i recall, it was something like 6 neutron cannon, 6 fusion cannon, and X amount of missiles. Maybe call it the Sharlin'XXXX...and make it a bombardment/firesupport variant?
--At least you know where we got the "neutron" and "fusion" names from. When we originally did the game, we chose to assume the missiles were used strictly for planetary bombardment. We'll stand by that decision, mostly because we've never seen a Minbari use a missile for anything in the show. --A1
> Bruce, I may have missed this post, but what was the final ruling on what side (top or bottom or both) the slicer is on.... from what I have seen (plus my pdesk wallpaper) the slicer comes out at least between the spines facing forward....
--We aren't sure, since the show evidence seems to contradict itself (the damn thing fires from pretty much wherever the CGI people wanted it to). We're putting it where it is because the silhouette looks cooler that way (the silhouette, incidentally, isn't precisely from the top of the ship). In the absence of any other conclusive evidence, this is the only criteria we can really use... --A1
>Bruce, correct me if I'm wrong but the two rear MPCs on the Hyperion represent the stbd + port MPCs do they not? The two big barrels up from are plasma, the top front ball turret is the fore MPC, the side ball turrets are the foreward facing Heavy Lasers. The top tower turret, and the two on the ventral end of the tower make up the 3 360' SPBs?
--The Theta variant is not the precise Hyperion seen in the show or on the miniature. The Delta variant (in Variants-1) will match this more precisely. The three top-mounted ball turrets are medium pulse cannons (one forward, two aft). The fixed guns on the top front are two heavy pulse cannons with 60 degree forward arcs. The side guns are heavy lasers. The three P-beams and interceptors are almost too small to be seen. --A1
>The Shadow are million years old, more powerful than anyone.
--I hear this constantly, but think about it. A million years of development. Humans have only had space flight since the 1950's, so in about 300 years they went from Sputnik to Thunderbolts. 300 years is 1/3333th of a million, which shows you how far apart we are from them technologically (and this assumes only 1,000,000 years for the First Ones, when the better number may well be far higher). Yet, a Thunderbolt is clearly able to blow away a Vorlon fighter (seen on the show). Logically, there is no way in hell a Vorlon should be in the slightest bit threatened by a Thunderbolt, but it is. From this, what can we conclude? That the Shadows and Vorlons must have hit some kind of technological development plateau. They are clearly vulnerable to younger races tech, so any argument that they are godlike in their power is inherently flawed. --A1
> In Season 2, in the episode where a Mars guy tries to kill some people we see a telepathic image of an Omega shooting at him. But it shoots plasma and the computer screen profiling his death calls the ship an Omega Star Cruiser. I submitted this ship to AoG for the Variants-1 product, but unless they renamed it the "command cruiser" it was rejected. So instead, I modified the Shadow Omega gif and created my own SCS of the Star Cruiser.
--Cool ship, but IIRC, this is the first episode of B5 where an Omega actually appeared. It seems more likely that they had not yet decided to refer to it as the Omega Destroyer, so the "Star Cruiser" is just another name for the same ship. Too bad they didn't keep Star Cruiser as the title, as it would have eliminated countless debates on the naval term "Destroyer" as applied to what it most certainly a cruiser. --A1
>That's more launchers that a Sagitarius. Look at the OSAT in Earth Wars and then look at the battle in End Game. Those Satilite launch a large number of Missiles but the SCS in Earth Wars only has two... this tells me that firing off 1 missile in B5 WARS is equivalent to firing a salvo in the B5 UNIVERSE.
--That's basically correct. This was actually necessary, because the number of missiles a single OSAT could put out (if we try to match the show exactly) is so huge that a few of them would be extremely difficult to play. --A1
>3. Does the Molecular slicer have a rear 120 degree arc as well.
--NO. Stop arguing about this, it is not going to happen no matter how much 'evidence' you find in the show supporting it. Giving it arcs better than 120 degrees is not an option. (Why? It makes the Shadows too easy to play. Unless they are forced to maneuver to keep their weapon in arc, they are too easy to use and too difficult to fight.) --A1
>Just out of curiosity, Bruce, if it isn't ever likely to get published and will never be a "legal" ship, why are you so opposed to giving out some information about it? I don't particularly care one way or the other, but what would some general information about it's armament and capabilities hurt?
--We have made a conscious decision not to publish "conjectural" ships for the time being, and since the Medusa was never finished (according to the history it was half-done, after about 10 years of development, when it was destroyed in its shipyard by the Minbari). Rather than start such a huge boondoggle project again, EA turned to the Omega and later Warlock designs instead. The control sheet in the Earth Wars playtest pack gave it 2 of each of the main EarthForce weapons on either side (LPAs, heavy plasma, heavy lasers, heavy pulse, railguns, and missile racks, IIRC), if memory serves, though I don't even still have a copy of it around. It was a monster and just about every playtest group called it ridiculous, which alone is enough to convince me not to ever publish it again. Besides which, since we have now seen an Omega with the name "Medusa," the name would have to change in any case. --A1
>P.S.: Now, that some persons in my local area have seen the Shadows and Vorlons, they think of quitting the game because of truly ... well ... stupidity.
--You know, I got the same comments when we did the original playtest pack. "These are too powerful, no one will ever play them." So I make them playable...and get the opposite complaint. Sigh. --A1

   Continuity/On-line tech manual is correct/Fiona is flawless
Fiona Avery is the continuity editor for Babylonian Productions and everything has to be approved by her. If you see that AOG has a continuity problem with some other "canon" source, it's not exactly AOG's fault so don't waste bandwidth for something that is out of AOG's control. If you have a problem, complain to someone other than AOG and keep it off the list.
>Have you considered that the Koulani and Ch'Lonas were developed by CE, not AoG, and there might well be some neotiations needed to use them? Perhaps not worth the time required, and delay to the product it would entail?
--We actually talked to Chameleon Eclectic about that for a while, and intended to do B5W versions of those races' ships, but when they stopped doing the Project we stopped pursuing the matter. The Ch'lonas and Koulani are on our map of known space, and will probably appear at some future time in a product, but not without the permission of CE. (We could probably do it without their permission, but won't try to do so.) --A1
>In the Earth Wars supplement, in the "Opening Moves" section on page 52, it is mention that the Mimbari attacked "6 military bases and listening posts" that the Earth Alliance had built in the last ten years, are they the same than the ones described in the Earth Force supplement of the Babylon Project: Signet and all the colony on the galactic eastern part of the Earth Alliance? If not, what are they?
--Yes, they are the same ones described in TBP. We drew some of our historical background directly from there. You should be able to note that their map matches our Narn-Centauri War map almost exactly, though we chose to leave off some of the less used jump links. --A1
   AOG making online SCSs/Computer games/Computer related stuff

--BEFORE ANYONE ASKS, we cannot do a B5 computer game. It's not in our license. (I've already answered this several times today, in my 200+ emails). Just as ADB, creators of SFB, can't do computer products for SFB because their license with Paramount prohibits it, we can't do computer stuff (even just a CD-ROM of ship PDFs) for B5W. The license for something like that is ludicrously expensive, so much so that ADB had to find a separate company willing to develop and produce the game. I'm told the Sierra B5 sim is supposed to be pretty good, but it's a fighter-level, X-wing like game, and will be nothing like B5W. If we did something similar for B5W, it would be strategic with tactical battles played by you or the computer, sort of like Master of Orion. Or maybe it would be something else entirely. Who knows? If anyone knows of, or works for, a company who would be willing to team with us on such a project, let us know. --A1
>Grabbing Sierras code would be the fast, legally complicated way.
--I'm quite sure that will be totally impossible. --A1
>Just grabbing the license (now that its up for grabs) and then farming it out to someone else could be a way. And either way, you could help insure some consistency in the ships :).
--I'm not sure they would give up the license. We're checking into that. They won't give it to us for free, of course, and it cost a pretty penny. --A1
>I think it would be quite cool if you guys can afford to branch out into this kind of thing, and Id just like to throw my encouragment into the pool.
--Sure, we can do that easily. Does anyone out there have three million dollars they can give us? I'm not just making up that figure; that's what we've calculated it would take to develop a B5 computer game in today's market (yes, we have looked into this before). If any of you are, or know any, venture capitalists who are interested in backing such a project, call us NOW.
OTOH, one of the barriers to our putting ship PDFs on CD-ROM has just fallen, so we'll look into that again. The costs for something like that would not be quite as staggering. I'll keep you posted. --A1

    Defensive values as size/Ship armor/BPV vs. Fighter Armor/BPV
Defensive values don't make a whole lot of sense especially when ships are compared to fighters but AOG likes how they work and aren't going to change it. Ditto for the ship/fighter armor/BPV debate.

    The Minbari are too weak
Like many other "This race should be more powerful because in the show..." debates, the reason they aren't exactly emulated in the show is because of playability. It basically wouldn't be fun to play a single super powerful Minbari ship that the opponent has to take an entire fleet to defeat. Don't argue it it's not going to change.

Whether it's the scale of the miniatures or the scale of what a hex represents, this is an argument that's been beaten to death with no solution that is acceptable to everyone.

Yes, weapons should shoot farther/be more accurate in the real world but it's a game and think of it as an abstraction. I mean, we've got ships that can turn faster than they can pivot, slide one way without being able to slide the other in the same turn, single icons representing side thrusters, and a hundred other things that don't make sense that AOG is happy with. I'd say the range debate isn't nearly as important as those others.

    Ship lengths
Just like just about every other sci-fi series out there, B5 is plagued by the ever-changing-scale-of-ships syndrome. There is no right answer so don't argue it.

    The entire game system should be changed
Not going to happen so don't bother arguing it(until 3rd edition is announced). See the Range and Vector Movement comments.

    Fighters and DEW
The great "Crosshairs on the canopy better than ship sensors" debate is over with no changes being made. It might not make sense but AOG is happy with it. 'nuff said.

    Stealth/The Jammer
AOG likes how it currently works so it won't be changing until 3rd edition. Don't bother arguing about it.

    It's the "Roosevelt" class
See the Continuity section.

Realist, Simulationist and gamer factions.

>Basically, realists strive for adherence to real life, simulationists strive for adherence to the show and gamers strive for playability more than the other concerns? Realists could be historical gamers looking to replay "historical" battles as well as interested in strategic/campaign details (fleet compositions, economic value, etc), or people looking for reasonable scientific feasibility (within the basic premises of the B5 universe). Those are two aspects that aren't always shared.

Old hands on the list. (Voted on by popular acclaim. Description to be written by the candidate and the list and agreed by the candidate. NO VENOM HERE, though traditional rivalries could be politely referred to.)

Explanation of list inside jokes, such as quoting an appearance of the Narn Bat Squad, including love bats, Starfurries, Minbari Nail fighters and furry mammal cannons.

All of the abbreviations that are used on the list.

AC       - Antimatter Converter
APG      - Antiproton Gun
BB       - Burst Beam
BL       - Battle Laser
BT       - Ballistic Torpedo
EPG      - Electro-Pulse Gun
FC       - Fusion Cannon or Fire Control
GA       - Guardian Array
GPC      - Gatling Pulse Cannon
HA       - Heavy Array
HL       - Heavy Laser
HLPA     - Heavy Laser-Pulse Array
HPC      - Heavy Pulse Cannon
INL      - Improved Neutron Laser
IT       - Ion Torpedo
LC       - Lightning Cannon
LL       - Light Laser
LPA      - Laser-Pulse Array
LPC      - Light Pulse Cannon
MC       - Matter Cannon
MG       - Mag Gun
ML       - Medium Laser
MP       - Molecular Pulsar
MPC      - Medium Pulse Cannon
NL       - Neutron Laser
PA       - Plasma Accelerator
PB       - Particle Blaster
PI       - Particle Impeder
PM       - Pulsar Mine
PS       - Plasma Stream
QA       - Quad Array
QPB      - Quad Particle Beam
RG       - Rail Gun
SPB      - Standard Particle Beam
TA       - Twin Array

BPV      - Battle Point Value
CCEW     - Close Combat Electronic Warfare
DEW      - Defensive Electronic Warfare
EW       - Electronic Warfare
FC       - Fire Control or Fusion Cannon
OCD      - Omega Class Destroyer
OEW      - Offensive Electronic Warfare
RoF      - Rate of Fire

AOG      - Agents Of Gaming
B5W      - Babylon 5 Wars
JMS      - Joe Michael Strazynski
WB       - Warner Brothers
TBP      - The Babylon Project (Role Playing Game)
IJAGM    - It's Just A Game Mechanic
IMO      - In My Opinion
IMHO     - In My Humble Opinion
IIRC     - If I Remember Correctly
BTW      - By The Way
SotM     - Ship of the Month
NDA      - Non-Disclosure Agreement
AFAIK    - As Far As I Know
SCS      - Ship Control Sheet

WWE1     - War Without End Part 1
WWE2     - War Without End Part 2
SD       - Severed Dreams

1E (1ED) - First Edition Boxed Set
2E (2ED) - Second Edition Boxed Set
WOR(NCW) - War Of Retribution (Narn Centauri War) Supplement
EW       - Earth Wars Supplement
S1       - Showdowns 1 Supplement
V1       - Variants 1 Supplement
L1       - League 1 Supplement
RPP      - Raider Playtest Pack


A system that is Rakeable means that it can be destroyed by 10 points of damage. Damage from weapons like lasers are typically broken up into 10 point chunks called "rakes." So a laser that does 38 points of damage is broken up into three 10 point rakes and one 8 point rake.

B5W products and what's in them.

See the Product Stock List on the Agents of Gaming website for some more information than what I have listed below.
 1st Edition Boxed Set
       6 Hex Maps labeled A-F
       Main Rule Book
       Ship Counters
       Movement/Firing/etc Counters
       10 Sided dice
       6 Sided dice
       3 Frazi Miniatures
       3 Sentri Miniatures
       3 Starfury Miniatures
       3 Nial Miniatures

 2nd Edition Boxed Set
       2 Hex Maps
       Main rule Book
       Ship Control Sheet booklet
       Ship Counters
       Movement/Firing/etc Counters
       3 Frazi Miniatures
       3 Sentri Miniatures

 War of Retribution
       Atlas of the Narn/Centauri War Book
            Progress of the war historical information and maps
            New weapons and ships of the Narn and Centauri
            Ship Control Sheets for the new ships
       Ship Counters

 War of Retribution 2nd Edition Update
       NCW Rule Updates and 2nd Edition Ship Control Sheets Booklet
            Updated rules for weapons and systems
            Updated Ship Control Sheets.

 Earth Wars
       Earth Wars Booklet
            Historical information about the Earth Alliance
            New rules for weapons and ships for Earth and Minbari
       Ship Control Sheet Booklet
       Ship Counters

       Showdowns and Ship Control Sheets Booklets
            New rules for breaching pods, mines, satellites,
            readiness levels, ship enhancements.
            New rules for weapons, ships and satellites

       Variants 1 and Ship Control Sheets Booklet

 League of Non-Aligned Worlds 1
       League and Ship Control Sheets Booklets
            Brief history of the League
            New rules for various weapons/systems used by League races
       Ship Counters


Who are Agent1/Bruce and that Robert guy?

Creators of the Babylon 5 Wars game.

What are these SotM and weekly report posts?

The Ship of the Month can be found on the Agents of Gaming website.

Suggested things to include in Battle Reports.

House Rules used, Starting positions, Starting and ending force structure.

Playtesting and the list. NDA, purchasing playtest packets, etc.

Some gaming groups have signed up to playtest upcoming products and occasionally acquire information that is not to be disclosed because of an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) with AOG. Information about creating a playtest group can be found on the Agents of Gaming website.
Often times AOG also offers playtest packs - an upcoming supplement offered in limited supply for purposes of playtesting. Information about these can generally be acquired from the Agents of Gaming website and if offered, can be ordered from there. Playtest information is generally discussed openly on the mailing list.