Tower of Babel

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Rating Summary (3 Total)

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GAMEPLAY In Tower of Babel, players take on the roles of builders of the seven wonders of the world. On a turn, a player proposes to build a building disc (BD) on a wonder. Opponents have the chance to contribute to the build by offering building cards and potentially their trade card. The active player can choose to accept all or some of the offers as long as the total number of cards does not exceed the number on the BD or refuse offers and build the BD on their own. If the active player accepts an opponent’s offer, the opponent places temples on the wonder equal to the number of cards offered that match the BD type. If the active player accepts an opponent’s offer with a trade card, the opponent gets the BD but the active player gets to put temples equal to the opponent’s matching building cards. Lastly, if the player refuses offers, opponents get VP equal to the number of matching building cards. The active player takes the BD (provided they did not accept a trade card) and places temples equal to the number of their matching building cards. If the active player cannot or does not accept or have enough building cards to build the BD, the BD is returned but opponents still score VP for their matching building cards. At the end of a player’s turn, everyone draws one card. Alternatively, a player can choose to pass and draw two cards but opponents can still draw one. When all three BD on a wonder have been built, the wonder scores majorities. The VP awarded become greater with each new wonder built. The game ends when all BD of one type have been built. Any remaining wonders are scored for majorities at a lesser VP rate and players also score VP for collected sets of BD. THOUGHTS Knizia is know for stripped down designs and Tower of Babel is no different. But, perhaps here, ToB is too stripped down. While players are involved on everyone’s turn, turns lack enough variety due to the limited options. Still, there are some good trade-offs: Do I accept this offer with the trade card giving my opponent the edge in the BD set collection while giving me the potential edge in the majority scoring, or do I refuse and give my opponent free VP? Do I pad my offer with a lot of non-matching cards so the active player has to decide between my offer and those of my opponents, or do I try to sneak in with just one or two matching cards in order to improve my standing in the majority scoring? Do I pull the last BD on this wonder and help my opponent score the majority but allowing the wonder I have majority in to be worth a bit more later? The problem is all these considerations only become interesting if you have a minimum of four players, and even then, five players would be best. Which brings me to my other point: In the modern hobby, when you have games like Root and Scythe and Blood Rage, how are you going to get five people together who want to play an extremely dry, theme-less Knizia game where the board is composed of varying shades of gray? ToB has the potential to make for a great gaming experience but I just don’t see the stars aligning to achieve this. PROS -Interesting, if not mathy, trade-offs. At higher player counts in particular, this could lead to some uneasy alliances that make for tense decisions and open up room for more negotiations. -Quick to teach and learn. NEUTRALS -Plays best at five and good at four. No sense in playing at three. -Only board game I know of to feature some junk front and center. CONS -The subject of the game is the wonders of the world, a topic that has captured the imagination of billions over the centuries! And here we have a game whose board art and color scheme is the drabbest of the drab. -Gameplay is samey. I think this would work better if either the game were shortened to a filler somehow or if there were more options to explore.

10/18/2019