Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
5 Posts

Tower of Babel» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A tightly woven Eurogame that's best with only three rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
badge
Avatar
In Tower of Babel, players supervise construction of the eight wonders of the ancient world -- yes, eight, as the Tower of Babel is included with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the statue of Zeus at Olympia, and the rest.

Each of the eight wonders is marked with three randomly chosen building discs. These discs come in four types (ships, camels, cranes, and stone masons) and are numbered from 3 to 6; the three discs placed on the Hanging Gardens, for example, might be 3 camels, 5 camels, and 6 ships. Players start with a handful of cards in some mix of ships, camels, cranes, and stone masons, and they receive more cards throughout the game.

On most turns, a player will try to build part of a wonder -- but these are wonders, after all, which means that you lack the strength to build it on your own. (Moxie, drive and gumption you've got in spades; strength, not so much.) The active player chooses one of the available discs (e.g., 5 camels) and solicits help from others. Each other player chooses from 0 to 5 camel cards in their hands, optionally including a trading card, then everyone reveals their offerings simultaneously. The active player accepts or rejects each player's offering; if an offer of help is rejected, that player returns the cards to her hand and scores one point for each camel she offered.

If the active player has accepted exactly five camel cards, or plays camel cards from his hand until there are five, then he successfully builds part of the wonder, claiming the disc and discarding the cards. Each player, including the active player, places one colored token on the wonder for each card that he or she contributed.

If, however, a player includes the trading card in her offer and the active player accepts her offer, she receives the building disc as compensation and the active player adds the tokens that she would have placed.

When the final disc is claimed from a wonder, that wonder is scored. Whoever has the most tokens on the wonder receives a bonus of 8-20 points; the player with the second-most tokens receives 4-10 points, and everyone with at least one token receives 3 points. The point totals start low and rise as each wonder is completed.

Instead of trying to work with wonders, you can just draw a card for your entire turn. Whichever option you choose, each player (including you) draws a card at the end of your turn.

Tower of Babel ends when the final building disc of a type (ships, camels, cranes, and stone masons) is claimed. Players score any wonders that remain uncompleted, receive a final bonus based on the discs they hold, then compare scores to see who contributed the most to history's treasures.

The strategy might seem obvious at first -- draw cards, place lots of tokens, and collect discs of the same type -- but everything in the game fits together so tightly that you have to change plans constantly. Each time you to try to build part of a wonder, your opponents will either score points (when you reject their offers) or place tokens (which will score points for them later); don't try to build, though, and you only marginally improve your hand, while ceding control to others. You might offer an opponent six cards, assuming that he'll reject the offer and give you six points, only to have him accept the offer and strip the cards from your hand; refuse to offer any cards next time, though, and you'll score nothing at all!

Each game differs in pace as players tweak their strategies, drawing lots of cards one game to enable solo token placement, then building quickly to rush towards the end game next time. (You can easily forget the game-ending condition the first few times you play, which might let one player end the game while you're still planning for the future.)

No single strategy works from one game to the next; you need to balance scoring from discs, completed wonders, and rejected offers, and turn the "group think" of opponents to your advantage. Game play also changes depending on whether you have three, four, or five players. With more players, you'll likely have fewer turns as the active player, forcing you to adjust your play style even further in the quest for points.

Enough babbling -- turn your eyes towards the skies and start building those towers!
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stephen Sanders
United States
Henderson
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
DNA results:Scottish, Dutch, English, Irish, German, French, Iberian Peninsula = 100% American!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the review. This game is on my future purchase list. Could you give me a 1-10 rating (if you've played) for 3, 4, and 5 players?

Steve S.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Allen Doum
United States
Orange County
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
caltexn wrote:
Thanks for the review. This game is on my future purchase list. Could you give me a 1-10 rating (if you've played) for 3, 4, and 5 players?

Steve S.


The difference in the number of players is for two reasons.

First, is that as with many games, an individual player has less control when there are more players. More will have happened by the time a player gets their next tutn, making long range planning more difficult.

Second, in ToB is the "cash flow". Each disk scored will cause an average of 4.5 cards to be discarded. The total income for the players is equal to the number of players each turn. So 3 player game will be "tighter" than a 4 or 5 player, causing more failed attempts and/or passes.

On the aveage fewer "refusal" points will be scored in a 3 player game, and each player will get more point for completed Wonders and sets of disks.

I like the game with 3, 4, or 5. But I would rate the game at least a point higher with 3 than with 5.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
badge
Avatar
caltexn wrote:
Thanks for the review. This game is on my future purchase list. Could you give me a 1-10 rating (if you've played) for 3, 4, and 5 players?


I'd rate TOB an 8 with three players, 7 with four, and 6 with five. The game still works with five, but it loses a lot since your control over the flow of the game is so weak. With three players, this game is an absolute winner.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Sanders
United States
Greendale
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Kinda a stale thread, but I think the game is very solid at both 3 and 4 players - really peaking at 4. If you read some other threads here (specifically this one - 5 player card reduction variant: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/98752) you can see an option or two to help one negative factor of the 5 player game - too many cards distributed around the table.

If you want a "tighter" gameplay at 4, you could implement some of the same adjustments (remove lower discs to replace with combos, or have the active player not draw a card on his turn) to make the game resemble the 3 player more as well (obviously, you can't correct for the number of active player turns each person gets - but the card quantity is a significant part of the change with the number of players).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.