Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Autumn Games - Babel

Our 29th game, one of our favorites in the series, is Babel by Hagen Dorgathen and Uwe Rosenberg. In Babel, the players represent various ancient tribes and use their unique skills to build temples. The player who builds the tallest temples is the winner.

The game bits consist of a board, two stone player markers, a number of temple cards from value 1-6 and a deck of tribe cards representing the Medes, Sumerians, Hitites, Persians, and Assyrians. On your turn, you may play cards from your hand to move your stone marker to and from any of the five spots on the board. You may play tribe cards down onto the space where your marker is located and build a temple on that space using temples cards in one of the two face up draw piles. Temples must be built in numerical order from 1 to 6 and you must have as many tribe cards down as levels of the temple you wish to build. So, for example, if you want to build the fourth level of a temple, you must have four tribe cards down on that space.

Card play is unlimited. You may play as many of your tribe cards as you wish on your turn. Since you only draw three per turn, however, you have to be careful not to deplete your hand. A new temple card is turned up at the end of your turn and after the first few cards is of a random value. This makes it even more challenging to build the temple levels in the correct order.

One of the important tactics is to lay down three consecutive cards of the same tribe. If you do, when you're in that territory, you may discard one of the three cards to use that tribe's skill. These skills include stealing your opponent's top temple level (Hitites) (assuming you have enough tribe cards to support it), completely destroying your opponent's temple (Assyrians), moving some of your opponent's tribe cards to your side (Sumerians), etc. The use of the tribe skills is crucial to beating your opponent.

Three Medes cards spell trouble for Carol.

The winner is the first player to build to a total of 15 points of temple levels, so long as your opponent has under 10 points of temples. If the other player has more than 10 points, then you enter the end game where the first player to build over 20 points wins, or the first player to drop under 10 points loses.

Babel has some long term strategy but turn to turn play is all tactics. You have to use what cards you draw, react to what your opponent is doing, try to break up his sets of three tribe cards, use tribe skills effectively, all the while building up and protecting your temples.

Carol and I jockeyed back and forth until she finally got to 16 points at the end of a turn. Unfortunately for her, I had more than 10 points so we weren't finished. Scores went back and forth for a few more turns, both of us getting near 20 and down towards 10 but not quite getting there. Finally, Carol built to 20 points in temples for the win.

Final scores:

Carol   20
Ipecac 14

Carol moves to within one game of Ipecac.

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