Tower of Babel is a game by Reiner Knizia and published by Hans im Gluck and Rio Grande Games. I recently found my copy, discarded and given away to my local thrift store. WOW! Who would have thought that I’d find such a treasure still in the shrink wrap and unopened. Needless to say, I was thrilled at my find. Anyway, this game is for 3-5 players, but can be played with 2 if you use some of the variant rules posted on Board Game Geek. It makes for a little bit different game play but not that much of a difference. Your job, as players, is to build the 8 wonders of the ancient world. However, no more than 7 can be built, thus the tag line on the front cover. Using cards that represent the different methods of building, the players match up cards with tokens on the board through negotiation, earning victory points along the way. Winning is accomplished by who best can manipulate the building tasks and negotiations to earn the most victory points. There is an extra set of cards called action cards, which the publisher added not the designer. Knizia himself felt that these cards damage the balance of the game and urge the game to be played without them. I played the game with every intention of using them but felt absolutely no reason or urge to ever draw from the deck. Personally, I felt that the game plays fine without them.
The board is a beauty of design. I love games that use the outside of the board for keeping track of victory points. Lords of Waterdeep, I’m looking at you. However, my 13 year old son’s first remark upon seeing the board was to point out the anatomical accuracy of the Colossus at Rhodes depicted in the center. Needless to say, we used one of the extra discs to cover this up so he would stop laughing about it. The game comes with SEVERAL colored wooden pieces in 5 colors used to track the monuments that each player participates in building. Very nice. There are circular cardboard discs that the players negotiate for that are very thick and sturdy. Lastly, there are the cards. Very nice design but a little smaller than I would have liked. Personally, I would have preferred larger cards as the small ones tend to be difficult to hold onto, at least to me that is.
8 out of 10
As I’ve stated before in my Thrifty Bargains post, I had a difficult time with the rules, needing to read them multiple times before finally understanding them. With only 4 pages, you wouldn’t expect difficulties. I am going to chalk this up to the lateness of the day while reading. Surely it was just my tiredness that made it difficult to understand.
7 out of 10
Overall, the game was easy to play, once I was able to get through the rules. It was lots of fun with a kind of take that style of play that my son seems to love. I would say the sweet spot of this game would be between 3-5 players. As for the theme, I felt that every decision I made had consequences that either helped or hindered my monument building. It’s a fairly fast enough game, lasting only about 30-45 minutes depending on the amount of players. As for theme, there will be those who feel like the game is too close to 7 Wonders to be relevant. If you think this, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. While the theme is the same, the gameplay feels radically different enough to warrant owning both games. I love 7 Wonders and yet this game still entertains me enough to warrant keeping both games. It is truly a delightful game to look at and to play.
8 out of 10
Tower of Babel is a light weight style game that is fun for anyone. With a very small price tag online, there is no reason why you shouldn’t get this game. It appeals to every age group and is a beauty to look at.
8 out of 10