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Uwe Rosenberg /
Hagen Dorgathen

Publisher: Kosmos 2000



Babel once again is a title in the Kosmos-Series of low priced, highly attractive two-player games, and just like most of its predecessors Babel too is able to fascinate the players with a unique set of rules.

Settled before the background of ancient Babylonia, the players take up the roles of different monarchs who try to set up temples at five different towns. By building the biggest and highest temples, the monarchs try to demonstrate wealth and fortune superior to each other.

Basically, temple-values exist in the range from 1 up to 6, but the higher the value becomes the less building cards are available to erect such levels. In the end, the player who first reaches a certain sum of temple-values will win the game, but the way to get there can only be found by making good use of the clever and competitive building procedures.

At the beginning of the game each player receives one level-one temple card and five randomly dealt population-cards (depicting the five different races of Meder, Sumerer, Hethiter, Perser and Assyrer) as his starting equipment. The game itself then is played in turns, and during his turn a player now will have to complete three different phases before it becomes the other player's turn. The first of these phases is the population-phase, and in this phase a player is allowed to draw 3 more random population cards. After having drawn these cards, the next phase is the action-phase, where the players now can chose between different options available to them.

Basically, each of the five different temple building grounds is assigned to one of the different populations in the game. A player may travel to one of these grounds with his playing token by simply playing and discarding a population-card corresponding to the population assigned to that building ground. Once the playing token has arrived at such a place, a player is allowed to assign population-cards from his hand to that place. These cards need not correspond to the population of that place, but instead cards from any of the five populations can be used. These cards are important for a number of reasons. On the one hand, when building and enhancing temples, the current level of the temple at that place may never exceed the number of population cards assigned to that place. Thus, the building of a high-level temple also requires several population cards to be available at that place. However, if the building conditions are met and if the fitting building-cards are available, a player may increase the level of the temple at his current location without any further cardplay.

Furthermore, each of the different populations has a unique special ability which may be employed if three cards of a particular population are in direct succession at a place. If the player's token has traveled to a place where this condition is met, he can remove one of the three population cards and discard it in order to employ the special ability of that population. These different abilities allow the players to make special moves and actions: destruction of the opponent's temple, theft of a level from the opponent's temple, removal of an opponent's population, changing sides of some of the opponent's population, skipping of building levels.

After a player has performed all actions and the cardplay he desired, he finally turns over two random building cards from a drawing pile which he adds to his building stockpile and then it's the other player's turn.

Using elements of the classical Patience cardgame, Uwe Rosenberg and Hagen Dorgathen succeeded in creating a worthy addition to the Kosmos series of two-player games. The gameplay in Babel functions well, and through the different use of the population cards not only a high level of strategy develops, but also competition between the players is enhanced. Especially the special abilities available to the different races allow sudden twists in the game, making it easier for a so-far weaker player to get back into the game by - for example - stealing a high building-level from the enemy. Not building alone, but clever cardplay is everything in the game.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany