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Tabannusi - Builders of Ur

[Tabannusi - Builders of Ur]

David Spada, Daniele Tascini

Board & Dice

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

The city of Ur was a famous city-state in ancient Mesopotamia sometime during the Bronze Age. It was a great city, thoroughly planned by its builders, divided into neighborhoods with structures for resource management and flood control. As so many other great cities, it had a huge harbor, impressive ziggurats, but also great buildings and gardens that raised the prestige of the city. BOARD & DICE let us now re-experience the building and growth of the city in their newest boardgame Tabannusi – Builders of Ur in the ingenious T-series.

Tabannusi – Builders of Ur is a complex medium-heavy Euro game from the well-known T-author Daniele Tascini and the much more unknown David Spada. The game offers many options and strategies to gain victory points and has many modular elements that significantly change the gameplay each time you set up the game.

The main part of the game takes place on the general board that shows the city of Ur, still undeveloped at the beginning of the game. Each player takes the role of a famous architect who develops the three main districts by building up projects and erecting buildings together with their assistants. But of course, you must do more for your fame: erecting shrines on the ziggurats of the luxurious Priests’ District and nailing down access to the resource ships in the harbor is not the worst idea to increasing your options to score…


Click on image to enlarge!

As usual in the T-series, there is much to learn before you can start to play the game. But after that learning process, the game plays very smoothly. The key concept is that you move from one district to another one with your architect, and that you perform up to two available actions in the current district each round. Each district has a barge with different colored resource dice (e.g. green resource dice in district 3) that are rolled during setup and after each scoring. Now, to go from one district to another one, players choose one of the available dice in their current district, and the value of the die determines the district to move to next. The die, on the other hand, immediately becomes a resource for the player. From that moment only the color of the die counts, the value is of no more interest.

Of course we need these resources for a lot of actions. Some of the 3-4 actions available in each district are the same in every game, others are variable and drawn randomly during setup. To understand what you can do with these actions it is important to learn more about the different districts. First, the three common districts are very similar, these are the building districts. Here you can place and claim project tiles in three different colors on free spaces. On these project spaces you will later be able to construct buildings, and you can transform the landscape by placing water and gardening tiles that make the surrounding buildings more valuable. Next to the main effect of all these actions, the placing of new tiles onto the board, a lot of side effects are triggered out. For example, if you cover an imprinted bonus on the map with a new placed project tile, you immediately will gain that bonus, for example a new claim tile. Or you move up a marker on a Mastery track, one for each of the three different building types, if a building is built up by one of your opponents on a project tile that you had claimed before. Those Mastery track again tells you how many victory points you score for your buildings whenever a scoring is triggered in a common district (remember that this scoring takes place whenever the last resource die has been taken from that district). And each time you move up your lowest Mastery marker up the Mastery track you also receive a bonus.


Click on image to enlarge!

Let’s move up to the next district, the ziggurat district. That’s the place to do worship actions by paying local resources and placing houses to one of the three different ziggurats (again randomly chosen at set-up). Being present at these ziggurats means unlocking multipliers for the scorings. But you must plan carefully, it is much better to concentrate on multipliers that you often will use than just choosing randomly. For example, if you build up a house near a ziggurat that secures you one or two victory points for each of your Garden tiles, you better expend a lot of effort after that to really build those Garden tiles. And again, a bonus can be granted just by performing the action.

Last but not least, there is the port district in which you can claim a ship that from now on will give you special abilities for certain other actions during the game. For example, a claim marker on a white size 1 ship would ensure you 2 victory points whenever you place a new house in the ziggurat or port district. Claiming all ships in a row or column, will give you the Harbormaster tile for a one-time bonus (if still available). And the size 1 is important, because you can also place a claim marker on a ship tile after constructing a building in one of the common districts, the size of the building determining the size of the ship…


Click on image to enlarge!

You see, there are really many different things going on, and I have only told you about 2/3 of the options of the game. King cards, decree cards, crate tiles as well as six other actions are also part of the game. There is a lot of interaction between the different districts, even if you are currently at another district your actions will have consequences on other districts. In fact, this interaction between the districts is much higher than direct interaction between the players. Of course, you must keep a wary eye on all actions of your opponents to see where they can score. And you can drive a couch and four horses through their plans by building up houses they had planned and that they need. But there is no direct interaction, and it’s wise to concentrate on your own possible scorings too.

Maybe, all those options seem to be confusing for you. And maybe you will also be partly lost after reading the rules, although they are well written. The reason are the many effects of all your doings. But you will see, the game is much easier to play than first thought. However, easy to play doesn’t mean easy to win. You must quickly see your options to multiply in the ziggurat district and comprehend which ships will give you the ongoing bonus you need for your strategy. And remember, due to the modular board this strategy must be adopted in every new game. There shouldn’t be too many “wasted” actions against experienced players, else you will soon find yourself trailed behind.


Click on image to enlarge!

Tabannusi – Builders of Ur is hard work, at least if you want to master the game. The turns are carried out quickly, but players will take their time to calculate their options. So, you will seldom end a game below two hours, but it’s worth it. Tabannusi – Builders of Ur is a worthy representative of the T-series, a boardgame not for everyone, but for the true Euro experts. I should still mention that the game can be played by 2-4 players, and that there’s an excellent solo variant to play against an Bot with new components and seven pages of extra rules. I don’t know how Daniele Tascini manages to design such a complex, elaborated and huge Euro game nearly every second year, but somehow, he does. Maybe not as impressive as Tekhenu on the table but considering the game design and the game depth not the least standing behind. Thumps up for the two authors and for the final production of BOARD & DICE!

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