Climbing the Tower of BABEL with Four Players

Z-Man Games has recently reprinted the classic Kosmos two-player game Babel, which pits a pair of players against each other across a game board. Each is asked to build temples up to a total of 15 levels while the other player is tries to disrupt their efforts by playing nasty nation cards. This variant expands the game to four players and two possible modes, a team mode and a free for all.

New Materials and Setup

1.1 In addition to a copy of the new edition of the game, you’ll need to buy or make a replica of the game board, and borrow two pieces from another game: I suggest using the stone statue and palm tree from Tobago, or gluing together two coloured wooden cubes from a dollar store purchase.

1.2 Players A and B should sit opposite each other with one game board between them, while C and D do the same with a second board. In the team mode, team mates should sit on the same side of the table.

1.3 Place the nation cards in the middle of the table where all four players can reach it. Place all temple cards on ONE of the quarries. Players A and C use the same face up temple card stack on their side of the table – the same goes for players B and D.

1.4 Players start with one temple card as per the regular rules. Player A, the first player, starts with only two nation cards. The rest start with three nation cards.

General Rules and Victory Conditions

2.1 Use all standard rules unless modified in this rules set. Players in effect play two standard games with some interaction between them.

2.2 In the team mode, players A and C play as a team, while B and D also team up. The goal of teach team is to accumulate 30 levels total while keeping their opponents to 18 or less.

2.3 In the free for all, the player who accumulates 15 levels first wins as long as his or her direct opponent has 9 or less.

2.4 In both cases, the game also ends when the supply of temple cards is exhausted, with the player or team with the highest total of levels winning. Ignore the 20-card victory condition (with four players, the temple cards will be exhausted quickly).

2.5 In the team mode, actions can negatively affect both one’s immediate opponent and the opponent diagonally opposite. In the free for all, actions can negatively affect any of the other three players.

Actions and Nation Cards

3.1 Each player takes his or her turn as per the regular rules, moving clockwise around the table. All four players draw cards from the common nation deck.

3.2 Use a common quarry, with piles of face up temple cards on each side of the table. Players A and C add cards to the pile on their side of the table, while B and D add to the other pile.

3.2 The main changes in play have to do with the nation cards. First, a player may now discard one of a trio of matching cards to cause any player to discard half their hand, not just their immediate opponent.

3.3 Assyrians: A set of three can still be used to destroy an opposite temple at the price of one discard. However, if you discard three Assyrians, you can destroy any temple at a site of the same colour.

3.4 Hittites: You can still steal the top level of an opposite temple. If you discard a set of three Hittites, you can steal the top level of any other player’s temple at a site of the same colour as long as you have enough deployed nation cards at that site and it’s of higher value than your top temple card.

3.5 Medes: You can still discard all the cards of one nation of your choice at your direct opponent’s site. If you discard a full set of three Medes, you can discard all the cards of one nation of any other player at a site of the same color.

3.6 Sumerians: Can still be used to steal from your opponent the nation cards of your most recently played nation at this site. If you discard three Sumerians, you can do the same to any other player’s nation cards at a site of the same color.

3.7 Persians: Same as in the regular game.

Setup Diagram – In Team Mode, the teams are A&C and B&D

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