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September 30, 2016 / Jett

Babylon Review

Ever since they hit the scene and became a smash hit, micro games have been all the rage in the tabletop gaming space. Oftentimes, these games are highly portable, appealing to players of all skill levels, quick to play and highly addictive. Many years before this movement existed in earnest, famed designer Bruno Faudutti released Babylon. Using only 12 pieces, this is a two-player game that only takes about a minute to finish. Is there enough of a game here to keep players interested for the long haul?

Each piece is shaped sort of like an ancient tablet with the etchings to match. Relative to the game they’re associated with, these pieces are really well done, if not slightly overdone. Each piece comes in one of four colours.

To start the game, all of the pieces are placed down on the table. From there, you can either create a stack by stacking one tile on top of another, doubling the height of a stack by placing an equally tall stack on top, or by placing a single tile on top of a stack if the colours match. Eventually, there will be no more moves left to make and the last player to make a legal move wins.

The whole process of stacking is over in less than a minute. I would be fine with that if there was more strategic bite to it. In its current state, this is slightly more complex than Tic-Tac-Toe. Even when I would win, I never felt all that invested in the action, as the choices you have available to you aren’t all that exciting. Worse, from some of the research I did, apparently this is a solved game, where someone could memorize the optimal path to winning every time. I didn’t play it enough to find that route, but I wouldn’t be surprised based on how simplistic of a game this is.

Babylon has great pieces and it achieves what it sets out to do. However, what it does isn’t all that exciting. Maybe this was more engaging to the board game players of 2003 when it was first released, but this one hit the table with a resounding thud. Bruno Faidutti has other games on his resume that you should certainly check out, but this is not one of them.

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