Ishtar, the story
A first look over the dunes…
In the heart of the desert, where the burning sun is the sole master, the goddess Ishtar is giving you the most precious present.
It is up to you, gardeners, to show you are up to the challenge! Take control of the fountains, collect the resources, grow the flowers, and plant the trees. The one who will know how to take advantage of this fantastique garden will be able to saw the foundations of the legendary city of Babylon.
A charming garden for a royal title
Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon is the new big game from Bruno Cathala, co-designed with Evan Singh, beautifully illustrated by Biboun, the game is discoverable like a flowery garden, accessible and enchanting. Superb flowers, majestuous trees, cooling fountains and colorful gems... Everything here seems to be peace and harmony. But be careful, only one of you will be able to claim the title of Royal Gardener. You will need to show subtility and reactivity, maybe dubiousness, to meet your goal.
Gems and fountains
The best gardener is often the one who masters the ground. The dry earth of the desert is hiding the precious colorful gems, needed during the game. Of different rarities, the gems are collected when you put down the vegetation tiles.
Don't underestimate the value of those gems! Those resources allow you to recruit assistants, to develop new Gardening Masteries, to plant exceptional trees, but also to pick the most appropriate vegetation tiles.
Regarding the fountains... Remember that he who controls the water controls the garden. Send your apprentices to secure the control of the fountains to store the precious victory points.
Flowers and trees
In Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon, flower beds and tree groves will give you numerous victory points. Since you share the game board with your fellow gardeners, you must judiciously place the vegetation tiles, but also gain control of them with the help of your assistants. There is no better feeling than putting your hands on a flower bed carefully crafted by one of your opponents. Indeed, connected tiles are under the control of the player who was able to drop one of his assistants on them, and it's often not the one who laid them down.
Trees give victory points to the player who plants them. But they cost a lot of gems, depending on their rarity, and only five of them are available to purchase at the same time. Will you save your gems to wait for the one unique trees or will you build a little forest of common trees? It's up to you to decide.
Mastery and apprentices
You can also spend your gems to master new gardening skills. It means unlocking new abilities, but also modify the way you score at the end of the game. You can, for example, favor a mastery allowing you to reward saving resources, planting trees near flower beds, or keep unused apprentices.
Those are key in the game of Ishtar, as they allow you to secure your presence on the main game board. You start the game with 3 Apprentices and will be able to gain up to 5. Be smart about their placement in the gardens to optimize their effect. They carry the burden of controlling the fountains and the flower beds as they grow.
The strategy of possibilities
Babylon was not built in one day, and water will flow for a long time before you become gardener emeritus. Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon is an exceptional game, easy to grasp while allowing numerous strategies. As for the game of Go (who was an inspiration to the authors), discovering the game takes only a moment, but mastering it takes months. Its finesse, indeed, reveals itself at each new game.
Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon is a game that requires a high capacity of adaptation and reaction. You can't just build your little strategy in your corner of the board: you all share the same playing space. Each new opponent's move directly impact your plans. With a constantly evolving geography, only the ones quick to adjust their ambitions will know how to triumph.
Accessibility, finesse, interaction, replayability. The DNA of Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon carry the traces of a great board game, able to reveal the dormant gardener in each of us.