Monday, 27 February 2017


Last night Andrew and I had a stab at two-player Panamax, with mixed results.

As previously mentioned, the game has you loading ships and traversing the Panama Canal in order to generate profit for your company, and/or yourself. Ultimately the richest CEO (player) wins - and the richest company is irrelevant.


My copy of the game only has a faded black and white print-out of the rules, and no appendix at all, which would have been handy for a few of the game's finer details, such as what to do with a Stevedore. But having negotiated the set-up, play is pretty straightforward - the basic options are contract and/or load, and ship movement. The sting in the tail is the narrow sections of canal, where you can park your own ships and force your opponent to shunt it along for you. When ships arrive at the other end, you and the company both get paid.


There's only three turns to the whole game, so even with our struggles with the rules the whole thing was barely 90 minutes. We played a couple of things fast and loose, but the basics were right. I think I may have made a mistake on the amount of dice we used (which determine available actions) for executive actions (the best ones) as the mathematics of it meant Andrew seemed to always have access to them and my role was simply to reveal them by taking the last basic action!

But outside of that, Andrew just made a better CEO than me. He ended the game with his company paying him massive dividends whilst my guys still resembled a nautical start-up.

Andrew 102
Sam 76

We packed away with the jury seemingly undecided. But I would definitely like to play this again - I think it's probably much better with 3 or 4, and ironing out the small rule issues we had can only help.

Andrew perused the alcove and picked out Pyramid Arcade, as we had another stab at Colour Wheel. This is possibly the simplest game I own, but I love it. Group the colours by swapping same-colour or same-size pyramids, until they are all clustered into their own colour-groups. We succeeded twice, with turns to spare.

Andrew and Sam: win
Pyramid Arcade: loses

We stuck with Pyramid Arcade for our next game: Tree House. In this game you're trying to match the three pyramids in front of you with the three pyramids in the centre of the table: same placement, direction, orientation, etc. On your turn you roll a die and take the appropriate action: Tilt means knock a standing pyramid on its side. Aim means change the direction a sideways pyramid is pointing. Dig means a sideways pyramid can 'dig down' and resurface upright - either in the same place, or elsewhere in your row. And so on.

If you can take the action, you must, and if you can't you have the option of applying it to the 'treehouse' in the middle of the table instead. I think we won a game each - it's ok, but at the end there's that slightly flat feeling that you've just been a grease monkey for the shenanigans of the game itself, rather than the players engaged in it.

As Pyramid Arcade was out on the table though, we tried out another of its 22 games: Looney Ludo. Despite the multiple boards (that move, rotate, swap positions etc during play) this felt surprisingly similar to Tree House. Your goal is to bring all your pieces 'home' to your own board, but doing so involves negotiating the ever-shifting landscape and the possibility your opponent will move your pieces for you. To be fair it's supposed to be fast and silly, but it felt to me like a random abstract with 'fast and silly' foisted onto somewhat.

Sam: wins
Andrew: doesn't

A few games in and I'm still rather ambivalent about Pyramid Arcade. It looks so lovely from the box to the pieces, but out of the games I've played so far only two have really struck me as ones I'd be keen to play again: the silly stacking of Verticality and the co-operative puzzle of Colour Wheel... which is what we finished with, completing our challenge again with just one turn to spare...

1 comment:

  1. I found Panamax to be a little underwhelming. I think it would be more fun with three or four players. With only two, we were left to our own devices.