Pax Pamir 2E first impressions (solo)

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Review

I got an opportunity yesterday to play my first game of #Pax Pamir (Second Edition). I have wanted this game for a long time, and I quickly backed the reprint when it came back to Kickstarter. I finally got my copy on Wednesday, but, a few days of travel, and being behind on work meant that I couldn't play it until Sunday afternoon. Now I have played it, and, I decided to write a Brian's Battery review on it.

Firstly, I do have a few disclaimers:

  • These are my first impressions. I have played the game a grand total of ONCE. And, as such, I may have gotten some rules wrong that would change the game.
  • This is a Kickstarter game I have waited for since I backed it early this year, and, I had wanted it for months before that. So, that may influence how positively I view the game today.
  • I love historical themes, so, I will be more positively biased towards this sort of game anyways.

In Pax Pamir 2E you are set in in Afghanistan directly after the fall of the Durrani Empire. This is the time of history known as the Great Game. This is the time in history where European powers used central Asia as a the theater to play out their imperial ambitions. During this period, Afghanistan was a place where Russia and Great Britain wrestled for control. There was also a local nationalistic movement that tried to gain control of the region. PP2E puts you into this "Great Game," but not as one of the main players. Rather, you are a lowly Afghan chieften/warlord. You don't know who will win, and to a certain extant you don't care. What you are trying to do is to make sure whatever faction wins, you are loyal to them, so that you will be able to live a softer life, or at least to continue to live. Your loyalties are very pragmatic, and you can and will switch loyalties whenever it seems convient to you. You will be placing spies, accepting British, Afghan, or Russian patriots into your court. You will be inviting armies from the powers to set up in you area, or to place roads in your area. You will be offering gifts and bribes to make sure that if the coalition you back wins, they will remember you.

This is all driven by a fairly simple tablaeu builder. You have limited very few actions automatically available per turn. But there are a lot of actions on the cards in your tablaeu (court) that you may or may not be able to play depending on the political enviroment. You really do feel like you are not the main player in the Great Game, but rather a cash strapped political wannabe, which is a cool feeling to have.

So, without further ado..... A Brian's Battery breakdown of my first impressions of #Pax Pamir (Second Edition).

Components ++ What can I say about the components that cannot be said before? The whole package is a wonderful marriage of form and function. The art is wonderful, and evocotive, but the symbology is still clear and easy to read. The coalition blocks are super simple and don't "look" like armies or roads, but they are fun to handle, beautiful to look at, and are still wonderfully evocotive. I will make two specific comments in regards to the components.

  1. The included cardboard coins are really nice, when considered in a vacuum. But, they pale in comparison to the optional metal coins. If you are interested in this game, and have an option to get the metal coins... They are well worth it.
  2. The cards are not linen finish. I am ok with that. Cole Wehrle, the designer, said that they chose not to go with linen finish, because it messed up some of the fine lines on the artwork on the cards. In this case, I would prefer the artwork to the linen finish. But, it is something to note.

Rules complexity vs. Depth ++ To be very clear, these are first impressions... But, ruleswise it not that heavy, but it looks like there is a LOT of depth. Of course, I could be wrong... But, those are my first impressions.

AI opponent +- I am going to break this down into several components.

  • Ease of management + I do think this is a fairly easy AI manage, certainly for one that can feel so effective.
  • Does the AI make intelligent decisions? +- Sometimes. I did feel like generally the AI did make very intelligent decisions. But there was one or two really headscratching decisions that ended up loseing her the game, but, there were specific decisions she made that lost her the game.
  • Does the AI feel like a human component = I haven't played with a human opponent, but I doubt that the Wakhan will feel like a human opponent. Even if she does, she was designed to stimulate the feeling of two human opponents. and so, as such, she will grow her court, and put out coalition blocks, faster than you can.

Thematic + I felt this game really comunicated the theme well. But, if I had not done as much research into the game before I don't know how thematic it would have felt if I hadn't dug into it beforehand.

Rulebook + I think that the rulebook was well written, the aids were well presented and written. I think I could have learned it easily enough from the rulebook, but I did watch a bunch of how to play videos before I even got the game in order to speed up how soon I could play the game.

Gameplay + The gameplay was wonderful. It was engrossing. It was engaging. It captured my attention, and held me thrall. The turns The AI weren't onnerous to manage. I am in awe at this master of game design. We will see how more experience changes it for or for worse...But, I think this will probably end up in my top 3 games of on time. This is a game with great potential. And, I am looking forward to playing this more. Of course, with more time and experience my opinion on it might go down.

Do I recomend this to you? This is a game where you will get screwed over, this is a game that does not need you to be interested in history, but it will feed your interest in history. This is a game that has a game state that is very clear to read, and very opaque at the same time. This is a game that has a lot of input randomness in terms of what cards come on the market. Some people will really bounce off of that. None of these are problems for me. If they are not problems for you, I highly recomend you check this one out.

 

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Owner43 days ago

Ah, I remember this as well. Wakhan made a few moves that were head scratchers. Had to keep checking the rules to maker sure and I still wasn't confident that I was doing it correctly. It was still an immensely satisfying experience.

Will be trying out a 2p + AI gameplay with some time! :)

Supporter43 days ago

The sooner the better. 

44 days ago

Awesome!! Glad you got to play this weekend :)

Supporter44 days ago

Me too. I can't stop thinking about it. 

43 days ago

That's how you know it's a good one!

Supporter43 days ago

Yes it is. 

44 days ago

Yes!! I am so glad you got it and were able to get a play in! 

It really is satisfying that we waited this long and the game lives up to the hype so far!

Supporter44 days ago

I can't wait to get mine.  I watched the Modern Cardboard teach which I felt was really good.  I definitely have a good grasp (but I'll probably look a little more before we play, when I finally get it).

It definitely feels that the mechanics aren't too hard (although with the card actions there are a lot).  It seems like the strategy is where you'll get a lot of complexity.  I really like that combo in a game.

44 days ago

Nice! I have only ever watched the Heavy Cardboard teach from Cole Wehrle and the solo playthrough from Ricky Royal (designer of the solo mode). They both do great jobs!

This is the sweet spot for me and my group. Simple mechanics with complex strategy! Very pleased with this game in that regard!

Supporter44 days ago

This does very much seem like it nails the "simple but deep" that many of want. 

44 days ago

There are some "gotcha" rules like the overthrow rule, but most of it is pretty easy to digest. 

Supporter44 days ago

Very satisfying. 

Supporter44 days ago

Thanks for sharing.  I'm bummed my copy won't be here by my game night tonight.  I'm an historian so I'm really excited for the theme (in fact I just added a book about the Great Game to my Amazon wishlist).

"This is a game where you will get screwed over" is music to my ears, ha.  I'm glad you enjoyed it, and enjoyed it solo.  Really excited for my copy.

44 days ago

I'm reading Peter Hopkirk's book entitled 'The Great Game', which is fantastic and very readable (which is important to me, as I struggle with remembering copious place names, people and dates). The idea of a board game with cards devoted to the characters I'm reading about was so thrilling to me all of a sudden that I decided to break the bank to order this game from a retailer in Greece of all places. My copy will take a few weeks, but I'm tremendously excited. I hope you enjoy yours when it arrives :)

Supporter44 days ago

Cool thanks for the rec.  I'll check it out at some point (my library has a copy).  I do want to read this first I think...

Return of a King

Supporter44 days ago

Oh man, I'm bummed out as well that your copy won't be coming in time for tonight. 

Supporter44 days ago

I know.  But it's cool.  It should be here by the time we have our November Game Night. 

Supporter44 days ago

Or, it could come before that, and you could try it solo.... 

Supporter43 days ago

That is true.  I do (if I can) try to play a game multiplayer before solo.  But I am feeling like it'll end up being here before my next game night.

Supporter43 days ago

Just do it if you get the chance. 

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Pax Pamir (Second Edition)