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.
- 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.
- 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.