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Subject: A review not a rulebook overview. rss

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Dan Rivera
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PAX PORFIRIANA: A Tableau building card game based on the Mexican Revolution.

First off I will not go into the rules of the game here. They have been restated numerous times with considerably more skill, clarity and precision then I would be able to in other posts on this site so what I will do is answer the questions I normally ask someone when I’m about to play or buy a game for the first time. (This is my normal caveate, but the sad truth is that this is not necessarily true for this game, so I will give a very imprecise and broad overview in the review below)

How do I play this: (Note: I don’t do this well but I will give it a shot since the other reviews fail at it as well) I am also going to leave out huge chunks of the rules here, and my terminology is not game terminology I just want you to sort of understand what’s going on in the game itself.

This is in essence a tableau building card game where you have a central deck that functions as a market that everyone gets cards from. It does this by laying out 2 rows of 6 cards where the cards farthest from the deck are free while the ones closest cost 16 and players on their turn can get as one of their 3 actions purchase them. On a players turn he buys or plays cards, increases the value of cards in play, or sells cards for money then collects his income. There are a different card types, each representing some aspect of the ongoing conflict, be it an enterprise (how you make money), a partner (allows you some type advantage as long as he is alive), a black card (they do nasty things to your opponent) plus a few more but you get the gist.

Sounds simple right? This is a Sierra Madre game, you know of High Frontier, Bios Megafauna fame, so it’s nowhere near that simple. How so you might ask well there are 4 type of VPs you can acquire but only the type of VP that is currently active will score when a scoring card(known as a topple) comes out. Then you have to have more VP than the game X + the 2 or 1 players other than yourself who have the highest in that type of victory point where X= the number of players. and that ladies and gentlemen is why I dont explain rules in my reviews

How many players can play? 1 -6: I think the sweet spot is 2-3, And I have no opinion on the solo variant since I don’t enjoy solo board gaming. The more players you have the more it adds time as well as chaos in an already chaotic game.

What is the quality of the components (bang for the buck)? It’s a very expensive card game; it comes with a deck of cards a rule book and some cheap tiddlywinks for money.

How easy is it to learn? Learning the game is hard if you’re trying to learn from just the rule book as it is written as a reference guide not a learning guide, but easy if being taught by an experienced player. Let’s be upfront here the rulebook is a horrible way to learn this game, it just is, however it is a very good reference guide once you know how to play it. While the game itself is actually quite intuitive and if being taught by an experienced person you will pick it up very quickly it will be a challenge to say the least to learn it just from the rulebook. You also absolutely need the player aids that are here on the geek to learn how to play and for your first few times playing.

How long does it take? 2 hours. This game has variable win conditions so it is possible for it to end from about the 30 minute mark on.

What itch does this scratch? This is unlike any other card game I’ve played but if pressured I would say it scratches the complex Tableau build card game itch.

What is the replay value? Great. Each game you only play with about a third of the deck so the game plays very differently, and I mean very with a capitol V each time.

Does this game reward skill or is it a pure luck fest? Surprisingly skill with a bit of luck, the more experienced player is most likely going to win this game. This is however a card game so the luck of the draw does matter, and if your’re not a person that know how to adapt your strategies to the cards that are showing up then you will consider this a luck fest.

In Conclusion: Pax is a complex historical card game with a deep narrative that will feel very luck based to some but if you dig deeper it is anything but. There are a lot of moving pieces and a ton of options with player interaction and conflict galore.
I would not recommend this game If you like economic games where you can plan out your moves many turns in advance and get upset when your careful plans are ruined due to something outside of your control or if you enjoy games with little or no conflict.
I would recommend it to anyone who loves historical games with a narrative, those who like heavy conflict, risk management, risk mitigation, and just a touch of chaos. I personally love it and it is my go to game at the moment.
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Aditya C
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Nice review. As for the price, I think it's because of the ridiculously short print. I had gotten this game early on for 30 bucks. Once the first print ran out, the game's price has shot out of control.
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Les Marshall
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Agree with most of you review though some more specificity may help readers.

In what way is there luck? Only two and that is A) Which cards are in the game? and B) When do those cards hit the market?

In each game of Pax, the number of cards available depend on the number of players and they are randomly distributed from the card supply. This means no two games of Pax have the same cards. Card counters and min/maxers beware. Players must constantly assess and reassess their strategy as cards enter and leave the market.

It is also worth noting that, unlike many games of it's type, this one is HIGHLY interactive. While you are trying to build a tableau, other players often have the means of tearing it to shreds or manipulating the game environment to minimize your assets. Building monopolies can be powerful but, lack of diversity in your assets can leave you vulnerable.

Gotta go with your conclusion. This is my current favorite as far as card games go.
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Bryan Martin
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Caibre wrote:
Nice review. As for the price, I think it's because of the ridiculously short print. I had gotten this game early on for 30 bucks. Once the first print ran out, the game's price has shot out of control.

I agree. Pax was not expensive when it was in print, and it's not really fair to say it comes with a deck of cards and not point out that's over 200 cards.
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Richard Dewsbery
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I'm not sure that the game has luck, so much as it is a game with quite a lot of chaos; the player who manages that best (or who "surf's the wave of chaos most effectively") is almost always the winner. And that's certainly a skill that can be learned with this game.
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EXTRA AVOCADO! Sonderegger
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RDewsbery wrote:
the player who manages that best (or who "surfs the wave of chaos most effectively") is almost always the winner.


Actually, according to the games I've played, it's more the player who manages to hide intention, and chooses their moment to strike most effectively.
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Martin G
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hanibalicious wrote:
RDewsbery wrote:
the player who manages that best (or who "surfs the wave of chaos most effectively") is almost always the winner.


Actually, according to the games I've played, it's more the player who manages to hide intention, and chooses their moment to strike most effectively.


A bit of both, I'd say
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