It’s finally the right moment to introduce my favourite game to my better half.
-Does it have treasure?
-Do I get to play as blue?
Already off to a bad start here.
Eyeing the box, resplendent in the Mexican flag.
-What are we, drug runners?
-Well, that’s something.
This is a crucial moment. Hacendados, wealthy Mexican landowners, I feel that this kind of thing is not going to cut it.
-More like, Bandidos, maybe…
-Or Revolutionaries, even.
-That could work.
Phew… now for the rules. I’m laughing, sardonically, on the inside. Now for the rules, indeed.
15 minutes later and I detect a little glaze over the eyes and maybe a smidgeon of irritability. You don’t know the half of it, I’m thinking. I had to sort all this out for myself.
-How about we get playing a little and that should start to make some sense?
-If you say so.
No eyes are rolling, physically, at least.
Cut to 15 minutes later. She thinks she had a random draw with Francisco Madero as her hacendado but this was orchestrated by yours truly to give her a possible edge and appeal to her innate revolutionary temperament. I’m playing as Don Luis Terrazas, whose ability to buy land in Chihuahua more easily is a bit more obtuse and whose ability to topple Porfirio Diaz with a coup d’etat or through collecting Loyalty is possibly more difficult. I’m buying up enterprises and extra land in Chihuahua as a result to demonstrate this as they’ve been coming up out of the deck regularly.
-So look. Normally it would be two actions to expand my ranch here, but I only need to use one, so I’ll do that, it only costs one coin at the moment but once I’ve done it, next time, it would cost two, see? Because there’s now an extra cube on there, so the cost to expand increases.
-Right….. so because that’s your special power you only use one action though.
-What’s my special power again?
-Well you’re Madero so you can buy those partner cards for half cost.
-What do they do again?
-Well they’ll have some sort of special power usually, it will say on the card.
At this point I look up at the market. And sitting there is the Red Flag Chihuahua card. My eyes flicker.
Nationalize all Chihuahuan Enterprises. No further Chihuahua cards may be played.
It’s okay though. It’s in top spot, 16 big ones to buy that out. Except…. there’s a headline card at the bottom there which is going to disappear and slide everything down a slot. And at half price... on her turn, it’s going to cost her 4 coins. 4 coins! Holy crap. She won’t notice. She’s not going to notice.
-Okay. (She says,) I think I get this.
It’s an hour later. I’ve never quite recovered from the nationalisation of my business interests in Chihuahua. I’ve tried to get income by sending anarchist troops to extort the mines in Sonora but the mines just got sold off from underneath their feet and with nowhere to go they flitted off into the countryside. God forgive me, I’ve assassinated my own daughter in a futile attempt to garner some support from the United States and prevent them from backing my opposition in full, but it’s to no avail. Teddy Roosevelt comes marching down into Mexico to install my wife as President, in the guise of Francisco Madero.
-A US intervention? Some Revolutionary you are!
A satisfied smile.
-Sometimes, (she says) the ends are greater than the means.
And I might just be trying explain away my brutal loss here (okay… I totally am), but sometimes, I agree.
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
You got your wife to play this...
OverText also intentionally left blank.
Reach in to find out!
-Do I get to play as blue?
If it helps to get repeat plays, I'm sure you can scrouge up 15 blue cubes somewhere...
You had me at explaining the rules. After our second or third play, I said to my wife, "I'm pretty sure there's an awesome game in here somewhere, we just have to find it."
She hung in there and we've had a few good games. But on game night, when I suggest, "anyone up for some Pax?" there are lots of glazed eyeballs.
PP is my nominee for the best game with the worst rule book.
Cheers mate... your annotated session was actually pretty useful when I was learning the game for myself
@ Peter and Peter,
Interestingly I found it easier to teach my non-gamer wife than a mate of mine who is a pretty committed gamer. I mean, he got it alright, but I think he found it more difficult to get past the card designs and also he wanted to know as much as possible before we started, so i had to explain a lot more. Whereas this time I really only spent about 10 minutes just explaining the winning conditions (there are four chances, and you just need to have more points in the right category than me and Diaz) and how to collect some income and then the orange and black cards and the troop cards and we were done.
I was thinking about this quote from the "lumbering beast" review that's on here:
If you and your romantic partner(s) play Pax Porfiriana by candlelight prior to a night of passionate lovemaking, your relationship is either deeply healthy in a way few of us can imagine, or profoundly troubling. There is no middle ground.
I couldn't say which end of the scale we are at
That rule book though although the first one was the hardest; pamir was a little better, and then on the weekend I downloaded the Renaissance rules and didn't even think about it, I'm used to it now
The thought crossed my mind. We've had a bad run (from her perspective) of non-blue games so I knew it would be the first thing she asked!
I play blue as well and the good thing about Pax is that you can introduce cubes of any color and they're playable. I'm thinking about getting some of those cool plastic gems/cubes from the BGG Store to enhance my copy with.
You're a brave man Thomas. Very tough game to teach, that's for sure, and it can be a mean game. In my gaming circles, playing "take that!" mechanics with your wife is fraught with danger. Add in a murky, complex rule book and mechanics (for your first few games, anyway), and I could imagine this game heading south.
You did well to lose.
I introduced Neanderthal to my wife and a friend who hates dice, so I wasn't expecting a bit of grief. But we got through it (although I played a shorter version with just six events instead of ten) relatively unscathed. Helped that my wife won. Not sure about Pax though, there's so many individual cards, and a first game can take hours, so not sure it'd go well.
In our circle of gamer friends, for some reason I have a reputation for being good at explaining games. Pax Porfiriana is my nemesis.
But I was just thinking this morning, "perhaps the way to tackle it is to explain how to win first." I'll try your approach next time.
I have a game ongoing now with a buddy who agrees with me that it's an awesome game, but has never played a game through to completion. Right now we have it stored in photos on our cellphones, waiting for a chance to set it back up and finish the game.
For myself, I want to get past the "learning game" stage and start exploring the strategic depth of the game. I keep waiting for that "aha!" that will payoff all the effort we've put into learning it.