Today I will tell you about the sci-fi game Pandorum by the Trehgarannik studio. This trio of game designers is well known in Russia as a creators of several family games including Game of Trains which was released worldwide and got Game Expo Best Card Game award in 2016. Pandorum is a more complex game, designed for experienced players.
The first prototype of it I saw a few years ago. Then it was a citybuilding game with several interesting design decisions.You play cards to move architects, build structures and get money to win. To earn more money structures should be built in certain places – on a special terrain types, near another buildings and etc. Of course your opponents could block the landscapes you need. It was «easy to learn, hard to master» game, solid enough but not too hard.
The Cosmodrome Games publisher saw the potential of the game and began work to improve it. After few editions the publisher announced the Pandorum – game about space colonization.
The most important and interesting change in the game was the appearance of harvesters – huge spaceships performing as an architects but with unique abilities. Each harvester board is composed from two separate parts like a special powers badges in a SmallWorld. The forepart of the ship has one active ability, the main hull has a passive permanent ability and a cargo module. So each harvester has a three different abilities to use.
Because players take a role of leaders of competing corporations, gameplay becomes more aggressive – some cards effects can steal money from your opponents. So now you have to think more carefully about your moves. Also you have two types of buildings: modules and more effective bases. Proper planning of construction will bring you tons of intergalactic currency – Quids.
Let’s talk about the rules. You start with three basic project cards and a harvester on a landing pad of the planet. Each turn you take two cards in your hand from the deck or from the market in any combination. Then you can make a move with your ship by discarding any card from your hand to a market. Harvester moves any number of hexes in a straight line, but cannot move through volcanoes. If the harvester stopped on an empty hex you had to build a project. Each time you choose between a module or a base. To build any type of structure you need to follow the terrain conditions indicated on the card. Some projects can be built on a specific terrain types or near the volcanoes. After completing the project you receive Quids.
The cards played for construction are sent to your harvester board and improve it. You can choose in which section of the ship you want to place the played cards. If you place cards in a forepart you charge main ability of the ship. To use it you remove collected cards from this slot and activate your special ability which allows you to earn more Quids for building or ignore its conditions or instantly jump to any hex on a planet. If you choose to place cards in a center slot you charge the passive ability of harvester – after you collect several cards on this slot you will be able to use it until the end of the game. Permanent abilities allows you not to pay for moving harvester, move through volcanos or take three cards instead of two at the start of each turn. Finally you can place cards in a cargo slot – they do not give you any abilities but at the end of the game you score additional Quids for card sets in your cargo.
When one of the players runs out of buildings the game immediately ends. Everybody count their Quids earned during the game and Quids from the cargo slots. The player who scored the most Quids wins the game, becoming the richest colonist.
I like the card driven games. And I like games about space. So Pandorum is good for me no matter how you look at it. It’s a bit abstract but if you like games with detailed planning you’ll definitely like the Pandorum. For two years of development designers have created a well-balanced strategic game. It is easy to learn, but deep enough. Each turn you make decisions where to move your spaceship, what project to build, should it be a base or just a module and which slot of harvester is better to improve. You will not have time to fully improve your ship so you will have to choose what abilities are better to improve. Or maybe it's better to leave the cards in a cargo slot to surprise your opponents at the end of the game? You can try different strategies. The game has many combinations to use but the randomness is minimized.
Visually the game is executed in a retro sci-fi style. Futuristic harvesters, gigantic buildings of strange shapes and contrasting colors looks great. Modular gameboard, composite boards of harvesters and 29 unique types of structures create a huge replayability. If you don’t like aggressive interaction with other players you can just remove this type of cards. It’s official rules variant. So you can play Pandorum with both beginners and experienced players. I hope that you will like the game as much as I do.
- Last edited Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:00 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:52 pm