Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pagoda - A Towering Review

Hi everybody!

Today I'm going to review another two player game, but one with some more meat on its bones. Arve D. Fuhler's Pagoda is a towering, colorful race for two. So let's see how it stacks up.
What a Box
Pagoda is a hand management game at its core with special abilities at your disposal. Each player is dealt 5 face up cards. These cards come in different colors that correspond to the wooden pillars and roof/floor tiles of the game. The players are also dealt 2 more cards that they keep secret in their hands. On a given turn a player can build up to 3 pillars, this is done by discarding a card of the matching color. These pillars create the support for the floors, 4 pillars make it so a player can construct the next floor at the price of another card of the same color. Pillars and floors give players sweet victory points in order to win the game. The catch is once a floor is complete a player gains that colors special ability as shown on their player board.
So Many Powers
These powers can be used twice before being depleted again. They allow such things as drawing extra cards, playing an extra pillar, using cards as wilds to play pillars or floors, and discarding cards to redraw. Each Pagoda is consists of 3 floors and a roof tile. Once 3 Pagodas are completed the game is over and final scoring is done. The player with the most points wins. A hook of the game is the higher a Pagoda is built the more points the floors and pillars are worth.

The object may sound simple to perform, but with only being able to play up to 3 pillars when making a floor needs 4 could turn the tables of making a clever play or handing over some good points to your opponent. There is also a couple of decisions to make, such as how many pillars will you play during your turn and where. Although what you can play is dictated by the cards you have, how you play the turn greatly matters. Do you go for the maximum amount of points and risk losing out on making a floor or do you spread yourself out in hopes of being setup on your next turn. The player abilities also have a factor in this. Yes, they are limited use, but you can obtain them multiple times throughout the game as you complete floors. Knowing when to use a power can really maximize your turns or help you out of a bind.

Pieces, Pieces Everywhere
The game has a wonderful production, great simple artwork with nice wooden pillars. It is really the kind of game look you come to expect from Pegasus Spiele/AEG. Pagoda is also impressive to look at starting around halfway through the game when the first Pagoda is finished and the next couple are on there way up.

As far as the strategy goes, the game isn't too thinky. You have your options of play and pick of powers, but as I said earlier the hardest choice is how you want to try to set yourself up for future turns. Sometimes the best laid plans can blow up in your face.

My one complaint, although minor, is sometimes the game feels a bit short. Making 3 Pagodas is about 20 - 30 minutes. A way around this is to make more pagodas. The board has plenty of space to erect more, so you can always extend or shorten gameplay to fit your needs and time limits.
Going up!

All and all, the game is really good. I was hesitant to purchase the game at first because it looked overly simple, however, once we demoed it at Gen Con I was pleasantly surprised. It has a good level of back and forth, give and take to it. I didn't expect as much game as the box has packed into it.

Pagoda is a game I recommend a great deal. It is easy to learn, easy to get into, and brings a lot to the table in a moderate time frame. It is worth a look and makes an impressive display. If you haven't looked at it or tried it already, give it a play, you won't be disappointed.

Thank you all, once again, for joining me at Daemonic Teutonic. I hope you continue to enjoy the reviews I put out and I am hoping to implement some of the other things I mentioned in the near future.

Cheers,
Phil

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