Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Climbing the pyramid of Pylos

I recently tried Pylos out for the first time through Boardgame Arena.

Which is really not the best way to try this game. Pylos is a game of stacking wooden balls in order to form a pyramid so there's clearly a strong tactile element to the Pylos experience. 

The players each have fifteen balls, just enough to make a four-story pyramid. Luckily, you get a grooved board to hold the bottom layer. It's a two-player game, by the way, so there's light and dark colored balls to tell the two players apart.

The goal is to place one of your balls on top of the pyramid. Which, structurally, has to be the last one placed. If that is all there was to the game, the second player would win every single time.

But there's a couple of twists. Instead of placing one of the balls from your reserve, you can move a non-weight-bearing ball to a higher level if there's a space for it. And, if you form a 2x2 square in your own color, you can take back up to two of your non-weight-bearing balls.

Pylos is all about managing reserves. Trying to make sure that you keep your reserves up and that your opponent can't do the same. For a game that's about blocking but not capturing, it's surprisingly vicious. Simply put, whoever runs out of balls first loses.

Pylos was interesting and I would play it again. However, it's been part of my exploration of Gigamic games on Boardgame Arena. In particular, I've played a lot of Quoridor. In comparison, Pylos has simpler patterns and choices.

That said, the real reason I don't see myself buying a game made of wooden balls is we have three cats. In a few years, our toddler will be old enough to handle Pylos. But the cats will always be cats. This wouldn't be a game. This would be an invitation to kitty madness.

Pylos delivers an abstract that you can teach in a couple minutes, still has good choices and looks beautiful. You could teach it to anyone. It's biggest failing is not being as good as other Gigamic abstracts.


No comments:

Post a Comment