Pyramid of Pengqueen Review

Pyramid of Pengqueen
Pyramid of Pengqueen
Released 2018
Designer Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
Publisher Brain Games (Website)
Players 2-5 (Best with 4-5)
Playing Time 30-45 minutes
Category Hidden Movement
One vs Many
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

Can you escape the Pengqueen?

One of my favourite scenes in adventure movies is the escape sequences. It can be from a boulder, a storm, or an unseen force – whichever it is, it’s almost always fun to watch.

And of these adventures, a classic staple is, of course, the Mummy. Not just an unstoppable force, but a power that is capable of outwitting the heroes.

And you know what you call a board game that uses this type of setup? One vs Many. There is one mastermind that must beat all of the other players to win!

A problem with a lot of One vs Many games is you have to learn two sets of rules. One set as the mastermind, and then the player rules. This can be a big ask for new players, but there are gateway or introductory games to help with this.

One such game is Pyramid of Pengqueen.

Oh wow! Why didn’t they think of this before?

They did. Pyramid of Pengqueen is a reprint and retheme of the 2008 game Fluch der Mumie, printed in English only as Pyramid. In 2018, Brain Games got the license and rethemed Pyramid with the Icecool theme, hence all the penguins.

The games are almost identical in everything but the artwork. The Mummy has been replaced with the Pengqueen, and there is an arctic feel to the art. Gameplay-wise everything has been kept, so this is basically a review of both versions.

The re-theme can get a little confusing as well. In the rules, the Mummy of the Pengqueen is referred to in different ways, mainly the Mummy or the Pengqueen. While this doesn’t make it harder to learn, it does show how little the Icecool theme does for the game overall.

Pyramid International Cover
Originally release in 2008, not much has been changed

So what do you do in the game?

Players sit with the game board between them, similar to Battleship. On one side, the Pengqueen controls their movements as they travel through the tomb. On the other side, players have their tokens and can see the Pengqueens location.

How do the pieces stay on the vertical board? With SCIENCE! Well, magnets. Still counts :p

The players roll for movement each turn and have to explore the tomb and collect treasures. The treasures they collect are determined with a random card draw at the start of each game, so there is no one way to win each game.

Pyramid of Pengqueen - Components
Opening the box, you can see there isn't much to setup

As the players explore the tomb, they must also evade the Pengqueen. If they are on the same square as the Pengqueen, they are captured and lose a life.

Once they are caught, they start from the Pengqueens sarcophagus and continue collecting treasures until they run out of lives. Once a player collects their set of riches, they win! If the Pengqueen collects a certain number of lives though, the game ends with the Pengqueen winning.

Pyramid of Pengqueen - Pengqueens board
You always know exactly where you are as the Pengqueen

That sounds great!

Doesn’t it? The game is simple to teach and play, and players can jump straight in. The satisfaction of hearing the clink when the player piece is caught by the Pengqueen is fun for both sides.

For such a simple game, the tension that builds as players watch the Pengqueen coming closer is excellent. It doesn’t matter how many times you have played, seeing the Pengqueen a square or two away and coming towards you never gets stale.

It’s also great for all ages. You only pick one die for your movement as a player. You can play and teach your first game within about 5 minutes, then a quick reset to start playing properly.

A game plays in about 30 minutes, and setup/teardown only takes a few minutes. This makes Pyramid of Pengqueen an easy game to play on short notice, unlike many One vs Many games.

Pyramid of Pengqueen - Players board
Watching the Pengqueen marker on the right move can be tense

I am waiting for the But…

Yeah. The But. As fun as Pyramid of Pengqueen is, there are a couple of factors that do kill it for me.

Balancing is a big one. Playing two players, the Pengqueen has way too much information. This can be adjusted a little bit by the player character spending more time running to different areas before collecting treasure. Still, it adds 5-10 minutes of somewhat dull gameplay, so it’s not a great solution.

The other issue is the board and player pieces. The player magnets are tiny, and you move the board a lot when you move your piece. The Pengqueen player gets a pretty good idea of what area you are in just by watching the board flex. It’s so apparent, even younger players will pick up on this quickly, giving away more information.

Finally, the magnets are not always your friend in terms of hiding. Ideally, you want to put your piece in the middle of a square on your turn. This rarely happens, though. You usually end up closer to a side, and if the Pengqueen stops closer to your side on their square, you can capture a player without meaning to. This again gives away exactly where you are. No one has cheated, it’s just the way magnets and people work.

Pyramid of Pengqueen - Component Sizes
The black die is what I would call normal sized. The player tokens are tiny!

So should I buy Pyramid of Pengqueen?

To me, this is a game you should play before you buy if you can. I am glad Alpal showed it to me, and I am so happy I got to play it. I am just not keen to play it again anytime soon. I will show people how to play anytime, but it’s not a game I want in my collection.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Overall Thoughts

On paper, the Pyramid of Pengqueen looks to be a fun game. Smooth one-vs-many gameplay with quality components that can be played by all ages. The theory works well, the final execution, in my opinion, not so much.

Many people say how fun the Pyramid of Pengqueen is to play. I am not saying they are wrong. I know everything I have said can be taken as if I am, but that’s not my problem with the game.

The Pyramid of Pengqueen has balancing issues. Big balancing issues. With two players, it is too easy for the Pengqueen to win. At higher player counts, it is too easy for the players to win. Individual players can be eliminated by the Mummy pursuing them, which can make players feel bullied. This is more of an issue for younger players, but I can see it happening. The potential for frustration and arguments, for younger players, is just too high. And those situations aren’t fun for anyone.

Overall
5/10
5/10

Pros

  • A light game that is easy to teach and play for all ages
  • Novel moving mechanics, especially anticipating the Pengqueen’s movements.

Cons

  • Doesn’t scale well
  • Player pieces too small
  • Not very good at hiding player movement
  • Icecool theme does nothing for it

Last Week’s Gaming – January 13th, 2020

Pokemon Shield

MORE GAMES PLEASE 2020!

So it’s been a big 5-6 weeks here. Rabbit and I have moved, end of year work crunch, all the fun stuff has been happening.

That said, I did get some gaming in – including finishing a couple of video games! I even got a platinum. Yay!

So considering the huge welcome back article earlier today, let’s jump straight into what I played.

The Tokyo Series (and indeed most Jordan Draper games I back) are games I love, but always have trouble pitching to others why they excite me. The come in plain boxes, have small components, and usually can be multiple games in one box.

Michael Fox (no, not that one) and Jordan Draper have collaborated on expanding Tokyo Jutaku, a dexterity game in the Tokyo Series. The fruits of this collaboration is MegaCity: Oceania. It also doesn’t hurt that thematically it’s played just off the Gold Coast 😀

MegaCity: Oceania
Combining stategy with dexterity sounds strange, but this was so fun to play!

There is a dexterity component of building up your city on a tile according to a random plan. Then, you have to move your completed section into the central MegaCity, all while trying to maximise points.

It sounds like two genres that shouldn’t work together, but it did. MegaCity: Oceania was fun while having deep stratagies hidden away. Building your city is fun, and you can take your time to a degree. Moving your city without anything collapsing is tense, without being frustrating. Give it a look if you get the chance.

I think this will be a great way to get people to look at other Jordan Draper games I own

Deep Blue

Days of Wonder knows how to present games well. Best known for the Ticket to Ride series, Days of Wonder publishes a staggering amount of well-known games. For example, Memoir 44, one of the most popular tabletop war games, is also a Days of Wonder game.

Deep Blue is a push your luck game crossed with hand management/deck building. That can sound daunting, but like Ticket to Ride a wide range of gamers can jump straight in.

I didn’t think about it at the time, but on reflection I definitely got a ‘Quacks of Quedlinburg lite’ feeling about Deep Blue. I think the games are different enough, but a lot of those base ‘do I or don’t I?’ moments dominate both games.

What can I say? I am just going to have to pull more people in for some more games and really give Deep Blue a workout 🙂

Deep Blue
Deep Blue is a Days of Wonder game. The components are so fun to play with!

I have talked about Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time before. You can see my review of it here. A puzzle in a board game, with a lot of replayability – sounds good to me!

While taking a break from starting to catalogue the library, Alpal and I sat down for a game. And for some reason, absolutely smashed it. I can’t see anything we did wrong, and we didn’t use an optimised team – we just did really well.

So now I suppose I am just going to have to track down the expansion. Professor Evil and the Architects of Magic adds new characters, powers and objectives. It even adds time portals, meaning the Professor himself can take multiple turns in a row if you aren’t careful!

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time
It's been too long since I played this. And an expansion is coming!

I didn’t know what to expect when Alpal showed me Atlantis Rising. I had heard mostly good things about it in the past, but I didn’t realise it had a revised edition.

Playing three players, we dove into the cooperative worker placement game. The idea is simple – Atlantis is sinking, and the players must work together to build a cosmic gate (cough stargate) to escape.

During setup, I joked that we should pay on Forbidden Island to get used to it. Turns out, I was kinda right. The board sections get flipped when they sink, and player powers can bring them back.

Atlantis Rising
Atlantis Rising was a lot more stressful than I thought it would be!

The other similarity is that lovely ‘have your turn, now deal with bad things’ mechanic. If you don’t like games like Pandemic or Forbidden Island, Atlantis Rising won’t be for you.

If you are a fan of these sorts of games though, give Atlantis Rising a try. I will need to try it at different player counts, but I can feel a full review coming at a later stage.

Pyramid of Pengqueen

On paper, Pyramid of Pengqueen sounds like a lot of fun. One player takes the role of the Pengqueen/Mummy, and the other players have to steal the treasures.

This plays out on a two-sided magnetic board, with the Pengqueen on one side and everyone else on the other. The Pengqueen can’t see where the player pieces are, but the players can all see where the Pengqueen is.

It’s cute, and the theming with the Icecool isn’t terrible. Feels a little like a wannabe Ducktales comparison, but that might be my age talking.

Pyramid of Pengqueen
An entry level one vs all, but a little lacking in gameplay

While this is aimed at younger players, I would say to the older person watching the young ones play to be prepared for fights. The Pengqueen has most of the advantages, and there is going to be inadvertent cheating by everyone.

I am going to review Pyramid of Pengqueen very soon, watch out next week to get my full thoughts.

Pokemon Shield – Switch

I FINISHED POKEMON SHIELD! I AM CHAMPION!

And that’s about as far as I think I am going to take it. I am not really interested in the usual post-game cleanup to fill my Pokedex. The battle system sounds interesting, but I am not really invested in that either.

What I did have was a fun time playing through the story. There is a lot of love and hate for the new entry in the series. Like any opinion, both sides have fair points. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say one side is right.

Pokemon Shield
I beat the unbeatable Champion! OK, almost everyone will. But it is where I call the story ended.

Pokemon has excelled for me as a light RPG experience. Pokemon Shield lived up to this for me. Yes, I would have liked some story holes filled in, but I can say that for any of game in the series. Bottom line is I had fun, I enjoyed the experience, and you will see my full thoughts in a couple of weeks 🙂

And, since I wrote all this, it looks like I’m not done with Shield. Friday, Nintendo and Game Freak announced the first ever Pokemon DLC – there will be more story later this year!

Terminator: Resistance – PS4

My first Platinum trophy since Kingdom Hearts III in February 2019. Well, that’s not technically true. I finished Access Denied in March, but I don’t count that Platinum Trophy. Why not? You will have to wait a couple of weeks for that tidbit 😀

Enough teasing, I finished Terminator: Resistance. The two and a bit weeks of no gaming with the move didn’t diminish the experience a jot.

Now, Terminator: Resistance is not what I call a shooter – at least at easy or normal difficulties. You shoot at things sure, but this isn’t a twitch shooter like Call of Duty. Conversely, while there are stealth elements, this isn’t a Metal Gear Solid either. You have a lot of freedoms when it comes to the machines recognising you.

The story itself isn’t exactly groundbreaking either. But it did make me want to keep playing it and explore the world. Terminator: Resistance is fan service done well, in my opinion. Set characters, set events, but a unique story that enhances the whole.

For more, you will have to wait until Friday for my review.

Terminator Resistance
Exploring the post-Judgement Day world shows the love this game was developed with.

Final Fantasy XV – PS4

Oh, I have wanted to play this for years now. Open-world RPGs are games I love to play when I can really sit back and take my time with them. Hence, a massive backlog of 80+ hour games waiting to be played!

I started a while ago not too long after the initial release, then had a bad thing happen during my first play. It took almost four years for that annoyance to stop creeping in as I loaded the game! But now I am happily working my way through it.

I have probably spent almost 10 of the 30ish hours played just letting the Regalia drive me around. This doesn’t sound very good, but it is how I have been playing. When I could lie back on the couch, do a few hunts or explore an area, then kick back and relax and watch AP build up – why not? The point of a break is to have a break after all. Final Fantasy XV has let me do that.

Final Fantasy XV
It's not news anymore, but just watching how beautiful the world is bringing me much joy.

I am only up to Chapter 7 for people that have already played through it. Seriously, I am taking my time. So this will probably pop up as my video game for the next few weeks, especially on PlayStation. So sorry in advance for lots of pictures of bros in a car 😀

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – PS4

So one of my favourite YouTubers is Jirard Khalil, aka The Completionist. I had already heard mostly good things about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, but his review convinced me to get it that night.

And I had fun with it. Playing on easy, I died multiple times in the start/tutorial section of the game. This didn’t put me off playing though, as I loved the world and the pace of the story setup.

I finished the beginning section, then played long enough to open up flying to another world of my choice. By now, most of the controls were in muscle memory. I had a feel for the rhythm of the gameplay. I wanted to sit and really get into it. Only one thing stopped me.

I am one of those gamers that hates significant actions being assigned to L3/R3. Clicking a stick does not come naturally to me, and R3 all but replaces X in Fallen Order.

I have a plan though. I have already preordered one of the newly announced Dualshock 4 Back Button attachments. Come mid-February, I will be able to play Fallen Order and use those buttons mapped to L3 and R3.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order
Umm, hello. Nothing to see here. Well, that's not true. This isn't a cut scene, so it gives you an idea of how beautiful the world is.

Victory is Mine! Well, hopefully it will be :p

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?

Let me know!  Shout out in the comments below, on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD