Pandasaurus Games, one of the leading board game studios in the world, has a great library of light and medium weight games. We’re going to look at three of their more popular and accessible title: The Game, Qwinto & Machi Koro.
Design by Katja Stremmel | Published by Pandasaurus Games
1-5 Players | 20 min
The game is a cooperative, easy to pick up, easy to learn card game with a universal appeal. Players are each dealt a number of cards based on the player count and take turns discarding onto 4 separate piles placed in the center of the group. Two of the piles start at 1 and require you to play in an ascending progression (higher card than the previous one played), while the other two piles start at 100 and require you to play in a descending progression. There is only 1 card for each number (2-99) in the deck along with the two 1’s and two 100’s serving as the starting cards.
Each player is required, but not limited to playing 2 cards per turn. They will then replenish their hand from the deck with the same number of cards they just played.
One wrinkle in the game is players are allowed to play cards exactly 10 numbers higher or lower than the previous one played briefly “rewinding the deck clock” for the group.
Only very limited interaction is allowed between the player during the game. Players continue discarding their hand until no player can play further. Play all 98 cards in the deck and you beat the game.
The Game is a light, fun, easy to teach game that’s quick to play and tough to beat. Obviously there is a lot of luck in how you draw cards, but knowing the right time to play a card can lead to runs of success. For me The Game has a similar vibe to The Mind with the limited interaction and card play. They are completely different games, but I have a feeling if you’re a fan of The Mind you’ll dig The Game.
Design by Bernhard Lach & Uwe Rapp | Published by Pandasaurus Games
2-6 Players | 15 min
Qwinto is coming on the heels of the roll & write classic, Qwixx. In Qwinto players take turns rolling dice and attempt to fill multiple colored rows with ascending numbers. Players score by writing in the combined value of their roll along with various bonuses throughout. Players that end up not being able to play a dice they roll will receive a deduction. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Players choose to roll 1-3 dice (orange, yellow & purple). The total pips on the die then is entered on one of the empty spaces on one of the die colors rows. Once the dice is rolled all players have the opportunity to score the dice. Players have the opportunity to re-roll all their dice once per turn. Each row must be in ascending order and duplicates are not allowed. Same numbers are also not allowed vertically between the different rows so planning and strategy are necessary for success.
At the end of the game you receive points per filled in blank. If you have completed a row you receive the score from the final blank in that row. Bonus points are earned for totals entered in pentagon shapes scattered throughout each colored row. Finally, players lose 5 points for every one of their rolls they weren’t able to enter on their scorecard.
The game ends when one player has completed two rows on their scoresheet or a player has totaled 4 personal rolls without recording a score.
This is a swift and easy roll & write with plenty of decision making and opportunity to push your luck to it’s limits in a short amount of time. From strategizing where to score certain rolls to achieving bonuses, the dice guarantee a new game each time. There is virtually no downtime as players have the opportunity to score on every roll.
Qwinto provides everything you could ask for in a filler game: short play time, family, tons of interaction and simple yet challenging decisions.
Design by Masao Suganuma | Published by Pandasaurus Games
2-4 Players | 30 min
In Machi Koro, you’re been elected mayor and it’s your job to develop business and industry in your town. Players take turns buying and building properties as well as earning income.
Each player starts with a minimal cityscape comprised of a wheat field and bakery card. Players take turns rolling dice, earning money and buying additional property cards. Each type of card features a different value allowing you to benefit from your own rolls as well as others. As your city engine grows you’ll be able to build landmarks allowing you access to additional and dice and various other turn benefits.
Certain cards allow you to score off other players rolls earning money from the bank or other players. You may even be able to steal property cards right out from under your opponent.
The mayor who can succesfully build 4 landmarks before anyone else is the winner.
Another incredibly simple, yet fun game from Pandasaurus! I’m a huge fan of engine building and Machi Koro does it in a simple and accessible way.
At the end of the day it comes down to the roll of the dice, but by diversifying your property portfolio you have the opportunity to benefit on nearly every roll limited bad luck.
The diverse number of cards allow players a choice in determining their path to success. You can even purchase landmarks out of financial order if that fits your strategy.
For me there is just enough push your luck and take that between players to keep it interesting without turning off casual players. It is disappointing losing a property to an opponent, but it doesn’t happen often and you’re likely to have some type of success before your next turn comes around.
The concept, components, box and artwork are all great and the setup is very minimal. My only negative is that our 4-player games came in closer to 45 minutes and had a tendency to get bogged down on certain players turns.
Overall this is blast and one that I image my family will be playing for years to come.