Günter Burkhardt

Publisher: Kosmos 2002

Awards: none



Die Pyramiden des Jaguar is once again a game in the Kosmos-series of small games especially designed for two players. When the Settlers of Catan Cardgame was released some years about nobody could have predicted such a rise of interest in two-player games, but now this Kosmos-series of Spiele für Zwei is fixed part of the german games market...

In Die Pyramiden des Jaguar the players take the roles of explorers, and each player tries to reconstruct a pyramid somewhere in the south-american jungle. The game is mainly driven by cardplay, and at the beginning of the game each player receives 15 random cards out of a deck of 40 cards (with numbers from 1 to 40) as his hand. The pyramids the players want to reconstruct are printed on a gameboard: each pyramid has 4 levels, and in these levels spaces for 4, 3, 2 and 1 cards are provided for. Furthermore, a small path through the jungle is also printed on the board - it serves as a track for Victory Points but since some spaces have event-markings it may also be responsible for causing an event. [IMAGE]

Each player sorts the cards on his hand following the numbers, and during his turn a player places two of his hand-cards openly in front of him. Now his opponent has to chose one of this cards which he must place at a space within his pyramid. The remaining card is taken up by the active player who also places the card within his pyramid. For the placement of cards within the pyramids, certain rules need to be observed: a card placed on a level of the pyramid must always have a higher value than all cards placed left to it on the same level, and furthermore it must have a higher value than all cards which have been placed on lower levels. Thus, a player needs to decide where to place his cards, possibly leaving some free spaces in order to be able to place some cards which he will be offered later in the game.

If no fitting space for a card can be found on the pyramid, the current card must be placed over an already placed card. This card will receive a marker, indicating that it cannot be covered again with yet another card. If a player is forced to cover a card in this way, his opponent me move forwards on the track of Victory Points. The number of spaces is equal to the level of the pyramid in which the card was covered (i.e. 1 to 4). Some spaces on the track for Victory Points also may cause an event, meaning that players must exchange cards, tokens from covered cards may be removed etc.

The game ends id a player completes his pyramid following all rules for the placement of cards, if the players run out of cards or if a player cannot place a card anymore. The winner receives another 5 Victory Points and then a card is randomly drawn from the remaining 10 cards which were not used in the game. If the leading player has more victory points than the number on the card, the game ends with the leading player being the winner. If the card should be higher, the cards are re-mixed and another round is played with the players starting on the spaces of the Victory Point track which they already have occupied. Thus, even a player who has lost the first game may still have a chance to score an overall victory.

What I especially like about this game is the flexible way the ending is managed. Players cannot be sure that they have won after the first round, but it is still possible that the opponent might come out on top if a second round needs to be played. The strategy-options are limited to the placement of cards, but this still offers good room for strategic planning on side of the players. The element of luck in the game is quite low - only through the random distribution of the cards at the beginning and by leaving 10 cards out of the game some unpredictable elements are introduced.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany