Authors: Günther Cornett & Alvydas Jakeliunas

Publisher: PHALANX GAMES 2005

Awards: none



In October 2003 Günther Cornett and Alvydas Jakeliunas released their game Pingvinas with the BAMBUS SPIELEVERLAG at the SPIEL at Essen. However, the game only was produced in a very small number, and thus - due to its rather easy but nonetheless challenging playing mechanism - the game was sold out rather fast. However, sometimes such small games find a major publisher who actually dares a re-release, and thus PHALANX GAMES now brings us back Pingvinas under the new title Packeis am Pol.

Also the game comes with a new publisher, the playing mechanism itself has not changed at all. At the beginning of the game an area of 60 hexagonal ice tiles is spread between the players on the table to form a roughly rectangular field of ice. Each of the tiles has printed either one, two or three fishes on it, and it will be the aim of the player`s penguins to collect as many fishes as possible during the game.

Once the playing area is set up, in turn each player places one penguin on one of the ice tiles (with one fish) until all players have placed all their penguins onto the ice. The number of penguins depends on the number of participating players, so that in a two-player game each player receives four penguins while in a four-player game each player only receives two penguins. Starting the game and taking turns, each player now is allowed to move one of his penguins during his turn. This penguin may be moved along ice tiles as far as the player desires it to go, provided it moves in a straight line without turning and that it does not leave the ice or move through a hex occupied by another penguin. Once the move is finished, the player takes the ice tile from which the penguin has started its move and places it to his stockpile of ice tiles.

As the game progresses, more and more ice tiles wander into the players` stockpiles and the field of ice is starting to break. Players now will try to position their penguins in areas with still a lot of tiles left but with only few penguins competing for the fish. The game comes to its end when no player can move a penguin anymore, and it will be won by the player who has collected ice tiles with most fishes on them.

As indicated, the rules for Packeis am Pol are rather easy to learn. The game actually plays rather quick, but its strategic depth becomes visible already during the first game. Players have to keep their penguins from getting cut off early in the game, and a constant watching of the moves of the other players is necessary to keep a player competing for victory. Still, the game also is a rather light game which is funny to play with any number of players, so that it actually can be recommended without reservations to players of all ages.

One final word about the publisher PHALANX GAMES: knowing this company as a producer of pretentious strategy games, I was surprised to see such a light game being added to their line of products. Talking to a representative, I was advised that PHALANX actually will not restrict themselves to the broader area of strategy games, but instead will try to widen its product range by producing "good games" from all areas. To my mind this strategy (which is also followed by DAYS OF WONDER) serves well to refresh the somehow stagnating boardgames market, and major german producers will do well to take this competition seriously.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2005 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Trier, Germany