Michael Tummelhofer


No. of players:
2 - 4



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

After the very successful games Sankt Petersburg and Stone Age Michael Tummelhofer alias Bernd Brunnhofer once again has taken up the reins and has created an interesting new game for the whole family as well as for the experienced gamer. So far, the new game Pantheon stands in good tradition with many other HANS IM GLÜCK games, and the game itself deals with the coming and going of various nations in ancient times. True to the motto that nothing lasts but the columns as lasts remnants of a civilization, we move from epoch to epoch and try to build as many columns as we can in each epoch. On our way through the ages we do not follow the historically correct way, and we are not even allowed to erect any buildings, but all building activities are focused on the columns. However, you cannot live from columns alone, and in addition you always have to be careful that the sky will not fall down on yourself in theses ancient times, and so the players also try to keep track of all the different gods and demigods available in the game and bring them sacrifices to turn them beneficial for their own side. Naturally, Pantheon is a game with a high factor of competition, because there is only limited space for the columns on the board so that the best places are soon occupied, and in addition to this the gods have their favourites, too.


As might be guessed from these introductory lines, there are a lot of different elements and lines of actions in Pantheon, at least for a family game. We know this from other titles of HANS IM GLÜCK already, but usually their games are not too complex to overstrain the casual player. As a result there is more than one way to win the game and the players can concentrate on the way that fits best to their cards and strategy.

Each epoch of a nation passes through three phases. It begins with the rise of the nation, continues with the prosperity period and ends with the decline. In the first phase the board is prepared for the new nation. Randomly a nation is drawn that begins it rise. Each nation has its starting place somewhere on the board which depicts the region around the Mediterranean Sea. Then loot-tiles are placed around the starting place on hexes of the active nation. Finally some gods are drawn and placed on the board.

In the next phase, the prosperity phase, the players come into play. In his turn a player can do one out of four different actions. First of all he can go for the loot-tiles. For this action, the player has to place wooden foot-markers on the board, beginning from the starting space of the nation and tracing a track towards the desired loot-tile. Each movement card gives a player two possible steps to place his feet, and in addition the player who chooses this action gets one further step. With the feet the players try to reach the loot-tiles, but they can also go for the specially marked column hexes, where columns are placed instead of feet. Those columns have one big advantage: they do not vanish after the epoch of the nation has ended, and they can be used in another epoch again. As each nation has its own starting space, the chance to use them at a later time is all the better the more the column-hexes are in central positions on the board.


Looking on the board you can also find many column hexes at the edge of the board. So what is that good for? More than the advantage of the re-use of the columns in each epoch, columns are important for the scoring phases. As the victory points increase disproportional to the number of columns on the board, the usage of these outlying spaces usually is crucial to win the game. In addition, space on the gameboard is limited insofar as only two feet or columns are allowed in one hex. So, especially in a four player game the ways to the columns will soon be blocked by the feet of the other players if you are too slow. Furthermore, if there is already a foot or column of a different player on a hex, it costs another player one step more to place his own foot or column there.

If you do not have enough cards to do useful steps on the board, you can buy some other interesting things. Again you must have the matching cards for this action, and instead of steps it must be money cards. There is a huge variety of things you can buy. As we are in ancient times, sacrifices to the gods are quite popular and consequently you find sacrifice tiles of three different kinds. Each sacrifice tile helps to please the gods and can be used, in contrast to the hand cards, several times during the game, which is quite useful as you will see later on. There are four different levels available of every sacrifice tile. Although every player must only posses one sacrifice tile of each kind, it is possible to upgrade them in a later phase of the game, of course with the help of money cards again. A player can also buy more feet or columns if he thinks his reserve is badly equipped. And finally it is also possible to place feet and columns on the board with the help of money. In contrast to the movement action described before, the other players are not allowed to play for their part, which can be a huge advantage.


Speaking of the gods, we come to another important action. In each epoch there are several god tiles the player can sacrifice to. Each god has its own advantage, some with an one-time benefit which must be used immediately, and some other with a permanent benefit. To make a sacrifice the player can use his sacrifice tiles as well as sacrifice cards on his hand. Most of the gods demand a given number of different kinds of sacrifice tiles.

Both the gods and the loot-tiles can be used to end an epoch of a nation. If either of these are depleted, the epoch ends after the active player has done his turn. This can be used for some very interesting tactical actions. If, for example, a player does not have any movement cards in his hand, he will have a huge interest to end the epoch as fast as possible to prevent other players to place their columns. He then has the chance to go for the gods and thus accelerate the pace to end the epoch. After the third and the sixth epoch a scoring takes place. Then the players get victory points for all their columns on the board and for their demi-gods. Having already explained how you place the columns on the board, you still have to know how one can get such demi-gods. Well, this is quite easy. You can either get them by the loot-tiles or from the benefit of some of the gods. Each demi-god as a given value, and at the beginning of each epoch a certain number of demigods is laid on the board, corresponding to the number of demigods that are promised by the loot-tiles and by the gods. The first player who is entitled to one of the demi-goods can take the one with the highest value and so on. This results in a quite fast-paced game.

Pantheon perfectly fits to many other games of HANS IM GLÜCK. If you liked games like Goa, Der Turmbau zu Babel and Amun-Re, I am quite certain that you will love Pantheon, too. As in these other games, there is not really anything what you can do totally wrong. If your cards do not allow you to place your feet and columns on the board, this is not the end of the world, because Pantheon is a fair game which is not overburdened with drawing-luck. Instead, you can take the opportunity to get one of the more valuable gods and maybe you also have a chance to end an epoch soon so that the other players will not get too many advantages. In the next epoch, if you have better cards, you still can go for the columns. The good balance of the game is a quite characteristic feature. On the other hand, it is not easy to keep track of the progress made by the other players. There are only two scoring phases during the game, and the players are allowed to hide the demi-goods they have collected, and so it can come to some unpleasant surprises in the end if another player has collected more valuable demi-goods as one had remembered.

On a final note, Pantheon should be played with four players. The game also works with two or three players, but only with the maximum cast the game can fully convince. With fewer players there is too much room for the players on the board and you can easily guess what the other players will do next.

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Copyright © 2011 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany