Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de

The Isle of Pan

[The Isle of Pan]

Camille Chaussy

Lumberjacks / Blackrock

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

A mystic island is always a good start for a boardgame. Children and grown-ups love this theme likewise and are fascinated by beautiful landscapes, explorers of foreign countries and strange animals and beasts. The isle of Pan from LUMBERJACKS embraces us with this idea and let us create and explore the island of our dreams. Basically the game is an easy variant of the well-known tile placement, but it knows how to enchant us with appealing graphics and an effective scoring mechanism.

All players start on the same starting tile with a single explorer pawn. Each turn of the game, a player can choose one of the available three hex landscape tiles. All landscapes consists of three hexagonal spaces and have the same size. However, they differ in the landscape types (mountain, meadow, desert and lake). Afterwards the player plays the new landscape tile adjacent to the existing landscape, and takes animal tokens of the same kind as indicated on the played landscape tile to his or her personal reserve. For example you take two green and one yellow animal for a landscape tiles with two meadows and one desert. That way, the landscape unfolds and the new world can be explored.

[The Isle of Pan]

Click on image to enlarge!

For that exploring purpose we have our explorer pawns: Every turn, after the landscape phase, a player can move his explorer up to three spaces (keep in mind that one landscape tile consists of three hex spaces). Then, on the target landscape tile of the explorer, the player can either observe the local fauna by playing up to three animals from his or her personal reserve to the position of his explorer. For each animal token added to the board the player moves a score token on his personal score track one step further. Each animal has its own score token. That makes sense, because on the one hand there is a bonus space for an extra turn on the track and the number of victory points increases when reaching the second third of the track. Both are valuable things to consider, but if you try to reach them with all animals, it might end in a mess, meaning no extra turn and only low scoring points.

[The Isle of Pan]

Click on image to enlarge!

Alternatively to the observing of the landscape, and if the landscape with his or her explorer is adjacent to a lake, a player can discover a wondrous lake. This means that he takes one of three personal wondrous lake tiles and places it adjacent to the existing lake. This triggers the appearance of a fantastic beast that will come to the board when all tree kinds of animal tokens are on landscapes next to the wondrous lake. The result is that the player moves one of his score tokens by as many steps as there are occupied landscapes around the lake (and I mean the whole lake not just the two spaces of the wondrous lake tile). If you play clever, you can create really big lakes with many occupied spaces before the fantastic beast appears, and this last move can catapult your victory points to a new level.

[The Isle of Pan]

Click on image to enlarge!

That's more or less the game. If you now think that's pretty simple, you are right. But I think that's the concept. The game is easy and fast-paced, but it's still a nice experience to see the landscape unfold. Of course, we saw similar approaches in a lot of other games already. Reduced to this point The isle of Pan is nothing new or special. But especially for children and casual players this game could be an easy entry to the huge world of tile-placement games. My younger son as well as the whole family loved to see the new world emerge and the animals enter the island. Although some game elements, especially the scoring tracks and the screens to hide your animals from prying eyes, could really be of higher quality (they are made of very thin cardboard), and although the game has not really strategic and tactical depths, The isle of Pan can be an alternative for an interesting family game, not only because of the great artwork.

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Copyright © 2020 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany