Hey folks, I’m back again with another review. Today, we’re building pagodas. See, the Emperor of China is going to grace us with his presence in our providence. So, how else do we honor him than building the most elaborate and beautiful pagoda. The game is Pagoda. It’s a 2 player game by AEG. Alderac Entertainment Group. It plays in about 40 minutes. It mixes 3D building with hand management and tile placement.
The game comes with the rules, 1 game board, 1 start player marker, 2 scoring tiles, 2 builder boards, two sets of 6 wooden player markers, 25 pagoda floor tiles, 55 cards, and 125 wooden pillars. I got the game used, and the cards were sleeved and the components all bagged. I opted to switch it all to little containers. This helped me with ease of set up, ease of clean up, and not having the pillars fall all over the place while playing.
The cards, wooden pillars, and floor tiles come in 5 different colors. Blue, Yellow, Green, Red, and Purple. For the cards, there’s 11 of each color. For the wooden pillars, there’s 25 of each color, and the floor tiles there are 5 in each color. The floor tiles each have four circles in each corner that are colored. This shows you what color pillars are needed to finish that floor. On the other side of the floor tiles are the roof tile. Once a pagoda is tall enough, you’ll finish it with a roof. The roof has one colored circle to represent what pillars are needed to finish the roof. The game board has a scoring track around the edges and in the center it has 6 squares where you’ll be building the pagodas.
To set up, take the game board and put in in the center. Give each player 6 of one color markers and a builder board. Place one of your markers on the left most side of your player board in the squared off spot. The remaining token will go on the player board for keeping track of the score. Sort all the floor tiles by color and set them out. Do the same with the wooden pillars. This is where a container for each comes in handy. Take one card of each color and place it face up in front of each player. This is your open display. Then deal 2 cards face down to each player. A players hand consists of the 5 cards face up and the 2 cards face down (You can look at these, your opponent can’t). And that’s set up.
For game play, pick a player to go first. Since this a two player game, and you might be playing this with a significant other, I’d suggest offering first turn to the other player. You’re trying to build pagodas. How do you do that? First, you need 4 of the same color pillars. Then you match that color with the same color floor tile. You get to pick this out when you’re completing a floor. The 4 colored circles on that tile will dictate what color pillars you need to finish that floor. How do you place pillars? Those cards in your hand let you place pillars. You can play up to three pillars on your turn. When playing cards to place pillars, they don’t need to be all on the same pagoda.
Placing floor tiles don’t count towards the maximum number of pillars you can place, but you do need that color card to place a floor tile. So if you managed to get 4 green pillars set up, you would need another green card to play to place a green floor tiles. Floor tiles have to follow the color pillars they sit on, but the player gets to pick what tile from that color. Once you complete a floor tile, you get a special power depending on the color floor you finished. Move the corresponding cube on your player board over two places when you complete a floor. You now have a special power you can use twice. Purple lets you have 4 cards in your hand instead of 2. Yellow lets you discard cards and redraw that many. Green lets you use any two cards to make any one color pillar. Blue lets you use two of the same color card to construct any color floor tile. Red lets you play 4 pillars a turn. Once you use power, you move the cube to the left on that track.
To complete a pagoda, you first must be on the 4th floor tile. You flip that one over and then have to play 2 color cards of the center circle to complete it. So that’s one card for the roof tile, then another two cards to complete the roof.
Once the third pagoda is completed, then it’s the end of the game. During each turn you’ll keep track of points. Every pillar, floor tile, and roof you play earns points. Pillars are varied points depending on what floor you play on. Pillars on the ground floor are one point each. Pillars on the second floor are 2 points, pillars on the third floor are 3 points, and pillars on the fourth floor are 4 points. Placing floor tiles gets you 1 point each. Finishing a roof gets you 5 points. At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins.
So there you have it. The player with the most points has made the most beautiful Pagoda for the Emperor. What do I think about the game? It’s one of the only 2 player games I have. I picked it up for something I can play with my wife. Knowing it was made just for two players, I didn’t have to worry about how it scales down. Some games that are 2-5 don’t scale that well to just two players. With that said, I’m glad I got this game. I like the actual building the pagodas during game play. Knowing that the game ends after three pagodas are built, it acts as a tracking for the end game. You can gauge if you’ll get another turn or not. The components are really well done. I like all the wooden bits used. They’re all sturdy and nice the handle. For the game play, I like how your hand is made up of 5 seen cards and 2 hidden cards. This lets you almost count cards while playing. If you notice your opponent has 3 of one color cards, you’ll want to not choose that color as a floor tile. I liked how finishing a floor lets you gain a special ability. Then, you can either use it or save it for later. Overall, I really liked the feel of this game. It’s not too thinky when playing, but it’s a nice game to just pass some time. Set up didn’t take too long since I had all the pillars in separate containers. If I didn’t have this done already, then set up might take a while. I recommend this game to anyone looking for a two player card game with a board. It could have easily been just a card game, but the components take it to the next level.