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Pyramidis is an easy to learn, strategy board game that is worthy of the Pharaohs themselves!
Players control stacks of pyramids and use these stacks to try to maneuver to victory. If you are the first to successfully bring 5 of 8 pyramids home, you win.
But watch out! Control of stacks changes from moment to moment. You may find your stack suddenly controlled by another player, who can then move your pyramids backwards, or even onto another track. These setbacks rarely spell disaster, and you can even turn such situations to your advantage. Step back in time and test your skills!
With a richly colored board and intriguing play, Pyramidis is a feast for the mind and for the senses. Guaranteed to be a family favorite for dynasties to come.
This is a unique and wonderful game. There are no dice or cards, so no random factor contributes to play. The rules are very simple and clear, comprising only 3 pages with pictures. It is beautifully designed, and is very sturdy (mine has gone camping five times). There are only 32 (8 times 4) pieces, and the pieces are not likely to be lost or broken. The colors are very fitting for an Egyptian- like game, and the board is well designed.
Play consists of moving your eight pyramids around a track. Your opponent is doing the same along the same track, from the opposite direction. You move a stack of pyramids in its entirety, placing one pyramid on each space that it moves past. The pyramids stack on top of each other, and a stack of 5 is as high as is (pieces jump past a 5 stack). The owner of any stack is the one with the pyramid on top. The goal is to move 5 of your eight pyramids around the track to the end square.
With four people, there are 2 perpendicular tracks which share 4 spaces in the middle. This makes it complex in the center, and makes for very interesting strategies.
With two people, it is a wonderful game that plays very well and quickly. A game may only take 10 minutes. With four people, its strategic potential is magnified. It becomes nearly impossible to predict and follow your perpendicular opponents since you are mostly paying attention to the opponent across the table. A game will still only take about 15 minutes to play.
What I like about the game is that on your move, you usually only have three or four options. There is not a mind-rending decision made between 37 different moves each turn. But don't let the perceived simplicity fool you. There is a great deal of strategy to the game, beginning with your first move.
The only downfall is that the game requires either 2 or 4 opponents. Not three.
It plays very well with people that have never played it before. The rules are very intuitive and are learned fast. With proper placement of opponents (experienced opponents across from experienced opponents), everybody has a good time. And often the new player will win that first game. Everyone I have shown it to has really enjoyed it.
This game was unearthed during a late afternoon stop to a local gaming store and, just before leaving, by deciding to poke through the 50% off dusty boxes littering the very (very) back of the store. Upon seeing an interesting Egyptian motif (and frankly the first abstract game I've seen using neat plastic pyramids), the price was right to give it a try, and the fun of Pyramidis has been ours for several years.
Pyramidis is probably the most age-neutral game we've found over decades of gaming. Literally, 5- to 85- year olds can grasp instantly the goal and get moving towards successful games (sorry, no discrimination meant to the <5 and >85 set) and there's very few abstract games I can recommend that actually prove that out (on the quite obscure but fun list: King of the Mountain). The primary function of the game (to move 5 pyramids from start to finish using the pick-up-cover-next mechanics seen in only a few other, less engaging games) benefits from an almost zero random event environment that lets choice by players to affect resulting choices and options for the active player.
The game is very quick to learn - the only rule that needs repeating it seems (after years of play with new people) is the need to pick up the entire stack and drop pieces from the bottom starting with the next space (many like to leave 1 piece in the starting spot, to much chagrin and finger wagging). Additionally, when cross-ways players "divert" your playing pyramids perpendicularly, sometimes there is confusion about how to get back on the right track - this is easily averted with eager finger-pointing and aid from the other players.
A very good mechanics overview has already been presented here (please see the alternative version Pyramidis review from "A Gamer"). In fact, my only difference in comment from that review is the viability and actual interesting wrinkles provided by playing the 3 person version of the game (the "cross wind" player creates a strategic monkey wrench that instantly changes the more straightforward head-to-head action of the 2 player game). Also not mentioned but recommended for a fresh twist is a 2 player version with players starting perpendicular rather than across. We have played numerous versions of placement, number of players, and experience in each position and honestly haven't found a significant strategic benefit or redundancy that diminishes any of the configurations.
Summary pros: Quick to learn, easy (and quick) to play, 2-3-4 player flexible in various configurations, age neutral, portable (toted many a time on trips), good but not spectacular quality pieces and board. Strategy is on the level of advanced checkers/Chinese checkers/and Teeko (a shout-out to John Scarne there) but engaging and will keep you needing to think several steps ahead.
Summary cons: Really none. A nit is that it's slightly larger and with too many pieces to qualify as one of our common take-it-out-to-a-restaurant-with-us games (often just card games, but R.K.S "Kingdoms" gets taken often with lots of pieces in Baggies (TM), so what do we know?).
4.5 stars - How so?: There are very few games that hit all engines for us to rate a "5" - not that we're picky, but it's a know-it-when-you-see-it thing and Pyramidis is very close. Hard-core strategy folks will yawn a bit (and you've seen my travel with it nit), but we can sleep quite comfortably on a 4.5 rating. If you pushed me, I would have no problem with a 5 primarily for the age neutral and engaging / fast play.
Rule addition/alternative ways to play: Often, the youngest we play with like to pick how many pyramids are used to win - fine with us with the exception that less than 3 is usually too quick. Alternatively, playing until one player has removed all pyramids is an interesting (and not too much time-adding) variant.
So, lengthy review, but a game that's provided quite a bit of fun for all ages (and at 50% off) should get a few words said to bring it back into the light. If you have kids or want a <20 minute 2-4 player filler that easily leads to "lets try that again", gently ping the nice folks at Funagain and other locations to see about reviving the Egyptian mummified spirits of this game into the modern era and into your gaming closet.