27/11/2021

Pachamama: A puzzle and deduction in one game [Preview]

Pachamama_cover

This year’s SPIEL Messe was a blast, and we made some new friends and tried new games. One of the most memorable ones was Pachamama from Sit Down! This Belgian publisher is well-known for their family-friendly games, such as Magic Maze and the latest Dive. Pachamama will be an excellent addition in the near future.

This preview was written based on the play testing in the very first day of SPIEL 2021. Pachamama means Mother Earth in the ancient Quechua people’s tongue. This Andean goddess symbolizes prosperity through the fertility and crops growing from the pre-Columbian land.

Disclaimer: We had the preview copy for this review, and it was not the final version. There might be possible changes and alteration from the publisher regarding the components, printing and build quality, rules and concepts in the official released product.

A PUZZLE GAME FULL OF LOGIC AND DEDUCTION

Pachamama is a competitive board game that acts like a puzzle. It needs a good deduction skill, and along the way, our logical thinking will be a good help. You can check how to play and the whole project on Gamefound. This is their first Gamefound project from Sit Down! ShelfClutter made a nice video explaining this game, you can check it out.

The board was almost empty at first, but thanks to the exploration and deduction, it slowly became full of landscapes tiles and crops. Along the way, more hidden information were revealed, and it made the deduction easier.

Players control a tribe of Quechua people and explore through the Andean landscape. Exploring the board means moving the meeples and stopping on an empty tile. During this exploration, they reveal some hidden information, which let them know what landscape tile they are actually on.

The big disc with two windows that reveal the hidden information. Both exploration and deduction will get checked through the disc.

Revealing this information potentially rewards a nice amount of Victory Points (VP) if they can plan the exploration effectively. Additionally, players can guess which crops grow on the revealed landscape tile. If their guess is correct, they gain VP; when not, then they lose VP.

As mentioned, Pachamama is basically a competitive puzzle game. The setup is based on which scenario the players want to play.

Using the big disc, they reveal and check whether their deduction is correct or not. We tried a preset demo setup, but the final copy will have a set of other scenarios to play.

MY THOUGHTS ON PACHAMAMA

To be fair, I am not a fan of puzzles. But I enjoy the competitiveness of Pachamama. Our first few rounds were full of explorations and blind guess. It was to be expected because we didn’t really have much reliable information to make the correct deduction. Along the game, when some information were revealed, we could deduce better, or maybe made some educated guess.


Planning the exploration is important to align the tracker. It rewards more VP when a tracker moves up to the row above and aligns with more trackers on the line.

It was also notable that gaining VP was not possible through guessing solely. Exploring also provides points. I think it is fair, considering players give free information to all on the table when revealing landscape tiles.

When revealing a landscape, they will move the tracker of that landscape tile up and gaining VP based on the alignment. If any other tracker is on the same line when it goes up, then that player gets bonus VP, too.

This makes the exploration more interesting, and it limits players from rampaging and exploring only one type of landscape, as it does not really reward much VP later.

THE CATCH IS ON THE DEDUCTION

This aspect is the core of Pachamama. It provides the most VP in the game, especially when most information are open. Mechanic-wise, playing Pachamama gives the similar vibe of the classical computer game, Minesweeper. The crops growing on the landscape tiles follow a set of rules, and we can deduce it easier as the game goes on.

Planning the exploration is important to align the tracker. It rewards more VP when a tracker moves up to the row above and aligns with more trackers on the line.

Players need to manage which information they want to reveal. This is vital because that information may be useful for other players to deduce and gain VP. There is the luck aspect involved in the game, but mostly, we need to relay on our logic.

When guessing right, players will get a cube representing the crop they recently correctly deduced.

A mini set-collection is implemented in the game to spice up the game a bit. Players can exchange these cubes (from a set of different crops) with VP.

Like other puzzle games, the only variability offered in this game is the different puzzles (scenarios on the board) you can play. Playing the same scenario will not be as fun because you might have remembered the positions of all the landscapes and crops.

MY VERDICT

Just like their other games, Pachamama is quite family-friendly. The Minesweeper-like feeling brings the vibe the older audiences are familiar with. The game is simple, and it only needs your logic to win the game. I am concerned with the replay value, but the variability is most probably not a problem.

Check out their Gamefound project for more details. It will be live starting October 19th.

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