Down – it was constantly shining down. I began, with crazy pleasure, to compare the speed at which it was falling with the speed at which it was oscillating. Right – left – far up – with the scream of the damned! With a stealthy tiger jump straight to my heart! I laughed for a moment, moaning desperately for a moment at which this or that idea prevailed in me. Down – inevitably, relentlessly down!
We borrowed a quote from the famous Edgar Allan Poe from the book The Pit and the Pendulum, which at first glance is not entirely suitable for the game. But we will return to it and its significance. In the meantime, let’s just say that the news Pendulum is a game created by Travis Jones and helped by Jamey Stegmaier and his popular company Stonemaier Games to make it a reality. Robert Leask completed the work with illustrations. And Czech players experienced the games in their world premiere thanks to Albi.
On the lid we see the tower in which the title pendulum is hidden. It is promised that it will sway only when the earth finds a new king. Players will compete for the throne and for this purpose will lay out the game board in the middle of the table and below it a smaller board of boards, which will immediately receive the revealed board reward cards and the corresponding draw deck. The large game plan has prescribed fields for three hourglasses and the color matches the area to which it belongs. The remaining places are occupied by the time indicator token. He places a shuffled set of success cards on the plan (and turns over), but also province cards. The offer of the upper four will be created from them.
Individual players then receive a randomly assigned character board and a set of trick cards specific to that contender for the throne. They will also receive colored cubes of source indicators, tiles of votes, and they will keep the starting numbers prescribed by the character on their board. They choose a color that determines the appearance of the servants. He will place one ordinary and one powerful on the board, marking them as available. Then the indicators mark all the necessary scales – victory points, success and privileges.
The game is interesting mainly because after the initial deployment of servants, all three hourglasses begin to run. The whole main part takes place in real time, while these action rounds are four in total.
And in each of them the events are the same, but very interesting. The basic fact is that each action area is divided into two identical halves – lines between which the clock flips as soon as their sand is spilled.
Well, because players have to send one of their workers to the plan to do something, they have to follow the position of the hourglass, which acts as the title pendulum. The servant can only be built (or removed) in a row where there is no hourglass. On the other hand, only the envoy who is in line with the hourglass can be activated. The loose sand represents the time it takes to complete its mission.
With pieces, players usually look for new resources (culture, gold or the army), which they can then spend again and move on, for example, victory scales (fame, power and popularity). In addition to the figure, each event also needs to pay a price, while some positions are limited to powerful servants. These are rarer.
In addition, the provinces can also be occupied. When the requirements of this action box are met, a player can choose from a menu of four cards and insert it under his game board, rotated so that only one side of it peeks out. There are always several production symbols to choose from, but the player always has to choose only one feature in the province that he wants to use to his advantage.
But even flipping the clock is not mandatory and no one has to watch it. It is only up to the players when the clock is moved from one line to another and usually only by the player in whose current interest it is.
The only true order of players that is set at the beginning of the game and changes at each break is the scale of royal privilege. This is essentially important for nothing more than the initial deployment of workers before the start of time and then for deciding who will gain an advantage when the players agree and try to place their piece on the same square at the same time. This position is not taken by the faster one, but by the one who is higher on the privilege scale.
Each of the three hourglasses has a different amount of sand. And only when they all flip back and forth, and thanks to that, the last purple token of the time indicator disappears. At that point, the next clock does not flip, but players still have a chance to complete all the actions they have planned and are available in a row of hours.
Then ends one of the four action phases and it’s time for advice. Now players determine the new order of privileges, according to the source of votes obtained. According to its order, they can meet the conditions of reward cards and receive valuable rewards for success. Then the players check the limit of the two province cards attached in each position of their plan, deploy their servants and continue to the next round.
First and foremost, the whole game is about increasing power on the scales of victory, which are a total of three. If any of the participants can move all three pointers to the right, then he becomes the undisputed winner.
The pendulum is a unique game, there is no doubt about that. But that is why he encounters reactions enthusiastic and misunderstood. The basic idea of working with an hourglass is completely different, it’s great and forces you to rethink every strategy you’ve learned from classic strategy games.
The great thing is that nothing is really obligatory. Even if you forget to remove your worker from a scale or no one turns an hourglass, nothing happens. Sooner or later, you will notice the situation and move on. There are a number of mistakes in the game where the player forgets, and the number of mistakes and their resolution is one of the elements that determines the overall winner.
However, it cannot be said that the game is random. They are responsible for all their successes and difficulties. An hourglass puts pressure on you, but it’s not too big. Players, on the other hand, are encouraged several times by the rules not to hurry, because this game does not win at speed. And it really is.
In the game, there is an interesting combination of occasional high blood pressure with a huge freedom of moves, where everyone can do almost what they like. At the same time, it is relatively easy for players to control each other, because the rules of locking the rows are clear and legible across the entire game board.
The problems then basically stem from the game mechanism itself. In fact, players have no reason to pay attention to their opponents at all and only care about their success, their indicators and hourglasses. And so the game is actually a bit of a solitaire without looking at others, as if you were playing a computer game.
The game is also affected by trick cards, which individual players hold in their hand and can play whenever they want. Sometimes they have to pay its activation price and their postponement looks forever. Fortunately, all you have to do is pay five culture points and take back all the cards you play. These surprising features allow players to avoid classic activation and get something off schedule.
One hour is game time that will definitely not disappoint. Mainly because he runs away really fast, as players don’t have time to look around at all. Sometimes they can even rest when all their pieces are blocked – they are waiting for their action or, conversely, they are done, but they cannot be moved yet.
With repeated play, the impression of the game improves significantly. While in the first game you feel that you have nothing to control and everything falls on your head, gradually you will learn to keep a cool head and then you will really enjoy the connection and the feeling of good planning. It follows that Pendulum is definitely not a simple game. Only the topic clearly suggests from the rules that it will not be the main star. And the game confirms this because you think about scales, not domination of the throne.
Although in general the game received really detailed and honest attention in terms of processing, there are still a few details that would certainly make the whole game more enjoyable for the players. Above all, players tend to move their plan with constant movement and thus break the record of values on the scales.
It is not easy to evaluate the pendulum. There are a lot of players who will be really excited about it, because it is something completely different than you can experience with classic board games. On the contrary, lovers of calm and strategic planning will probably leave the game very quickly. Will you like the Pendulum? That is not so easy to say. If the previous paragraphs didn’t help, then at least try the game, because it definitely deserves it.
Pendulum is a game about which you can write a lot of sentences, because it definitely does not save experiences. It is floating on a wave of originality and flipping an hourglass is a really famous way to give players and at the same time take away their freedom. The game is dramatic, but not overly hectic, which is quite unexpected for a game run by sanding sand. Unfortunately, players build their machines on points each and do not cross paths with each other. Although it doesn't look like that at first glance, the game has a pretty steep learning curve and only after a few games will you really appreciate it. Pendulum is an excellent game, which, in addition to fans, will also gain a lot of opponents with its concept. We are clear. Where do you go?