TABLETOP TWOSDAY – Arraial – Pandasaurus – Review

It’s likely to become a frequent gateway game for me as I try to get more of my friends and coworkers into the hobby.

Beth Johnson

MeepleGamers

8.3/10
Featured Image

Theme and What is it?

8/10

You’re throwing a traditional Portugese summer party, and you want to have the party of the year. To do so, you’re going to need people to show up, so you start gathering food and drinks and arranging entertainment. 

You only have so much room for all of these things, though, so maximizing your space will take careful planning. The game is polyomino placement with a take that twist.

Gameplay Mechanics

8/10

On a player’s turn, they have three action points to spend as they please. There are two things they can do with the action points – either take a polyomino indicated by a card on the octagon or rotate the octagon one quarter turn. The rotation is important, as the pieces cannot otherwise be rotated – this means the rotation can both help a player set up their turn or ruin the next player’s turn.

 

If a player takes a piece, they have to leave it in its current orientation and drop it, Tetris-style, onto their board. Once they drop it, four different actions can be triggered. 

1. If the piece creates a group of two of the same colored pieces, they get to take a visitor meeple and place it on their board. 

2. If the piece creates the largest continuous section of that color amongst all players, they also get to take the special double-visitor meeple, even if that means taking it from another player. 

3. If the piece ends up above the starting bar, they lose their starting bar as well as any meeples on the bar. 

4. If the piece completes a full row, they raise their starting bar, creating more space for the party, and get a bonus visitor.

 

The last thing a player does on their turn is refill the octagon which usually means trying to figure out what piece your opponents will want the least. Game play continues until the deck of cards showing the polyominoes has been rotated through three times, and the player with the best party (most meeples) wins.

Initial Impressions

9/10

I love other Pandasaurus titles and expected a solid game, and it didn’t disappoint. It seemed like an easy to teach polyomino game with some medium player interaction with the rotation and piece selection. This mostly proved to be the case, as we were able to learn it quickly even with a brand new gamer in the group.

Game Build Quality

9/10

The polyominos, the player boards, and the octagons were all made out of thick chipboard with a matte finish. One nice touch was that the punchboards came in a plastic envelope which kept them in perfect condition while shipping. 

The meeples were standard size meeples, with the double meeples being a nice custom touch. The box is fine (no real insert) but everything fit inside nicely.  

Artistic Direction

9/10

I really enjoyed the art! It was colorful and vibrant, and I thought the style of the art contributed to the party vibe. I also enjoyed looking through all the ways the artist was able to fit human shapes on different polyominos. The player bars were all unique, which wasn’t necessary at all for gameplay but was a great touch.

Fun Factor

7/10

This game was relatively light but quite enjoyable. The most satisfying moments were setting up a 4 row completion with a well-placed piece and ruining your competition’s plans by loading the octagon with pieces they couldn’t use. 

There was some nice tension between trying to maximize areas of the same color to get the double meeple and many smaller areas to get more individual meeples. The solo mode also made for a relaxing but mildly thinky game. 

Age Range & Weight

8/10

The age suggestion is 8 and up, which I think is spot on. It’s difficult to plan ahead, so there is a low risk of AP (which also means a higher risk for some lucky pieces to give someone an advantage). 

It doesn’t require reading, so even younger players could probably understand the rules and play, even if they didn’t use an optimal strategy.

Conclusions

8.3/10

This is definitely the most Tetris-esque polyomino game I’ve played, which made great to teach to new board-gamers. It’s likely to become a frequent gateway game for me as I try to get more of my friends and coworkers into the hobby. 

It’s still fun if you’re an experienced gamer, as it makes a good filler or if you’re wanting a polyomino game with a little more player interaction.