Category: Tammany Hall


Posted on /by Nathan McNair/in Machi Koro, News, Tammany Hall

Machi Koro Hits Major Holiday Guides!

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Everyone from BGG to Mommy Blogs are adding Machi Koro to their Holiday Gift Guides. Thinking about putting Machi under the tree? Don’t take our word for it!

GeekDad recommends this “quick-playing game that took me by surprise.” “It’s easy to learn and has a good mix of luck and strategy.”

The Morning News says, “In 1995, Settlers of Catan helped usher in a renaissance in contemporary boardgaming. Nearly two decades later, Machi Koro is here to remind us of the joys of city-building.”

BGG (the touchstone of table top) recommends as a “fast-playing” and “charming” family game.

Starlight Citadel dubs it a “fast-playing, colorful, and quick game.” With a “surprising degree of complexity.”

Other Gift Guides include mommy blog, SAHM.com, CoolStuffInc., GeekMom,Gameosity and more!

Already got Machi and want a chance to add some complexity (and a player) with a pre-release copy of the Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion? In honor of the glowing review our lil’ game got in the Guardian (“quick, light and full of charm”), we’ve got contests going on Facebook, Google +, Twitter and Instagram.

And don’t forget about the critically acclaimed Tammany Hall (for the more back-stabbing set)! Tammany Hall: For the Gamer Who Deserves Coal in Their Stockings.

Happy Holidays to all our Panda S fans!

Posted on /by Molly Wardlaw/in Machi Koro, Reviews, State of the Saurus, Tammany Hall/ 1

BBQ, White Pants and Machi Update

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This State of the Saurus will focus mainly on Bar-B-Que. Because…Labor Day. Also, the millions and millions of white pants that will no longer be worn—except in Miami where the dress code calls for only white pants, all the time, all year long.

All right, let’s begin… JUST KIDDING. We know y’all want to know about the status of one Machi Koro. So, let’s get on it:

Good news! The shiny, new, bootiful print run is ON A BOAT. (Happy dance!) And because we love you so much, we’ve got some picks of the final print run to share with you below:

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Machi was delayed due to some production issues. They were not major, but we here at Pandasaurus pride ourselves on quality. And anything below the very best is just not good enough. We hated this being delayed. We hated even more how many of y’all were pretty darn bummed because of the delay, and to you we want to say THANK YOU! Thanks for your patience, for your loyalty as a Panda S customer, and for your boundless love of this tiny little game. You guys have really gotten the word out, given the world Machi fever, and seriously rock.

In other Machi news, Geek Dad (the famed blog previously of Wired fame) wrote a full, fantastic review of our little game in which he implores readers to “pay a visit to lovely Machi Koro” (it was mentioned in his Best of Gen Con, but an actual review is now here). Some choice gems from Jonathan Liu:

~”What I love about Machi Koro is that it’s so simple to learn, and even though there’s a lot of luck involved, much of the gameplay is about deciding how to take advantage of the odds.”

~”Since Machi Koro was one of the few games I picked up during Gen Con, I got a head start learning it and playing it, and my kids have really enjoyed playing it with me… It’s all about turning your town into a powerful economic engine.”

~”You’ll have to wait a couple weeks before it’s available in the US, but keep an eye out for Machi Koro. It may be a small town, but it’s definitely worth a visit.”

But that’s enough of that for now, because we’ve got some other tricks up our sleeves. On the same boat is a reprint of something near and dear to our heart, the one and only game of political backstabbing and corruption and our first game ever, TAMMANY HALL! It’ll be here soon, the box will look a little different, but it’s the same great game y’all love. Be sure to ask your FLGS about it.

Also hitting the same time is Kill Shakespeare. It’s the Battle of the Bard, IDW’s first foray into games based on their hit comic book series by the same name. Kill Shakespeare was designed by Thomas and Wolfe, the gents behind Yedo, so we’ve got a feeling you hardcore gamers out there are gunna like this one.

PANDA S SEAL OF APPROVAL TIME: We’d also like to report on the game we played at NYEEK, our local game night, this week. This was one of N’s prized scores from Gen Con and we can’t do enough cheerleading (with handstands!) for Sheriff of Nottingham. The game is duplicitous in all the right ways. If you’re in the mood for one heck of a bluffing game (we’re talking layer upon layer upon layer of deceit) nab this one IMMEDITATELY. We were in stitches.

Until next time friends, happy gaming and don’t let anyone ANY ONE give you flack for wearing that Spiderman onesie to bed… Like someone I know…

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Posted on /by Nathan McNair/in Tammany Hall

Tammany Hall is sold out!

Tammany Hall has officially sold out at the publisher level, which means you can still get Tammany Hall at your favorite store if they still have copies in stock, but we are officially sold out of copies to send to them. So if you’ve had your eye on this game that has wowed everyone who has played it, you better get a move on before it is too late!

Check out more Tammany Hall on our website!

Posted on /by Nathan McNair/in Reviews, Tammany Hall

Giant Fire Breathing Robot Reviews Tammany Hall

Review: Tammany Hall – Greatly Deserving its Reprint

Reproduced with permission from Giant Fire Breathing Robot

Dishonesty, slander, and pandering. Each is the love-child of a politician in his campaign for the office. And, in Tammany Hall, you too can slander your friends! Tammany Hall is sometimes referred to as a “Grail” game. It is a wonderful, enjoyable, and unique experience set in nineteenth century New York politics, but only 500 copies were ever produced. And, of those, only a handful made it to the States.

However, Pandasaurus Games has announced that it will be publishing a new edition of the game through Kickstarter. And, since I’m one of the lucky few who secured a copy of Tammany Hall, I thought it was time to give this great design some much needed exposure.

The Basics. In Tammany Hall, the players compete to win votes in various precincts represented on the board. The game accommodates up to five players. In a five player game, the whole board is open from the beginning. With fewer players, the board slowly opens up a bit at a time so that the area remains small and the players are still forced to interact.

And, in the style of Boss Tweed, the best way to get votes is to establish your political machine and to befriend local immigrant populations. Identity politics is everything for Tammany Hall. The game is played over sixteen rounds (years) with an election for Mayor held every four rounds. Each round, the player must place a political “boss” in a precinct, and then can either place a second boss in the same or different precinct or can shepherd in an immigrant into New York.

The beginning board, already bustling with local populations

Bringing in a new immigrant cube allows you to change the dynamic of the precincts. If you are in good with the Irish, for example, you might start moving Irish into a German neighborhood in the hope of changing the demographics in your favor. And, for bringing that immigrant in to the city, you get a political favor chip of that immigrant type. This represents the good will you have earned in that community.

When election time comes, the players go through the races precinct by precinct. Players have one vote for every “boss” in the precinct. But, if they have favor chips that match an immigrant population in the precinct, they can use those for extra votes. Basically a “get out the vote” effort. Players then secretly decide how many favors they want to call in on that particular precinct. The one with the most total votes (counting bosses and favors) gets to keep their boss there and gets one point and one vote. The loser takes back his boss and both players lose any used favor chips.

Most districts are just worth a point. Some, like Tammany Hall’s location, have extra benefits.

The winner gets three points and is crowned Mayor for the next four years. They get to go first (though going first is a disadvantage in Tammany Hall since it allows other players the last actions before a vote). But, more importantly, they get to assign the city’s other roles.

The Deputy Mayor takes a free favor chip each turn. The Police Chief escorts an immigrant cube off of the board entirely. The Council President can lock up a ward, preventing any further influence in it. The Precinct Chairmen can redistrict slightly and move an immigrant from one precinct to another. The Mayor gets no special action.

Finally, any political game worth its salt would allow you to slander your opponents. And Tammany Hall is worth any preservative substance. Players are allowed three slanders over the course of the game. They can use them to kick an opponent’s boss out of a precinct and, when conditions are right, the rumors may spread to a neighboring precinct as well. This is especially effective when used just prior to an election.

Give your opponents special powers. But choose wisely.

The Feel. Tammany Hall is a rough and tumble area majority game. One of the unique and interesting aspects of the game is that the relative power each player has in the game is very fluid. One player may have a certain precinct locked up one year, only to find his immigrant base depleted, or a new immigrant group with strong ties to another player moving in.

As a political area majority game, it can be played with or without table talk. My preference, generally, is without. A lack of alliances and syndicates is best. But, it certainly supports temporary alliances and gentleman’s agreements to attack the leader.

While Tammany Hall doesn’t have a “catch up” mechanism per se, it can be absolutely brutal to the player with the most points. The Mayor will generally be the point leader and he will have to play the next four rounds without any special powers. And, because he goes first, that means it is difficult for him to make opportune plays. In the final year before an election, the Mayor will make his move and then watch as his opponents slander him, move away his immigrant power base, and otherwise erode his ability to perform well in the next election.

Political favors are wooden discs. Somehow, that seems appropriate.

One of the most intriguing aspects is the Mayor’s duty to assign the other players to the special posts. The Mayor must choose those jobs that will benefit his opponents least. And, those same opponents will use those effects to the maximum extent possible to narrow the gap between themselves and the mayor. This can lead to interesting, tense discussions as well as plenty of broken agreements and shattered alliances.

Tammany Hall typically takes about half a play or so to really see how the immigrants impact elections. It’s actually a fabulous system as moving even a single cube of a favored group can suddenly make a safe precinct heavily contested. The game is full of tactical slander and long term strategy to take over and become the biggest party boss in New York. And, with an election every four turns, players have little precious time between scoring rounds to accomplish their goals.

Components: 2 of 5. This score relates to my version of Tammany Hall by Stratamax games. The Pandasaurus version has promised unspecified improvements. All of the pieces are wooden bits, discs, and cubes. So it’s pretty much your standard euro fare. But, the score gets knocked because of the color choice. The board colors are not distinct enough and, while it evokes the feel of a government map, it doesn’t help gameplay. Also, the player colors are red, yellow, brown, black, and purple. But the purple and brown are so dark that it is easy to confuse them with black, especially in low light. The color choice is really a drag on an otherwise good quality set.

OK. Under better lighting they seem more distinct. But trust me. Without a camera flash, these things seem very close in color.

Strategy/Luck Balance: 4.5 of 5. No cards, no dice. Everything is totally player driven in this game. As such, strategy and decision is key. There is some minimal luck, though. Available immigrants are drawn randomly from the bag. So, if you are in good with the Italians and suddenly the draw produces only Irish, German, and English, you may be in a spot of trouble. Such instances, though, are exceedingly rare. And, in one of the few benefits to going first, you can nab up a needed population, or place the one an opponent needs far form where he needs it.

Mechanics: 5 0f 5. Rather than provide depth by allowing players a cornucopia of possible actions, Tammany Hall sticks with just two. Whether to usher an immigrant into New York or play a second boss, and whether to use one of your limited slander chips. That’s it. Yet, the design of the game is such that from these few actions, the players have a whole bevy of choices, options, and strategies to attempt. This is especially pronounced as immigrant populations change over the course of the game. Its easy for a player to find himself challenged in new precincts, or through manipulation, far more dominant in others.

Replayability: 3.5 of 5. The random immigrant draws mean that the game will never play the same twice. Beyond that, though, the play is so varied and in depth that you will find yourself in unfamiliar territory in each game. In a way, it is a little bit like playing Go (at the amateur level). The game has a ton of variety, not because of exceeding randomness or variable set ups, but because the player choices all lead down unique paths that would be very difficult to duplicate game to game.

Spite: 4 of 5. While I wouldn’t necessarily call Tammany Hall a “take that” game, there is a high spite quotient. The slander chips are pure spite that can eliminate opponents’ bosses from a precinct. This can effectively end their bid in an area or cost them a turn to replace the boss. Additionally, the manipulation of immigrant populations can dramatically alter the competitiveness of a certain area.

Some immigrants at Castle Gardens just waiting for help from a kindly politico.

Overall: 4.5 of 5. Tammany Hall is one of the most mechanically brilliant games that I’ve played where deep strategy springs from a small choice set. But, beyond that, the game is just fun. It’s a great area majority/control game that provides just the right level of both indirect (through immigrants) and direct (through placement and slander) competition. Tammany Hall is one of just a few games that I am always eager to play.

Posted on /by Nathan McNair/in Tammany Hall

Tammany Hall is coming soon from Pandasaurus Games!

When we started this company, our goal was to help good games make it to market and find players.   Our first two games (Roller Coaster Rush and Meteor) are extremely fun games that we think are going to bring a lot of good memories to players.  That’s why we are publishing the games and putting so much work into making sure they are top notch.

That said, if you had told me within 60 days of founding this company that we would be publishing one of my top 5 games, I would have laughed in your face.  I would have been wrong.

I can’t express how insanely excited I am to officially announce that Pandasaurus Games will be bringing Tammany Hall to the world this year.   Before I begin my crown of sonnets for all things Tammany Hall, I have to thank the guys at Stratamax Games, especially Doug Eckhart, the games designer both for this opportunity and for designing such an amazing game.

Tammany Hall is currently rated in the top 400 strategy games on board game geek, and in the top 900 games overall, for a game that is extremely rare that is nearly unheard of.  I’ve heard the game called a “holy grail” game for a lot of gamers who have been dying to get their hands on it.  It routinely goes for well over 100 dollars on Ebay.  And now it’s coming to kickstarter in just a few short months.

I don’t want to get into a rules explanation of the game (the rules are available online!).  But it’s a game with minimal luck, and insane amounts of player interaction.  Area Control, blind bidding, variable player powers, negotiation, alliance forming, alliance breaking, backstabbing, deal making.  Tammany Hall couldn’t be a more fitting name for the title.

Pandasaurus Games publishing Tammany Hall is a strange story that starts at BGG Con 2010.  I was in the Essen games room and saw what I thought was an overlooked Martin Wallace game sitting on the shelf and grabbed it.  It turns out it wasn’t a Martin Wallace game, but the production design had been handled by Tree Frog games with excellent artwork from Peter Dennis.  So, my mistake wasn’t too far off the mark.

I sat down with the rules and within 15 minutes had a game going.  Then I came back the following day, and the day after that.  I think all told I got in about 5 games of Tammany Hall that weekend.  To say I was smitten with this game is an understatement.

The tension of forming alliances with players you can’t trust, breaking those alliances, moving immigrant groups into strategic locations and the absolute thrill of the blind bidding mechanics had me tickled pink.  Assigning your losing rivals political office after each election is insanely tense.  Everyone promising you the moon to get the office they want.  But no one to trust..  Once you’ve given them their office, who’s to say they won’t use their office stab you in the back?  What more could you possibly want from a game?

Then on the final morning of the conference something marvelous happened.  During my last play of the game, another player picked up a German immigrant cube, and dropped it in a ward he wasn’t even contesting.  I didn’t understand the strategy behind the move, only to watch it set off a war between 3 other players for that ward and allowed him to cruise to victory elsewhere.  Brilliant.

The day I got home from BGG Con, I set out to find a copy of Tammany Hall for sale.  No luck on any of the usual suspect online game stores, nothing for sale on BGG, nothing for sale on ebay.  Then word from the games’ creators.  They had 80 copies on a boat coming home from Essen 2010, and they would be for sale as soon they received them.  I had a new mission.  Checking their website and the games BGG page every single day until the games were for sale.  Then one glorious evening a few months later, a post to their homepage, the last 80 copies of the game were up and for sale.  I ordered it immediately and my unadulterated love affair with the game has continued since.

Nearly 2 years later, here we sit.  Tammany Hall is out of print, going for astronomical prices online and I own a small publisher.  So I send an email to Stratamax assuming it will have all the success of a lead balloon.   Then something I never expected happened.  I got a reply.  I don’t want to get into specifics of the process, but 30 days later, here I am.  Publishing what is without a doubt one of my favorite games.  Someone pinch me.

We’re going to have more info out soon.  Expect to see the game at upcoming conventions including Origins, give-a-way contests, kickstarter launch news, and a string of reviews as my lone copy of the 2nd edition of makes its way across the country to some of the top board game reviewers on BGG.

Tammany Hall.  Take Power.  Rule New York.

Tammany Hall on Pandasaurus Games