The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Sad Pandas — Pandante 2.0

Thanks to A____ R____ (a nobleman of most refined tastes) I have been made aware of the new Pandante rules and Kickstarter for Pandante 2.0 / Expansion. However, having read the proposed updates I must admit I am a sad panda. Presumably 2.0 adds something, but let’s look at the rules changes.

The breakfast step has been removed  — A minor change, but I thought being able to keep your hand, and when to buy was interesting.

The ante is now 3 gold instead of 1 gold (but you can fold on the first betting round) — Already Pandante was somewhat no-fold-em (I tended to fold more than most, in the local game), the bigger pots will make it more so.

Floosh and full house swapped positions in hand rank — Calculating the odds of getting a hand (ignoring snacks) did indicate that they were in the right position before. (And believe me, doing those calculations was tricky). But in my initial notes on Pandante Strategy (unpublished), I note that two pair is the kiss of death. It’s a very inflexible hand. So, I agree with the rationale that a busted Floosh may often salvage something but a busted full house is probably toast, so I do not mind this change (assuming I had corrected mats).

Somewhat streamlined kicker and challenge rules — I am ambivalent.

The Joker wins the full pot, but hands with joker’s lose ties — Strongly against. The joker was a mixed blessing, usually beneficial but also forcing some caution on abilities and sometimes with hand declaration (to try to win without having to reveal the joker). I’ve thrown the joker away and been right. The current joker is still not always better than other cards, but it’s not nearly as interesting.

Abilities can no longer be challenged and are no longer tied to suits — Pandas do drugs? This is simply bad.

Not having read the full list of new abilities, perhaps the new game is amazing. But let me be clear. The abilities (and challenging thereof) are Pandante’s heart. I’m not sure how long my strategy notes would be if I finished them[1], but they would be much, much shorter with 2.0 rules.

  • You can make money by suckering people with abilities, even if you lose the hand.
  • Linking abilities to suits means there are 15 different combinations of the 7-2 offsuit (ignoring which suit is high) (+ six combinations of 7-2 suited). They are all phenomenally different. And the values of suits change based on position. 7-2 Red/Green is good[2] in under the gun, and mediocre on the button. 7-2 Orange/X is terrible early, mediocre in the middle, and reasonable on the button.
  • They are modifying or eliminating Black (Greed). Greed was good. Greed was right. Greed works. Greed makes some borderline hands playable and also induces folding in others. The blue/black interaction is a fascinating subgame, as the distinguished gentleman above noted.
  • On a related note, the Panda Lords are also changed for one ability, which means that the suits are all indistinguishable. Ugh.
  • I fully understand that this is the slow part of the game. That’s because this is the interesting part. The lying and challenging. Snacks selection is basically a mathematical game (with some assumption setting).

Finally, the challenge rules are such that multiple people challenge (simultaneously) only one gets paid. Again, no.

It may very well be that the new game is still interesting, or even more interesting. However, these rules do not inspire confidence.

[1] So far around 8-10k words.

[1] I mean, as 7-2 hands go.


Written by taogaming

March 12, 2015 at 5:42 pm

Posted in Reviews

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  1. More reason not to buy Sirlin games is what I see here. Why not just let a game be a finished product?

    Ben Finkel

    March 12, 2015 at 6:00 pm

  2. In the category of updated games, it looks like Sentinels of the Multiverse has a Computerized version. Haven’t played it yet, but the pricing structure looks…expensive to get the game with all of the expansions.

    I’ll probably wait for a Steam sale to pick it up.


    March 13, 2015 at 7:08 pm

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