Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Friday 13 July 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Pyramid of Pengqueen

Game: Pyramid of Pengqueen

Publisher: Brain Games

Designer: Marcel-Andre Casasola Merkle

Year: 2018
Penguins love fish and when it comes to fish they are definitely prepared to cut class. If you’re familiar with this behaviour, then you’ve probably played Ice Cool from Brain Games. The next chapter of the story involves these adventurous penguins finding a secret crypt underneath their school. Up to no good, as always, they enter the crypt, but find that it is guarded by the mummy of the Pengqueen.

Whilst the pun in the title of Brain Game’s latest game in the Ice Cool universe leaves a little more to be desired than its predecessor, the cute penguin theme is still one that comes through in this fantastic production. Pyramid of Pengqueen is a reprint of Fluke der Mumie from Ravensburger which was a highly acclaimed, but very much out of print, kids’ game. Let’s take a look at the game and see if it has the required ‘magnetism’ for grown-ups looking for a lighter one vs. many experience.


Gameplay in Pyramid of Pengqueen varies based on which side of the board you are sitting, one one side up to 4 brave explorers seek to claim the treasures hidden in the pyramid. On the other side the mummy seeks to capture those explorers to protect it's treasure. Each explorer is given 5 treasures (one of each colour) to collect, should they get all 5 then they will win the game. The mummy must collect a number of lives from the explorers, gaining one for each one they capture. Importantly the mummy can not see where the explorers are at any time, but the explorers can see the mummy's movement.

Movement in Pyramid of Pengqueen is dice based, the explorers will roll up to 5 dice on their turn, re-rolling as many as they would like as much as they would like and then choose 1 to use. These dice enable them to move their penguin between 1 and 4 spaces, or to use the arrow to move as far as they can in a straight line until they hit a wall. Whichever they choose they must announce to the mummy player, allowing them to get a mental checklist of where they may have gone. If an explorer ends thier movement on a treasure that they need then they must announce that, letting the mummy player know exactly where they are.

The final face on the explorer's dice is the mummy face, should they roll that then the dice is locked and cannot be re-rolled or rolled by future explorers. Should an explorer want to, at the start of their turn they may pick up all the dice including the ones with mummy faces, at the point the mummy player is allowed to move 1 space for every mummy-faced die that was picked up. Once it reaches the mummie's turn they roll the black dice, which gives them a speed of 1 to 3. But for each white die currently showing a mummy face the mummy can move an extra space.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

The first thing that struck me about Pyramid of Pengqueen is the visuals, the game box that turns into a stand for a magnetic board is lovely and serves as a great divider for the game. The separation for the two sides does have it's flaws, you tend to be able to see enough of the explorer's arms to get a general idea of where they may be for example. However when it comes to mummy movement the game really shines, there's nothing quite so enjoyable as seeing the mummy token on the explorer side just pass you by. Even when it catches you the magnetic action that drags your piece on top of the mummy's results in a satisfying noise, letting all know what just happened.

Playing as an explorer is fun, being able to watch the mummy go by, decided when to push your luck with re-rolls to get the movement you need, even deciding when it's safe to go for treasures. There's a lot of decision making to be made on the explorer's side of the game board. On top of this deciding when it's best to collect the white die showing the mummy can be crucial in being caught or not, sometimes it's worth doing so just to send the mummy after one of your "friends".

Unfortunately all is not so rosy on the mummy side. With only one die to roll and all the decisions about your movement being dictated by your opponents you have to be very reactionary. The truth is you are staring at a blank board for the duration of the game, just hoping to hear that click when you catch someone. Being able to work out where the explorer's could be is one thing, but in most cases you are looking at a 50/50 shot at best, and against a clever group of explorer's working together you have little chance of achieving much.

This leaves Pyramid of Pengqueen in a weird position where 4 players can be having a great time, while the 5th sits there grumbling looking at a never-changing board for the duration. The game is best played when the explorers are treating each other as enemies as much as the mummy, deliberately re-rolling the dice to try and make the mummy faster when they think they are safe. Pyramid of Pengqueen has been good fun to play, but it certainly has it's flaws, I would encourage it to be played by parents ~(as the mummy) against children who are less likely to use their advantages to the fullest.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

Pyramid of Pengqueen certainly has a great gimmick with the magnetic pieces. It’s very fun for the penguins to watch the mummy movement from the other side of the board and it can get very tense as the mummy edges towards you. For the mummy, there is certainly less entertainment value as the board never changes. When people see you playing this game, they’re definitely intrigued and interested to find out what’s going on!

The game has an interesting balance of cooperative and competitive elements for the penguins, which is especially noticeable when playing with typically strategic adult players. If penguins agree to re-roll mummy dice while the coast is clear or to take turns being the ‘decoy’ then the mummy can really feel pretty ganged up on whilst the penguins are having a great time plotting their tactics. I strongly dislike the experience of being the mummy and being so obviously plotted against. It certainly feels like there is luck in whether the mummy has a good time based on how unlucky the penguins get with the dice rolls.

I think I’d rather feel more in control of the game and have a greater element of deduction as the mummy. Almost every catch feels like luck because even when the penguin reveals their location it can be hard to follow where they go next. I love deduction games, but I don’t like blindly running around in the dark! I think I’d only ever play Pyramid of Pengqueen again to entertain kids who might move more erratically and conspire against the mummy a little less. As an adult playing as the mummy with children, I think that Pyramid of Pengqueen would be a really educational game with a great tactile element that keeps kids engaged. As adult gamers, it just always feels like a bad experience for the player(s) on one side of the board.

You Might Like...
  • The production quality is great and we've been approached by intrigued passers by when playing the game in a public place.
  • When the dice roll quite fairly Pyramid of Pengqueen is an interesting game of cat and mouse with some critical decisions on when to pick up treasures and reveal your location.
  • For the penguins the balance of playing cooperatively versus competitively is very interesting and sometimes tough to get right.
You Might Not Like...
  • Life as the mummy can be boring and somewhat futile, especially if the penguins refuse to roll the mummy face on the dice.
  • If you're trying to play as a really effective mummy there can be a huge number of variables and possibilities to remember from turn to turn.

The Verdict

5/10 We are not the right audience for Pyramid of Pengqueen. In most cases a table of adults can just make life very boring for the mummy who has very little to keep them engaged in the game. We feel like this game is a better fit for the parent and children gaming setting.

Pyramid of Pengqueen was a review copy kindly provided to us by Brain Games.

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