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Pyramology - stackable pyramid fun

The Pyramology game box, grid and pyramid pieces

Players: 1 to 6 players

Ages: 8+

Game Time: 30 minutes


Summary

Pyramology is a pyramid-based board game from Best Board Games, created by Jon Brough, who works as a nurse in Nottinghamshire and was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy (a muscle-wasting condition) in 2003. He dreamt up the game whilst shielding during the COVID pandemic. He'd treated himself to a 3D printer and started printing out simple 3D pyramid shapes and got thinking about colouring the faces and stacking them together.


Gameplay

Pyramology is board game about stacking pyramid pieces and matching up colours on them to score the most points. Try to imagine dominoes but with more colour and with pyramids.

For multiplayer, place the Pyramalogy board on the table where everyone can see it and then place all the pyramids into the Pyramology bag and mix them up. First player is determined by each player drawing a pyramid piece from the bag and counting the number of dots on the piece to establish the value of the piece, whoever has the highest value gets to go first.

Replacing all the pieces into the bag, each player then randomly selects a number of pyramids determined by the number of players. It's up to your play group really if you do a free-for-all or whether each player draws the relevant number of pieces and pass the bag around all civilised-like, or if you take singular pieces in turn...

The first player draws an additional piece out of the bag and places it in any of the 3 x 3 sections of the board.

The Pyramology 3x3 plastic grid with a pyramid piece that has been placed to start a game

They then take a pyramid from their pile of pieces and place it in a neighbouring section to match a colour next to the starting piece. Points are scored based on the colours you match when placing the piece. Blue = four points, red = three points, green = two points.

That player then records their total points for that turn using simple tally marks on the laminated dry-wipe board provided.

Play then moves to the next player who plays a piece and scores, cycling round between players.

Before you can start placing pieces vertically, there needs to be another piece in the neighbouring space.

Rules Lawyer and I were scratching our head a bit on this step as we wondered whether the rules should have made it clear about how edges should work, as edges don't have a neighbouring space. So, can you only play an edge piece once you have placed a piece on one of the other three sides of that grid space or are edges 'free' to play? We also wondered does there always have to be another piece in a neighbouring space for playing a further piece on a higher level, or because it says "before you can start" is it fine for an adjacent space to be empty when you are placing something, so long as one piece has been played on that level? In the photos you will see we opted for still being able to play on the edges.

As the game progresses, pyramids can be placed on their sides and stacks are built vertically forming cubes. Whenever a player plays a pyramid, ALL coloured faces that touch another pyramid must match and EACH matching face scores. When placing the final pyramid to form a cube, all four faces must match, and a 'collar' is placed on top.

According to the rulebook, the player who made the cube gets a free go and gets to place a pyramid to crown the cube; this piece only scores if one or more faces match an adjoining pyramid on the same level. You do have to match any adjoining faces on that level and if you cannot you take an extra piece from the game and may place it immediately if possible.

I am not sure if the free go is both crowning and playing another piece or if the go just refers to the crowning, I believe the latter.


A collar has been placed on a completed cube in a game of Pyramology

If you can play on your turn, you must, you cannot simply pass. If you have no legal plays you take an extra piece from the bag, which you can play immediately if possible. If not, you keep the piece and play passes to the next player. If all players have taken an extra piece and are unable to go in one round, then the game ends. The game also ends if one player runs out of pieces on their turn.

The winner is the player with the most points, with points deducted by the value of the remaining dots on pieces that have not been played. This results in careful thinking about your moves, so as to not have lots of points left to deduct at the end of the game, whilst also being mindful of not handing too many points to your opponent(s) throughout the game.

The rules are quite easy to learn, and in the rulebook version we have at least they were easy to read, with simple language and a decent font size and sensible colour contrasts. It might have been better to have explained scoring pieces in the 'before you start' section before going into more detail on it in the subsequent steps number 1 to 10.

I feel that ages 8+ plus is about the right age range for play, and the game can help children build spatial awareness and learn thinking ahead, making it very family friendly. Equally, more seasoned gamers can enjoy the tactics, whilst still playing a fairly light game.

There is a certain element of player downtime, as there is only so much you can predict/plan ahead for your next turn(s), particularly at higher player counts. However, as the game players relatively quickly, I don't think this is a huge problem, unless if you perhaps have a player that has massive decision paralysis if they have multiple options.

Overall, I loved the multiplayer version of the game. It's a simple but clever concept and is both fun and challenging to play. I feel it can suit players of different levels of gaming experience. It'd be a great one for taking on a family holiday, or for warming up a gaming session.

For extra replayability there is nothing to stop you varying things up by not having individual player pools of pieces and instead drawing from the bag each turn or having only three pieces available.




I did have a couple of playthroughs of the solo game. The difference is that you start with all 70 pyramids available from the start and you aim to place as many pyramids as possible to get the highest possible score. If you get stuck, you can remove previously played pieces to see if different combinations work better and you then score at the end of the game.

My first attempt at the solitaire version (which was also my first play of the game to get a feel of it), I didn't' fully absorb the rules and didn't know that you could add higher levels, so I spent literally around two hours assembling and disassembling and wondering when to stop. In my head because it said 'crown' that meant the cube was finished. 'This was a me problem as it does tell you in the rules "the rules for playing pyramids on higher levels [...] are the same as the original base layer", and you can see this on the how-to-player video on the dedicated website too.

Note to self: when learning a game, read rules through thoroughly multiple times and don't be afraid to refer back to them ... or get a rules lawyer to memorise them first and teach you...

When I played another solo game, it was far easier having understood that you can play higher levels. However, I realised part way through scoring up that I shouldn't have scored cube by cube (compared to piece by piece) as on the lower layer especially I missed the original matching colours on the grid. I questioned whether one might opt for scoring as you go along, accepting that if you make a 'mistake' then so be it, then challenging yourself to keep upping your score as you gain more experience. Aside from this, I did find the solo version fun and relaxing to play, and I got really absorbed in it. This is despite spatial awareness being something I am not gifted in. It took me back to when I used to enjoy playing solitaire games with a deck of playing cards.

Production

I cannot fully comment on the production of the game as we had a review copy. However, I really hope that the final version has better stickers, because the prototype stickers really aren't great. They are overly transparent and therefore show trapped humidity underneath them, resulting in dark patches, and the white dots on yellow triangles become very hard to see. I didn't put the stickers on myself but imagine that it is very fiddly to do and frustrating if you are a bit of a perfectionist. Some of them have torn in places too. I think many people would prefer that the pieces just came preassembled, but I appreciate that this would probably push up the price point of the game.

It is good that the designer has thought about future proofing the game as each playing piece is coded PY1 to PY70 to identify each individual colour combination and there are spare stickers and pyramids included should you need to replace anything. The rulebook does state that replacement stickers and pieces are available to buy at pyramology.com but I couldn't find them when I explored the website.

I do like that the game is portable, but I maybe would have preferred a larger grid and larger pyramid pieces as it does get a little fiddly and it is easy to knock pieces off by accident. This would then make it more friendly for people who have dexterity and/or mobility issues.

Conclusion

​So, let's break it down for you in our key areas:

  • Replayability - Quite replayable as with the 70 different pyramids and random drawing of pieces you are highly unlikely to ever have a game that is the same

  • Production Value - Hard to comment as I did not have a final version of the game. I hope that the final version has better quality stickers, however.

  • Theme - A simple and fun theme of stacking coloured pyramids.

  • Complexity - Gameplay is not complex but still tactical, so can suit players of different gaming experience and is quite family friendly too.

  • Rules - Easy to read and learn.

  • Uniqueness - In my experience, quite a unique concept.

  • Value - £32 (plus shipping) is fairly standard for a game and I think you do get value for money.


A d6 die face showing five pips, each pip the head of the Diary of a Lincoln geek mascot Ink the imp.

Pyramology is an easy-to-learn, fun and challenging game about matching colours on stackable pyramid pieces. Suitable for a variety of players, and family friendly too. A brilliant concept and great in both solo and multiplayer. As long as the stickers in the final version are good, I would probably even score it higher because of its uniqueness.


Your resident Word-nerd Sueyzanne



If you like the sound of the game, you can purchase copy of Pyramology from the website www.pyramology.com.


Once in full production, 5% of all profits from sales will be divided equally between these nominated charities - Muscular Dystrophy UK (https://www.musculardystrophyuk.org/), The Patrick Trust (https://www.thepatricktrust.org.uk/) and The NeuroMuscular Centre (https://www.nmcentre.com/).






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