Pan-Am provides complex strategy with tight gameplay, satisfying mechanics and a fun twist ending!
Pan-Am The Game is a competitive economic strategy game with worker placement and renouncement manage mechanics. The goal of each player is to have the most stock in Pan-Am (the airline, not the game itself) after the game’s 7 rounds. Stock is bought with money, which is earned primarily through creating flight routes and selling those flight routes to Pan-Am as they slowly become the global airline monopoly.
Pan-Am combines a lot of different game play elements into a really enjoyable experience. I was able to get my hands on it thanks to Funko sending me a copy to test out for myself. There’s a worker placement element, but also economic bidding and route building and resource management. But while this might sound over-saturated or overwhelming, all the pieces fit together really well into very simple and streamlined gameplay.
The game plays out over 7 rounds. At the start of each round an Event card is played, which bring a random element to the game, as well as controls how well Pan-Am is doing. Then the worker placement phase, where players take turns placing their engineers around the board to perform various tasks: building airports, securing landing rights, buying planes, and setting up flight routes. You can also get Directive cards which are neat little random bonuses.
Setting up a route is the primary source of money in Pan-Am. It requires landing rights in both connecting cities as well as a plane which can make the trip. Landing rights are acquired by having an an airport in that city, or by using city cards. Simply having the city card of that city grants you landing rights. Discarding a city card grants you landing rights to any city in that region and discarding 2 cards from the same region grants landing rights in any city. Once landing rights are acquired, assign a plane to the route and start raking in the cash.
While the players are all duking it out, Pan-Am itself is also on the map, growing and taking over more and more routes, even going so far as to buy them from the players.
The real fun twist here isn’t that you’re goal is to become the greatest airline in the world; it’s to become the biggest investor in Pan-Am when they becomes the greatest airline in the world! At the end of each round, players spend their money to buy stock in Pan-Am, the price of which fluctuates throughout the game. And whichever player has the most stock at the end of the game wins!
During my playthough, I was starting to get nervous about the game’s balance. On round 3, the red player was in a dominant position, but had spent all their resources to get there. Meaning in the following round, Yellow surged ahead. Going into final scoring, there was an Event card which netted Yellow a HUGE amount of cash, and I was certain Yellow was going to win. But it was a tie! Yellow won only because they had $4 to Red’s $2! I was flabbergasted and impressed all at the same time.
A large part of Pan-Am is the collecting of Landing Rights and creating Routes. As the player count increases the competition for those things will increase as well. If you enjoy tense bidding wars over the one card everyone needs and get schadenfreudenistic glee from ruining someone else’s schemes, Pan-Am is for you.
For your first game, I recommend you first give yourself a 2 round test run, then start over. I had a lot of “ah ha!” moments throughout the second round, where everything fell into place. Because all of the mechanics are so closely integrated, it can be easier to really wrap your head around all the pieces once you’ve been them all working together, and be able to spot the much better moves you could have made in the first round.
Overall, Pan-Am is highly recommended for any strategy game enthusiast.
Pan-Am The Game – $35 – Available June 21
Pan American World Airways ruled the skies and made travel more accessible without sacrificing glamour. Players take control of their own fledgling airlines and compete with Pan Am and others to build a business empire. Outbid rivals for lucrative landing rights in exotic locales, buy planes with longer range to reach the far corners of the world, and use insider connections to advance your interests. As you bump up against the ever-growing Pan Am, you can sell your routes to the company to turn a tidy profit. It’s a game of global strategy that spans four decades of industry-changing historic events and technological developments, in which every timeline is different.
- 2 – 4 Players
- 60 Minutes
- Ages 12+
Thanks for reading!