X-Pasch Deluxe

A game for 3-6 infiltrators
Game design by Valentin Herman
Published by Fanfor Verlag

X-Pasch is an abstract game of company formations and take-overs. Players throw 3, 6-sided dice and use combinations of the result to various effects. Companies are represented by playing cards and are controlled by the player with a simple majority (more than any other player). If under your control at the start of your turn you score it's income, in euros, and this is added to your previous turn's total. You now throw your three dice and use the combinations to place cards into play, place votes on cards already in play, move votes between companies and draw cards. It is important to note who started the game as play proceeds as a series of rounds, and a player with the least euros at the end of a round gets to re-roll one of his dice. Important for the scoring too, for as soon as a player gets 120 euros play ends immediately, players yet to score in the last round tally their income and whoever has the highest total wins.

Fundamental to the game is the concept of a 'pasch' or double. As certain combinations and totals are harder to roll than others, the corresponding companies tend to be more valuable. As an example we see here the '3-pasch or 10' card. It has a value of 6 euros and a founding bonus of 4 votes. If a player rolled 3,3,5 and this card was in his hand, he could put it into play using the two 3's he would place two votes on the card (for the two dice used) but also an additional 4 votes for the founding bonus, very handy. With the spare '5' die the player could:-

  • draw a card , to a maximum of five. If you have 5 cards you use the dice to exchange instead.
  • move one of your votes from one company to another in play. The vote must go to a card with an equal or lower euro value.
  • play 'found' a '5' company or place a vote on a '5' company already in play.

Note that any combination of the above is possible. There are some additional rules for a triple on the dice.

After mastering the basic rules, optional rules can be introduced, including the dreaded 'bankruptcy roll' which a player can use instead of his normal throw. A two-edged sword as if he cannot apply the result to any company but his own then so be it!! Another optional rule makes some companies more vulnerable to takeovers as they have colour coding so you can add extra voters if you can match the colours.

The 'Deluxe' part of the game is the addition of an extra deck of cards with a different colour back. The two decks are kept separate so the player has the option to draw from either. The deck adds more strategy with cards that can add or double income, some for a limited time. Other cards are high risk companies with good euro returns but vulnerable to bankruptcy rolls, merger cards for hostile take-overs and the 'Risky Business' option of using votes to by an extra die to roll which can replace any of the others. The most powerful perhaps the 'Managers Academy' that starts in play but uncontrolled. Votes are added to the academy using 'straights' (3,4,5) instead of doubles. Whoever controls the academy can cancel the effect of one bankruptcy roll but then removes all his votes from the academy! They also up the win criteria to 150 euros.

Not sure if strategy comments belong in a review but I generally find even if you cannot take control of an opponent's company, placing enough to tie for majority and thus cause them to lose the income can be just as effective. They tend to develop an 'attachment' to previously owned companies that can distract them from the big picture and neglect their own position.

My own feelings for X-Pasch are positive. Play time for three to four player is reasonably short, but could drag with more (the publishers recommend 5). Good quality components include lacquered play cards, lots of vote markers and a sturdy box for everything. Age rating of 8 and above causes no concerns and younger players could benefit from the exercise of mental arithmetic, and trying to translate the rules!!

Downside? It's very hard to resist the urge to offer 'advice' during another players turn which some players could resent. Also the little wooden dobbers have a tendency to obscure valuable card information as they accumulate during play. No English rules included in this updated version, so my thanks to Jeff Goldsmith whose games site features a complete translation of the rules and a friendly link should appear below. Check out his 'Merchant of Venus' variant and Cafe International quizlette!