“In the 14th century, Indian scholars would assemble annually for the Revanthi Pattathanam in Kerala. During the seven-day event, each scholar would be awarded a money bag (a panakizhi) by the Zamorin of Calicut. The games within this bag are inspired by the pursuit of knowledge that these ancient scholars strived for.”
Panakizhi is a set of 3, 2-player, abstract games contained in the one game set. The games are:
- Vancana – A game of changing minds
- Srrakk – A game of collecting knowledge
- Talluka – A game of pushing forth
It is packaged in a cloth bag that has the logo screen printed on one side and the board screen printed on the other. It is small, light, and easy to take with you when you are on the go. Each game lasts an average of 5 mins so it is perfect for filling in those small gaps of time that often pop up in your day.
How to Play
- Determine who goes first (the person that last saw a member of a royal family.)
- The player then moves one of their pieces. Pieces can move to an adjacent empty space
- Kings can move in any direction
- Pawns can only ever move forward, either straight or diagonally forward.
- Play then alternates between each player.
- Once a player’s piece reaches the other side of the board it is removed from play.
A LOOP is a series of moves that lead to the board returning back to the same layout as at the start of the LOOP. These are always started by a jump move.
- Once back at the start of the LOOP, the player whose turn it is can ignore the jump rule for any pieces on this turn & move any of their pieces, as long as it complies to normal movement rules, so as to not re-enter the LOOP.
Play ends once a player has managed to remove 3 of their pieces from the board or when their opponent has no pieces left on the board.
How to Play
- Decide who goes first (e.g. the person who last stacked the dishwasher).
- On their turn a player must move at least one of their pieces, or one complete stack of pieces where the top piece is theirs.
- The move can be:
- Into any orthogonally adjacent empty space.
- Jump over any orthogonally adjacent piece so that the move finishes on top of any other piece or stack of pieces.
- The piece or stack jumped can contain any number of pieces, as long as the stack it lands on has the same number of pieces, or less.
- The top piece of the stack jumped is flipped to change colours.
- The stack landed on must contain the same number of pieces or less than the number of pieces landing on them.
- A jump can’t be made if the stack created will contain more than 4 pieces.
- A jump cannot be made over any piece or stack if the jumping piece/s will finish in an empty space.
- Shed the top piece/s of any stack, where the top piece is their colour & place it in any adjacent empty space.
- Once the top piece is lifted the move must be completed i.e. no checking what is underneath.
- If the next piece revealed also belongs to the player they can shed it as well if desired and there is an empty space to shed into.
- The empty space must be orthogonally adjacent to the first piece shed & be diagonally adjacent to the stack it is being shed from
The game is over when a player has created a stack containing 4 pieces where they own the top piece or when a player has no pieces on the board showing their colour.
How to Play
- Choose the first player (eg last person to eat a slider or know what a slider is)
- On their turn a player slides a row or column only ONE space
- The row or column must have one of their pieces on the end that is being pushed
- No piece can be pushed off the board. All pieces are to always remain on the board
- Where there is a gap in the row or column the pieces are moved one space to fill the gap but the next pieces on the other side of where the gap was are not moved.
- A single piece cannot be pushed.
- A player may not push a row or column that was just pushed by their opponent if it will return the board to the same state that it was just in.
- A push can make the opponent win.
- It is possible to manipulate the board so that your opponent only has one row or column that they can push & by doing so they complete the row/column for you. This is an allowable tactic/action.
If a move causes both players to get 4 adjacent pieces in a row or column then the player that made the move loses the game.
At the most recent PAX Australia (November last year), I got the opportunity to test out one of the Pankizhi games with one of the designers, Sean. At the time, there was only one that was completed, Vancana (at the time called Turncoat). Sean was nice enough to give me the rules to the other 2 games and a set to take home but we had a few games.
I love these styles of games. My love for games came from playing chess with my grandfather. Being beaten over and over again until eventually starting to take a game or two every so often. Funnily, all the training paid off, to Sean’s surprise.
We played several games and I must say I was hooked. It brought me back to playing chess with my grandfather. The game so simple in design and yet elegant in its execution. The rules are easy and simple but the game is anything from easy or simple.
These kinds of games are extremely hard to make. The simplicity of these game need to be incredibly balanced and yet make the game challenging which scales with the players’ skill level. It has this elegance and timeless feel to the game like checkers or chess.
The designer behind Panakizhi has created something that feels ageless. They’re a group of abstract games that pits two players wit against one another. But, all in challenging and yet beautiful simplistic games. Games that fit and are played on a small bag that can easily go anywhere. A game that like chess feels like an instant classic.
I know that these kinds of games aren’t everyone’s favourite. And, many may think they don’t like them. But, I feel like this will make those that like abstract games fall in love. And, for those that don’t, be converted.
Games like Panakizhi help build a more strategic mind, helps you think and makes you learn more about the person you are playing. As games like chess and Panakizhi are more about playing the player than the game itself.
Panakizhi will more than like be in my top 10 games at the end of the year, it is a big call I know. But, the elegance of gameplay, the perfect balance and yet the simplicity is something special.