This simple easy-to-play card game was one of those I brought back from this year’s Essen Spiel. In Pyramids of the Sun, players score points for the contribution their cards make to completion of a pyramid.
On your turn, you can either draw two cards (up to a maximum hand size of five) or you can play to the pyramid any number of cards from your hand. Cards are played as if they are bricks laying across two cards in the row below. They score either the value on the card laid or the card’s level in the pyramid, whichever is the lower. Scores are doubled for the end cards on the left and right of each level, with a triple score for a card that tops off the pyramid. Players can also score extra points (or draw an extra card) if they lay a card with a symbol adjacent to a card with a matching symbol.
Children and families will enjoy this fast-playing game but seasoned games players will probably be left wanting more. There is no requirement or incentive to ‘complete’ levels (they just need to be able to support the cards laid in the level above), so the game can usually be won by the player who best times a five-card end-game dash, opportunistically making use of extra card draws from matched symbols.
Pyramids of the Sun is attractively presented but there are quibbles. The rules suggest that the end cards be stacked in a separate draw pile. This makes sense but it would then have been helpful if they had different backs to the other cards.