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Papageno...Walking the Tightrope

Delve into an enchanted kingdom and admire the beautiful flocks of birds that soar above your head. A powerful queen rules over these lands and she loves to watch the birds land on the wire near the palace, can you dazzle her by getting the most elegant birds to land on the wire. You will need to be careful as the heavier birds might just cost you the victory.

The front cover of Papageno and some cards
Papageno Card Game

We have played several games now by Helvetiq and each one of their small games has wowed us with how small the game is but how much fun it brings to the table. This game caught my attention due to it offering an interesting mechanic of tableau building with blind cards as well as being inspired by Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute.

First Impressions

When I first received this game the first thing that came to my mind was how small the box was with it being only just larger than the size of the palm of my hand making it an ideal travel game. The art of the game is in the classic styling that Helvetiq applies to many of their titles with it being packed with colour and a playful nature that I have come to expect. The back of the boxes is nothing special in all honesty, it has clarification for ages, play time and player count as well as a small blurb about the game. Inside this small package very little space is wasted at all with a deck of cards taking up the majority of the space and the rest being filled with the rules.

Game Play Overview

Shows how to set the game up for three players with the deck and discard pile in the centre and a grid of cards 2x3 for each player.
Game Setup

In this game each player starts the game with six cards face down in a three by two grid with the deck of cards in the centre with the top card flipped over to create a discard pile. Then each player chooses one card in their tableau to have face up, then the game begins. On your turn you will either draw a card from the deck or take the card off the top of the discard pile and exchange it with one in your tableau with the newly drawn card being placed face up. If you take a card from the draw pile you can choose to discard it after looking at it instead of playing it in your tableau, though if you take a card from the discard pile you must play it into your grid. Once the card has been placed that card remains their until another card replaces it or it is the end of the game.

Image of the three special action cards egg, Papageno and pan flute
Special Action Cards

There are three special cards in the game that change the rules slightly as you play. The first one is the Papageno card that allows you to capture an opponents face-up bird and add it to your tableau exchanging it with a face-up card from your display. You then have the Pan Flute card that once placed instead of the swapped card going to the discard pile it goes to player on the left who has to place it face up in the same space in the grid as where you placed the pan flute card once they have done this they pass the bird card that would be discarded to their neighbour who will do the same, you repeat this process till it gets back to the person who played the pan flute. Lastly you have the special card, the Egg card, that counts as the value of the card to its left or right when calculating points.

A picture of what the game looks like at game end with all 3 players grids face-up
Example Game End

Play continues swapping cards in your tableau till one player has all six cards in front of them face-up marking the end of the game. All other players who do not have all their cards face up now reveal their face-down cards and then all the players count their points. You gain points equal to the number on each bird card, any eggs gain points equal to the value of the card to their right or left chosen by the owning players and if you have two cards in the same column of the same value they cancel each other out resulting in a score of 0 for the pair. The winner is the player with the lowest total points, the first player to win two rounds wins the game.

Pros and Cons

This game is a very small package but packs a punch in terms of game play for a filler game. In my opinion there is very little that I can complain about with this game other than the back of the box being a little cluttered with blurbs in multiple languages and the cards come wrapped in plastic packaging. The game play is really smooth and the components are good quality with the cards being made of good quality card stock. The text for the numbers is clear and bold making it easy to count points and does not take up a lot of space when on the table making it a perfect travel game.

Final Verdict

Overall, I really enjoyed playing this game and can see myself and my wife going back to it regularly. It is quick to set up, easy to play and has a short play time making it a perfect filler game to have between other games or to play on our lunch break. Each game that we have played of this has been close and yes there is an element of luck in this game but being able to choose cards from the top of the deck or discard pile mitigates this somewhat. In conclusion this is a game I would highly recommend for people travelling or who are just looking for a quick and easy game to play in their downtime.

We would rate this game a 9.8/10

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