Play Time: 60 minutes
Age Recommendation: 12+
Difficulty to Learn: 4/10
Mastery Curve: 5/10
Luck Variance: 4/10
Publisher: Funko Games
Theme and Overview
Pan Am tells the story of the historic airline over seven rounds of play, beginning with the company’s inception in the late 1920’s and ending in its hey dey in the 1960’s.
At the start of each turn, an event card is drawn to tell this story and progress the timeline. Each card will not only set some historic context for the turn but also lists a price for the company’s stocks based on those events and provides some added twist or effect to the gameplay.
The players each assume the role of their own independent airlines whose goal is to expand their routes across the world in hopes of eventually selling them to Pan Am for profit and then using that income to either expand further or buy stock in Pan Am. At the end of the seventh round, the player with the most stock wins the game.
In the first phase of the game, players will use their engineer pawns to commit to or bid on different types of actions that will be carried out in the next phase. These include bidding on destination cards (used to place routes on the map), bidding on different types of planes, placing planes to claim routes, bidding on airports, or collecting directive cards. Following that, once all engineer pawns have been place, these actions will be resolved in alphabetical order by their labels on the game board. At the end of each round in what is known as the expansion phase, Pan Am will expand its own routes from its headquarters in Miami and purchase any of the player-controlled routes that it were to pass along the way. Profit!
Though the game’s events span nearly 40 years, the art and aesthetic of the game (including the game box, rule book, and pattern on the insert) is drenched in a 1950’s/1960’s aesthetic; an age when the company was most prolific. This includes beautifully detailed destination cards drawn in the style of post cards, each with unique art and a retro blue-toned game board inspired by the glamour of air travel in this era.
Pan Am contains 28 Event cards (63.5x88mm) and 150 Destination and Directive cards (44 x 68mm).
We continue to be impressed with Prospero Hall’s output. At first glance, these games may appear to put so much of an emphasis on their theme that it would be hard to imagine much space left for actual depth, but the titles that we’ve played from this publisher have always packed enough to keep us coming back for more. Pan Am is no exception.
The bidding/worker placement layer added onto the route-building gameplay makes this feel like a step up from something like Ticket to Ride in a way that is refreshingly engaging but familiar enough for those with experience in the latter to grok. Beyond that, the jockeying of position so that one can put themselves in a spot to be “bought up” by Pan Am makes for an exciting and interactive struggle made more tense by the limited supply of route cards that are only accessible through the auction mechanic.
COREY POINTS: 8/10
NIKKI POINTS: 7/10
Though the event cards will do well to vary the flow of the game, their progression is chosen entirely randomly so rather than basing decisions such as when to sell stock on experience throughout the game, one must instead merely guess when stock prices will be ideal. This can be both exciting and frustrating. Additionally, Event Cards can cause benefits ranging from placing free Airports or upgrading Planes to detriments like “Each player loses $2”. Overwhelmingly, the effects tend to be positive, however the fluctuation of the stock price can be much more volatile.
Aside from the Event cards, the game flow remains relatively consistent which seems appropriate for a route-building game. Players don’t have a ton of opportunity to vary their strategy aside from shifting a balance between the different types of aircraft they invest in or tuning focus on Pan Am-interested routes vs. buying routes for the purpose of expanding one’s own airline but there is certainly a bit more variety here than the aforementioned Ticket to Ride.
COREY POINTS: 7.5/10
NIKKI POINTS: 6.5/10
The production of this game is spot on from a theme perspective. Even the liner of the box looks like the pattern on the inside of an old suitcase. Every bit of the game is drenched in a color palate, font, or artistic style that oozes with the nostalgia of 1960s air travel.
Mechanically, when one plays Pan Am, he or she assumes the role of a mogul at the helm of a smaller airline, looking to grow their business, sell routes to and buy stock from Pan Am. This goes on for seven game rounds represented by significant historical events spanning from the late 1920s to 1968 (as represented by Event cards). These Event cards were cleverly designed to look like newspaper headlines and read “The Great Depression” or “Post-War Expansion” and tend to cause effects on the game that mirror the effects on the economy at that point in history. This is a very fun bit of flavor added to a game that could otherwise be a bit dry.
COREY POINTS: 9/10
NIKKI POINTS: 8/10
Quality of Components
This game has clearly been designed to remain affordable and hits that target at about $25. For that amount of money, you can’t do much better with component durability. Most game objects are made of cardboard, with the exception of the Planes which are a dyed plastic. The cards used to represent Directives, Destinations, and Stocks, are a thick cardboard and of excellent quality.
As an added bonus, the game box includes a nice cardboard insert which is simple but very effective. There are also two plastic trays included to house the Planes.
COREY POINTS: 7.5/10
NIKKI POINTS: 7.5/10
This game is truly visually stunning and delivers this in a way that is very conscious of the game’s function and turn structure. The board’s five main actions are laid out alphabetically in an easy-to-follow order in the space surrounding the main board’s routes and event cards meant to be laid out in the very center of the game board free from any route obstruction. Everything fits together, is easy to follow, and looks wonderful all at once.
COREY POINTS: 9/10
NIKKI POINTS: 8/10
Our overall score based on the responses of both reviewers in five different categories (10 points possible for each).