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Purim — !חג פורים שמח

Purim - okładka

Designer: Philip duBarry
Players: 1-4
Age: 14+
Time: ok 1h
Publisher: Funhill Games (2023)
Mechanics: Cooperation, Area control, Simultaneous action selection

About Purim

Purim is a joyful Jewish holiday commemorating the biblical story described in the Book of Esther. This story likely took place in the middle of the 5th century BCE – it’s the story of the liberation of the Jews from the hands of Haman, a high-ranking official in the court of the Persian king Xerxes I.

Driven by envy towards the Jew Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy the entire Jewish nation in ancient Persia. Haman intended to determine the date of their destruction through casting lots. In Akkadian, which belongs to the Semitic language group, „pur” means „lot” – hence the holiday of Purim. Esther brought about the liberation of her people from oppression and the punishment of their persecutors. By the way, I recommend reading the Book of Esther. You’ll find out how she managed to do it from there. The holiday is celebrated on the 14th day of the month of Adar (or Adar II in a leap year), which is the last month in the Jewish liturgical calendar. This year, Purim falls on March 24th (specifically from dusk on March 23rd until midnight on March 24th).

It is the most joyous of all Jewish holidays. On this day, fasting and public mourning are forbidden, and people exchange gifts of food (while not forgetting about the poor). In the afternoon, a special meal is consumed, during which it is customary to indulge in alcohol. One drinks until they can no longer distinguish between the words „cursed be Haman” and „blessed be Mordecai.”

!חג פורים שמח
Chag Purim sameach!

Purim - plansza - setup

Setup, a 3-player game

The game’s axis

The board depicts ancient Persia divided into 20 regions. In these locations, black and yellow cubes will appear successively. The black cubes represent bad news brought by the sons of Haman. The yellow ones represent good news – messages prepared by Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew, overturning Haman’s decree. If at the end of the game, there is no dominance of black cubes in any of the Persian provinces, the players win. In those places, the Jewish nation is safe. But just one district with more black cubes than yellow ones is enough for the game to end in defeat.

The game’s axis consists of action cards played simultaneously and secretly by the players. After revealing the played cards, we perform their actions one by one – first the loyal action, then the corrupt action. We will proceed this way with most of the cards in each round. However, the last card remaining in our hand will not be played for its action, but for its end effect – and only this effect will be considered. Unfortunately, it will often be unfavorable, so one must choose wisely.

Purim - karta akcji

It’s not easy to pull off. But that’s exactly the card we’re playing 'underneath.’ And when it hits – we can have 'up to three sons of Haman off the table.

Playing cards

At the beginning, I struggled a bit to come up with a strategy. I had to play the first demonstration game to grasp why I’m playing these cards at all and what I want to achieve.

About halfway through, it became clear that the vast majority of actions involved moving messengers, shifting/placing yellow cubes, and adding black cubes, often combined with the movement of Haman’s sons. It also became evident that one should try to create card combos. Many of them have cool effects, provided you have, for example, two messengers in one province. Or two messengers in neighboring districts. The most interesting card I came across was the Trap – moving two messengers to an adjacent province and removing (up to) 3 sons of Haman from there.

Why remove Haman’s sons?

First of all, they generate black cubes for us. But even one or two is enough to lose because they will still spread darkness across the board. Perhaps the more important reason is that several final effects require adding black cubes to a specific son. It points to him by name. And if that son is no longer in the game, the effect cannot be carried out, and the cubes won’t go onto the board.

Another characteristic feature of the gameplay is that we don’t create a new deck from discarded cards when it runs out. Many effects require moving a son of Haman to the top province from the deck and then discarding a card. When we do this enough times, our stack will deplete. And unless we play a card that retrieves provinces from the discard pile, Haman’s sons won’t travel anymore. And they won’t spread black chaos on the board. Of course, this doesn’t mean that cubes won’t appear, but there will definitely be fewer of them.

How to play?

Purim is one of those games where you can’t win without knowing the cards. Each successive game further convinces me that the majority of cards are preparing the ground for that one which will have a „wow” effect. For example, removing three sons of Haman. Or allowing you to take a lot of yellow cubes from some province and spread them across all of Persia. Of course, there’s no guarantee that these cards will „come out,” but the chances are high. Especially since there are at least several key cards, so you would have to be extremely unlucky not to come across them.

The game is definitely not easy. It’s not straightforward to control 20 provinces so that Jews are safe in each of them. So far, I’m losing 1 out of every four games ;)

Haman’s sons „really like” to gather in groups of two or three, and in such a gathering, yellow cubes are easily lost. Sometimes such a pair ends up somewhere on the outskirts where it’s hard for us to reach with messengers. Or even if it happens in the center, you might need to play a card that obliges you to add black cubes around…. It may also happen that you’ll need to move a son of Haman from one end of Persia to the other – and along the way, he’ll be spreading his darkness


And this is another strong card. Provided there are plenty of surplus yellow cubes in some province

And there’s also an advanced variant…

So, once you decide that the basic variant is for wimps and Semitic-style seppuku is your destiny – reach for the additional cards of Haman’s sons. They will make your life even more difficult. But more on that in the next episode.

Because for now, I plan to make the next game easier for myself and and use more than one messenger card. These are the cards that equip a chosen messenger with a unique ability. In a normal game, we reveal just one such card. But I’m not normal anymore ;)  I’ll take two! And some hamantaschen too!

And obligatory solo.

So you don’t think playing solo will be easier! With people – you can always have a bit of a discussion (I’m not sure if entirely in line with the rules, but let’s not fool ourselves, rules are always bent somewhere in cooperative games). People also think – and sometimes even sensibly. Contrary to appearances, it’s very important which card to leave for the final effect and in what order to play your cards. And in solo mode – as the bot you just reveal the top card. And that’s it. You have to face the twists of fate on your own. I didn’t succeed. I didn’t manage with the yellow cubes. I lost. But I’ll definitely try again, because playing in solo mode is like a very good puzzle with elements of surprise.



Purim is an incredibly interesting game mechanically. When we look at the map and think „cooperation”, we subconsciously expect some variant of Pandemic. But here’s a surprise. Do the cubes run out? No, you don’t lose. It’s just a trigger for the end of the game. The month marker? No, it’s not a round counter. You decide at what pace it will move by playing the right cards. Of course, you still have to play most of the cards, but there are exceptions, and the key is their order. Your goal is not to remove all of Haman’s sons or invent a „vaccine”.  You’re to ensure the safety of The Chosen People.

And in addition, the game’s rules are very simple. You just play cards. What happens in the game results from their effects. So easy to explain, yet you have to think hard to win.

Dziękujemy firmie Funhill Games za przekazanie gry do recenzji.

Złożoność gry (4/10):

Oprawa wizualna (8/10):

Ogólna ocena (8/10):

Co znaczy ta ocena według Games Fanatic?
Bardzo dobry przedstawiciel swojego gatunku, godny polecania. Wady mało znaczące, nie przesłaniające mocno pozytywnego odbioru całości. Gra daje dużo satysfakcji.

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