Pendulum - Strategy, Make Time for It
Updated: Sep 9
We were preparing for competitive, timeless chaos and found an engaging, refined game. We did have to reassess our relationship with time, but there is no need to hurry. The more we played, the more our strategy, planning, and sabotage evolved.
In the world of Dünya, the Timeless King has disappeared. The Iron Clock placed in the Grande Plaza of Montebrielle has come to a stop. The iron pendulum hangs deathly quiet. The legend states that when a leader succeeds the Timeless king and visits the Grande Plaza, they will swing the Pendulum, restarting the clock and entering a new era for the realm.
Our anticipation was high for Pendulum to arrive, and the continual posts of boxes arriving did not help in this matter. Then the Postman brought arrived!! It is fair to note that we enjoy Stonemaier Games, and they are often in rotation at Nerdz Garage.
I have said it before that opening a Stonemaier Game never disappoints—the choice of linen paper, the striking artwork, and durable timers. Thematically, the game fits the Stonemaier collection well.
There is much going on in this game; however, it did not feel frantic or muddled. After a few plays, we did find the nuances in planning ahead. Tracking that two rounds of the Black timer before jumping to the Green area. There were many a round that we all were cheering on the Green timer to finish before the Purple to utilize that reward before the end of a round.
We overlooked the sabotage value until a few games in and blocking with a Grande worker could be a game-changer in the last round.
There different speeds of the timers; the diverse abilities of the Stratagem cards and slowing of play during the Council phase are the intense components that make Pendulum a rewarding game.
The first step to succeeding in the Timeless King as the true ruler of Dunya is to choose a Noble card. There are a basic side and an advanced side of play. Each card has distinctive starting attributes and a set of Stratagum cards. Receive personal supply resources and vote tokens. Fill character mat with the allotted number of resources indicated on the lower right corner of the board.
To set up the board, place the sand timers on correlating color, the Province cards and deal four up, then place Achievement cards with one dealt up. Place the Council Board close to the game board. The red cards are placed on the bottom for the last round. Deal off the top five cards face up. The card to trade a Common token to a Grande is available each round.
The board is made up of five areas. The Province cards that have four face up. Conquering a province is a reward from a worker's action. Pick a Province and place it in the slot at the bottom of the player mat matching the same production color. You can play an unlimited amount of Province cards in each slot until the Council phase is discarded down to two. This increases the production of that resource when triggered in a worker action reward: the Privilege tracker and Achievement cards. One achievement card is face-up each round. The Legendary metal token is placed on the card. (2-3 players game to the token is set on the deck due to it not available for the first round.) Once you have total or equal resource tokens or votes, you can place an achievement marker on the card and gain the reward. If you are the first to put a marker, you can take the Legendary marker instead of the rewards. The Legendary marker is required to win the game. It goes back to the cards for the next round. Purple (three minutes), Green (two minutes), and Black (forty-five seconds) area with matching sand timers. Each contains two action rows, arrows, and rewards.
Pendulum is played in four rounds, trying to move Victory Point trackers to the scroll section. The first worker placement is done by randomly drawing achievement markers and placing them on the tracker. Grande workers are placed first, and then Common workers are placed in gold frame rows that do not have a timer. Once the timer flip, the workers move down the arrow to the reword boxes. *Remember to pay requirements before acquiring the rewards. This can get lost in the shuffle when thinking about the next move. These workers are now locked in that row till the timer is flipped back to the row.
When the purple timer has flipped for the third time triggers the end of a round. Once empty and all players declare they are done for that round, it is time to call the Council. Resolve the Council steps. Count votes and set the Privilege tracker then discard all votes. Gain rewards. Check provinces are at the maximum of two (unless cards state three) and refresh cards. Flip all timers for the next round.
Check your privilege. Just like in November, votes are necessary. They decide the order of the Privilege tracker. The higher the votes receive more rewards and first to choose a Council card. Some Council cards are better than others, and this intentional as one of the benefits of having more votes. The cards have rewards that take effect immediately, and the card is removed from the game. Cards that become permanent Stratagem cards in your hand. The last Council meeting will have a cost then discarded.
The game end is triggered by the Purple timer at the last flip on the fourth round. All council steps are taken. To win, all VP Tokens need to be in the parchment section, including the Legendary Token. If no players reach that goal, the player numerically closest to the parchment section wins. If there is a tie, the player with the higher Privilege wins.
Bits and Bobs
1 Box-Each first-printing box is individually numbered.
1 Game board
3 Sand Timers (45 sec, 2 minutes, 3 minutes)
5 double-sided, frosted character mats (asymmetric) and 4 stratagem cards per character (40 total)
56 Province Cards
31 Council Reward Cards
10 Achievement Cards
1 Legendary Achievement Token (metal)
1 Automa Rulebook
1 Automa Scoring Mat
38 Automa Cards
What Mechanics Worked for Us
Conquering Provinces early to raise our resource rewards. We found that having two per each slot was beneficial.
On the last round, stacking Province cards on the resource slot that assisted on the VP track that needed the bump to get across to the parchment section.
The Alchemist and the Tyrant have advanced Stratagum cards. Collect the resources to have the ready to pay the action cost to return the cards back to your hand.
Important to not forget your workers once they are unlocked.
We all tended to upgrade a Common worker to a Grande worker as soon as we were able.
Votes votes collect votes. We are competitive and want to be the first to pick a Council card.
We found Pendulum more adventurous than task heavy. It is must try if you are into strategy with bursts of tense time management. We thoroughly enjoyed playing Pendulum!
Let’s be honest; there is still a bit of drama when we play.
Sit Down -Grab a Drink – Join the Game
Designed by Travis Jones | Art by Robert Leask
Pendulum is a competitive, turnless, asymmetric worker placement, time-optimization game. 1-5 players | 60-90 minutes | ages 12+ Become a Stonemaier Champion to get free US shipping