An Era of Luxury Air Travel Around the World with Pan Am

Jul 3, 2024 | Sessions | 0 comments

Manage an international airline during the age of luxury travel to sell routes and collect valuable stock in Pan Am.

It was a few years ago that I stumbled across Pan Am, and I immediately thought it would be great! Unfortunately, it took me this long to piece together an unofficial solo variant for it… Yet at last, I was ready to take to the skies! The unique mechanics seemed pretty great, and I was quickly greeted with some absolutely beautiful artwork. Fly on!

Game Overview

Game Name: Pan Am
Publication Year:
2020
Designer:

Artist:
Prospero Hall
Publisher:
Solo Mode: Unofficial Solo Variant

Over 7 rounds, historical events pass by and the goal is to control air routes that Pan Am purchases. Income and money provide the basis to buy stock in the airline, which is the source of victory points. With routes all over the world, air travel never looked so inviting and delightful!

An Expanding Airline in an Era of Luxury Travel with Pan Am
R

First Play

July 2, 2024

Complexity

2

Latest Play

July 3, 2024

Expansions

0

Setup Time

5 Minutes

Lifetime Plays

2

Play Time

1 Hour

:

High Score

17

1

Game Area

36" x 26"

;

Low Score

15

Across the World

At first, I thought I was going to be greeted with a map of North America, yet this is a global enterprise! In a clever way, the entire world is included and connected.

Gameplay is relatively straightforward. Airports and destination cards help set up which cities can form the end of a route, which is completed by using a plane.

Pan Am itself expands outward from Miami, buying up routes in a way that can be helpful when planned for.

I had to take a little bit to put together little rules updates for this unofficial solo variant to get a better experience.

An Absolutely Delightful Map of the World with Different Air Routes in Pan Am

Welcome Aboard!

The components are lovely, with little plastic planes in 4 player colors in 4 different models. I played as Aero-Cosmopolitan, the self-proclaimed leader in luxury travel.

If you look closely you’ll see that each plane has raised lines on the wingtips to help serve as reminders. These seem subtle, but work very well. Excellent little touch!

Everything flows together nicely, too, with the income track just below a full round sequence summary.

I saw some rather clever pieces of the puzzle, and eagerly dove into preparing air routes ready for a buyout!

Taking on the Task of Running a Worldwide Airline in Pan Am

Fantastic Artwork

Destination cards help set up the ends of routes, although there is a lot of flexibility. I ended up not discarding a lot of these cards until later on with better planning.

Each city pictured has a vibrant piece of artwork that looks like it captures the era around the 50s and 60s perfectly.

Most of these looked like wonderful travel destinations for a summertime vacation! I enjoyed looking at the little details and appreciating these beautiful scenes.

Not every game is going to be all about the theme, yet this one definitely felt like it transported me back in time!

A Delightful Array of Vintage Posters for the Cities Included in Pan Am

Historical Events

Rounds are tracked with the event deck, which takes a bunch of historical moments throughout the years to tie into the different eras of gameplay. So very clever!

I loved reading the little pieces of flavor text to see what happened during the different years. These newspaper headlines helped bring home the vintage theme, too.

Reading about the first computerized reservation system in 1964 was also really neat… It’s been quite a long time!

And it was nice to learn more about Pan Am, which went away decades ago but was at the forefront of air travel.

The Fun of Traveling Through the Years with Historical Events in Pan Am

When Everything Points to a Particular Game

I chose to play this game as part of the theme of the current Solitaire Games On Your Table list, which is about using someone else’s post as inspiration. I found the perfect one! Yet it seemed like I was helped along by a funny coincidence as I turned on another rerun of Murder, She Wrote for about the 20th time. I know all the episodes. Ha ha!

Yet this was the one about a mystery aboard a plane. I admired the luxury and suddenly felt like I should pay a little more attention. Sure enough, the image near the end showed a Pan Am plane! Better still, I watched the credits and found out that production assistance was provided by Pan Am. Well, if that’s not perfect timing, I don’t know what is!

A lofty goal someday is to possibly pair up episodes with particular games for the most random of reasons, as only I know how. Ha ha! For those who are interested, this Pan Am episode is titled The Corpse Flew First Class. Who did it?!

Careful Expansion

With the way Pan Am expanded outward from Miami across pre-programmed routes, I quickly caught onto the strategies to be in the best position to earn money.

Yet I still went off-course, so to speak, by purchasing a jet and snapping up one of the lengthiest routes! That was later acquired by Pan Am with a special card. Very nice.

I was left with a few murky areas regarding the solo opponent, which almost worked exceptionally well.

Ultimately, there was a lot of randomness and a fairly straightforward path to cash in a lot in the last rounds.

Making the Most of the End of the Main Routes and a Jet in Pan Am

What a Fleet!

With a combination of good early income and lucky events that allowed me to upgrade or acquire other planes, my fleet turned out to be quite impressive. Look at that!

My first play ended up in a tie, but then I managed to figure it out. Even giving the solo opponent some little bonuses resulted in a huge win that felt… Undeserved.

I really loved a lot of elements, yet nothing felt like it gave me a reason to come back to play again. I’m done with it.

The artwork is still amazing, though, and I wish there would have been a little more substance to these flights!

Celebrating a Huge Fleet and Selling Off Every Route for Stock in Pan Am

Session Overview

Play Number: 1 & 2
Solo Mode: Unofficial Solo Variant
Outcome: 15-15, 17-6 (1 Win & 1 Loss)

It felt rather fitting that my second play ended with an event ushering in the end of an era. I managed to earn enough to purchase the equivalent of 7 victory points, though, so it was worth it! This is a beautiful game with some neat ideas, yet it feels like something that would do better with more opponents. Aside from a few actions, I never felt like I was blocked from doing everything I wanted to. At least I had a chance to finally play, though!

A Proverbial and Literal End to Playing a Delightful but Flawed Game with Pan Am

%

1 Play

Affordability

Price & Value

7

Functionality

Challenges & Mechanics

7

Originality

Design & Theme

7

Quality

Components & Rules

10

Reusability

Achievement & Enjoyment

4

Variability

Distinctness & Randomness

7

+ Pros (Positives)

  • All of the artwork is beautiful and helps evoke both the vintage feel and the excitement over the start of air travel.
  • Bidding on actions can be tricky, as some are very expensive, yet locking in an option can be a necessity.
  • The quality of the components is excellent, particularly with the little usability details on the plane models.
  • There is a neat element of buying planes, building routes, and planning the likelihood of cashing in on sales.
  • A clear round summary on the player board provides almost all of the information needed to play at a glance.
  • Most aspects are very easy to learn and straightforward, limiting the amount of time needed to internalize rules.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • Randomness seems like a main aspect that can lead to very easy wins or unlikely expansion by Pan Am.
  • Not a lot of tension exists with the solo opponent, which can block a little bit, but there are a lot of actions to use.
  • The total amount of play time feels fairly lengthy for what the game offers, and feels like it overstays its welcome.
  • After winning once, the strategies seem clear and there isn’t a good reason to keep playing in the future.

More Pan Am

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Victory Conditions

Score the Most Points

  • Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%

Goals and Milestones

R

Win at least 1 game.

Continue the Conversation

Have you played Pan Am? Are there any other flight-related solo games you enjoy? I absolutely love the aesthetic of this one, but unfortunately, it fell a little short on gameplay. Still, I didn’t realize how beautiful the artwork would be, so that was a pleasant surprise! I had some fun moments, and it was great to get another unplayed game to my solo table.

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