The New Pandante and Flash Duel Are Now Available

Pandante 2nd Edition and a new printing of Flash Duel are now generally available.

These games were part of my fourth Kickstarter and the rewards have now all been delivered to backers—a MONTH ahead of schedule. Four out of four kickstarters on time! Anyway, you can now get your hands on these games if you missed the kickstarter.


The joke about Pandante is that it's "for people who don't like poker and also people who do." There's actually something to that though.

For People Who Don't Like Poker

People who don't like poker might say that poker is not a very good family game and that it's way too psychologically intense to play with your children. They might say that they don't really find poker all that fun unless it's played for real money, which is pretty fair because even most poker players say that too.

Pandante is lighthearted enough in theme and mechanics that it's a great social game. The way it's set up ensures that probably about half the people are lying about their hand and everyone knows that they are surrounded by lies, which leads to lots of laughter at the table. The game is also gamey enough that it's interesting to play even without real money, like any well-crafted board game. There's fun abilities and tricks to pull off which give you more tools than poker, and the expansion is now included in the base set so you get a whole lot of content. The main mode has no player elimination, so it keeps everyone involved the whole time. For people who don't play poker, it's almost confusing to even think of this as a poker game rather than as a new card game.

For People Who Do Like Poker

But then there's people who LOVE poker. Poker lovers like that being more skilled at poker gives them an edge over weaker players. Stronger players get to crush weaker ones and take their money, which can be exhilarating. Poker has a lot of randomness, but having more skill really does pay off in the long-run.

Pandante has a higher skill ceiling than poker. This probably seems like some blasphemous claim, because poker is sacred, but just calm down and think about it for a minute. Pandante contains much of the skill elements that apply to poker, but it also makes more moves possible. There's a lot of nuance in how to use these extra moves, and so good players will be able to use them better than bad players.

One example is the "snacking" mechanic. You can pay for extra cards, but exactly how much a card is worth is a very difficult thing to know and depends on a lot of factors. Experts will be able to snack better than non-experts. Also, there are 6 abilities in Pandante and you can do up to two of them per gambit. It's easy to grasp what these abilities are (peek at another player's card, raise, add a new card to the table, etc), but of course there's quite a skill in knowing how to use these abilities. It's a whole new realm of opportunity to outplay your opponents. Thirdly, there's a lot of intentional information leak that goes on in Pandante. You bet on specific hands multiple times throughout the gambit. You snack or don't. You use abilities in a certain way, and sometimes that involves revealing a card. Even though players are lying very often, they are also dripping with information, and these tools allow someone who is good at reads to do even better in Pandante than in poker.

Pandante is quite hard to play WELL because its skill-ceiling is just so high. I think poker players will really appreciate this because they can get even more of an edge through careful play.

2nd Edition

In the 1st Edition of Pandante, we were very concerned with making it rock solid so that it held up to serious play for real money. The good news: it was solid. The less good news: we had to add several exceptions here and there and wrinkles that slowed down the game flow.

In the 2nd Edition, we were able to really vastly improve the game flow. I think we were able to get through a gambit in something like half the time and with fewer questions from players, too. If you want to know the exact rule changes, you can see a summary here.

Another ease of use thing is that there's now a central betting board rather than each player having their own. You often have to see who bet on the highest hand, and when all the bets are on one board, it's faster to see who bet on the highest hand.

Another big thing about the 2nd Edition is that it INCLUDES the entire expansion. You get Light and Dark abilities, casinos that change the rules each gambit, Panda Champions that give each player a unique ability, and the Diamond Dreams mode that makes the diamond chips into powerups. You can use any of that stuff in any combination you want, so you can choose how much craziness is right for your group. (Recommendation: start with Light abilities and nothing else. Then add Casino cards as soon as people understand the basic rules. The Dark abilities are cut-throat and take-that oriented, so only switch to those if your group wants that sort of thing. Throw in Panda Champions and/or Diamond Dreams mode if you want to up the mayhem level.)

Here's the standard version of the game. It now comes with plastic discs for betting:

And here's the deluxe version:

It has professional-grade clay poker chips and an awesome 2" diameter metal Panda Coin. The leatherette box with magnetic latch is really classy too, and has no product information on it: that's all on a sleeve that you can throw away.

There's also a few playmats leftover from the kickstarter. Playmats don't fit into the deluxe box, so it comes with a board instead, but I personally like playing on the mat. Get one while supplies last. ;)

Flash Duel

Flash Duel is a fast sparring match. Like Pandante, it also contains an expansion—actually two expansions—right in the box. It has a whopping 20 characters and whole bunch of modes that range from solo play, to 1v1, to 2v2, and even up to 4v1 in the Raid on Deathstrike Dragon mode (and another mode with a traitor!). Fast, simple, and a ton of variety.

The new version wasn't quite enough to call it a 3rd Edition, but it does have some nice upgrades. Component-wise, it now comes with 21 character standups instead of pawns:

Here's a list of the rest of the updates:

• A new rulebook (here) which makes the game less mathy and more about improv and bluffing. You don't know the exact contents of the deck anymore, so you can't compute things so completely. Also, you now draw more cards each round, so you have more chance to win before timeout.
• The "last hits" mechanic is removed, to simplify the rules and make the game more about trying to win before timeout happens.
• All game modes now use 40 numbered cards, rather than different modes using 25, 40, and 50 numbered cards.
• All cards and rules now gender-neutral ("their" instead of "his").
• Many abilities edited or rewritten to be clearer how they work or how they interact with other abilities. You can even see all the latest card images here.
• Many balance changes.

Further Reading

You can read more about:
The game design of Pandante
The graphic design of Pandante
Pandante on BGG (rate it and become a fan)
Flash Duel on BGG (rate it and become a fan)
Follow Sirlin Games on Facebook
Follow Sirlin Games on Twitter (and use #pandante and #flashduel)

You can get Pandante here, and Flash Duel here. They ship to anywhere in the world.

Pandante Exhibition Stream Tonight

Tonight at 7pm (PDT) we'll stream an exhibition match of Pandante using the fan-made online version. Watch it and learn about the game and maybe we'll see some hype lying pandas!

Link to the stream:
Link to play the online version:

If you'd like to actually participate as a player in the exhibition, show up for our pre-stream tests at 5:30pm and also stop by this chat room to tell us.

There's also only 3 days left on the Pandante kickstarter, so get in while you can.

Pandante Online

Pandante is now playable online for free at It runs instantly in your broswer and does not require a download. It supports 2-6 players, so try it out with your friends, or join the friendly players already hanging out there.

Pandante is a Panda-themed gambling game that's all about lying. Unlike most gambling games though, it's designed to be fun to play even without real money. There's no Panda-elimination, much less reason to fold than in poker, and a few simple abilities to spice things up. Best of all, you bet on a particular hand that you're claiming to have, but you're probably lying about it. If you win by lying, you win the greatest honor of all: the Golden Panda Coin.

This online version of Pandante is actually really free, and if you enjoy it then please support the kickstarter which is now in its last few days. The online version does not have any expansion content, but it's updated with all the 2nd Edition base set rules, thanks to the efforts of Xom, a Panda Hero.

Upgraded Components for Pandante and Flash Duel Kickstarter

I’m going to make a change to the Pandante stretch goals that benefits all our backers.

Pandante is such a great game that I want to put out the best version I possibly can components-wise, no matter what funding level we reach. Even if we only raise a portion of what’s needed to fully fund this print run, I’m willing to pay for the component upgrades that I think Pandante and Flash Duel should have. I’m hoping that eventually positive word of mouth about the games will make that a worthwhile choice.

Golden Panda Coin. This coin is so hype! When you feel it in your hands, it has a coolness factor that makes you want to win it in the game. I didn’t know what the quality of the coin would be when we first started out, but now that I have physical samples and I can see how great it is, we just have to have it even if it costs me a lot.

Also, it's huge. One player thought it should be called a gold medal, rather than a coin!

  • Pandante deluxe will have the 2” metal coin, no stretch goal for it, you just get it.
  • The $25 Pandante expansion will also have the same metal coin.

There’s also Flash Duel. I’m pretty happy about the adjustments to the core system we’ve done. Removing the last-hits mechanic makes it simpler to explain and more focused on the back and forth part of the game that you’d hope was the emphasis anyway. Balance is in a better state now too. I want to follow that up with another component upgrade:

Flash Duel will contain 21 character standups, rather than pawns. No stretch goal, you just get it.

And there’s more. I want to thank all our kickstarter backers, I’m so grateful for their support. So I want to include the 3 extra Pandante casino cards for all kickstarter backers (not part of the retail products) at all levels. That means if you get the deluxe version, standard version, or the expansion, you’ll get these 3 extra casino cards. The extra cards are a bit crazier than the rest of the casinos, so I bet you’ll enjoy that.

Your Help

Would you like to help spread the joy of Pandante? I know a lot of you have the print-and-play version—hundreds of people downloaded it for free last weekend—so if you happen to play it, post your thoughts somewhere before the campaign ends. It could be on Boardgamegeek, or anywhere else. Let us know if you do!

Here’s some great examples so far:

Also, can you tweet some funny images (or clever text) about Pandas to #LyingPandas or #Pandante? I actually don’t know if that would help at all, but it would be fun and I was looking forward to laughing at some of them. ;)


Here’s the bottom line summary:

  • Pandante deluxe will have the 2” metal Panda Coin
  • Pandante expansion will have it too
  • Flash Duel will have 21 character standups rather than pawns
  • All pledge levels (of $25 or more) get the 3 extra Pandante casino cards, for backers only (not part of the retail product later)
  • You post your thoughts on the game somewhere, or tweet to #LyingPandas or #Pandante

Thanks for your support everyone! (Pandante and Flash Duel kickstarter link.)

Pandante Casino Cards, Part 2

Pandante has a fun new feature called "casino cards" which I covered before, here. Casino cards let you visit a new casino in the Pandalands each gambit, each changing the rules in some way.


Here's three of them:

Bunny Hop Hotel. At this casino, you hop right to the action. There's only one betting phase, rather than three. You see all the community cards, bet, do abilities, then showdown. It's a nice change of pace in that it's so fast!

Hard Times Mill. It really feels like hard times at the Hard Times Mill. At other casinos, it's common to see bets on hands as high as rainbow straight or four of a kind. Yet here, it's exciting if someone bets even three of a kind. Pandas come over and watch if they even hear about a hand like that. A full house is some kind of epic, crazy thing here. Gameplay-wise, this lets you explore the lower ranked hands a lot more. Flavor-wise, being so starved to make a decent hand makes you appreciate how good you have it at other casinos.

Quince's Palace. Quince is the Chief Magistrate of Flagstone, known for his magnanimous straight talking. (Note: he actually relies on lies and deception to the point that you can't even tell what is real and what is not. In Yomi, he can play two combat cards, one of which is an illusion.) At Quince's Palace, there are TWO rows of community cards (are they both real?). There are so many possibilities for hands here that it's kind of mind-bending at times. Sometimes you can't even tell what your opponents are going for, which captures essence of Quince really well.


These casino cards and more are are included in the new Pandante 2nd Edition standard and deluxe sets. They are also in the expansion, for those who already have chips and a Pandante deck. Check it out on kickstarter now.

Codex-themed Pandante Deck

Codex is an upcoming customizable (not collectable) card game that does things very differently from the rest of the genre. It's themed after RTS video games such as Starcraft and Warcraft 3. You command heroes who each have their own spells and you build tech buildings that produce units. You carry a lot of versatility into each game because the cards in your codex are analogous to all the things a given race could build in an RTS. You choose which subset you want in your current game by building your deck as the game progresses. Players don't know exactly what other players are building toward, so there's a natural form of fog of war involved.

Here's the game's logo:

Although Codex has been in development on and off for over 10 years, it's not quite finished yet. You can get a sneak peak at some of the art though because there's a limited edition alternate art version of Pandante's deck on kickstarter right now. It lets you play Pandante with a Codex-themed deck!

Here's what normal Pandante cards look like:

And here's the Codex-themed version:

Also, here's the Joker from each deck:

This special deck is for two of the higher pledge tiers on the Pandante kickstarter (you get Pandante deluxe with or without professional-grade play poker chips, the new revised printing of Flash Duel, and this special Codex-themed Pandante deck). By pledging for this collector's item, you're also supporting the development of Codex and helping us reach stretch goals for Pandante and Flash Duel, too. Here's where you can pledge.

Stay tuned for another preview of this deck showing the Panda Champions / Codex Heroes.

Making the Golden Panda Coin

Winning by lying is the highest honor in Pandante (on kickstarter now). When you do that in poker, it’s usually best to keep your bluff secret, but in Pandante we want to showcase that exciting moment. We want you to show everyone that you got away with it and gloat about it.

In the original version of Pandante, winning by lying gave you one of six Panda Lord cards that are powerups for the next gambit (the next hand). In this new version of Pandante, I wanted to make it even simpler: rather than picking through 6 cards with a bunch of words on them, you should win one satisfying, iconic thing. (The Panda Lords are now things you can start the game with, giving each player a special power if you want to do that.)

What satisfying, iconic thing should you get for winning by lying? What should it do and what should it look like? My first idea was that it should be a big, shiny metal Panda Coin that you can spend to draw 5 cards and discard 5 cards. That’s very powerful, but you deserve it. Also, you’ll have to use it or lose it because if someone else wins by lying while you have the coin, they’ll steal it from you.

Playtesting showed that this worked just fine. People liked it, and liked that they immediately understood the reward for winning by lying. So then started the long task of actually making a metal coin. I wanted it to be simple to match the graphic design style of the rest of Pandante, so the first thing that came to mind was a Panda on one side and the bamboo logo with the game name and company name on the back.

I wanted something similar to the Panda on the box’s front cover. Here was the first mockup:

 But it should really show the Panda holding 5 cards rather than 6, given what the coin does. Also, it needs to be graphically simplified a little to work well as a metal carving. Here was the first version of that:

One way to make a metal coin is to have exactly two heights on the face. To do that, think of the graphics as pure black and white (with no other shades) and the black areas are raised and the white areas are recessed.

You can make a nicer looking coin if you do it another way though. Rather than each “pixel” of coin being on or off, you can carve a 3D shape into it. Vertical curves that let you round the edge of a face and show more nuance. To accomplish this, I did my own “artist’s rendering” of what the metal coin should look like with various curves and different heights:

That looks pretty good, but I cheated here. The dark background behind the panda and behind the logo isn’t what a real coin will look like. A metal coin is made of just one kind of material, so it can’t have such different colors. I want there to be as much contrast as possible though, so what can we do?

We can use different textures. By making the background a rough texture and the figure a smooth texture, when light bounces off the coin it will be easier to separate the figure from the background. Here’s my artist’s rendering of that:

Looking really good now! The next step is to turn this into a 3D model that the coin manufacturers can use:

Then the final step is a physical prototype. Here it is:

This coin is huge: 2 inches in diameter! It has to be to fit in Panda paws though.
Here’s a video of it moving so you can see the contours in the light:

This awesome coin will be included in the new Pandante Deluxe on kickstarter if we unlock that stretch goal. It will also be in the $25 expansion if we reach that goal. Pledge now and let’s do it! (kickstarter link.)

Pandante Casino Cards

The new Pandante has a great feature called "casino cards." Each gambit (each time you start a new hand), you visit a new casino in the Pandalands which has slightly different rules.


Here's three of them:

Jokers Wild Resort. This is probably the most beloved casino amongst everyone I've played with, even though it's so simple. Before the gambit starts, you find the Joker in the deck, then make sure it's one of the initial three community cards (the "Splash"). There's a fun factor in all the versatility in making hands the Joker brings. It counts as any color and any number.

Bountiful Bamboo Tavern. This casino lets everyone draw a card, then discard a card after the normal snack phase during the Splash, and then again after the snack phase during the Paws. Everyone is a bit more likely to make a difficult hand here.

Triple Play Parlor. Players normally get to do up to 2 abilities, but here you can do 3. There's a lot of different things that happen because of this. Some players go for an even more difficult hand than usual and then use their extra ability to draw a card to try to hit that hand. The Raise ability is really powerful in Pandante though. One of the reasons you don't raise all the time is you're just so constrained by having only 2 abilities. So with 3, you're more able to fit a Raise in. The same goes with Peek. It's always great to look at a card from another player's hand, and you're more likely to be able to fit that into your plan at the Triple Play Parlor.

All three of these casinos are very simple. It's good to keep things simple so that even non-gamers can understand what's going on. I want to show you one of the more complex casinos too though.


There are usually 6 abilities to choose from during the ability phase and you can do up to two of them, including the same one twice if you want. At the Oracle's Dreamery, there's 2 new abilities, so you have 8 to choose from in total.

Rearrange is a tricky ability. If you do Rearrange, then Draw, that lets you get the best of 3 cards when a simple Draw, Draw would have only let you see 2 cards. Rearrange then Add acts similarly. You'll choose which of 3 cards you want to add to the community cards, rather than only getting 2 options with Add, then Add. Furthermore, Rearrange then Add or Draw is better Draw+Draw and Add+Add for another reason: you get to see all three cards before you make your decision of which one you want. The normal way to do things means you have to decide each action as you go.

You also end up knowing the top TWO cards of the deck. Will the next player even bother to Draw or Add, when you already know what card is there and had some say about which card it is? If they Draw, you'll know what's in their hand! Being the Oracle really gives you an information advantage here! It's likely that other players will have to Rearrange before Drawing or Adding just so they can dig deep enough in the deck to actually get to a new card.

Tie-break is another interesting ability. It's fairly common to have players tied for the highest claimed hand in Pandante. For example, two players each claim they have a rainbow straight. When you really have the hand you claim, it's sometimes pretty hard to get a better hand than that by using Draw or Add. But if you use Tie-break, you don't need a better hand. You'll automatically win against anyone with the same hand who didn't use it. Also, if you really do have your hand, this gives you a big advantage against people who don't have it but who are trying to draw into it. They'll need to spend their ability slots on improving their hand, but you can use your abilities on powering up your Tie-break so that you win anyway, even if they do match your hand!

There's a lot going on in the Oracle's Dreamery. The abilities it offers are optional though, which makes it nice for new players who want to see how other Pandas use Rearrange and Tie-break.

Pandante is on kickstarter right now. If you already have the game, you can get casino cards and lots of other new things in the expansion. If you don't have it yet, all this new stuff is built right into the new base sets. Check it out now.