Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gaming With Grandma - 66

It was a cool, rainy morning; perfect weather for some board gaming! My mother (Grandma to our kids) had popped over for her regular Saturday morning visit and after showing her my recent game additions from the math trade we decided to grab my 6 year old daughter, Maddie, for a game of Metro.

Metro is 2 - 6 player tile-laying game of connecting train lines in late 19th century Paris. I was instantly taken with the appearance of the game. I found it very visually appealing; the beautiful bright coloured wooden subway cars and the graphic representations of the stations around the edge of the board were lovely to look at. But pretty components do not make a great game by themselves.

Maddie has just placed a tile in Metro

In Metro players compete to achieve the longest tracks. A player's track commences at a station matching their colour but may finish at any other station on the board. Each tile that a track passes through is worth 1 point. Tiles may be scored more than once if your track passes back over that same tile. If your track ends at a station in the middle of the board you score double points for your track.

When Maddie found out there was a station by the name of Madeleine she had to choose the corresponding colour of yellow (even though her name is spelt Madeline). Grandma chose orange and I chose blue.

This game has a similar feeling to Carcassonne (which was my first introduction to tile-laying games) but I was surprised to find that Metro pre-dated Carcassonne by 3 years (Metro was published in 1997 whereas Carcassonne was published in 2000).

Both myself and Grandma enjoyed the challenge of attempting to created the longest routes while trying to block the tracks of the other players. Maddie got a bit bored half-way through. Final scores were myself (Wayne) 82, Maddie 50 and Grandma 49.

Maddie chose the next game - Labyrinth. This is a firm family favourite which has graced the table many times over the last couple of years. We gave Maddie an edge by allowing her to look at her top three cards. She went on to win with 8 points, myself 2nd with 5 points and Grandma 3rd with 4 points. I think we'll reduce the number of cards Maddie is allowed to look at to two next time.

The maze of Labyrinth

Our final game of the morning was another I'd swapped for in the recent Australian math trade - Tutankhamen. This is a simple set-collecting game for 2 - 6 players which may take longer to set up than to play! Maddie decided to sit this one out so Grandma and I set up for a 2-player game.

The long winding trail of ancient Egyptian artifacts

In a 2-player game each player has 32 coins. The winner is the first player to use up their coins by 'paying' Tutankhamen by placing the coins into a slot in the back of the plastic pyramid. Coins may be 'paid' by collecting sets of identical tiles. Sets of tiles are scored when the last tile of a set has been collected or passed over by both players. Each set is worth an amount equivalent to the number on each tile of that set. If a player has the most of a set when it is scored then they get the full points. The player with the next highest scores half the total set value. Players after that score nothing. If there is a tie for most numbers of a set then those players receive half the total value of the set.

The trick is that you can move any number of spaces forward to take an artifact but you cannot move backwards. This means you have to constantly assess the worth of tiles both to yourself, and to your opponents, in front of you along the track.

The pyramid and artifact tiles

In our first game I tried to collect the majority of tiles in the high value sets. Grandma went for the mid-range values. Because there are a higher number of tiles in the higher value sets they take longer to score. Thus I found Grandma was able to offload a lot of coins before my sets were completed. She also made good use of the Pharaoh 'wild' tiles and gold bag tiles (which allow you to take a tile from another player). Grandma won the first game with me still left with 20 out of my original 32 coins.

We played a second game with me changing my strategy. I watched what tiles she was taking and always tried to grab at least one of those tiles while trying to prevent her from gaining any of the sets I was collecting. I won but it was a close game with Grandma only having 1 coin left.

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