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Is that one actually a troll?

July 21, 2014

There is a game out there called The aMAZEing Labyrinth, which is really neat, involving a maze that constantly changes as tiles are pushed and slid about to open up new passages and close old ones, while players run around this shifting space trying to visit various spaces on the board in order to claim cards. It’s really neat, though you have to be careful as you slide the tiles around, and the game can be very difficult for young’uns, despite it looking like a kids’ game.

Another treasure is claimed.

Another treasure is claimed.

We have a copy of a later version of the game, called The Master Labyrinth, which makes the whole thing a bit more complicated. There is a cool bit where you can use magic wands to let you have two turns in a row, but the game’s scoring is more complex and includes a bonus system that can suck all of the fun out of the game if you get unlucky.

Recently, however, I found, in a charity shop, a copy of The Secret Labyrinth, which is another variation of the same theme. This one has a maze made of rotating concentric circles, which is really quite cool, though it doesn’t have the same variability of its square-tile-based siblings.

Play involves turning up a card which indicates a location to reach, you turn the maze elements, and then move your marker to try to reach your target and if you are successful, you keep the card. Collect a set of cards and you win the game.

This is all very nice, but you won’t be able to collect a set of cards without stealing from another player, which you do by landing on their marker and playing rock-paper-scissors. The winner of the RPS match gets to steal items from the loser.

Frankly I think this is not a good way to go; turning a nice (though limited) puzzle game into a player-versus-player battle just seems utterly wrong and destroys the essence of the game. I’m sure I could come up with a more in-character way to play the game without making it so confrontational. Maybe I will try some time as the look of the board is just great (and the mechanics are almost great).

Our play through of Secret Labyrinth was OK, but Miss B found predicting what the maze would do very frustrating and I found myself helping out quite a lot. This is pretty much the way of the more standard versions of Labyrinth for us, though, so wasn’t a surprise. The battling and stealing element definitely didn’t go down well, particularly as the attacker can just as easily end up losing treasure, which is quite a disincentive really.

As an aside, it is very easy to beat a 7-year-old at rock-paper-scissors, so it is probably best to try to play randomly in situations like this.

The verdict from Miss B (aged 7½): “I give it 9 out of 10.  I think I game one game 8 out of 10.” (I’m not sure about Miss B’s current grade scale, really — she said she would give this game a low score, which 9 apparently is.)

The game: The Secret Labyrinth (Ravensburger), 2 to 4 players aged 10+.

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