Friday, September 9, 2011

Master Labyrinth: Gaming Notes

I love Master Labyrinth. It's a thinking man's strategy game that requires the players to be able to visualize shifting paths. I think the core game mechanics are brilliantly executed and it truly causes you to match your wits with your opponent in a war of wills.
Box cover. There are many variant boxes to Master Labyrinth.

Not all of the tiles move - the yellow arrows at the edge of the board tell you what rows you can push.
In this game you push rows and columns of tiles to shift the labyrinth so your wizard can reach various magical ingredients hidden in the maze. I enjoy this game much more with only two people because it allows you to exercise a much greater degree of control on the conditions of the board.

I got a chance to play with a friend the other day. My friend is typically excellent at games such as this that require spacial reasoning (in fact, he's trounced me previously in Master Labyrinth) but, he claims, the noise level in the comic store where we were playing disturbed him. Either way, our game mostly avoided one of the pitfalls of this game - long turns. When you run into a player who just can't "see" how to shift the maze their turns can take forever. Both my friend and I quickly took our turns so the game moved along at a brisk pace.

Part of the game is having your "secret ingredients." These three ingredients are worth more points to you than to any other player. I only managed to get two of the three because I had both the 18th and 19th ingredient listed as my secret ingredients. When it came to my turn I had a "gimme" on the 17th ingredient (you have to go in order) so I used a magic wand to get both the 17th and 18th ingredients. Unfortunately, this meant my opponent got the 19th. Normally this would spell disaster but my opponent also failed to get one of his magic ingredients so it was okay. I ended up winning by a marginal amount.

I love playing Master Labyrinth with two players. That feeling of seeing the labyrinth "click" into place is what it's all about.

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