MetroX is a tiny roll and write that uses cards for the random mechanism instead of dice. The game gives players subway maps and challenges them to fill in as many stops as possible before the game end. This requires some luck, some strategy, and a lot of concentration. Is the game worth tracking down?
In MetroX you can play one of two stations: Osaka or Tokyo. There are two color pads provided that recreate and abstract both cities' subway maps. Each player tears off a sheet, grabs a pencil, and the deck of cards is placed so everyone can see it. As cards are revealed, players must place the number on one of their stations. The number determines the quantity of circles (stations) you get to fill in. The catch is that unless you draw a rare "Skip" card, you have to stop filling in if you hit any of the other already-filled in stations on your route.
Stand Out Features
Connection to Theme: The game takes semi-accurate maps of subway stations, alters the maps a bit to allow for more balanced gameplay, and throws you in it. It wouldn't take much to make versions for any city, the differences in the map layouts would alter the game's difficulty.
Completely lateral player counts: Technically, an unlimited number of players can play it (well as many as you have sheets of paper.) But the game provides you with six pencils. The game plays identically with one player or 99, it just changes who you are comparing your score against at the end (there is also a helpful score chart to gauge how well you do.) Other games like Welcome To... use this mechanic, but I believe MetroX was the first.
Brain-Burning Decisions: I have never played a game that felt more like solving high school math problems than this game. Whenever a card is revealed, all players are heads down figuring out the where they are going to fit the requirements of the card without screwing up their strategy. Turns where a decision could be made quickly are rare, but since this is simultaneous play, the AP(Analysis Paralysis) isn’t too annoying for other players as they can look at their sheets and anticipate strategy for future cards.
What We Liked
Despite its ultra-light footprint (if you drop the pencils, you could fold up a few sheets of paper and put the cards in a mini ziploc bag), this game is very challenging, and probably the most difficult roll and write game we’ve played.
In fact, the first couple of times we played, we made bad enough mistakes that we had to start the game over. This wasn’t MetroX’s fault, we had decided to start with the Osaka map for our first game despite the game’s recommendation to start with Tokyo. Once you’ve played a couple of times, the mistakes become less frequent, but the challenge of making decisions isn’t any easier.
The game seems to have a devilish ability of never giving you the card you want to finish a line. A good player will anticipate this and leave as many options open as possible.
What Could Be Improved
The deck is very random and can result in some stilted games. Ultimately this is fine since all players share the same problem, but getting many Star cards early in the game can really screw up the scores. This makes final scores pretty random, and the score without comparison to other players is meaningless. I have no suggestions on how this could be fixed, but it was frustrating to get a bad line of cards and some games were a lot more fun than others.
Second, it’s very easy to make a mistake in the game. If you miss filling in a station or accidentally follow the wrong line, it’s very easy to miss the mistake and not catch it until much later in the game. Again, I don’t really see an obvious solution to this problem, but this does become less of an issue the more you play the game.
We loved playing MetroX, even though it gives you the sensation of solving a difficult math problem with about 40% of the cards drawn. The excitement when the “free space” card comes up is palpable.
Time To Learn: About 20 minutes reading the rules.
Price: Unfortunately, Metro X appears to be sold out currently. Hopefully it will get an American publisher soon!
Thom: (8/10) Very good. Enjoy playing and would suggest it.
Jinko: (8.5/10) Very good. Enjoy playing and would suggest it.
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