Christian T. Petersen

Publisher: Kosmos 2003



The time of Trivial Pursuit is finally over. With Das Meisterquiz a new generation of quiz games has taken over, and to my mind this new game from Kosmos really outclasses the much older classic.

Okay, Das Meisterquiz is a game which only can be used by fans of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and even the knowledge people gain from watching the movies will not be enough to best this game. The players must have read the Lord of the Rings at least once in order to make sense of most of the questions, but if they have done so they will discover that Das Meisterquiz is a game which combines the best elements of both boardgames and quiz-games.

Starting in the Shire, the players take the roles of Hobbits whose aim it is to be the first who gets to Mount Doom. While progressing on their voyage, the players will visit different places known from the Lord of the Rings. At some of these places the players will simply have to answer questions of varying difficulty, whereas at other places special tasks need to be performed.

The basic playing mechanism of the game can be outlined quite easily. In order to travel from one space of the gameboard to the next, the players will have to discard a number of markers as displayed on the gameboard. These markers show a Hobbit for movement, a Sword for combat and a Ring for special. A Ring marker may be used to substitute any other marker all over the game, but due to this Ring markers are a bit more difficult to get. Once a player has paid the markers needed for moving forward one space on the board, he may enter the new space and he will have to deal with the situation there.

Usually the new space will contain a "Burning Eye" symbol of either green or blue colour. These symbols mean that the player will have to deal with a question. An other player will now take up a question card and show the backside of the card to the player who has to face the question. The backside of the card displays the premium the player will get for solving this question (i.e. a number of markers), and on green or blue questions the player now may chose which premium he would like. The other player now reads the question and also gives either three or four answers to chose from - the number of answers given depends on the difficulty of the question faced (i.e. the colour of the eye).

If the player successfully solves the question, he will receive the markers printed on the card backside as a premium for answering the question. He now may decide whether he wants to continue his turn and move forwards another space, or whether he wants to end his turn and stay where he is. If he stays, he will be safe and can move onwards on his next turn, but if he moves again he will face a certain risk: if he cannot answer any question which he has to face, his turn will be over and he will be thrown back to the space on which he has started his turn, possibly loosing all the progress which he has made during his turn.

However, some places mean special actions for the players. On Places like Weathertop or Moria, a number of randomly mixed event markers is placed. Once a player enters such a place, he will have to turn over the event markers one by one and face their tasks until he finds an event marker which allows him to move onwards. The perils a player has to solve range from questions of all three difficulty ranges (The Red eye is strongest, allowing the player who reads the question to chose one of the three questions on the card) to losses of markers which otherwise are needed for movement. Only if all these tasks can be solved a player may be allowed to move onwards.

However, there also are some places which are helpful to the players. At Rivendell and Lothlorien the players also have to draw event markers, but here the markers show events which may help the players on their quest. During the game, these markers can be used for free movement, avoiding questions, getting free answers and other helpful things. Such markers can also be obtained during the rest of the game and event at other special places, but this only rarely happens.

In the end, the game will be won by the player who is the first to reach Mount Doom and get through the stack of event markers lying there.

As indicated above, Das Meisterquiz features a unique combination of elements from both classic boardgames and quiz-games. Due to the intricate set of rules, players actually have to plan their moves carefully and they have to decide whether it is worth the risk to move more than one space in their turn. Pretty soon, a competitive spirit develops between the players, and everybody has to find his own balance between care and dare. To my mind, the game is one of the most interesting boardgames released over the last years because of its unique new rules, and it remains to be hoped that such concepts can also be adopted for games with different background topics.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany