Author: Dirk Henn

Publisher: Queen Games 2000

Awards: none



When having a first look at Metro by Dirk Henn, I was unexpectedly reminded of Stefan Dorra's Linie 1, which had been published a few years before by Goldsieber. However, apart from the fact that some kind of transportation-system is set up by the players using differently shaped track-tiles, both games are clearly different.

In Metro, 2 to 6 players may participate, and it is the aim of the game to collect most victory points by building the longest tracks on the map. At the beginning of the game, each player is assigned a number of Metro-stations, with this number depending on how many players participate during the game. At each of his Metro-stations a player positions a train to indicate that the line coming from the station has not yet been evaluated. Afterwards, each player randomly receives one track-tile for starting, and then the game already starts.

The basic placement-procedure for the track-tiles is fairly easy. Each tile has a direction-indicator, and it may only be placed on the gameboard in a way corresponding to the direction indicators shown on the board. By placing these tiles - one per turn - the players slowly develop an interlocking gridwork of Metro-lines. Apart from the direction-indicators, only very few restrictions to the placement of the tiles apply (so an opponent's line usually may not be cut short in a way that it just crosses one tile before ending in another station). Tiles may be placed nearly anywhere where the players desire, so that they can chose whether they want to enhance their own tracks or whether they want to place obstacles for their opponents.

Once a line has been completed by connecting it to another station, the line will be evaluated. For each tile crossed by the line the player owning the line will receive 1 victory point, and the victory points will be doubled if a player succeeded to connect his line to the central-station in the middle of the gameboard. And once all lines have been completed, the game is won by the player having most victory points.

A big advantage of a game certainly may be that its rules are very short and easy to understand. However, in the case of Metro the easy rules clearly cause a loss of the depth of the gameplay. Especially the normal rules for the game (two variants are included) eliminate long-range planning and tactical choices, since a player is only allowed to place the track-tile which he holds or to draw an additional one which he has to place no matter what kind of tracks it shows. The layout of the tracks is cleverly done, preventing any unnecessary dead ends, but this alone does not prevent the game from causing one more criticism: Depending on the number of players participating, the game shows different flaws which are quite hard to ignore. So if playing with only two or three players, the strategic element the game is higher, but due to the high number of stations each player has to connect a certain loss of orientation may be caused. The players easily may lose a good overview of their track-gridwork, and this also makes it difficult to judge the progress of the other players without counting their existing, uncompleted lines now and again. On the other hand, if more players are participating, the possibility to place only one track-tile per turn is not enough to develop any coherent strategy, since the other participating players will always have made major changes to the situation on the gameboard before it comes to the player's turn again. To a certain degree, this lack of a good strategic element is reduced by the optional rules which allow players to hold 2 or 3 track-tiles and which also allow the placement of track-tiles not following the direction-indicators. However, a player still may feel lost with all the lines he has to manage while at the same time watching the other players, so that the outcome of the game usually is highly impredictable - an instability which is not suitable for a good strategy game.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany