A typical group of adventurers – a barbarian, a mage, an elf and a dwarf – prepare to brave the latest dangers. They are on their way to the shopping centre. Yeah, that’s right. Their goal is not a dark dungeon full of monsters but the Magic Maze shopping centre. They are not very successful heroes, because they lost everything in their last quest. All their equipment and gold is gone. Their plan is simple: get into the mall, steal everything that is useful and get out again. And all this as quietly as possible and without attracting attention.
Breaking into the Magic Maze shopping centre: a plan that works without sounds
It is hectic at the table at Magic Maze. Everybody and his fellow players are trying to bag the desired loot and to find the best way through the shopping centre. It’s an emotional gaming experience that can get pretty hectic and it’s a very quiet game without screaming (although sometimes you’d feel like it while playing).
In the cooperative game, none of the players have their own game figure. Each of the figures is available to each player to go in one of four cardinal points, use escalators or even teleport. However, each player is randomly given one of the movement tiles for the round, which determine which action each player is allowed to take. So one player can only move the tiles north, another one south, one can use escalators, one can explore new areas, etc. The players can only accomplish the mission of the four adventurers together.
This alone does not make it easy to move the figures to the right shops in the mall. Another complicating factor is that no talking to each other is allowed during the game. There is a lot of rolling your eyes, staring and tapping the “Do Something” marker on the table if one of the players misses an important action. It’s funny, sometimes frustrating and also brings great relief when the adventurers’ characters finally move in the right direction.
Besides, the time in the hourglass continues to run relentlessly. It can be turned around, but even that must be timed by the players without words in such a way that the remaining time is maximized to finish the mission in time.
Magic Maze is pure fun for young and old
Magic Maze has earned its nomination for Spiel des Jahres. It is a lot of fun to push the adventurers over the varied game plan. Due to the relatively short playing time of the individual missions and the increasing difficulty level, the incentive to replay is high. With every mission new elements are added, which have to be mastered. Small passages that only the dwarf can pass through or security cameras that have to be turned off first before an area can be safely crossed. Successes can be recorded in the enclosed mission book.
Not for nothing Magic Maze is currently one of the absolute favourite games of our 10 year old daughter. She often plays it with her school friends and everyone has a lot of fun playing it. It’s an unusual scenario when they sit around the table, not talking, but grumbling, grunting, sighing, giggling and other noises. This is teamwork on a completely new level.
Preferably with four players
Because of the four cardinal points for which movement actions are available, Magic Maze is best played with four players. So everyone has an important task and no one is left behind. With fewer players, several actions are assigned to one player and with more than four players, tasks are distributed twice. The bustle of the arms over the parts of the game board becomes quite confusing and often someone else does exactly what you wanted to do, because he has the same direction of movement as you.
Final thoughts about Magic Maze:
Magic Maze is an ideal game for in between. The entire design of the game and the individual game plan parts is kept very cute and lovingly with many allusions to conventional role playing games. Magic Maze is not only something for old RPG-veterans with a tendency to fantasy-setting. So far, the game has pleased everyone we have put it on the table during the games evening. The few rules are quickly explained and the rest is revealed in the first missions. It never stops at one round. For us Magic Maze is absolutely worth a recommendation.
And for those who have tasted blood and have already played through the basic game, there is also good news. The first expansion Magic Maze: Maximum Security was already announced by SitDown! and will be released in time for SPIEL 2017 at the end of October.