Game Buzz: Magic Maze

Today, let’s talk about a game that was completely off my radar until Tom Heath (aka Slickerdrips) did a playthrough video of it.  It’s called

image by BGG user ddlhz

Magic Maze is a game released earlier this year by Belgian publishers Sit Down!  It was designed by Kasper Lapp and is playable by 1-8 players, taking 3-15 minutes to play.  The basic premise is that a mage, a warrior, an elf, and a dwarf have been stripped of all of their possessions and are forced to go rob the local Magic Maze mall.  It’s a real-time cooperative game where players will have to make decisions about which way to move, hopefully getting your loot and getting out before the cops get wise and time runs out on you.

The game comes with 24 mall tiles, 4 hero pawns, 12 out of order tokens, 9 action tiles (for 2-8 player games), 7 solo action tiles, a 3-minute sand timer, a “Do Something!” pawn, a scoresheet, a theft tile, and a sheet of stickers.  The game comes with 17 different scenarios, and each one has its own setup.  Generally, you’ll place tile #1 with its A or B side face up, and shuffle some to all of the mall tiles to form a draw deck.  You’ll randomly place the four heroes on the central spaces, and each player will get one of the actions tiles.  These are kept face up, and oriented based on where north is on the starting tile.  During setup, you can scheme all you want based on what you have.  However, when you flip the sand timer, the game has begun and there is NO MORE TALKING.  There will be no auditory or visual communication of any kind during the game.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

During the game, you may use the action(s) on your tile as often as you wish.  There are no turns, you just go when you think something will be useful.  You can also move any hero.  There are four types of actions:

  • Move: This allows you to move as far as you wish (at least until you hit a wall or another hero) to the north, east, west, or south.
  • Vortex: This allows you to move any pawn to a vortex of the same color.  You will not be able to use vortexes in the second half of the game.
  • Escalator: This allows you to take an escalator.  You have to be next to the escalator.  This is often the only way to get between two areas of a tile.
  • Explore: This allows you to add new tiles to the board.  It can only be done when a hero is standing on an exploration space of its own color.  The player who does this adds the tile with the white arrow pointing to the spot where the pawn is.

When all four heroes are standing on top of their respective object spaces (same color), the Theft has occurred.  Your goal is now to get the pawns to their same colored exits.  At this point, vortexes no longer work.

If the timer ever runs out, you lose.  However, there are a number of spaces on the various tiles that show a sand timer.  If a hero lands on one of these, immediately flip the sand timer.  If you do this five seconds into the game, you’ll only have about five seconds left, so be careful about when you do this.  The sand timer space you use then gets marked with an out of order token and can’t be used by anyone else.

I will say that this is the basic version of the game.  As you work your way through the scenarios, different rules will be added.

I mentioned earlier that no verbal or visual communication is allowed.  In fact, there are only two kinds of permissible communication:

  • Intense starting at another player.
  • Plopping the “Do Something!” pawn in front of them.  This just means that you think they need to do something.

So there’s the game – get in, get the loot, get out.  And do it fast.

image by BGG user Nushura

There is a solo mode for the game.  Rather than having different players with different action tiles, you have a single deck of all action tiles.  You have to cycle through this deck, and only the last action flipped is available.  So you will get to know the order they’re coming in.  However, when the sand timer gets flipped, you will shuffle the action tiles up so the order is mixed again.  Otherwise, the game is the same.

image by BGG user ddlhz

This game looks like FUN.  I love real-time games, and embrace the chaos.  I know a lot of people do not, and that’s OK, but this one looks like a blast.  The lack of communication means that there will be no alpha gamer problem.  I love that the rules specify that you can stare intensely at another player, willing them to do something.  I also think it’s fantastic that there’s a “Do Something!” pawn.  I want one of those for all games, not just this one.  I think this game seems like you have to have some really good teamwork, and the solo mode also looks really fun.  So this is definitely something I want to check out sometime.

Thanks for reading!

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