Losing to the easy AI. Everything is right in the world.

Short Cuts: Metro – The Board Game

iOS, Android, Kindle •

While those of us in the US were spending Friday sleeping off hangovers, the rest of the world was still hard at work making things. One of those things is of interest to us, a digital port of the board game Metro from Queen Games. While it sells itself as a train-builder circa 1900, don’t be fooled. Metro is about as abstract a title as you can get and bears little resemblance to the Metro that currently runs under the streets of Paris. Still, if you like Tsuro but thought it was a bit too simple, Metro should be right up your alley.

The premise of Metro is that each player needs to connect his trains (staggered around the board’s perimeter with the other players’) to stations by building track. For each tile your train crosses, you earn a point. You even get points if you cross a tile more than once, so it pays to have the most convoluted, twisty track you can get. That’s that game. Seriously. You play until there are no more track tiles to play, and the highest score wins.

It’s a tile laying game, with tiles very similar to Tsuro, but unlike every other tile laying game I’ve ever played, you cannot rotate your tiles at all in Metro. They have to be placed in one direction, which seemed like an odd choice when I began playing, but made sense immediately. With all the options you have for placement in Metro, allowing tile rotation would only serve to make the game last about 16 hours as everyone tried to figure out the best tile placement. No thanks.

As an app, it’s pretty bare bones. You can pick between 7 different AIs when you build your solo games, and it lets you vary how many tiles you’ll see each turn, but that’s about it. On my 8+, the Metro map is tiny and following your tracks is a bear. Luckily, you can pinch-zoom in on the map to focus, and your paths are highlighted when you drop a tile down on the board before you hit the “ok” button and make it official. I think keeping unfinished lines colored until they’re completed would have been a better design choice, but perhaps it would have been too busy? As it is now, I find that I have to drop a tile in multiple locations to see where it might benefit me the most.

Let’s not rub it in, Blue Emma.

Oh, there’s also multiplayer. Or, at least the devs claim there’s multiplayer. What is actually included in the app is the most convoluted mess of a multiplayer interface I’ve ever seen. I went in hoping to determine if online play was asynchronous or not, but haven’t been able to actually connect to an online game and I’ve been trying since Friday. The problem is, I’m not sure if it’s just a ghost town and there isn’t anyone who wants to play, or if I’m doing something wrong. I can’t figure out how to start a private game, although there is a friend list, and I can’t seem to get into any random games, but you can’t see who’s in the lobby to tell if you’re all by yourself or not. It’s a disaster, so if you’d only be picking up Metro for multiplayer, you might want to wait until Queen figures out what the hell they’re doing with it.

So, is it worth picking up? Definitely not if you need multiplayer. If you’re a solo gamer who’s fine with battling the AI, then I would say it depends. From an existing digital board game standpoint, Metro is basically Tsuro with a much bigger board and each player having multiple pieces to trace along paths (while not being nearly as polished). If you like tile-laying or abstract games, you’ll probably enjoy yourself. If you’re looking for a eurogame with some meat for you to chew on, I’d avoid getting off at this Metro station.

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