After our game of Thurn und Taxis, we looked at the other unplayed games we could try. After a brief discussion, we decided on METROMANIA
In Metromania players are developing subway lines which are represented as the edge of a triangular piece. The empty city plan is hexagonal subdivided into triangular spaces where lines (tunnels) can be built. Players will get points for connecting stations, but more importantly, they would like their lines to be part of the final series of test runs conducted after all the lines are built. On the board are unmarked destination spots (houses, offices, and fun spots). Each player will start with some labeled destination spots. For example, the first (A) test run is House A to Office A. The second (B) test run is Office B to Fun Spot B. Any player whose line(s) are part of the fastest connection on a test run will share points in the final part of the game. There are 6 different test runs (A~F) followed by a final test run between a lake and a park. When a player builds a line to one of the unmarked locations, he must place one of his labelled destination markers of the same type on that space. So as the game develops, players will start to see where the test runs will be conducted.
Dave and I set up for the basic 2 player game where I would have one half of the test run destinations (namely the A~F starting spots) while Dave would have the other half (the A~F destination spots). We both started to play our lines with Rich building the House A first hoping to also get a station near the lake to participate in the final test run also. Dave then built his line from behind Rich and developed Office A in close proximity to the House A and connected the two. But Rich returned the favour by connecting in the Fun zone C to Dave's House C in a similar manner. Rich also extended his lines along the other side of the park hoping to surround it and avoid to delay connections by Dave.
Rich had developed line and then spent a few turns building stations. Dave however figured out a more efficient way to gain stations - run his lines together at the desired spots and stations appear without taking a turn to specifically build them.
As we played destinations on the board, the other player would try to build the other half of the test run close by and in such a way to block the other opponent from gaining a parallel rapid connection. But with the triangular pieces, it is very difficult to completely block other players.
Dave was the first to finish a line exiting out the other side of the board. Dave continued to develop lines as did Rich and soon threatened to finish his next line which would have triggered the end of the line construction portion of the game. In fact, there was little Rich could do but finish one of his lines so as to have at least a single completed line.
At this point in the game, Rich had connected 8 stations (and had 8 points) while Dave had only connected 4 stations (for 4 points). Because Dave had finished both his lines, he kept his points. Because Rich had connected only 1 line, he lost half his points so was tied with Dave for 4 points.
Looking the test runs - A, B, and the park/lake run were tied as both players had lines with the quickest connection. Rich had the quickest C connection while Dave had the quickest F connection. Routes D/E were not scored as neither player had placed the location tokens so both were penalized equally. As a result, we were tied in points and looked for the tie-breaker. That tie-break was completed lines - so Dave wins.
As we discussed the game afterward, Dave pointed out that Rich might have forfeited his completed line and instead extened a line towards house allowing him to play the D-House location spot. Dave's thought was that Rich would forfeit his 4 points, but would cost Dave the 6 point penalty as the D-run would be impossible because Dave hadn't played the D-office. This would give Rich the points victory. Rich pointed out that even though the location was built, the station would not be built - so Rich would still share in the penalty for the D run.
But this was really a learning game. I could sense there is a bit more depth to the game. Dave called it a game in brutal efficiency. But I could sense that this game is probably better with 3 or 4 players competing with 2 lines each and a more random set of destination spots spread out amongst all opponents. One would then need to cooperate somewhat, but not so much as to yield the advantage to the other player. With just 2 players - both are needed to make the test run - so wonder how really one can gain multiple test runs in the final stage.
I did like some aspects of the game. The triangular tiles are very interesting and very difficult to block as the course runs along the edge of the tile. While the resulting map does tend to resemble a subway map, I didn't really get the sense of "building the railway" - but to be fair very few track laying games really feel like running a railway or subway. This sense might come with repeated plays as we (ie multiple players) start to maneuver for the efficient test runs.
Still, I enjoyed this first play and hope I can explore the subway lines again at some future date.