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Subject: Metromania -- Session Report rss

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Greg Schloesser
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Jefferson City
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Note: My full review of Metromania will be published soon.

Will there ever be an end to rail games? As long as folks continue to devise clever twists to the various rail systems, probably not. Metromania is a French production challenging players to dig subway tunnels across a city, taking care to link important destinations and construct subway stations. The game feels quite a bit like Streetcar (Linie 1), and there isn’t much strikingly new.

The city is constructed by fitting six triangle pieces into a frame. Each segment is further divided into numerous additional triangles, which forms the grid upon which tiles will be placed. Scattered across the city are numerous residential, commercial and entertainment areas. The ultimate goal is for players to link these destinations with the shortest routes possible.

I must state that the English version of the rules is quite jumbled. Actually, the make Adlung Spiele’s English rules appear to be worthy of a language doctorate degree. After several futile attempts at deciphering the rules, I was finally able to obtain a better translation from a fellow gamer which were actually readable. Mind you, I still didn’t fully understand the game until after I had played, but at least I was able to explain the game to others.

There aren’t a lot of decisions to make on a turn. A player may either place three tiles, or build an intermediate station. Subway lines begin along the edge of the board and must ultimately terminate on the opposite side of the board. Lines must be contiguous, and cannot form branches. Further, only one tile may be on a space, so it is quite possible preferred pathways will be blocked.

Whenever a subway line meets another line, a station is immediately placed. Further, when one line is running parallel to another line and then splits off in a different direction, a station is placed at that point. Additionally, once a line is completed, the player may place one additional station somewhere along that line. After that, no further stations may be placed on that line.

Instead of placing new tiles, a player may opt to place a station somewhere along an existing, but still incomplete line, but it must be placed between two existing stations. Stations are important as they serve as links for various destinations, and they are used when scoring the various lines. One of the keys is to make sure you place stations along your lines at destination points to which you are connected. Failure to do so is costly.

Whenever a station is placed, one point is earned for each destination that touches that station. These points can be significant, but they are at risk during the final scoring. More on this in a bit.

The building phase of the game ends when one player has completed both lines, all stations are placed, or a total of five lines have either been completed or are blocked. At this point, final scoring and line tests are performed.

Tallying points is a bit involved. First, points are deducted for players who have not completed both lines. Players who have only completed one line lost ½ of their points, while players who were unable to complete either of their lines lost ALL of their points. Ouch. This is harsh.

The city now runs a test between destination markers with matching letters (A to A, B to B, etc.) to determine the shortest route. Once the shortest route is determined, all players who have a line that is part of that route score points.

If a destination marker was never placed on the board, the guilty party loses points. Further, if the marker was placed but no one erected a station touching it, the player who placed the marker loses points. If both matching destination markers were placed, but no line links them, both players who placed the markers lose points. Again, this is quite harsh, and the lesson to be learned is make sure you link your destination markers with lines and stations.

Metromania is one of those games that I just couldn’t understand until my first game was finished. The scoring system didn’t click, and I really didn’t appreciate the importance of constructing stations quickly at destination points. When we conducted the final scoring, however, all of this became clear, and we all realized the mistakes we had made. I know I’ll certainly play differently in my next game.

Thus, I hesitate even discussing initial impressions, as the first game was played without an appreciation of how the scoring worked and an understanding of the tactics and strategies necessary. I will say that the game felt rather bland, and was over way too quickly. I’m hoping that with a better understanding, my next game will be better and my opinion will improve.

Jim’s train game experience must have proved useful, as he was able to quickly place all of his destinations and erect stations at those locations. He was able to hold onto all of the points he earned, and add to them in the final runs. Sheila and I were not as fortunate, ending the game with exactly zero points.

Finals: Jim 16, Robert 11, Sheila 0, Greg 0

Initial ratings: Robert 5, Greg 5, Sheila 4.5, Jim 4
 
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Alfred Wallace
United States
Champaign
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gschloesser wrote:
I was finally able to obtain a better translation from a fellow gamer which were actually readable.


...which are now available for download from BGG or Metromania's website...

(Was there anything I could have made more clear in the rules? I think it's a good game, myself, as long as everyone knows that it's the end of the world if they don't complete at least one line, and put out all their destinations.)
 
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Maman Jean-Michel
France
Paris
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(from the designer of the game)

Hello !

Your translation is excellent and very clear.
I saw there's one thing missing only, and I put it there for players :
A player can score more than 20 points. In that case, he places one of his counters near the "20" to show it. A player can also score less than... 0 ! In that case, he places one of his counters near the "0" to show it.

About the placement of the Destinations, to be honest, there's one thing I really do not understand : how a player, after reading in the rules that he loses 6 points (!) if he does not do some action, can play and does not do (or hardly try to do) this action ?

Note also that, if there was not this penalty, it would be too easy to not placing his destinations and so, to avoid some tests that other players will win... In fact, when you do not place or place well one of your destinations, by suffering a -6 penalty, you give ALL OTHER PLAYERS a full winning test-trip !
 
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Richard Rutten
Netherlands
Nijmegen
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glodoc wrote:
I saw there's one thing missing only, and I put it there for players :
A player can score more than 20 points. In that case, he places one of his counters near the "20" to show it. A player can also score less than... 0 ! In that case, he places one of his counters near the "0" to show it.

Just to let you know. I also left out the part about the more than 20 and less than 0 points in the dutch translation. Mainly because it was missing from the Wallace translation and you told me to use that as a basis for my translation. But also because it was fairly unclear what you meant from the original English and German version of the rules. I figured that people would know what to do when their score would not fit onto the scoretrack as it is also quite common in other games.

If you want I can still add it to the translation.
 
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Alfred Wallace
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Blind Reality wrote:
I figured that people would know what to do when their score would not fit onto the scoretrack as it is also quite common in other games.


...that was kind of my assumption as well. I should have put it in, I suppose, for the sake of completeness.
 
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Maman Jean-Michel
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Thanks for your response.

I was worried about that only because a BGG player emailed me that the score was very unfair, because he was stucked to 20 points and can't count the 6 points he won in a last trip !
I think also that players can guess this kind of scoring method, similar for exemple with that of Carcassonne (but, to be honest, Carcassonne gives special counters to show that a player exceeds the score track...).
Well, now I will go fight in Essen... Hope to see you there !
 
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Alfred Wallace
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glodoc wrote:
I was worried about that only because a BGG player emailed me that the score was very unfair, because he was stucked to 20 points and can't count the 6 points he won in a last trip !


That'll teach me not to make such rash assumptions...
 
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