Disclaimer: This review is written after one playing, it's quite possible that I read the rules wrong, or I've missed long term aspects of this game. Also everything in this review is my own personal opinion and yours may differ.
Metromania is a 2-4 player tile placement and network building game distributed by Spiel ou Face. I picked up my version at Essen 2006, and the play this review is based upon was a 3 player game. There was a slip of paper regarding 2 player rules distributed with the game.
The box is a relatively small one, the same size dimensionally as games like Tongiaki or Carcasonne, although depth wise it is between the two. Will fit easily on one of our narrow bookcase shelves.
Opening up the box there are four sets of tiles that need punching, one for each colour, several plastic ziplock bags, and an insert that takes away approximately 2/5ths of the box contents. The board is modular and made from the same substance as the tiles itself, which is relatively thick, and seems quite durable.
Each player starts with tunnel tiles in the shapes of triangles representing two different lines, 18 for each. In addition they have tiles to represent the start and end of the two lines.
The rules book that comes with the game is in 3 languages, English French and German, and these are clearly labelled by flags on the side of the box. All components within the game are language neutral and this game could be played in any language provided a translation was available.
Unfortunately, the rules are not particularly well translated to English, and a bit of imagination is required to understand the rules. If you do get the gist of the game it is not too difficult to make the "leap of faith" with the translation to come at what presumably the rules mean.
The board is set up by putting six large triangles into a hexagonal frame. These triangles are different, so there is an opportunity for a variety of layouts. The resulting hexagon is divided into small triangles, which the tiles may be placed on, and there are a variety of domestic, commercial, and entertainment buildings marked on this grid. In addition there are 9 exits and 9 entrances for the metro lines to run along.
Each player takes a selection of secret destination markers, depending on the number of players, with 3 we took 4 destinations each, and were permitted one matching pair. Each destination has a secret letter on the back, and there are pairs of each of these which will need connecting when the game is complete.
Starting from the start player, each player takes a turn at a time.
Each turn can either be:
Place 3 tunnels: Extend your lines by placing 3 triangles at the end of any of your track. Lines must be founded by placing a piece of tunnel marking the line on one of the white entrance areas around the outside of the board, and they may not be founded on the same or adjacent sides of the board.
When placing tunnels, you may cover up a building on the board, if you do so, then you place one of your destination markers of the matching building on top of your tunnel, so that its letter is revealed to everyone.
If you make contact with another line, you place a station on that vertex and score one point for any building touching it.
If you stop making contact with another line after running alongside it, you place a station and score one point for any building touching that vertex.
You lay leave the board by going to a black exit arrow, which cannot be on the same side or an adjacent side as the entrance. When you do this you may place a station on that line. This line will then be marked as complete and cannot be adjusted, or have a station built on it.
Build a station on your line: Build a station on a vertex of one of your lines. You immediately score one point for each building in a triangle which touches this vertex. You will also need to do this next to destination markers or you will not be able connect to this station directly during the games second phase.
This phase continues until either 5 lines are completed or blocked (the lines may not circle, and tunnels may only be placed on empty spaces), one player has finished their second line, or all the stations are placed. At this point, each other player has one more turn, and the scoring phase begins.
Firstly, any player who has not completed either of their lines, has their points reset to zero, if they've only completed one, then they lose half their points.
Then, connections are scored, you go through each letter in turn, and look for the shortest route between stations touching that destination. Going between two stations costs 1 minute, changing lines cross 3. If a shortest route between the two destinations uses your line, then you score 3 points if the destination was not placed by you, and 6 points if it was.
If someone has not placed all their destination markers, they lose 6 points for each letter they have back.
Then there is a special run between the park and lake symbols on the board, anyone whose line is used in a shortest run between the two scores 5 points.
In our game one player was quick to realise what to do, and managed to win with a bit of a walkover victory.
Thoughts from the players
This game is quite light and quick, and I was a little slow to pick up some of the subtleties. There is a nice bit of interplay between laying track to build stations for immediate points, and building connections for points later on which may be competed for. I liked it on this playing, but I would be worried it might not stand up to large numbers of replayings.
I quite liked it, but I'd like to play a game where everyone understood what they were doing
A light, track building and connections game, with some promise, but a few concerns about replayability.