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Subject: Finally got a copy and a play session! rss

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Matt Butterfield
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Jupiter
Florida
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I was finally able to get a copy of Space Maze and played a game the other day. It began as a four player game with my parents and my wife, but my mom dropped out during the rules explanation to take a phone call. We had the board set up in the standard square setup with one player at each corner (minus my mom's aliens). The game started out with me getting one of my aliens through the first few tiles quickly. My dad and my wife had to do more maze modification. I was able to grab the relic while my dad and wife were still a tile or two away. I started my race towards my ship, but I started to get slowed down by the combined efforts of my opponents. I also ran out of action cards on my way back to the ship because I was able to use so many to get to the relic first. I finished a round on the tile next to my ship, but I was second to go in the following round. My dad was first and he was able to take the relic. I ended up with the relic again a couple of rounds later, then my wife came in and stole it from me. She started running for her ship and my dad and I simply didn't have the cards (or the maze arrangement) to do anything about it, so my wife won.

I thought the game was a lot of fun. If my dad had not managed to stop me from getting onto my spaceship at the last moment, it would not have been very exciting, but I imagine things were meant to work out the way they did. My only complaint would be the action card variety. Before someone grabs the relic for the first time, almost all of the cards are useful. After someone grabs the relic, the dynamics change. From then on, if you have the relic, you no longer need to rotate tiles to move. You can still rotate tiles in an effort to keep your opponents away, but you can only effect the tiles next to you, and all of your opponents are coming after you. However, the balance seems to be more skewed when someone else has the relic. You have to take the move dice that could potentially help the person with the relic, so you may not get the best movement die possible. Also, to move through the maze, you still need to rotate tiles, but spending an action rotating a tile is an action not moving towards the relic and a turn the alien with the relic can move that much farther away. The Run cards are so much more useful to the alien with the relic because the alien can always move the 1 or 2 spaces, whereas if you do not have the relic, you may not be able to move at all even if you have the card because of the maze setup. Ultimately, in the obviously limited experience I have with the game thus far, it comes down to having either Diagonal Switch or Exchange cards if you are going to catch the alien with the relic. They are the only cards you can use to slow the alien with the relic. To make things even more difficult, once the alien with the relic gets more than one tile away from any of your aliens, you cannot effect that alien at all, unless you have the Rollercoaster expansion, which I do not. I'm sure there are good reasons that there are no cards that allow for changing the maze from a distance (like the Rollercoaster expansion), but with my limited play time, it seems that something along those lines might help the balance, as would a slightly different number of each card, or, my personal favorite, a wider variety of cards in general.

Aside from the minor balance issues I saw with the action cards, Space Maze was a blast to play and is a very unique game. I'm looking forward to future games.

Matt
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Jan
Belgium
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Glad to see you had fun, it's a different kind of game indeed.
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