Open Seat Gaming: Classic Callback: Metro
Disclaimer: This review is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by Queen Games to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Welcome to Classic Callback, where Marti checks out some of the great games of the past so that new gamers can get a fresh look at what we think of them! This month, we’re building the Parisian metro in Metro from Queen Games!
Publisher: Queen Games
Designer: Dirk Henn
Main Game Mechanisms: Tile Placement, Route Building
Number of Players: 2 to 6
Game Time: 30 to 45 minutes (depending on player count and which modules you play).
The Game: You're in Paris, right before they host the World's Fair in the year 1900. They're preparing the city for the Fair, and they're trying to sort out the metro system so that they can transport people throughout the city effectively.
In Metro, you play as the engineers, working with the city to ensure that the system is efficient and gets people where they need to go. Like other route building games, you will be placing tiles into a grid in order to make rail lines. In the main game, each person will have trains around the edge of the board, and you'll be building routes so that you can take your train as far as possible to get the most points.
You have a tile in your hand, and you can either choose to use that tile, or draw another one - if you draw a new tile, you must use the drawn tile.
The rules for putting your tiles on the board are simple: You have to put the tile on the board so that the arrow on the board matches the arrow on your tile (they all face one direction), it has to be touching the edge of the board or a previously laid tile, and a train must score at least 2 points due to your tile placement. If the train would only score one point (by going back to the original station), that placement is not legal.
When a train hits a station, the marker gets flipped and you score points: 1 point for each section of track that it took to get to the station. That score is doubled if you got to the central stations. You're keeping track of scores around the edge of the board. After you lay the last tile, you look at the scores, and the top score wins (the Queenie mini expansions give other "end game" scoring as well, but I'm just talking about the basic game here).
Why It's Worth a Classic Callback:
The 2017 Edition is a Fantastic Reprint! The version of the game that we got is the 2017 edition, which includes 4 "Queenie" expansions (the company's mini-expansions). Otherwise, it's almost the exact same game from 1997. The production is rock solid, the rulebook is easy to understand, and it's everything that you would want from a reprint of an older game.
It is a Solid, Thinky Game. On BGG, this game is categorized as medium-light on BGG, and without the Queenie expansions, I definitely agree with that. It's heavier than, say, Tsuro - the board is larger and there are more decisions. But, if you are someone that likes to solve the spatial puzzle of abstract games, this is definitely one to check out.
The New Expansions Add Lots of Depth. You don't think of mini-expansions as being something that add tons of depth, but in this case, they definitely do that! Each expansion takes the base instructions and switches up the scoring in some way. One of the modules adds stocks, and instead of you being in charge of a certain color of train, you're trying to gather stocks in the train lines that get the most points. One of them adds hidden objectives; another gets rid of the stations in the center of the board. That depth makes the game worth this Classic Callback.
It's a Great "Gateway Plus" Title. As mentioned above, it's thinky and considered a medium light game (1.7 weight on BGG). It's really easy to learn - which is something that I love in any game, but especially "next step" games - but it has the depth to decision making which can be appealing to people who are just dipping their toes into the hobby gaming scene.
Who Won't Like Metro?
- People who don't like math. Sure, most of it is counting, but there is a lot of counting in this game. If you don't enjoy that sort of thing, then you probably won't dig Metro too much.
- If you don't like Tsuro and other similar network building games, you probably won't like this too much at all. It's Tsuro with some more depth - and it's not the sort of depth that will make you like it more if you don't like network building games to start with.
- Do you need your game to have a theme? Then Metro probably won't catch your attention too much. It's totally an abstract theme - yes, the central stations have names of Parisian cities, and you can tell it's a train system, but that's about it.
- Do you absolutely have to play a particular color? You may be irritated then - the colors available for play are based on how many players are playing. That's because, for efficiency and cost, they made 16 pieces for yellow and blue (which you can play at any player count), but only 10 for orange (3 players), 8 for green (4 players), and so on.
Who Will Like Metro?
- Do you like Alhambra? Good! It's from the same designer, and you can tell that it's a similar pedigree. You'll probably enjoy what Metro has to offer - it has that same attention to detail and puzzling out what exactly you need to do in order to get the most out of every turn you take.
- If you enjoy tile placement games at all, then you at least want to give Metro a look. It's going to scratch that tile placement itch, it only really takes a half an hour to play, and it's different every single time that you play.
- Do you appreciate the mantra "easy to learn, challenging to master?" Metro is the game that exemplifies that mantra the best out of anything I've recently played. We got playing within a few minutes (the setup took longer than the explanation), but it kept our minds going throughout the entire thing.
We've really enjoyed our plays of Metro, and I really believe that it's a game that doesn't get enough recognition. If you want to try it, there is an iOS app that is only $2.99. You can also get it online for around $30.
Marti - The Fluffy Meeple