As regular Zatu blog readers will know, my friend Hannah and I are partial to oversharing our game-related musings and deep(ish!) observations to anybody willing to listen. In true give-an-inch-take-a-mile fashion, we have come together to collaborate on a series! Each of us will be introducing the other to new games over the course of 2021. All through the wonders of socially distanced video conferencing! Welcome to First Impression VS Later: Metro X!
But the twist in this tabletop-tale here is that one of us will be an old hand at the games we recommend and the other will be greener than a seasick leprechaun. After 10 plays of each game, we will then come back to reflect on what we thought and share those conclusions with you.
This cardboard crusade is partly to cause each other serious and continuous brain-pain but mainly in the hope that it helps you discover new games for your own collection. Besides that, however, it is also fun to see that, whether you are a veteran or a total noob, there is always something fantastic about playing a game with the benefit of a different perspective.
And so, without further ado, we present to you our first challenger……ding, ding, ding…….
Round 1 - Metro X
Released in 2018, unlimited players, Ages 8 and over
Heavyweight: “The Titan” favouritefoe
Light flyweight: Hannah “the Destroyer” Blacknell
Favouritefoe: Hold on to your hat, Hannah, for we are going straight in with a belter; the “rail and write”, Metro X published by OKAZU and now Gamewright. In only 20 minutes, this little flip and fill is going to bend your brain like narrow-gauge rails on a sweltering summer’s day.
With only a deck of 15 Transit Cards, a double-sided dry erase board and a marker, the object of this gloriously punchy, crunchy game is to complete as many subway lines as you can as fast as you can using whichever prescribed action is flipped over.
You have 23 moves in total and you can only mark off stations adjacent to those already crossed off – no running, no jumping, and definitely no hopping unless you see a glorious Skip Card on the top of that diminutive pile. Oh, and if you fail to include any stations on your city-wide tour, you are going to lose some of those precious points, ner ner!
Before we start, I will admit here and now that I flipping love this game. For me, it’s quick, it’s sharp, it’s frustratingly fun, and it plays as well solo as it does with unlimited players competing across the wilds of the internet (thanks to the gift of a handy printable pdf board by Gamewright).
It was my first ever big-girl board game purchase last year and I never tire of it. Play alone, play in a group – I’ll play it wherever, whenever. Ok, so it may not be the most directly interactive within the genre, but the jaw tightening tension that losing the chance to nab the higher score on a line you have almost completed is a stark reminder of the competitive undercurrent of this little beauty.
The luck of the Transit Card draw and the ever-decreasing number of limited moves also means that strategies have to adapt throughout each game and no two games will ever play the same (a blessing when being repeatedly thrashed at other games by the doyennes of the board; namely you, the lovely MJ (aka Mr Doppelt So Clever Clogs), and my very own husband, Bearded Moon).
Why Metro X?
In summarizing my thoughts on Metro X, I feel that I should caveat my earlier reference to pace. This game, like all games, can play super fast but that depends on who you are playing (including yourself!). Metro X can massively trigger my analysis paralysis – at times, I stare at the board until my eyes glaze, caught between crosses, and unwilling to commit. However, that is not a bad thing for me. The small but powerful feeling that comes from making a decision and progressing a line acts like a subway supercharger, encouraging me to carry on rolling like a slightly less wrinkled Sid James. As such, if silence descends, it’s not your internet connection, Hannah; it’s just my internal synapses temporarily shorting out!
For me, Metro X is a solid 9/10. One of the best in the ever-increasing genre of roll/draw/flip and fills. (*NO PRESSURE TO LIKE MY FIRST CHOICE AT ALL!*)
And so, oven-ready explanation over (if you start weeping onto your whiteboard, Destroyer, you can always visit my most excellent, tip-tastic Zatu How to Play guide), it’s time to rail and roll!
Ding-ding-ding, enter the flyweight gamer into the ring.
A Challenger Approaches
I have been a long time appreciator of board games but only got into hobbyist board games in the last couple of years. I think it is fair to say though that we both have become borderline obsessional in an incredibly short space of time. These past 10 months have been a challenge, and we have really fallen into gaming hard as a coping mechanism. One of the best things we have discovered is the board gaming community. Blogging about our fledgeling collections and opinions has helped massively and I love games that can be played over video call with my new found friends.
As a follow-up to my challenge at the tail-end of 2020 of playing my whole collection in a month (read more here), Favouritefoe and I decided on some new challenges for 2021. We have decided to go for a joint venture of teaching each other a game a month over a video call. Favouritefoe stood up and took the baton first, choosing Metro X.
Upon opening the box, I was presented with a small deck of bright and simple cards, six chunky and bright dry-wipe boards and a set of six whiteboard pens with erasers. It looked like a simple and sleek design. I was excited to get started! I like flip and fill or roll and write games immensely. They are the right level for my brain most evenings. As the genre develops and becomes more successful, these games have become more in-depth and rewarding to play.
Metro X was an easy teach over a video call. Favouritefoe and co did a great job of teaching us the ropes in a few minutes. We got a few rules wrong the first time (her fault for sure!), but soon enough we had a handle of it.
Thoughts on Metro X
Favouritefoe is right (not something I often say!); this game is an absolute brain burner. I know that because I started dreaming about connecting lines in the “perfect” way. You see, every mark you make moves you closer to the target of completing all your lines. However, it also creates problems that you need to solve. You can cross off stations on lines starting from the first available station. However, without a special “skip” card, you can’t hop over any marks you have already made. This brings on a headache, but the joy it brings when I manage to finish a line first makes all this worthwhile.
After the first play, I gave this a solid 8.5/10, and immediately wanted to play again! After now more than ten plays, that initial 8.5 has been upgraded to a 9/10, even though I rarely win. I can safely say that I am an erratic scorer. I sometimes perform brilliantly and get nigh on perfect station crossing off. And then sometimes I score 12 points and only manage to complete two lines. There is a long road to me becoming a consistent player, but I am enjoying the ride immensely.
We actually gave our spare boards out to a couple of our pals so we could spread the Metro X joy. So far, all of those Favouritefoe and I have introduced the game to have also bought their own copy too. Really we should be sponsored by Gamewright given the number of copies we have sold for them!
History in the making right here; a rare reference to me being right AND the same score? Can’t say I am too surprised though. Metro X is a super game and I can’t think of a better test than the Destroyer!
I’d like to say it is going to be the mark of things to come but, knowing Hannah, she has got some surprises on her shelf!
Round 1 Result: A most excellent draw!