In MetroX, players create subway networks by filling in the station spaces on their individual game sheets. Using the numbers revealed by the cards, all players fill up their subway map with ◯s in the station spaces. However, the number of times they can add stations to each line is limited, so they have to make tough choices. Players can score many points by getting their star bonuses in stations with many intersecting routes. Players also get bonuses by being the first to complete routes. Try to fill in all your stations to minimize the penalties and achieve a high score!
2018 (English edition 2020)
MetroX is a flip-and-write game about creating transit networks. In this game, cards are revealed one by one from a deck, and players use them to draw routes on their individual boards. Since many routes overlap, players must be strategic in order to maximize the length of their routes, but also timely in doing so to ensure they get the most points for them. It is a great game for all ages and skill levels.
Everybody loves roll/flip-and-write games these days, and MetroX is the latest one from acclaimed designer Hisashi Hayashi. In this game, players are building subway lines with the goal of earning the most points. To build their transit networks, players mark off station spaces, trying to reach as many as possible. Since many routes intersect, and since the game lasts a relatively small number of turns, strategy is the key to victory.
At the start of the game, each player receives their own dry-erase board and marker.
The boards are double-sided, providing two layout options, but all players must agree on which side to play on. In the middle of the table, a deck of cards is shuffled and placed face-down. Throughout the game, these cards will be revealed one at a time, each card allowing players to take its listed action. They come in four colors/types:
Though each color works slightly differently, they all have the same basic function: they allow players to mark off station spaces on their boards. Whenever a new card is drawn, players each select the route they wish to advance, and they mark off the appropriate number of spaces along it. Stations must always be completed in order from start to finish, but since routes often overlap/intersect, sometimes a station on one line will help advance a different line, as well. For example:
Here, the first card drawn is a 5, and this player chooses to advance the red line. She writes a “5” in the red train car window and marks off the first 5 spaces of its route. Since the orange route shares these spaces, this move is doubly useful, because the orange route gets advanced, as well.
Suppose that later in the game, a 3 is drawn.
The player might use the 3 to advance the orange line. Since the first 5 spaces on this route were checked off previously, she would start part-way down the line. This use of overlapping/intersecting routes is really where the game’s strategy comes in.
Now, as for what the different types of cards do:
- The blue cards simply allow players to mark off the indicated number of spaces on a single route. However, if a player runs into an existing mark on the board, she has to stop. To continue the example above, if a “4” was drawn and the player wished to start advancing the pink line, she would only be able to put the first 3 X’s down, since the 4th would be on a space with an existing X.
- The orange cards allow players to advance a route, but with the advantage of being able to skip existing X’s.
- The green “free” card lets players mark off any single space on their boards.
- Lastly, the gray “transfer” cards give players a chance to earn points. Each player may mark the first available space on a route, but instead of writing an X, they write a number equal to twice the number of routes that intersect there. To illustrate:
This player used a transfer on the dark green route. Since the next available space is shared by 4 lines, she earns (4 x 2) points; she writes an “8” to record this. (If she were to use another transfer on the next dark green space, it would be worth 10 points, since 5 routes intersect there!)
Each route has a completion bonus associated with it. The first player(s) to complete a route earns the points shown in the gold diamond next to the train car. Anyone who completes the route thereafter earns the smaller, secondary bonus in the white square.
Players continue drawing and resolving cards until all train windows on their boards are full. At this time, they add up their points from transfers and completed routes, minus points for empty spaces remaining on their boards. The player with the most points is the winner!
As a fan of spatial puzzle games, MetroX really appeals to me. It’s interesting: this game requires players to be efficient, strategically using lines that overlap/intersect, but as things progress, their attempts at efficiency may turn out to be literal roadblocks.
Having a “hole” in a route can be a major issue, because it means the player must either 1) hold out for a “Skip” card to be drawn, or 2) use fewer movement points than they are allowed. It’s essentially a choice between waiting for something that may never come or being inefficient and earning a lower overall score. On top of this, the fact that the deck is only reshuffled when the “6” card comes out means players cannot count on any specific card being drawn (except for the 6 itself).
The box includes 6 dry-erase boards, but if multiple sets of the game are available (or even photocopies of the board), MetroX could easily accommodate more players. With a play time around 20 minutes, the game is conducive to multiple, back-to-back plays.
MetroX is among my favorite roll/flip-and-write games. I really enjoy the spatial aspect of overlapping routes; it’s exactly the kind of puzzle I love in games. The strategy is simple, but nonetheless it provides a satisfying mix of pre-planning and play-by-play tactics. With so many titles in the roll/flip-and-write genre, it takes a particularly solid design to stand out, and this one does that for me. If you are fan of spatial games or roll-and-writes, definitely check this one out!
A review copy was provided by Gamewright.
+ Cool spatial puzzle
+ Attempts at efficiency may turn out to be roadblocks, which is interesting
+ Easy to learn, quick to play
- Markers work well for several games, but they start to dry out fairly quickly