Board Game of the Day: Metro (Paris 1898)

Today we have a go at playing one of my all time favourite board games: Metro, Paris 1898. My parents bought the game on a trip to Germany shortly after the game received the award of “Best game of the Year” 2000 (Kritikerpreis). I have always been very fond of this game. It is very simple to play, relatively quick, and the outcomes are always variable. First let’s have a quick look at the game and its dynamics.

Metro Paris 1898 content box.
Metro Paris 1898 content box.

Metro is a tile-placing game in a board with the goal of making the longest underground rail connections or each of your stations. The number of players goes from 2-6 maximum. More players equals more chaos and mischief amongst players. But playing between 2 is just as enjoyable. The winner of the game is whoever has more accumulated points by the end. I really recommend a final count of everyone’s points when you play Metro, regardless of the number of players as more often than not you would have missed something and that can be crucial for your victory. Estimated play time? 20-40 minutes, although it may vary if the players are considering their moves very carefully (or if they are confused over the routes of the tracks!).

The dynamic of the game is easy to follow: each turn each player takes a tile from the pile facing down, and plays it on the board, making sure the arrow in the middle of the tile is facing the right direction – use the arrows on the board as reference. (For advance games you can disregard this rule, which makes keeping trace of the tracks more confusing so beware!). When you run out of tiles, the game ends. And that is it – pretty straight forward.

So what you need to look out for? Every player has a certain number of stations as advised on the player cards, and this varies depending on how many players are in the game.

Sample player cards - all your stations will be numbered.
Sample player cards – all your stations will be numbered.

At the beginning, mark your stations with your coloured tokens.

Coloured tokens - used to mark your stations, and your score.
Coloured tokens – used to mark your stations, and your score.

In addition, the colour tokens fit in the side of the station where train track commence, so then you can keep check of the start point of your line – it is easy to get confused sometimes with whether the line you are following is linking with the starting or ending side of the line, so the colours highlight this for you.

Sample tile.
Sample tile.

Each tile has 4 tracks which will eventually be connected to tracks in adjacent tiles, forming this way the trail of all underground train lines. Placing tiles is easy if you follow this rules:

-Tiles can only be placed touching another tile’s border or the sides of the board. You can also place tiles adjacent to the 4 stations in the middle of the board at any point. Connecting with these stations will make your train line double in points.

-Follow the direction of the arrow on the tile and the board (unless you’re plaing by the advance rules).

-For tiles that have semicircular tracks: you should not place them as the first tile of a starting line. If a train line begins and ends at the same station with one only one tile placement, then you’re doing it wrong. However this can be overseen if these are the only remaining tiles at the end of the game and they can only be placed in such position – all tiles must be placed.

This is how erratic the tile placing can be - as long as they are touching other tiles or the edge, and are plced according to the rules...go mad!
This is how erratic the tile placing can be – as long as they are touching other tiles or the edge, and are plced according to the rules…go mad!

If you were wondering, yes, of course you can place tiles not only for your lines but for others. You are entitles to start, continue and end (knowing or unknowingly!) the train tracks of others. This is actually a very important game dynamic for this provides you with control of the direction of your opponent’s trains, and for how long their routes go on. But of course…They can do the same back at you! So do not be surprise if you have plenty of 1 or 2 point scoring lines out of spite. In fact, bear in mind that even if all your lines have been closed, as long as there are tiles, you are still in play, therefore determining the success of others. The Fun Never Stops.

The only thing left to explain is the scoring system: for each track (not tile!) that your train passes through, you score one point. And remember, if you end a line in the centre stations, you double that score. So your lines can go on complete loops for all you care, as long as the do not reach their end at another station, they will give you as many points as tracks have been legally connected.

Scoring example: train starting on the track highlighted by the blue token. Total points = 17. Starts on tile in ront of the token, then turns down and out throuh starting tile again up the board, then loops again and up to eventually turn around and down, finishin in the tile right next to the blue token (no. 27).
Scoring example: train starting on the track highlighted by the blue token. Total points = 17. Starts on tile in ront of the token, then turns down and out throuh starting tile again up the board, then loops again and up to eventually turn around and down, finishin in the tile right next to the blue token (no. 27).

And that is really all the mystery that there is to Metro.  Because the game is so easy to understand this is a great game if you are playing with kids (I would say ages 8+ should be ok with the dynamics), or if you are introducing new people to board games and you want to skip the scary bit of uber complicated rules that require memorisation and super deep strategy. Metro is user-friendly for all ages and all types of gamers.

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