One amazing thing about this game is that I never heard of it before this weekend. I’ve been on the lookout for good games since I first became a parent, browsing toy store shelves and catalogs from companies that specialize in educational play, as well as reading parenting magazines.
Admittedly, those tend to focus on the newest toys and games, and The aMAZEing Labyrinth has been around since 1986. It was so successful, however, that Ravensburger went on to create a number of variations of their award-winning game. And I never heard of any of them.
The other amazing thing about the game is that I bought it at Goodwill, and not a single piece was missing – despite the fact that the box was not taped shut, as the games normally are in that store. I’ve bought quite a few board games there over the years, because the prices fit my budget. If the game is a hit, it’s a great deal. If it turns out not to be such fun (or if missing pieces make it hard to enjoy properly), I haven’t wasted much money.
There was definitely no money wasted on this purchase. I knew as soon as I saw the Ravensburger name that the quality would be high, both in concept and construction. Add that to the idea of a maze (a generally popular theme with children and particularly so with mine) and collecting treasures and creatures (even more popular, with today’s fantasy’themed role-playing games), and it was guaranteed to be good.
The game reminds both Al and me of The Haunting House, a board game we purchase two years ago at GenCon. As with that game (which may well have been inspired by Ravensburger’s labyrinth game), there are cards which make up the maze, each depicting a corridor which may or may not have an intersection with another corridor. To get from one card to another (i.e. to navigate the maze), the corridor openings have to line up.
Unlike in The Haunting House, where you manipulate the maze by rotating a single card, or by exchanging two adjacent cards, in Labyrinth you move a whole row (or column) of cards at a time. Some cards are fixed in place, however, so only the rows in between them can move. And you don’t get to rotate cards, so it can take a few moves to get cards – including the one you’re on – lined up so that you can move.
While you’re doing this, of course, your opponents are doing the same thing. Moving a column to undo the change just made by an opponent is not allowed, so you often find your plans changed. (And I don’t know how many times I tried to move an unmovable column.) Eventually, though, you get where you’re going, which is to whatever piece of the maze matches the top card in your treasure card pile.
As Al pointed out, a skull isn’t exactly a treasure, nor is it a creature. But so what? You might collect a ring, a spider, a sword, a dragon, a princess, a book, and a ghost. Or a bat, a bag of money, a lizard… you get the idea. Every time you place, the cards you are dealt give you a different set of items to collect. And the layout of the maze is different – and constantly changing.
We stopped after only one game this afternoon, because it was time to go march in the parade. But we might have time for another game before heading out to watch fireworks.