Games: The aMAZEing Labyrinth

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.

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3 Responses to Games: The aMAZEing Labyrinth

  1. Peter L says:

    The picture reminds me of a game we had way back in the 60s, which was a wooden box with two knobs and a metal ball. The maze positioned on two axis controlled by the knobs. The object was to drop the ball at the start, then maneuver it through the labyrinth by twisting the knobs. Oh, and you also had to avoid the 30 or so holes along the way. I could never get it past the 15 or 20th holes. It was nerve wracking, but such a challenge we would spend hours trying to get through. We all felt it impossible, but my oldest brother eventually got all the way though. I think I saw an electronic version once on line.

    And Pauline- I have tried SET several times, but often cannot figure out the last set. You have me hooked on that one!

  2. Margaret says:

    I’ve never heard of The aMAZEing Labyrinth, but what you say about your opponent spoiling your plans reminds me of playing Chinese checkers with Pauline or with my son. I have a beautiful path all the way across the board for all my marbles to travel, and my opponent delights in blocking it. Now the labyrinth described by Peter I do remember playing with, but it was pretty difficult. As for SET, I think I’m getting the hang of it. If you can’t find the last set, see if you can find one that is just like one of your other sets, but with two of the colors (or other qualities) switched (e.g. 2 green items instead of red, and 3 red instead of green).

  3. Pauline says:

    I sometimes have trouble finding the last set in SET, but I just go methodically through all the possible combinations until I find the right one. I pick one shape, then one by one try matching it with each other shape.

    By now I can determine at a glance what the third shape would have to be to make a set with those two, and whether such a shape is available. (In the process, of course, I keep finding the sets I’ve already found. I try to pay attention to that, but sometimes I don’t notice – until the message comes up telling me I already have it.)

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