Jun 15, 2011

Reiner Knizia's Labyrinth

Renier Knizia is a prolific game designer. He designed what I currently consider to be my favorite game of all time. He's also a big time egomaniac as demonstrated by his insistence on renaming all of his works from "Game X" to "Reiner Knizia's Game X". His earlier games showed off Knizia's brilliance, but his latest games are often rehashes of shoebox formulas in game design so I'm always trepidacious whenever I come across a new Knizia game nowadays. Basically it means "do not buy until you've played it several times and are sure you like it" which hasn't happened in a long time, but Labyrinth... err Reiner Knizia's Labyrinth is an Android Market freebie.

What is Labyrinth all about? No, it's not a tilt puzzle in which you have to get the metal ball in the hole. It's a tile based board game. You are a brave hero venturing into the depths of the labyrinth in order to uncover great treasures, defeat fearsome monsters, and escape with your life. You will draw tiles from a deck of cards and will place them on the board. Your primary goal is to create a path from start to end given the walls on the tiles, but you also want to ensure that treasures and gems are also on the beaten path. In addition to that is the idea of combat. The maze also contains monsters and swords. Once a monster is on your path it will cost you swords to defeat it. If you have enough swords then you win (and both monster and sword disappear), and I don't have to tell you what happens if you don't have enough swords.

Ultimately Labyrinth is a game in which you play against a deck of cards. Mr. Knizia has a game called Robot Master on the iPhone that is pretty much the same game but with a different dress on. Make the best of it with the tiles you get in the order in which you get them. But I'm a fantasy nut so the fantasy version (aka this one) appeals to me more. This game does offer additional elements in later scenarios, but it all comes down to that balance of intelligent placement of the tiles (the strategy) and some good old fashioned luck of the draw.

qrcodeGraphically the game is good for a board game, and the audio accompaniment is nice. Tribeflame did a nice job with the development of the game (they also did Through the Desert). However, at just under 50 meg this seems to be pretty huge for a game of this simplicity. Controls rely solely on the touch screen and the dragging of the tiles or tapping them for rotation.

All in all this is a nice, little tile game that passes the time. Don't get too caught up in the strategy as the best laid plans can be quickly demolished by a bad draw and achieving high scores is often a matter of risk plus luck. For some casual fun, however, look no further and with a pricetag of free it's hard to go wrong. 4/5 stars.


  1. You're making me curious... so what is your favourite game of all time you mentioned above? :-)

  2. Amun Re. I really like some of the mathematical strategy such as it being clear cut to always buy one power card every round if you can (i.e. never skip buying at least one). I also really like the way the players change the weightings of the province values from the old to new age for a bidding game.

    My other favorites are listing on the lower right of: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/adreeve