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Metro

Metro is a tile-laying game from 1997 that depicts the construction of the French subway system; in 2009, it was re-implemented as Cable Car (published by Queen Games). This review will focus on the original uberplay version; the newer Queen edition, in addition to the new theme and artwork, offers an optional variant that brings stock holdings into the game. Metro is for two to six players and generally takes around a half hour to play.

The board consists of a rectangle with a number of train stations along each edge; some are named a bit anachronistically (for example, there is a station named after FDR, which seems a bit strange for a game set at the end of the 19th century!) Additionally, there is a smaller square in the center of the board.

On your turn, you either play the tile that is in your hand and then draw another tile to replace it, or you keep the tile you have and draw another tile that must be played. Tiles are played either against the edge of the board or orthogonally adjacent to an already-placed tile.

Each tile is a square that has two railroad tracks going off of each side, such that you can orient it in any direction and the tracks will always line up. When a track is completed, meaning that you can trace a continuous line from a train through to a station, the train runs along that track, scoring one point each time, it enters a tile, and then is removed from the board. There are no ties – if you would end up with the same score as another player, you instead score an extra point. Gameplay is a mixture of trying to make your trains follow long routes and closing off your opponents’ routes quickly! In the image above, for example, yellow will score three points. If the route ends at one of the center stations, however, the score is doubled; in the picture below, yellow will score ten points.

While Metro is not one of my favorite games, I’m glad to have it on the shelf; it’s a fairly light game that nonetheless offers some interesting decisions. On each turn, you have to weigh both whether you want to go for big points (at the risk of an opponent messing up your plans), take a smaller score while getting the sure thing, or ignore your track altogether in the interest of hurting your opponents. Of course, there’s also the problem of actually drawing what you need; often your play will be dictated by what you draw as much as by what you’re trying to do.

The game scales nicely with the number of players; each color comes with a card that shows which stations to start trains at for each number, which makes setup pretty easy. Naturally, scores drop dramatically with more players, as each person will be using fewer trains!

Overall, this game nicely fits into the “casual train game” niche along with Ticket to Ride.

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