Friday, October 05, 2007

Tsuro is the secret game of Metro

Once upon a time, CyberKev and I were discussing how I had won three games of Metro in a row and hence for the fourth game I was viciously targeted and completely annihilated. I don't know whether I really was good at Metro, but it felt like it to me - I knew what I was doing and played with confidence. I also remarked that apart from the obvious techniques of keeping your own tracks alive and screwing other players there was some sort of area control element to the game that I hadn't quite sorted out yet.

For example - your track is in the 2x2 area in the corner of the board. Say I can't (or choose not to) play a tile to terminate your track earning you only 3 points, but I may be able to play a tile such that there are no paths out of that area. (Note that there still may be paths in - in Metro, paths in (INs) and paths out (OUTs) are separate.) If I do that, you're as good as screwed. Inevitably your track will wander around that 2x2 area no matter what you do. The best bit is unless you understand the secret game of Metro you won't even know that I did that, and you'll think later it was just bad luck :-).

It's extremely hard to do this in Metro, because you only get one tile at a time, can't rotate it and you have so many things you need to achieve. However it's nice when you pull it off. Also, I'm not yet experienced enough to easily recognise the IN and OUT tracks.

Tsuro is an abstract game which is similar to Metro in some ways - you lay tiles with tracks on and your track terminating is bad. However in Tsuro you can turn the tiles any way you like, you only get one life and when you lose it you lose the game, and there are no INs and OUTs - a tile can switch INs and OUTs which can result in players colliding with each other (and that's bad for both of them). Also, you get 3 tiles to choose from, but only one place to play them, which is where you're going next.

The goal of the game in Tsuro is to stay alive, or alternatively, to make your opponents dead. You can achieve this by squeezing them for room in a Tron light-cycle like fashion, so there's nowhere for their track to go, or by simply avoiding them and hoping they crash first. In my experience, the two player game rewards aggression, and there's a slight resemblance to Hey! That's My Fish! where you're trying to claim territory. However, unlike Fish! and light cycles there are paths to escape from a blocked off territory. As your opponent, I want to minimise your escape paths if I can.

The two player game is strategic, as players compete for space to move in. The game takes up to 8 players, and as you add more players there are more interferences between players. If I place a tile that will determine where you go next you'll almost certainly be eliminated (sorry Scrabblette), so if you must be near someone try to make it a player on your left! I found that with more players the game was more chaotic as lots of players get forced into small spaces.

Tsuro is indeed the game I was thinking of when I hypothesized there was more to Metro than meets the eye. Surely with this extra experience I truly will become the Metro Master!

P.S. the kid says "um goin back 2 france tomorrow, colleseum wasnt that amazing roof that michealagelo painted wasnt that cool either. I think i like france better! (except the damn Keyboard!) Oh byea and wats Tsuru? How is Cartehgana 2?"

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