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In this tactical placement game, players cleverly play their tiles next to other tiles with similar characteristics. The more tiles the new tile is played adjacent to, the more scoring chips the player may steal from his opponents. Complete a row of tiles, and the whole row scores, causing players to select tiles from that row for their scoring pile. Chip and tile values are added at the end of the game, but be careful--only two colors of tiles count as positive points--collect too many colors, and the other colors count against you!
In 'M' your goal is to match colors, numbers or shapes on the tiles which you lay down to create the board. After a row reaches five or six tiles, and two neighboring tiles match in two ways (such as color AND shape, or shape AND number), each player chooses one tile from that row to pick up and make part of his/her score. The twist is that two of the colors will count for you, but all other colors will count against you.
This entertaining, lightweight game is a good start or finish to a night of gaming.
Nicely done. Pretty quick, takes 45 minutes to an hour. Tiles have symbols, colors and numbers. You play tiles that match in one of the three ways. When the rows reach 5 or 6 tiles in length, it forces players to each pick up a tile from that row. Players score chips for playing tiles, and the numerical value of the tiles they pick up. However, only two colors will count for you; the rest count against you. Recommended.
When I first saw mention of this abstract tile-laying game, it didn't appear to be something which would be of interest to me. However, the game began receiving favorable reactions from several gamers I know, so I began to grow interested. While visiting my good buddy Mark Jackson in Nashville, I had the opportunity to play (courtesy of fellow visitor and buddy, Craig Berg), and enjoyed the experience so much I immediately ordered a copy.
The game, which is designed by Martin Schlegel, is decidedly abstract, with no attempt being made to paste on a theme. There is no board per s, but one develops as players lay tiles to the table. However, tiles are also removed during the course of the game, so the board is constantly changing in both size and shape.
There are 90 tiles included--18 in each of five colors. Each of these tiles depicts either two or three characteristics: color, value or shape. The border on each tile also varies, but corresponds with the value of the tile, so all tiles of one value (either 0, 10, 20, 30 or 40) have the same border. These tiles are the central element of the game.
The game begins with five tiles set onto the table in the shape of an 'M'. I can only surmise that this is how the game acquired its name. Each player begins the game with four tiles and six wooden chips. On a turn, a player must, if possible, lay a tile onto the table adjacent to one or more previously laid tiles. However, several rules must be followed:
1) The newly laid tile must be played adjacent to at least one previously laid tile and must match at least one of the three characteristics of the tile or tiles to which it is adjacent. Thus, if the newly laid tile is placed adjacent to two tiles, it must match at least one characteristic on both of those tiles. Please note that the characteristic it matches can be different for each tile. For instance, the tile can match the value of one of the previously laid tiles, while matching the color of the other adjacent tile.
2) The developing grid of tiles (or 'board') cannot be larger than 6 X 6.
If both of these conditions are met, then the tile can be played. If a tile is successfully played adjacent to two or more tiles, the player gets to steal chips from the opponent to his right. The number of chips stolen is one less than the number of tiles adjacent to the newly played tile. So, if I place a tile which is adjacent to two other tiles, I steal one chip (2 - 1 = 1) from the player on my right. These chips are worth 10 points at the end of the game. If for some reason the player to my right is out of chips, then I steal a chip from the player to his right!
The placement of a tile may trigger a scoring round if two conditions are met:
1) The row or column to which I played the tile contains five or six tiles, without any gaps between the tiles; AND
2) The newly played tile matches two or more characteristics of an adjacent tile in the same row or column.
If these conditions are met, the player who placed the tile which triggered the scoring takes one of the tiles from that scoring row or column and places it in front of him. By taking a tile, however, the remaining tiles must still be connected to the rest of the 'board' either horizontally or vertically. In other words, no tile or tiles can be isolated.
After this player takes a tile, the player to his right must then take a tile, if possible. This procedure continues until either only one tile remains in the scoring row, or until a player cannot legally take a tile.
All tiles taken by a player during the course of the game are kept face-up in front of him, separated by color. These tiles will score at the end of the game, but with a nasty twist.
Following the placement of a tile and the resolution of any resulting scoring, the player fills his hand of tiles to four by taking a tile from the face-down draw pile. Play continues in this fashion until the final tile is drawn from the draw pile, after which play concludes following the next scoring round.
At the conclusion of the game, players score the tiles and chips they collected during the game. Any tiles remaining in a player's hand are discarded. The scoring is reminiscent of the card game Mit List und Tucke:
1) Players must choose two colors of tiles to score. They then add the values of these tiles together.
2) Players then add the value of the other tiles together, and subtract this value from the above total.
3) Players also receive ten points for each chip they collected.
The player with the highest value is victorious.
It doesn't take long to figure out that you only want to collect tiles from two colors. Of course, that would be the ideal world. In reality, it is quite possible to trigger scoring rounds which will have the end result of forcing your opponents to take tiles which they do not want. As mentioned, this is very similar to the deliciously evil Mit List und Tucke, which uses the same scoring mechanism.
The temptation in the game is to immediately plop down a tile that will allow you to steal a chip or chips from your neighbor, or to trigger a scoring round so you can grab a tile. Often, however, this is not the wisest choice. Sometimes triggering a scoring round results in greater benefits to your opponents than yourself. Further, you must constantly be vigilant in that you do not play tiles which allow your opponents to trigger beneficial scoring rounds or steal chips. Sometimes this cannot be avoided, but more often you do have several choices on each round.
I find the game to contain a good mixture of puzzle solving, hand management and deductive skills, with some nice 'slam' potential thrown into the stew. I do think, however, that most of this is not evident with just one playing. It does take a while to recognize all of the possibilities and tactics available, so it really shouldn't be judged after just one playing.
The game can be played with 2 - 6 players, but one does lose a bit of control as the number of players increases. There are more tactical decisions to be made when playing with just 2 or 3 players. With a full contingent of six players, the board has changed so much by the time your turn arrives again that advance planning is just about out of the question. Still, even with a full load of six, I enjoy playing and find the game quite fun.
To be sure, the game is not to everyones tastes. There is no hiding its abstract nature. That alone is enough to turn some folks off. However, for those who can get past this abstract skin, theres a fine game lurking underneath.
Fifty to 90 tiles with varying values, colors, and symbols are used, depending on the number of players. Five random tiles form an "M." Each player adds a tile to the layout from his hand of four, then replaces it. Added tiles must match characteristics of adjacent tiles. When a player creates a row with five or six adjacent tiles, he removes a tile from it, followed by the other players, but without disconnecting the layout. After all tiles have been played, the player with the highest sum of points of any two colors he holds, wins. Does M stand for minimum rules or maximum fun?
The equipment comprises a collection of wooden chips (each worth 10VP at game end) and 90 cardboard tiles (6cm square) These tiles come in five colours, carry one of five numbers (0/10/20/30/40) and one of five symbols. At the outset each player is given 6 chips and four tiles. From the remainder, five tiles are laid in the form of a 'W' on an imaginary 6 by 6 grid.
In his turn a player can play a tile, which must be adjacent to at least one already in play. Any touching tiles must have at least one characteristic in common. In addition, if your played tile lies adjacent to two existing tiles you take a chip from your right-hand neighbour, if adjacent to three you take two chips, and if four - three chips. You then replenish your hand.
So far so bad. All of this would be pretty predictable to most gamers, even just by looking at the picture on the box. Not much new here to justify the purchase you could think. But one additional aspect lifts the game into something much more interesting.
If your tile is the 5th or 6th in an unbroken row, and if that tile has two characteristics in common with an adjacent tile in that row, you initiate a tile capturing round. You remove a tile from the row and place it in front of you. Your right-hand neighbour must do the same, and so does his neighbour. This continues round the table until such time as either there is only one tile left in the row or no tile could be removed without leaving other tiles in the grid isolated.
At the end of the game you score the numbers on the captured tiles (you will remember that I said there were five colours in play) plus 10 for each chip. However, you can have a plus score for only two colours of tiles. Tiles in any other colours you hold all score minus. From this you can see that choosing when to initiate a tile capture round is important. Firstly you want to ensure that the tile you take is a good positive one for you and at the same time you don't want your opponents also to be in a position to draw good scoring tiles. Because the taking of the tiles is compulsory as long as the rules are not infringed, you do your best to ensure they are forced to take tiles that are likely to act as minus scores for them. You can also select a tile that makes all others impossible to remove without leaving tiles isolated thereby preventing any further tiles being taken.
To do well at 'M' you need to keep a close watch on the tiles that your neighbour(s) will pick up as a result of your own actions. In this respect the game fails in the same way as do many multi-player games. Your own clever play can be completely undermined by that of another player who fails in this regard, looking only at the benefits they personally will derive rather than seeing what they might also be giving to their neighbour - unless you happen to be the lucky neighbour, of course. So picking precisely where to sit can probably be among your best tactics.
We played the game with four. With four players working on a 6 by 6 grid (and it is only the number of tiles in play that is varied with the number of players) it is pretty-well impossible to set up a situation to benefit your future plays, simply because the layout will have changed by the time your turn comes round again. It must be even worse with five or six. However, don't let this put you off. We found the game enjoyable - all being very willing to play it again - and taking 45 minutes (just as it says on the box) it's about right. At only 11 euros you'll have nothing to complain about.