Chaos and Confetti Cooperative Challenges: Magic Maze

Every week Chaos and Confetti will alternate between clashing for board game dominance and coming together in table top harmony.  This week it’s time for another round of…  


The Premise:

Every other week, we will choose a cooperative board game to play.  Then, we will craft a challenge around that board game and give ourselves one shot at overcoming it.  No restarts, redos, or retries.  We either rise as conquerors or leave as chumps.

While some of our challenges may be a bit more straightforward, others will come with twists or hints of inspiration.  This is a test of teamwork.   

The Game – Magic Maze

Magic Maze is a real-time, cooperative game that has players simultaneously controlling a group of adventurers trying to steal from a mall.  An elf, mage, barbarian, and dwarf are in need of new supplies, so they plan to raid the mall for new goods.  It’s up to the players to help them to their loot and out of the mall before security catches them.

In Magic Maze, there are no turns or claims on characters.  Instead, all players are given specific actions they may perform, and they are to use those actions whenever they deem fit on whichever character they want.  These actions include moving North, South, West, and East, exploring new rooms, teleporting, and using escalators.

One catch is that players can not talk during the game.  They can wave their arms, stare, and slam the do something token, but there will be no talking and exact communication between players.  Unless they flip the sand timer. Then, they have until someone makes a move to talk.

What sand timer?  The one that shows how long until players lose and security nabs the heroes.  That’s the other catch.  Players are racing the draining sand.  However, there are spaces that will allow the timer to be flipped, possibly adding more time to the clock.  In a normal game, this will also cause all the player action tiles to rotate.  Now everyone has to get used to a new set of responsibilities.

The game starts on a single tile.  The mall will expand as spaces are explored.  Players must discover all their destinations, get to their thieving destinations simultaneously, and then make it to the exits without the use of teleportation spaces.

Rise as heist masters or get ready to explain to everyone else why it’s their fault the team lost once you can all talk again.

The Challenge: Magic Maze Campaign

Magic Maze comes with its own campaign of 17 scenarios.  Included as part of the rules, these scenarios are meant to first teach the rules of the game, and then challenge players with unique variations.  The official rules to the campaign are quite forgiving: replay or move on to the next, but we’ll be less forgiving with our challenge.  We’ll be playing this single elimination style.  We will climb the campaign ladder until we make a mistake and fall into failure.  Can we make it through all seventeen setups or will crumble right from the start?

The Set-Up:

Our set-up will reflect the set-up rules given by each scenario.  This will include what rules to follow, which starting tile to use, and which tiles to play with during the round. 

Game 1

The first set up includes only the first nine game tiles and begins with players on tile 1a (the easier starting position).  Players are also allowed to talk throughout the game.  Chaos and Confetti are no chumps though and opted not to talk anyways… or they missed that rule and made things harder for themselves.  With only one exit included in the deck, each character would need to leave using the purple door.

The first game ran pretty smoothly, but allowed Chaos and Confetti to get used to sharing the controls.  It’s so easy to just let pawns sit unattended or to not realize the person who needs to act is you.  The first win came easily, but the proper state of mind for Magic Maze was still being fully engaged.

Game 2

Now, we moved up to twelve tiles with a 1a start.  No talking and each character had to leave through the exit matching their color.  

Like the previous game, noticing when to act and remembering what we could do acted the biggest challenge.  Chaos knows spatial games like this can really test Confetti, but she would like to point out that throughout the night, he missed or blanked on plenty of actions as well.  

The other big challenge would be locating and keeping track of all the spaces required for stealing and exiting.  The tiles are packed with details and with the pressure of time, it becomes surprisingly hard to figure out exactly where you want green to go.

This game was never at risk, but already the areas that threatened a winning campaign run started to reveal themselves.

Game 3

Game 3 would use the same setup as game 2, but now upon flipping the timer, the rotating of roles rule would be active.  The purpose of this rule is to disorient players as they have to adjust to a new set of actions and responsibilities.  Chaos and Confetti didn’t realize that rule was off during the previous two games and had simply included it anyways.  Whoops again!  

They may have been attempting the same setup as last time, but this playthrough ended up begging a bit smoother.  The fact that they kept the board a bit more condensed probably helped a bit.  

The same challenges were present though and deciding to start playing our series at 11pm might have been a mistake, since at least one player noted some brain fog.  

Game 4

The tile count was raised to fourteen, and the dwarf and elf rules became activated.  The scenario now could contain special routes that only the orange dwarf could go through and if the green elf explored into a new room, players could talk using the same rules as those used during a timer flip (free communication until an action is made).

At this point, Chaos and Confetti started making actual use of the teleporters.  With so many tiles, the board was becoming too big to navigate through normal pawn movement alone.  It was also becoming harder to keep track of all the color coded exits and stores to rob.  

Flipping timers became important more time, but also just to discuss strategy.

We were able to tally another win to our names at the end of this game, but the scenarios were becoming much more challenging and overwhelming.  We’d have to be at our best in order to not make a simple mistake that would cost us everything.  

Game 5

Fifteen tiles and starting on title 1b.  Tile 15 is placed on the top of the draw pile, guaranteeing the ability to interact with the new mage ability.  The new ability allows the placement of two tiles for free anywhere on the board. 

The quick placement of new tiles allowed for a fast expansion and for us keep the board a bit more condensed.  We kept the green and yellow pieces exploring what they could, relying on them for continued expansion.

As the mall grew, so did the challenge of keeping everything straight.  We had to stay on top of where pieces were and what they needed to do, and where all the important spaces were located.  Meanwhile, we always had to keep someone close enough to a timer-flip space.

Because of our lack of board awareness, we actually ended up flipping more tiles than we needed.  We had the stealing-spots and the exits, but for some reason we kept exploring.  Once we finally (and unnecessarily) flipped the final tile, we got to thieving and running.  Oh the woe of trying to navigate everything.  So many times we clearly thought through a path differently or stared at someone to make the move we needed to make ourselves.

Again, we won, but our playstyle was never very pretty.

Game 6

Along with seventeen tiles, we also received security cameras.  The yellow dwarf can disarm them, but if we ever have two or more on the board, all timer-flip spots are unable to be activated.  This builds incentive to explore with the dwarf, but also can distract from other duties.

The security cameras made Chaos paranoid as he kept a sharp eye out for them.  According to Confetti, he also made some “interesting” move choices.  Chaos meanwhile, really wanted Confetti to move pieces with more urgency.  She simply wanted to make sure she was moving them correctly.

As always, keeping fully aware and abreast of all the tiny factors proved tough and there were moments where both players just needed to stare at the board for a second.  The brief talking opportunities meant a lot.

By the end, they skated through to victory again, but there were a few rough looking moments.

Game 7

Game seven upped the tile count to nineteen and now had all the official rules introduced, along with two additional cameras to worry about.  

This game got ugly fast.  Chaos was paranoid about cameras.  Confetti didn’t watch the timer as closely.  They both couldn’t agree with where pieces should go/what objectives to emphasize.  The juggling of so many options proved too much.

As the final timer counted down, Chaos raced the green piece into a deadend.  It was too late to turn back.  Security arrived and game seven proved to be the last.  Lock ‘em up and shut it down.  The Magic Maze wins at last!

FINAL RESULTS: Chaos and Confetti made it to campaign game seven before succumbing to defeat.

Chaos’ Final Thoughts:

We didn’t make it as far as I would have liked, but I feel like we still had a good run. There are definitely some interesting scenarios later in the campaign so hopefully we eventually get to go back and play those. Still proud of what we accomplished.

Confetti’s Final Thoughts:

We haven’t played Magic Maze in a while and I forgot how much fun it is! It’s definitely a lot to keep track of and I’m constantly forgetting which way is right and which way is left. I’d be interested in finishing out the rest of the campaign, even though it might take a couple game replays haha. 

Wrap Up:

The five finger discount only got Chaos and confetti so far, but they still made out like bandits for a while. Next week they can take their opposing strategies head to head as they once again Clash for superiority.

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