Silent But Deadly

Silent But Deadly

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Silent But Deadly

Magic Maze is a co-op game where talking amongst players is not allowed.

It is the only one of this year’s Spiel Des Jahres nominees that we have played, so we can’t say whether or not it deserves to win above Kingdomino and Race to El Dorado. Having spent just one frantic, fraught, evening playing it though, I can say for certain that it at least deserves the nomination that it got.

Ostensibly a co-op, Magic Maze will nonetheless have you so furious at your friends that the game’s ‘no talking’ restriction is all that stands between your group and forever fractured friendships.

While playing, you control four cookie cutter adventurers – mage, dwarf, elf, barbarian. You will be laying out tiles, and navigating the heroes through them to pick up items and make it to the exit.

In a brilliant twist on a well-worn theme, though, you are not navigating them through a dungeon, but through the local mega-mall. Your down-on-their-luck adventurers lost all of their equipment on their last adventure, and are forced to shoplift in order to restock. So instead of orcs and dragons, you have to navigate security cameras and guards.

Where the tension (and fun) comes in, is that while everyone is collectively controlling all of the adventurer meeples, each player is restricted to certain actions. One player can make them turn right, another left, another backwards, another up the escalator. While you can all see what is happening on the board, there are four adventurers, simultaneous play, and a sand timer.

And you can neither talk nor gesticulate to your fellow players. There is a marker that you can place in front of a player to hint that they need to do something, and you can ‘stare meaningfully’ at someone. But that is it.

Chaos ensues – although this doesn’t even begin to describe the scene, as you repeatedly slam down the player marker in front of someone who hasn’t seen that the mage needs to go back two spaces to continue on his path, because that player is focused on the elf and moving them away from where you think they should be going.

And as you repeatedly slam whack that marker on the table in front of them, their confusion goes to frustration, and you haven’t even noticed that someone else is staring balefully at you because you are paying no attention to the barbarian and the timer is almost up.

Not speaking leads to a lot of barely contained non-verbal utterances of mixed and heady emotions. To an outsider, I suspect our game sounded like the zombie apocalypse. In fact, when one of us called to check where our pizza delivery was, the alarmed lady on the phone actually asked him if everything was OK.

It should go without saying that I thoroughly recommend Magic Maze.

11 Comments on Silent But Deadly
  • xorsyst

    I played a couple of rounds of this and thoroughly enjoyed it – but I’m left wondering how much replayability this has. It feels like a game that’s fun the first few times and dies off quickly. Would you agree?

    • We only played 4 or 5 times, but were definitely left wanting more (apart from those of us who found the ordeal stressful and never wanted to see the game hit the table again). We only got to maybe the third scenario of the campaign, and there were a lot more rules, twists and complications to be added into the mix in later games. So it does seem like there was a lot more replayability left for our group, anyway. Long term it is hard to say, though. I would need to play it a lot more. It might have an ‘end point’ for a group, but I know we were a long, long way away from this.

    • wr00t

      After playing the introductory scenario like 5 times it can feel like that. But as Colin said, there are more scenarios, rules, to make it harder. Though the general premise stays the same and it for sure can feel repetitive. But i also felt the same after playing 7 wonders 5 times in a row. They can also add more content (tiles with more obstacles, rules) with expansions.

  • Snarkastic Android

    It’ll have to go some to rival Hanabi for passive aggressive eye-rolling…

    Looks a fascinating game, and at a price where it’s not much of a gamble, I’m looking forward to trying this!

    • It is that same kind of frustration that Hanabi delivers, but on a much more frantic, ridiculous scale. It can play up to eight players as well, which is a mess I would love to see/be a part of.

  • Daniel Newman

    Wow, this really sounds like the complete opposite of what I’d want from a gaming experience. Will happily stay far, far away.

    • It’s definitely not for everyone, that’s for sure. I think even in our group there were some for whom trying it that one time was plenty.

      • Daniel Newman

        glad you enjoyed it though! so fantastic that there are so many different types of games for so many different types of gamers!

  • Ben Thorp

    It just made me think of Escape from the curse of the temple, but a lot quieter. Want….

    • That is EXACTLY the kind of game it is. Quieter, but no less frantic, frustrating, hectic, and ridiculous. If you like Curse you should definitely put it on your list.
      Are you at the UKGE? One of these years we will make it across the water …