From the Rube Goldberg machine in Mouse Trap to the pink phone in Dream Phone, gimmicky mechanisms have been a part of children’s board games for a very long time. Following in the spirit of those games is The Magic Labyrinth by Dirk Baumann. On the surface, it simply looks like a roll and move board game that takes place on a grid. Under the hood though, are a series of mechanisms that make the game come to life in a novel way.
Within the fiction of the game, each player is a wizard apprentice. You’ve all lost items within the maze and must gather them before the master notices. However, the presence of invisible walls makes collecting the goods harder than originally anticipated.
All of the invisible wall magic is tucked beneath the game board, where a grid with slots for walls is housed. Also, each pawn is magnetized and paired with a ball bearing that sticks to the pawn from the under side of the board.
Before the game starts, players put the maze together and spin it a bunch of times so that no one can remember the layout. Then, someone draws the first item up for grabs and places it on the corresponding tile. Once it’s your turn, you roll the die to see how many spaces you’ll move. If you move and hit an invisible wall, your ball bearing will become dislodged from the under side of your pawn and roll to an exit. In the event that this happens – and it will happen a lot – your pawn will have to restart from the beginning.
Rolling and moving isn’t the most novel or interesting mechanic, though the inclusion of invisible walls makes for something more interesting. Memorization becomes a critical part of the game, as knowing where the walls are will help you traverse the board in a more efficient manner. I have a particularly bad memory, so I don’t fair very well when playing this, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate what it’s doing.
The Magic Labyrinth makes great use of its gimmick to provide a novel gaming experience that is fun for the whole family. This a sure-fire hit for kids and one that adults can have fun with too. As a game for the young at heart, this works nicely as fast introductory or filler game.