Magic Maze Strategy – Tips and Tricks
Designed by Kasper Lapp, Magic Maze has gained popularity over the past few years. A cooperative game, in which you must collectively navigate an elf, a dwarf, a wizard, and a barbarian through a magical shopping mall, Magic Maze is a game with a few twists. The first is that it is a game for up to 8 players, controlling four characters, with each player controlling a set number of actions. One player may be able to control the pawns, moving them left. One may be moving them right. Another may be using portals, whilst a fourth may be exploring (etc).
Secondly, and something that adds to the fun and chaos that is Magic Maze – the game is played in silence. Leaving aside a few special moments, the only communication that players can have is frantic tapping with a “Do Something!” pawn – a tool that is essentially a gavel for the process of the game.
All this adds up to Magic Maze being a frantic, beautiful, chaotic, messy, enjoyable game – that can be a challenge to win whilst offering an enjoyable test for all players. Can you and your group steal the objects you need from the maze, all within the time limit? The only way to find out is by playing the game.
Due to how quickly it plays, Magic Maze is actually one of our most played games. Where it can be easy to get flustered in Magic Maze and to lose the game, there are a few basic principles that can really help secure victory.
So, with that in mind, today we are going to look at a few of those principles. The rulebook to Magic Maze is one of the best I have come across for sheer walking you through the rules. There are seven warm up scenarios to teach the rules. For the sake of this article though, we will presume you know all the rules and are ready to jump in with all the chaos the game has to offer. So, without further ado – these are our hints, tips, and tricks to surviving the maze.
Please note: this is not taking the Maximum Security expansion into account.
Magic Maze Strategy: Tips and Tricks for Escaping the Maze
Okay, so you want to know a few basic concepts for escaping the maze? Let’s take a look.
Tip 1: Know your pawns
The first tip sounds simple, but in the chaos of the game it can be too easy to forget. Until Scenario 4 the four pawns are only separated by their colours and the icons on them – orange, purple, yellow, and green – the Dwarf with his axe, the Elf with his bow, the Wizard with her vial, and the Barbarian with his sword. They all behave in the same way on the board/map. Come the fourth scenario, however, and they start taking on personalities of their own.
The Dwarf can go through orange doors, the elf allows for you to talk to one another so long as he is on an Elf listening space. The Wizard has the ability to use Crystal Ball spaces to reveal two tiles on the map, and the Barbarian can destroy Security Cameras.
Know that these do have various degrees of usefulness. When two Security Cameras are out and uncovered, they stop heroes using the timer space to flip the sand timer. The Barbarian is incredibly useful because he can free it back up again. The Wizard can use the Crystal Ball square to reveal two tiles anywhere on the board, which is helpful when exploration becomes trickier and the mall becomes bigger. Likewise the Elf allows for communication whilst on a space, saving the awkwardness of having to hold the timer or find a timer space, so long as no other player takes an action. Once players take actions the silence must continue as well.
Finally, there is the Dwarf, who can save on movement and thus the number of people involved in getting a pawn from A to B. Each is useful in their own way.
Tip 2: Destroy Security Cameras as soon as possible
Destroying a security camera as soon as possible is a good habit to get into. Security cameras can be devastating, and we have lost more than one game due to them being on the board, as they restrict the ability to flip the timer over. Not being able to flip the timer over can result in unfortunately running out of time, and thus losing the race in the Magic Maze.
That being said, if you get used to the idea of destroying them as and when you can, even if it does cause a small diversion, it is possible to keep the number of security cameras as low as possible. The last thing you want to do is leave a Security Camera out, ignoring it whilst you could make a move, only for a second to bite you later right when you need to flip the timer.
Stay on top of the Security Cameras and remain free to turn the timer when you need to.
Tip 3: Time your Crystal Ball usage at the right time
The Crystal Ball can be a fantastic tool in the game, allowing the Wizard to immediately reveal two tiles, placing them wherever she wants. That being said, knowing when to use the Crystal Ball for the biggest bang for the buck is important.
So when is the best time to use the Crystal Ball? Well, interestingly, the Crystal Ball provides the best return (in our opinion at least) when there are more tiles out than fewer. Yes, the Crystal Ball is best used later on in the game rather than sooner. It may sound odd, but the logic makes sense.
There are a few to hold back on the Crystal Ball usage until the right moment. The first reason is because the further you need to explore, the further away from the centre of the map your pawns get. Generally speaking, the closer to the centre you go, the denser the tiles get and you are less likely to get a string of tiles heading out toward a table edge. Exploring the peripheries in the traditional sense is, statistically speaking (said he not having worked out the math) likely to move your pawns further away from where they need to be.
Secondly, the longer you wait the more certain you can be about the tiles you pick up. If you have 15 tiles left, and have found the yellow exit and the green object, then there are 6 tiles in that pile with icons you are interested in on them – yellow object, green entrance, and then the object/entrance for both orange and purple.
Pulling the tiles early gives you a 6/15 chance followed by a 6/14 chance to get what you need. That’s a 40% chance followed by a 43% chance of getting something you want (assuming you draw them both face down and one at a time)
If, however, you wait until there are only 5 tiles left, and you get to choose two, that leaves a 40% chance of getting what you want with the first tile, followed by a 50% chance with the second. The odds are significantly better.
Okay, so the maths are a bit more precise than that, and that is assuming you draw them both face down, one after the other – so it doesn’t take into account whether you know the first tile is what you want or not…but I’m sure you get the idea.
Tip 4: Use your Crystal Ball cards to your advantage
After the long answer of the previous tip, this one is far simpler – place things where you need them. If you draw an object or an exit from the stack, and their corresponding object or exit is on the board, then place them close together. It will make traversing to the exit a lot easier in the long run.
Tip 5: Explore and find all the exits, before you rob your objects
Successful exploration in Magic Maze is an absolute must, and it is made surprisingly difficult by the colour coded exploration spots. It’s more than possible to get completely mixed up, caught in a dead end with one pawn, where your only ways out are the exploration spots of two other characters. It’s a rubbish situation to find yourselves in.
Only it can get worse. There is nothing worse than getting caught in a dead end after the objects have been reached and portals are no longer allowed – when all you want to do is get out.
To this end, it is always best to explore as fully as possible before portals are no longer allowed. Exploring to find the exit spots and then using portals to get back (or close to) the object spots is both easier and way less stressful than getting to the object slots before trying to find the exit.
It is also probably worth saying that you only need to explore until the four objects and four exits are out. If those are the first eight tiles then stop exploring there – you may uncover more Security Cameras than you want (namely more than one) if you over explore. Explore as much as you need to, as early as possible.
Tip 6: Use the Elf for regular talking
The Elf has a pretty neat ability in Magic Maze. When you explore as the Elf, on specific spaces, it has the same ability as when you turn over the timer. Namely, you pause your actions and, whilst paused (although the timer keeps ticking, so maybe “paused” is the wrong term) you can talk.
This is invaluable, and we often find ourselves moving the Elf from exploration space to exploration space just to make sure we are all on track. It’s invaluable and lets you talk when you don’t need to touch the timer. In a small game this can be invaluable to stop one player from doing one action and the others undoing it. In a larger game it can be even more valuable still (more valuable than invaluable) to keep everyone on track.
Tip 7: Set the pawns up to your advantage
On both the A and B sides of the starting tile the set up of the pawns is important. On the starting tile side A, there is a bit more room so the set up can be a bit more forgiving; however, on the starting tile side B there are a few kind of annoying walls.
You want to optimise the best you can from the very set up, allowing you to get on the same page as everyone else. We have found the best set ups are – going left to right, and then back left and back right – starting with the north most positions:
- Side A: (Top left) Wizard, (Top right) Dwarf, (Bottom left) Barbarian, (Bottom right) Elf.
- Side B: (Top left) Barbarian, (Top right) Archer, (Bottom left) Dwarf, (Bottom right) Wizard.
Tip 8: Portals are your friend
Portals are super helpful. We kind of touched on this when talking about exploring all the tiles, but exploring can be painful. You need to in order to push out and explore, whilst keeping in mind that you need to be at a specific place on map by a certain time.
Portals make that easier, and it emphasises again why you need to branch out early on in the game. Through using portals it is possible to fully explore the map, and then jump back to your objects, ready for the latter half of the game. Use portals whilst you can. Save time whilst you can. Get around the board easily whilst you can. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
Tip 9: Have pawns explore near their objects until you are ready, then dash for the exits when you can
Okay, so we’re almost at the end of the tips section, but if you branch out and explore in crazy different directions with one or two of the pawns, have the others explore near their objects. Alternatively, once you find an object, keep the pawn around that area. You can then leave your pawns loitering until necessary. When the moment comes to pounce on their objects they are close at hand to do so. It’s a simple idea, but it has saved our hide on more than one occasion.
Tip 10: Magic Maze is a game of two halves – know when to focus and when to spread out
At last, we come to the final point. This has been a long exploration of different Magic Maze strategy, tips and tricks, and we finally come to the final observation. Are you ready for it? Here it is –
There is a school of thought that says that you should move all the pieces at the same time, spreading your focus across all four pawns. There is also a school of thought that says you should focus on one pawn at a time. Here’s the truth though – both schools of thought are correct.
Magic Maze is a game of two halves. At the start, as explored several times over the course of this article, in Magic Maze you need to explore. You need to open up the board as quickly and efficiently as possible. To do this, you need to spread out and that means everyone working to move pawns – get them to open exploration spots and branch out. If you make a mistake, it doesn’t matter so much as you have no prescribed path. You can explore in a different direction. Find those objects and exits.
Then, once you get your objects, you need to focus. Your path is now prescribed as each pawn needs to get to their exit. Focus on moving one, maybe two (in a larger group) at a time to make sure no mistakes are made. Trust me – you won’t regret it.
So there we have it, ten tips to help you forge your Magic Maze strategy and get out of the mall in no time. Hopefully you find these strategy hints and tips helpful and hopefully you make it out of the Magic Maze with the items you need.
So, what do you think? What are your favourite strategies to use when exploring the maze? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.