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Max Kobbert's "The AMAZING LABYRINTH" has been a successful stalwart of the Ravensburger game catalogue since it's first launch in 1986. Since then Ravensburger have released various special editions to mark specific years and as it hit 30 years they came up with a limited special edition that included a somewhat innovative idea, the ability to play Labyrinth in the dark, just as if you were actually traveling through a series of underground caverns on a search for hidden treasures.

  

This version of the game comes with the regular, well loved and well played, LABYRINTH basic rules, so you can play and enjoy it with anyone who already knows the game in the brightness of your own family room and then you can flip the light switch and continue to play in the darkness as the special edition tiles and the X's that mark the tiles rows that cannot be moved are fluorescent - they absorb the light while it is on and then glow when the lights are off.

Labyrinth is for 2 - 4 players aged 7+. Each player has a pawn - in this version they are colour ID card stand-ups with Witch and Wizard designs - that begin on the corner of the board on a fixed tile marked with their colour. Players have a number of cards, the number depends on the variant being played, on which the illustrations match those on the tiles, some being permanently fixed to the board and others that are moved around, on and off of the board by the players. 

  

Each turn a tile is pushed onto the board, displacing a complete line until the end tile drops off the board, this is the tile the next player gets to use on their turn. Once the tiles have been shifted the player moves their pawn as many spaces along the road they stand on as they wish. Once they can trace a path and move along it to one of the illustrations shown on a card they hold they turn the card over, face up, to show they have collected that treasure - naturally they have to be standing on the treasure to collect it. There is only one card per treasure so there is no worry about having to race to get it before any other player, but every time another player has a turn they change the labyrinth's paths so planning moves can be both fun and frustrating.

In this edition of Labyrinth some of the tiles have been imprinted with slightly raised, just about visible, luminous line art illustrations. These match the illustrations on the 12 smaller than usual, additional tiles that come with this game for the night time play; these are distributed fairly amongst the players at the beginning of the game. The idea for the daytime/night time game is that you begin collecting in the daytime and once one player has fulfilled all their necessary treasure cards the lights flip out and players now have to collect their small tile treasures - the fluorescent ones. Even though you can just about make out the luminous treasures prior to the lights being turned off you cannot collect them early. You can however try to create a path or links that allow you to move to them quickly in the second half of the game.

  

There is only one problem that we have encountered when playing the night-time version and that is once the lights are out although you can see the non-moving tile rows marked with Xs, and you can see the luminous illustrations on the board tiles and the special tiles you cannot see the pathways. You cannot see where the paths end or dog-leg and thus the straight routes to your goals. We ended up having to sort of cheat by using a torch to check our potential routes, but only after we had moved the tile row. It's also handy to have a fairly bright desk-style lamp to hand so that you can boost the charge of the fluorescent ink on the tiles if the game is going on a little longer than expected - regular house lights usually don't give them that much of a charge over the course of the first part of the game.

  

The question one might ask is "Is it worth buying the game simply for the night play?" and I would have to answer "No, if you already own a copy of Labyrinth, but Yes if you don't". The fluorescent luminous tiles are a fun gimmick that add a slightly different aspect to the play even though the rules are the same, move a tile row and move your pawn to the required Treasure tile. In the day/night game the cards for the daytime are worth 1 point each and the night tiles 2 points each. As this must have brought many tied games during play-testing three coins, a 1 a 3 and a 5, have been introduced to help produce a winner. These coins are shuffled about face down so that nobody knows which is which and then the person who ends the game by collecting their last glowing treasure gets to take one of them and add its value to the value of their cards and tiles.

We played the day/night game several times for review purposes and we will certainly play it again with the younger members of the family as they like the idea of playing a boardgame in the dark. But by having this version it also means we have a nice new edition of the original Labyrinth boardgame that we can and do all enjoy - it is a game that all games-playing homes should have a copy of.

The majority of the components are typical of Ravensburger games, excellent in durability, solid heavy cardstock for the tiles, a heavy folding board with permanent tiles strongly attached and good pawn pieces. The only two things I would question on the components are the strength of the luminous tiles - they are flimsy and quite easily torn - and that (my personal opinion only) I feel that Ravensburger missed a trick by not making the playing pieces luminous also for even though their shapes are slightly different from each other it is awkward to distinguish them from each other in the dark. Basically I think the glow in the dark gimmick is a good fun idea that with a little extra thought could have been a lot better.

  

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015