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Most players of board games have at some time come across the game LABYRINTH, aka The Amazing Labyrinth. 
It was designed by a German psychologist called Max Kobbert and published 30+ years ago in the mid-eighties (1986 I believe) by Ravensburger, one of the World's major family board game publishers.
Since then it has been republished using various popular themes such as Junior Labyrinth, Ocean Labyrinth, Glow in the Dark Labyrinth and more recently Harry Potter Labyrinth.

The HARRY POTTER LABYRINTH is the same game with the same rules but if you haven't as yet obtained a copy of the game then the Harry Potter version is a good one to purchase. You should be able to buy a copy of it for around £20.00, though anything less than £25.00 is good value. The board contains permanent tiles and spaces where the loose tiles can be placed, arrows around the edge provide adequate instruction as to where the single tile can be slotted in. But wait, I am moving a little too fast in my description because you, dear reader, may not yet be familiar with the game or its concept.

The board is made up of two halves of eight permanent tiles thus forming a full square board with 16 attached tiles, one in each corner and then one every other space leaving a grid of 33 empty spaces into which loose tiles are randomly placed, not positioned and not looked at prior to placement. The 16 permanent tiles that make the grid each have a central picture from the Harry Potter movies. The four corner squares are colour coded, Red (Gryffindor), Yellow (Hufflepuff), Blue (Ravenclaw) and Green (Slytherin) which match the four pawns of which the players take one each and the corner spaces are also the player's starting squares, one pawn per player placed on their respective colours. 

The 34 loose square tiles are shuffled/mixed face down and randomly placed face up on the board into the grid, eventually leaving one single tile which is given to the person determined to be First Player. Twelve of the permanent tiles contain cine-photos of the most famous Wizards of Hogwarts; Harry, Hermione, He Who Should Not Be Named, Hagrid, Neville, Severus, Dumbledore, Minerva, Moaning Mertyl, Kingsley, Dobbie and Rufus Scrimgeour

The 24 photo cards are of the 12 characters from the permanent tiles plus Luna (in school uniform), Draco, Mad Eye, Hedwig, Dolores, Lupin, Ron, Sirius, Ginny, Griphook, Tonks and Luna (with Spectrespecs) - weird that of all the characters available Luna appears twice and many favourite characters don't appear at all.

The 24 character cards are shuffled and divided equally between the players. These are kept as separate face-down (unseen) decks - unless you are playing with younger children who are allowed to place all their cards face up in front of them - adults turn over just the top card and keep it's identity to themselves.

The idea of the game is to move your pawn from its House Common Room (corner square) along the stone-walled passages of Hogwarts to land on the first card photo of your deck. You use the single tile to push all the tiles in one row (marked by an arrow) along aiming to match up corridors to make your pathway clearer. Then you move your pawn along the passages but not passing through walls - you may be magical but you cannot pass through stone walls. When your pawn lands on your face up card illustration/photograph you put that card to one side and turn over the next top card - this is your new target. Your pawn remains on the space it is on and moves off next time from there. There are no movement restrictions other than walls, no card play or die roll for movement, you can move as far along a clear passageway as you wish, stopping on any tiles you want to. The first player to land their pawn on all the card pictures (ie the first player to have put all of their own cards aside) is the winner.

    

One of the rules about pushing the single tile into a row is that the next player is not allowed to push the same row back again immediately, although the third player in a game could push the first player's row back, of course pushing the same row in the same direction is always allowed. Each time a row is moved many new paths open and often many clear paths close; try to push the tiles so that they trap your opponent's pawns but leave yours free to move.

There is one good tactic that players can utilise to their advantage. If their pawn is on an edge tile (not one of the permanent tiles) and it is pushed off the board when the loose tile moves the row then their pawn comes on at the directly opposite tile and can move from their. Players can use this to their advantage (but remember you move the tile before you move your pawn) if they can manoeuvre their pawn into position the turn before. Of course other players can push opponent's pawns off the board to ensure they get stuck on a tile with no exits.

Each of the tiles, whether permanent or loose also have Harry Potter magic writing on them. This means nothing as far as the game rules and objectives but does create a nice Hogwarts atmosphere. The moving tiles are also representative of the Hogwarts staircases in as much as they move and you don't know where you are going to end up.

The original Amazing Labyrinth had plastic Wizard characters for the player's pieces and they gave the game that extra visual appeal. It is a pity that when designing the HARRY POTTER LABYRINTH Ravensburger didn't revert to these character pieces or better still had new Wizards/Witches moulded to go with the flavour of the game. Yes it may have added a little extra to the cost of making it and thus to the retail price, but I'm pretty sure people would have responded positively to having nicer pieces to move than just regular boring 'dobber pawns'.

On the board there are 4 x Right-Angle tiles and 12 T-junction pathways.
Of the loose tiles there are 6 x T-junctions, 12 x Straights and 16 x Right-Angles.

As previously mentioned the board is folded to make a rectangle half the size of the actual playing area and thus to fit perfectly into the game box. The permanent tiles fold outwards so it is imperative that when putting the game away you ensure that you don't try to fold it the wrong way. The board is made of good stock card but will almost certainly break in half if bent the wrong way - keep younger children away from it until they have learned how to look afetr games. The tiles are of similar card stock to the board and the cards are of good quality laminated card. Sitting around the table is preferable to sitting side by side though the game is still playable if you do like to bump hips.

When playing with younger players or 'fiddlers' make sure they do not
a) hold onto the cards or tiles in their hands as sweat will damage them and
b) do not allow players (of any age) to hold the cards or tiles to their mouths as saliva will do the same type of damage as sweaty palms will.

Many games are labelled as classics, often due to the number sold, but for me true classic games are those that have passed the test of time without changing or adding new rules. Changing the theme of the game, adding new illustrations or photographs whilst keeping the rules as they were 30 years ago still comes within my remit of a classic. The LABYRINTH HARRY POTTER is the same game as the AMAZING LABYRINTH of 1986, it just has a newer more up to date theme.

Whichever version/edition you play - and that includes the Labyrinth Card Game - LABYRINTH is a good, fun game for family and friends. We have played with a 6 year old and he understood the rules pretty quickly but wasn't too clever at seeing how the paths would shift when he pushed the tile into the row. I haven't mentioned it before as I thought it was fairly obvious but each time you push a row along the far edge tile drops off - if it doesn't then something is very wrong - and the tile that is pushed off becomes the new pushing tile. It is quite safe to say that at some time during play all tiles that can move will have been moved.

As an afterthought on what I was saying earlier about the Pawns, I was in Poundland today and hanging on the wall were a few NANO METALFIGS at £1.00 each. There were only 3 different Harry Potter figures left plus one Newt Scalamander. I picked these up and have put them in the Harry Potter Labyrinth box. When I got home I searched the internet for these miniatures and found them with varying prices. On Amazon you can get 5 different for £9.99, another site does 20 different for £39.99 and then there are quite a number available on ebay UK, varying in number and prices. I found the box pictured below for 99p + £2.95 postage; an auction with one day to go and no bids to date.

These figures aren't that good and the painting is pretty poor but they still look better than the Pawns which come with the game and the metal is quite solid not flimsy as I had expected them to be.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015