Published by: Pegasus Spiele Designed by: Richard Haarhoff Illustrated by: Pablo Fontagnier
2-4 Six-year-old+ Players. 5-20 minutes. Cards. Meeples. Tokens. Two A3 double-sided Rules Sheets (German & English).
Under £15.00 on Amazon online.
MEMORINTH is played on a 5x5 grid of cards created in a Dark/Light alternate pattern by using the front and backs of the 24 Forest cards and the single clearing card that always begins as the centre of the grid/board.
The players each have their own Meeple, identified by its colour, which begins the game on the central card. The object of the game is to escape from the Forest to one of its edges. Being just a 5x5 grid this seems seriously easy as there are only two cards between your Meeple and the Forest edge, you are simply two steps from safety.
Of course, even though it's a 10-20 minute game (depending on whether you play the base or advanced - Master Memorinth - rules), it isn't always as easy as it first appears - though on occasions when luck is going your way it may well be.
The First Player Card shows the Sun (Light) on one side and the Moon (Dark) on its reverse. During the game players have to flip over a grid card every turn, it doesn't have to be adjacent to their Meeple it just cannot be the previously flipped card. The face up side of the Moon/Sun Start Player card determines which type of card can be flipped, Light or Dark.
The Rules state that from the second round the Start Player flips the SP card after their turn. This means that the other players always flip the opposite type of card to the Start Player; example. SP flips a Light card then flips over the SP card to the Moon. The other players can then only flip Dark cards. When the round gets back to the Start Player they also flip a Dark card and then flip the SP card to its Light side and all players can then only flip Light cards until it is the Start Player's turn again. Sounds a little confusing but it works.
For the base game the 8 Fairy-Tale character cards are shuffled and two dealt face up to each side of the grid - 2 North, 2 East, 2 South and 2 West. When it is your turn you flip over a card, as explained previously, and on every card there is one of the Fairy-Tale characters placed round the grid. This character determines the edge the player has to move their Meeple towards (if possible - they can only move one space, along a path and never through walls) - if they cannot move as directed by the Fairy Tale character then they do not move at all.
The first player to leave the Forest from any side wins the game. If you want the game to last just 10 minutes this often means the first player to reach an edge card with a path leading off the grid wins. But it's most likely that you have to move off the grid completely to win, so then you have to hope that you either remember (from previous turns, yours and other players) which card has the right character on it, or you have to be lucky in your choice of card so you can move off when you flip it over.
The next steps after the Base game bring into play the double-sided Action card, one side of which also brings to the table the Lucky Lucky Clover Tokens and introduces the action of the Goblins found on the Forest cards.
Instead of placing two characters next to each edge of the grid, in this variant only one character is (randomly) placed per edge. The other four are placed, again randomly, one on each side of the Action card. When one of these characters appears on a flipped Forest card the side against which the character sits is activated according to the pictogram shown for that side.
There are no rules as to which side of the Action card you use so we surmise you choose one before starting the game. The illustrations on the actual (physical) Action card are not exactly the same as those on the Action card shown on the rules sheet. There isn't a lot of difference, especially the side showing the Clover, Eyeball, Characters and Cards, but there are differences on the side that shows four mini grids.
On the rules sheet each grid has an elongated red arrow curled around the outer side of each of the mini grids and these actions are described under the first Master Memorinth setup. The physical card also shows 4 mini grids, two of which show a thick red arrowhead pointing towards the centre row, displacing the first card forward and pushing the last card in the grid out of sequence into the centre. A third thick red arrowhead is shown on another grid pushing a non-central grid row forward in similar manner. The fourth mini grid shows displaced end cards but has no thick red arrow. There is nothing significant in this as far as we can ascertain so when playing with this side up we ignored the positioning of the thick red arrows and used the printed rules for the aforementioned elongated arrows.
I found these two examples of movement a mite confusing. In the top one the Yellow meeple wants to go to the right hand card and can do so because Little Red Riding Hood is shown on the card and the Little Red Riding Hood character is to the right of the grid. Why the player would flip the right hand card first I don't know - they don't have to flip attached cards - because flip sides aren't all the same on both sides and the path right could have been blocked by the newly flipped card. Also, they already knew Little Red Riding Hood was on the right hand card's light side, but unless they remembered or were lucky - neither of which is possible as there isn't a Forest card with Little Red Riding Hood on both sides - then flipping it would be a bad idea.
Note: Moving onto the card with the Goblin is okay, moving past a Goblin requires a Lucky Clover Token.
If you use the non-mini grid side of the Action card then you need the Lucky Clover Tokens and the Goblins become important. To walk past a Goblin in the Forest you have to pay a toll of one Lucky Clover Token. If you do not have a Lucky Clover Token you cannot move. This doesn't add any fun to the game, instead it means you have to always remember where the character card is for the Lucky Clover Token so that you can gain one before having to move past a Goblin. If there are no Lucky Clover Tokens in the supply you can take one from another player.
If you flip the wrong card or cannot flip one because it is already showing the required character face up then you don't move or do anything, and too many turns, not necessarily one after the other, of not moving or doing anything doesn't make for an enjoyable entertainment.
However, for the price of four cups of Costa Cappuccino, this is a good value family game that combines a touch of Labyrinth with elements of several other tile/card based grid games while adding the fantasy of Goblins and Fairy-Tales which younger players enjoy so much.