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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > Issue 12 Oct/Nov '17 > MAGIC MAZE

MAGIC MAZE

How a Danish former phone app developer came up with the year’s most original board game and proved that, even at the tabletop, silence is golden

It was in April that Kasper Lapp first realised just how big his Magic Maze was getting. First, the 37-year-old Danish designer received word that his real-time co-operative title – the first game he’d ever published – was the ‘HIT’ of 2017’s ultraexclusive Gathering of Friends convention. That word (caps and all) was used by Dale Yu, editor of The Opinionated Gamers, who took a copy of Magic Maze to Alan Moon’s Niagara Falls-based, invite-only shindig and urged everyone he could to give it a go. (Yu’s copy was “well worn” by the end of the convention, he blogged, “and has been constantly in play”.)

Then Tom Vasel posted his review. It was nothing less than glowing, with the Dice Tower co-host admitting he’d owned the game for a while, but previously dismissed it at a glance as just another tile-shuffling maze game. Then, at a convention (the very same Gathering of Friends, Lapp believes), Vasel had the box waved in front of his face and was urged, “You gotta play it.” Soon, he was as smitten as Yu, slapping a Dice Tower Seal of Excellence on the game.

“I think that was my favourite moment with Magic Maze,” says Lapp now. “It meant a lot to me that he actually liked it.”

Vasel and Yu are far from alone. They aren’t the only ones impressed by the way that, despite an arguably silly theme, the game grips you, thrills you and, most importantly, feels like nothing you’ve played before. Requiring players to work simultaneously to help four fantasy heroes execute a race against- time raid on a shopping mall (!) for their questing equipment, the closest thing it comes near to is Vlaada Chvátil’s 2008 title Space Alert – a game that Lapp admits was his biggest influence.

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