Seven years ago, I first discovered and wrote about Mapple. And, at the time, I was fairly disparaging. My opinion of it now is a fair bit better, thanks to having a lot more PnP experience under my belt.
Mapple is a free game, really a free family of games, from Cheapass Games. And it is a really easy build. You just have to print off one of the four boards, add coins for pieces and you’re done. The rules are even on the margins.
Every board was made for a convention and each map is actually of the city where the convention was held. Well, most of them are. Each map is broken down into areas.
Both players get a quarter, two dimes, three nickels and four pennies. One player is heads and the other one is tails. You take turns placing coins in spaces, with only one coin per space. The clever is bit is that if your opponent has a coin of lower value next to where you placed your coin, you get to flip it and make it your own. Game ends when you run out of coins and you get a point for every space you’re in. Most points wins. A full game is doing that twice so everyone gets to go first.
Okay, Mapple is a perfect information abstract. If you don’t like those at all, it won’t change your mind. If you only kind of like them, it’s a real quick one so it’s not a bad choice. In fact, I like how every game is ten turns so you know how long it’ll take from the start.
Every board has more than twenty spaces and there are four boards so Mapple has enough variety that it shouldn’t get formulaic or predictable too fast. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s solvable but you get four boards to solve.
Okay, why has my opinion of Mapple changed? I still think it’s an okay game but not a life changing game. However, in the last seven years, I have looked at and, more importantly, played a lot more PnP games. I am now comparing it to its own pool of games. And it’s does pretty well by that standard.
When you’re actually buying a game, you want some serious replay value. You want a good return for your investment. Here’s a dirty little secret about PnP games. It’s more okay to not get a ton of play out of them, particularly ones where you just print off one page.
And I’ve honestly gotten more play out of Mapple than I have games that I paid for. I like stones on the board abstracts. I find Mapple a relaxing little exercise. It isn’t a life-style game that I’ll play forever. But I will play it enough to make to worth my while.
[I do feel like I need to compare Mapple to Coin-Age since they are both tiny games that use coins as the central pieces. Here’s my comparison. They’re not really alike. Coin-Age uses the coin flip, creating a random element and a much more dynamic game. It plays out differently. I like the idea of Coin-Age more but, at least these days, I’m more drawn to playing Mapple because it’s more restful]