GTM #293 - Metrorunner
by Thunderworks Games


 Metrorunner by Thunderworks Games

METRORUNNER:  No Time Like the Future

Take risky underworld jobs and hack your way to infamy as Mirror City’s top runner!

It’s not that you’ve given up on a brighter future. It’s just that you’re seeing it from a different perspective now that the megacorporations have finally taken hold of Mirror City. A more… personal perspective. Perhaps, a brighter future really does await you in this dystopia. If you can hack it.

With the position of Prime Runner up for grabs, now’s your chance to claw your way to the top and race to secure your place among the city’s elite. Leverage every skill and bioenhancement you have to swiftly complete jobs for the denizens of the five districts and the mega-corps alike. Earn underworld influence and notoriety to secure the coveted title and watch as your competition fades into obscurity.

But with so few credits to your name, it looks like you’ll be riding the metro around town with the rest of the street punks. For now.

Metrorunner by Thunderworks Games

Welcome to Mirror City

Thunderworks Games’s big Gen Con release steps you smartly into a gritty cyberpunk future! Designer Stephen Kerr presents a board game with a unique blend of classic Euro-game elements, turning them into a beautifully sleek package all wrapped up in a vibrant, grungy bow.

This competitive sci-fi caper through a dystopian metropolis is a slick neon trip for 1-5 players, with all the decision space of a crunchy Euro without the lengthy setup and table time. Not to mention, a cunning AI opponent to pit your skills against in solo mode!

Checking so many boxes without losing steam along the way already distinguishes Metrorunner from many of its midweight Euro contemporaries. Not satisfied to stay on the rails, it twists in a unique tile puzzle mini-game within the game, while executing a balancing act of mechanics that somehow remains streamlined and swift. It has a little of everything, but a lot of strategy lurks in the spaces and shady alleys in between.

Metrorunner by Thunderworks Games

A Circuit of Familiar Favorites

With these familiar mechanics melded into something fresh, Metrorunner is an easy fit to recommend for a variety of Euro game fans.

For starters, it cranks up the tension by turning worker placement into a worker movement rondel. Play as a runner from one of the five districts - each with their own character art, profile, and a special hacking move only they can perform! Move clockwise along a rondel track, but in classic worker placement tradition your movement is limited, and rewards are first come, first served. Worker placement is transformed into a race where you must anticipate and cut off rivals on the circuit while making sure your own pacing doesn’t suffer.

Metrorunner will have you rushing to collect resources for your jobs, a familiar goal for fans of resource management. But those same resources can also be spent to move faster along the track or help you complete Hacking challenges.

Some may yearn for the joy of watching an engine-builder ramp up and pay off, and Metrorunner has a little something for that, too. Most completed jobs come with ongoing effects that will grow your little dystopian engine. But you’ll have to make your way to the correct district before you can complete it!

Metrorunner by Thunderworks Games

A New Path: Hack the Network

The tile puzzle nestled in the center of the board presents a unique temptation and ever-changing opportunity. Not only can solving a hack be a big payout, but the in-game resource economy quite literally revolves around the players’ actions with the puzzle.

With your runner placed on a Hacking portal location along the metro line rondel, you may choose to “hack” this central circuitry pathing puzzle. Twist, slide, and swap the tiles to match the path on a hacking goal card, but you’ve got only two manipulation moves for free - anything more will cost you precious resources!

Metrorunner by Thunderworks Games

In the aftermath of a successful hack, resources are generated around Mirror City according to the back of the hacking goal card. Maybe you’ll get lucky, and they’ll be piled up at your next stop along the line. Or they could be clear across town where your fellow runners are sure to swoop them up first. Maybe it’s worth spending a few credits to jump the rails and take a quick cab?

Not only has the layout of the tiles changed for the next hacker, but your hack has also altered the landscape of resources across the board. This fallout adds layers of decisions for all players, altering the flow of demand for actions along the rondel from round to round. The shifting, fast-paced landscape rewards a tech savvy hacker who knows when to pounce on an easy hack, and when to race to the next stop instead.

Metrorunner by Thunderworks Games

Take to the Streets!

Between all the elements of a traditional Euro game and the addictive side puzzle, Metrorunner offers a deceptively quick and easy-to-learn game that doesn’t overstay its visit to your table. It packs huge strategic punch in a short time, with all the decision space of the classics, a wild detour through uncharted circuitry territory, and an engaging, vibrantly illustrated setting filled with original art. Surprisingly easy to teach and intuitive to learn, Metrorunner is the perfect dystopian future you deserve.


A UW alumna residing in Madison, Wisconsin, Jess Carrier has been working in the tabletop games industry since 2018. She cannot resist a bad pun.