Double Morphus is an abstract two-player game published
by the same folk who make Murphy's Magic Island. Like
Murphy's, Double Morphus is a game of
moving a pawn through a maze of geomorphic tiles, collecting flat
disks. However, there the similarities end.
The board of Double Morphus consists of four border
pieces which are held together with clear plastic clamps, and 18
tiles. The border pieces create a space large enough to hold 20 square
tiles in a four-by-five pattern. Since there are only 18 tiles, there
is always a gap of two squares. Players may shift tiles, therefore, to
help them gain their ends. But I get ahead of myself.
The board is quite attractive - you can see a picture of it at
The tiles are largely blueish gray with crimson lines and orange
or yellow circles. Each of the square tiles has one such circle:
they are called Energy Pools. Nine of the tiles have yellow Energy
Pools, and nine have Orange Energy Pools. While each of the nine
tiles is different from the others, the yellow tiles are identical
to the orange tiles in layout of spaces, walls, pyramids, etc.
The tiles, when placed in the border pieces, create a double-layered
maze. Some of the tiles have Aztec-style pyramids in the center of
them, with ramps on one, two, three or all four sides. Each tile has
four lower-level spaces, many of them separated by walls which you
cannot pass through.
Each player also has one Trover and three guards. These, and
the ten flat disks of each color representing Energy Points (EP) are
adequate for game purposes, but quite plain compared to the board's
The game begins with players taking turns placing the tiles. The
yellow player places the orange tiles, and vice versa. Once all 18
tiles are placed, the EP are placed on the Energy Pools, and players
select starting spaces from those marked on the border pieces. Each
player has one EP in his Morph Bank.
Each turn, a player must move all four pieces - if a piece cannot move,
it is removed from the game. If you lose your Trover, you lose the
game. Trovers move up to five spaces, orthogonally or diagonally.
Guards move the same, except they cannot move diagonally. No guard may
enter a space with an unclaimed EP. A Trover cannot enter a space with
an opponent's EP, but if it enters a space with its own color, the
player collects the EP and places it in his Morph Bank. Guards may not
move through enemy pieces at all; Trovers may pass through each other,
but a Trover may only move through an enemy guard by paying 1 EP from
his Morph Bank.
The goal is to be the first to collect all nine EP of your own color.
How many you have in the Morph Bank doesn't matter - you can spend them
as soon as you collect them, if you wish - though it's wise to hold
onto one or two to escape being boxed in. In addition to moving
through enemy guards, you can spend an EP to jump down from a pyramid
(bypassing the ramp) or to shift a tile into an adjacent empty slot
The game creates some interesting tactics. Your Trover races ahead,
collecting EP, while your guards try to delay the enemy Trover - or you
can send your guards with your Trover, hoping to block his guards so
they can't move and thus remove them from the game.
The initial placement can also be interesting, though there are certain
key tiles which almost have to go in the corners, and others along the
edge, so there isn't quite as much flexibility as you might think.
Still, there are enough strategies to try that the game does not easily
repeat itself - it has good replay value.
The rules sheet could use another edition. The all upper-case font
is hard to read, for one thing, and it's under-diagrammed - you
have to figure out what a wall is, for example. (I'm serious -
they're not that obvious.) Even a simple listing of components
would help: 1 Trover, 3 Guards, 10 Energy Points would have helped
me understand the game much more quickly. As it was, the rules
rather casually drop mentions of these pieces without showing or
telling you which are which - I didn't know if a Trover was the
single Pawn, the three peg-like things or even the ten flat disks!
One rule that had me puzzled for three readings is that a piece
cannot move through an empty space - until I finally realized it
meant a space with no tile, not a space with no pieces!
There is one rule not mentioned, but the designer is very
gracious in answering e-mail questions, so I wasn't long in the dark:
you may not move a Trover diagonally past the end of a wall,
such as from space A to B in the following diagram:
A | === is a wall
| --- is a non-wall space delineator
| B | is a non-wall space delineator
I asked him three other questions, worried that there might be other
omissions, but his answers assured me that there are no holes on these
The rules don't mention these things, but a strict reading of them
indeed agrees with the answers above.
- A Trover may continue moving after picking up an EP if it has
- You may move from one start space on the border to an adjacent
start space on the border if they are not separated by a wall; and
- It's legal to move a piece one space then right back to where it
began the turn.
All in all, an engaging, abstract, two-player game which is easy to
play over and over. The rules are not complicated, but the strategies
involved take some mastering. The board is attractive, the pieces less
so but very servicable, the rules need editing - but, with the
missing rule supplied above, it's complete, playable, and enjoyable.
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