Recently a friend suggested I download Mini Metro, a relatively new $0.99 game for iPhones and iPads (it's been available on Steam for Mac/PC for longer). He knows that my son and I are both huge subway nerds, and the game involves drawing different subway lines in cities around the world. It's deceptively simple at first—you just draw lines connecting stations, and over time more stations are added and you connect them to one of your lines. But as the game progresses, more and more people attempt to ride the lines, and eventually one of your stations overcrowds and the game ends.

As you get better, you realize there are some simple strategic tools, which vary in application from city to city. Some cities require more subway lines, some require more bridges or tunnels to connect various areas, and some require few lines but many individual subways and coaches to carry passengers. The game comes with London, Paris, New York, and Berlin unlocked—there are more cities, from Cairo to Auckland (which doesn't actually have a subway, yet!) that become unlocked as you achieve various scores in the early levels.

Some basic strategy to get you started:

  • For most cities, simple works best—a few lines meeting at a central terminal. You can turn one of the lines into a circle-line later in the game, but adding more than one circle lines too early dumps too many passengers at the stations where they touch.
  • It's usually good to have at least four lines—I've achieved scores of 1,500 or better with just four, and sometimes five or six lines work well for the advanced levels.
  • Always be mindful of having a circle, square, and triangle station on a line, so your passengers don't have to transfer lines.
  • You can pause the game any time you want to redraw your lines—this is essential in later stages, when the system is complicated and you can easily screw something up by dragging the wrong item.

In general, you'll get higher scores playing on iPad, because it's easier to manipulate the lines when they're bigger, but iPhone is adequate for scores of 1,000 or better in most cities—maybe higher if you have Trump sized fingers. If you have more recommendations for game strategy, or know of other good subway or train games, let me know in the comments.

(I coded the link to Mini Metro in the first paragraph so we get paid a small/tiny affiliate fee if you buy the game using that link—but I didn't write about it for the money, I wrote about it because I spent like 20 hours this weekend playing the game, and it is really good.)