Scotland Yard: The Thrill of the Chase
Board games are great, though sometimes they can all start to feel the same. There are some games, however, which can rise above this and give a unique texture to your gaming experience. Scotland Yard is such a game. Scotland Yard adds the element of a tense, thrilling chase to your gaming group,. Even though all you are doing is sitting around a table. But this is why the game is so great, it makes you feel like your in one of those movies where a criminal is trying to evade police in a bustling city.
Scotland Yard is unique in its fabric as its not a game where everyone is competing against each other, nor is it a game where they are all working together as a team. This is actually a game where one player takes on all the rest, taking the role of the criminal while the other players are the police who are trying to track him down. This concept may not seem appealing to some, but I assure you it is a great experience, especially if you are the lone criminal trying to lose yourself in the smog of London.
Scotland Yard is a classic family game which came out in the eighties, and as I was playing it I reflected on that fact quite a bit. Board games are in a boom time right now with tons of great games being released every year, each one geared towards meeting the needs and desires of gamers. Yet there was something about those old game like Scotland Yard which newer games still have trouble with; recreating an atmosphere. Scotland yard is great for that, for creating a sense that you are actually a character inn this situation, be it cop or robber. That’s where the brilliance of this game comes into play; you can truly feel the thrill of the chase.
The game turns consist of the player who plays as the criminal named Mr. X making a move somewhere on the map of London, and the other players make their moves in an attempt to capture him. But there’s a twist: Mr. X’s moves are made in secret. He writes where he’s going on a piece of paper and only reveals the method of transportation. If at any point one of the cops moves to the same space as Mr. X, the team captures him and wins.
All players may move around London in three modes of transport; by cab, by bus, and by the underground train affectionately known as the Tube. Each player other than Mr. X has a limited number of tickets for each mode of transport. If they run out of these tickets before catching the dastardly Mr. X he escapes and wins the game.
Now, you may be thinking that if only the transport method of Mr. X’s moves is known, it must be extremely difficult o catch him. Yes, but here’s the catch. After a certain number of moves, Mr. X must reveal his location. This gives the other players a fighting chance and keeps the game competitive. The reveal turns are perhaps the most exiting of the game since it can confirm that they are on the right trail, or it can be a “haha suckers, I’m way over here!” moment for Mr. X.
The most striking feature of Scotland Yard is its wonderful map of London. The entire central area of the city is represented with bus, cab, and train routes winding around like a network of cables, or more fittingly an analogy perhaps, a spiderweb. Its a fantastic map providing for escape routes and tight corners which can benefit either party.
The pawns are or a really great, sleek design as well, as they have transparent bodies which aid in the players always knowing what number of station they are on. The tickets are simple cardboard cut-outs but work just fine. The Mr. X board is fully functional and allows Mr. X to write his destinations and hide them with his tickets. There is also a Mr. X baseball cap, which I thought was simply a gimmick. However, it actually has purpose as it helps Mr. X hide his line of sight as hes scoping out places to move to. Perhaps sunglasses should have been included as well for full effect.
Scotland yard is a classic and feels like a classic. It is able to really give an authentic feel of taking on your roles, something which I feel boards games are losing a bit. What really makes Scotland Yard great is how exciting and thrilling it is. There is both cooperative and competitive aspects to this game, a race against time, and a constant battle to outwit the other guys.
Playing as Mr. X is when this is felt the most. The game is intense when you are moving around in secret, especially when the other players are closing in on you. There is definitely some sweating going on at moments. Its a great gaming experience from a great and unique game.