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Scotland Yard – Play Session

December 5, 2007

Last night, I invited a group of friends over to play Scotland Yard, one of the games recommended to me by readers of this blog (see the Board Game List for all recommendations). It’s the first time I’ve been able to play it with full complement of players.

Scotland Yard has an interesting set up – it’s one player vs. all other players. The narrative goes like this: Mr. X is trying to elude capture while the detectives attempt to catch him. Mr. X travels secretly from one location to another, surfacing once every few turns. As the detective group, your goal is to attempt to catch him. The board is effectively a city map. There are three modes of travel for detectives, and four modes for Mr. X. Each mode – taxi (short), bus (medium) and underground (longer) – require a ticket and move players about the city. Mr. X also has access to the waterway. Detectives possess a limited number of travel tickets while Mr. X does not.

Scotland Yard board

The rules result in some interesting play dynamics. Table talk is plentiful, and there’s a real sense of both cooperation and ultimately anticipation when Mr. X reveals himself. We attempted to map his whereabouts and learned a valuable lesson – Mr. X saw we’d missed one path, and neatly moved himself out of our trap. Although Mr. X’s token is not on the board, except for those turns on which he reveals that location, you are able to determine the possibility space of his movement by the tickets he plays. For instance, if you notice he’s placed a black ticket, you know he’s at one of the river nodes.

As play progresses, it gets harder and harder to capture Mr. X. He surfaces less frequently. Your tickets become fewer, and even if you know where he is, you may not have the necessary tickets to get there. The game transitions to one of ticket management, coordination and careful mapping. Actually, the whole game is ultimately about that as you and the other players attempt to form a dragnet. However, your awareness of resource management becomes much more acute in the second half of the game.

We played two games. In the first, Mr. X was still getting the hang of play and was stomped on his third turn. In the second game, he eluded capture.

Thanks for recommending the game. I’m glad to recommend it as well.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 13, 2007 1:03 am

    This was by far my favorite board game growing up.

  2. December 13, 2007 5:17 pm

    I played this game years and years ago with my grandparents. For a youngster, it was insanely difficult and way over my head. Nevertheless, seeing the image of the board sure did bring back some fond memories.

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