Thursday, June 21, 2012

Inspecting Scotland Yard

Goodwill continues to surprise me when it comes to finding deals on great games. It doesn't always work, but when it does, its amazing. One of my latest finds is the Milton Bradley version of Scotland Yard. This classic game pits one player taking the role of Mr. X against a team of 5 Detective Inspectors who attempt to deduce his whereabouts and capture him before escape. Mr. X begins the game in an unknown location and moves around the map in secret, trying his best to evade capture. If he is successful is eluded the law for 24 rounds, he wins the game. If at any time an Inspector piece moves onto the same space as Mr. X, the other players win the game. It's a brilliant game of cat and mouse, logic and deduction, bluffing and bold moves.

Space 185 is can be reached by all three
while 186 is only available via Taxi.
Ticket To Ride
The key to the game is the transportation. Every player can move around the city of London via Taxi, Bus or Underground. Not every space on the board is accessible by every type of transportation and each has their own pros and cons. Riding by Taxi is the slowest, but is also the most wide reaching as almost every space can be reached by a taxi ride. This is also the most abundant type of ticket that the inspectors start with. On the opposite end, the Underground can move you from one side of the board to the other in just a couple turns. But there are very few Underground stations on the map. The Bus lies in the middle of the two.

During the game, when an Inspector moves, he must give one of the appropriate tokens to the Mr. X player. These tickets are a limited resource to the inspectors and must be handled properly. Towards the end of the game, Mr. X can easily evade capture by staying on spaces that the Inspectors no longer have access to.

On Mr. X's turn, that player will secretly write down the number of the space that he will be moving and then cover it with the token of how he got there. Thus, while the Inspectors don't always know where their quarry is, they know how he is moving around. This is where the deduction comes in.

The Fugitive Is Spotted!
To make things a little easier on the Inspectors, multiple times in the game, Mr. X must reveal his current location. This gives the Inspectors a chance to regroup and figure out if there anywhere close to their goal. Its also these moments that allow the players to begin to more accurately deduce where Mr. X has fled based on his modes of transportation used.

Mr. X's secret weapons
That Sneaky Mr. X
Mr. X, however has a couple tricks up his sleeve. First are the x2 tokens. Twice in the game, he may spend a x2 token and make a double move. This lets his make a quicker getaway if he is feeling a little boxed in. He also has five black tickets available to him. These can be used in place of the normal transportation token to mask exactly how is travelling. Used in conjunction with a x2 token, this can turn a narrow getaway in a clean break. The Mr. X player can also use this token to travel by river.

This a fantastic and brain-burning game that plays great with anywhere from 2-6 players. Regardless of the number of players, there are always 5 inspectors so you can either have multiple opponents each with one detective or a single player who commands an entire unit in search of the fugitive. Thus, this makes a great 'all against one' game or a '2-player duel.'

This game has since been reprinted many times by Ravensburger with some upgrades in components and even a hat for the Mr. X player. There is also an iOS version of the game for the more digital minded. Regardless of the version, I highly recommend this game for a fun and tense game.

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