Doug Adams writes:
This review is based on the Ravensburger edition, released in 1996.
Scotland Yard is a game where one player takes on the role of that master criminal, Mr X, while the other players are the detectives who have to track down Mr X and bring him to justice.
The game components are very nice, dominated by a game board which shows the city of London with a fair degree of accuracy. There are lots of cardboard pieces which are the travel tickets that Mr X and the detectives must spend to travel around London, as well as some pawns to show where all the detectives are on the map. Finally, there is a cardboard Mr X cap which the Mr X player wears so his eyes are hidden from the other players!
The game board map of London shows around 150 spaces which the playing pieces can occupy. These spaces are connected to one or more other spaces by white, blue or red lines. White lines represent taxi routes, blue lines represent bus routes, while red lines are the underground (train) routes. To move from one space to the next, you must hand in a correct ticket for one of the modes of transport available between the two spaces. A nice touch is that each base of the pieces are clear plastic, so the board space numbers can be seen even when a piece is standing on it.
The game starts with every detective taking a 'start tile' and placing his piece on the number listed. Mr X then does the same thing and has the first turn. However, Mr X does not put his piece on the map - he is hidden somewhere in London and the detectives have to find him! To accomplish this, Mr X has a small plastic board with a frame over the top. He writes down his new location on this board and covers the space number with a ticket. The ticket must be a valid ticket that obeys the movement rules. All the detectives see is which travel ticket Mr X used during that turn.
So it's up to the detectives to find him. To help them along, Mr X must place his piece on the game board at his current location on certain turns. Using this information, the detectives must surround Mr X and try to cut off his lines of escape. To make things difficult for the detectives, they only have a limited number of bus, taxi and underground tickets, and when they run out of a ticket type, they cannot use that mode of transport anymore.
To help the Mr X player, there are 2 extra ticket types. There is a 'double move' ticket which Mr X can play to have 2 turns in a row, which can be very handy for getting out of tricky situations. There is also a 'special move' ticket which Mr X can play and use any mode of transport (thus the detectives can't tell whether he took a taxi, bus or train!) or catch a ferry on the Thames from one of the 4 Ferry ports.
Mr X will win the game if he survives 22 turns without being caught, otherwise the detectives win.
The game is listed as 3 to 6 players, but I've found it to be excellent with 2 players. It's an easy game to play, in that there are not many rules, but it requires some thinking to deduce the correct moves, especially for the detectives. The balance of the game favours the detectives quite heavily, especially with experienced players, but that can easily be fixed by giving Mr X more of his special cards to use. Overall, a fun game.