Nothing says Sunday afternoon like a good board game and so last weekend I played The London Board Game with a couple of friends. The board for this game is the standard tube map and the playing pieces are tube carriages. The aim of the game is to start at one of six major stations, travel to six destinations that you have been randomly allocated and then return to your starting point. Whenever you change lines you have to take a hazard card which will either totally thwart all your plans (the fourth time I was instructed to go to Victoria to take a sight-seeing tour with my aunt it started to lose its appeal) or enable you to screw with your opponents by sending them to such delightful and out-of-the-way stations as Lewisham or Leyton.
Throughout the game, players have opportunites to open and close stations. When done effectively, this can cause huge problems – just try getting from Warren Street to Camden Town without going through Euston.
The frustration, nay, exasperation, that we felt at times during this game accurately captured our feelings associated with tube travel. Being trapped between two closed stations for many turns while trying to roll the six that would release me brought back memories of the time I spent 45 minutes stuck underground between Stockwell and Oval. The only thing missing was the constant updates from the driver who had absolutely no information but was clearly trying to stop any claustrophobics from freaking out.
However, we felt that to fully recreate the atmosphere of the tube you would need to play the game crammed round the board with 11 strangers, at least one of whom would have penetrating BO and another of whom would be pressed up against you a little more closely than was necessary. Making eye contact with other players would result in instant dismissal from the game.
The London Board Game
Vaguely interesting fact: This game was first released way back in 1972. We played a new edition that includes the whole East London Line and shows Blackfriars as closed.
Verdict: A simple but fun ‘roll and move’ game. While luck plays a big part, there is enought room for tactics to keep it interesting. This game will make its Board Game Club debut in February.