Scotland Yard Review

An old-school classic game that I played once it was "only" 26 years old (at least the copy we used) was Scotland Yard.

In Scotland Yard (which is even more of a hide and go seek board game than Mr.Jack), one player is a criminal that is trying to elude all of the other players (the detectives). As in real life, there are different means of transportation - taxis, buses, subways (and for the criminal, ferries), and each player is limited to the number of times he can use each method. In each round the criminal will move (and show all the other players what he used to move) and then all of the other players will move in an effort to either capture him or pin him down (to catch him on a later round). Every few turns the criminal will reveal himself (and then the detectives will frantically have to go in the other direction because they realize he slipped past them). If any of the detectives wind up on the same square as the criminal within 22 rounds, they win - otherwise, the criminal has successfully eluded them and he wins.

I thought that there were some interesting aspects in Scotland Yard. The different modes of transportation and the limited supply of rides on each one made for a neat mechanic. When to use each transportation mode was critical as you could easily go right past the criminal without knowing it (or for that matter, as the criminal you could go right past the detectives).

The next part of the game that I enjoyed was that the criminal had several different ways of sneaking around the detectives. He gets a limited number of "wild" transportation tickets which can be used for a taxi, bus, subway or a ferry to prevent the detectives from knowing which way you took. In addition, he has two "2x" cards that he must use at some point which allow him to move twice (which can be critical if timed just right).

Though I thought the game mechanics were really neat and I saw why lots of people would enjoy the game... I thought the game was horribly boring. I do not remember the last time that I was so bored while playing a game. First of all, the game is about 2-3 hours long, but I remember sitting during the game and thinking to myself that it felt like doing a chore to play. I do not blame other people for enjoying it - my friend that brought Scotland Yard really likes the game (but he doesn't write the blog, so it gets written based on my opinion). I realize that this is subjective, and that I've given you no reason that I thought it was so boring, I just do. In all honesty, I think that the appeal for this game will be to engineers to calculate the different places that the detective could have gone from the last place where he emerged. Playing the game reminds me of building a circuit board - why would I do this for fun?

Overall, I give Scotland Yard a 5.0/10. The mechanics were fine, and I have no problems with them. However, in my admittedly subjective opinion, I don't think the game is fun. I could have written more on this review to keep telling you that I think it was boring, but how many ways do I need to say it?  You can disagree if you want. That's ok.


  1. Sounds like you don't like deduction games. I don't much like them either. I did used to like playing Mr. X, though, back when I was 12 or so.

  2. So glad to read your opinion of the game. I've always found it mind-numbingly dull. It just lacks any excitement... Maybe that's why Milton Bradley picked it up.

  3. It's been a long time since I played it, but I remember enjoying it. However, I have no idea if I would now. I do enjoy deduction games though.