Today, I'm welcoming fellow Codexiian Josh Vogt to talk about one of his favorite board games. He has two books out this spring -- Forge of Ashes and Enter the Janitor. My mind boggles at the idea of releasing two books at once. But maybe given the description of the board game he picked, I shouldn't be surprised (I sadly haven't played this, but it looks fantastic!). Here's Josh:
Scotland Yard has been around for quite a while (30+ years), but it’s a game I’ve found relatively few are even aware exists—and sadly so! It’s a fantastic group game that challenges your brainpower as well as your ability to work as a team to capture your opponent, Mr. X.
Scotland Yard is played on a board displaying an illustrated map of London, which is further overlaid by a series of travel lines, indicating various modes of transportation such as taxis, buses, the London Underground, and even a couple waterways. One person plays Mr. X, a fugitive from justice attempting to evade the detectives, which are controlled by up to five other players.
Each player receives a select number of “transportation tickets,” allowing them to move around via the different travel modes. Mr. X and the detectives draw starting node numbers to determine where on the board their pieces are set, and then the chase is on! The detectives must capture Mr. X (by landing on the space he occupies) before their tickets run out. If they fail, the game ends and Mr. X wins.
But here’s the twist. Mr. X’s game piece only appears on the board at pre-determined turns. Otherwise, Mr. X’s position is tracked on a hidden pad, and the only clue to his whereabouts are the tickets he uses to move each turn.
Every so often, Mr. X will be forced to reveal himself, and then will disappear again on the next turn.This forces the detectives to track him through deduction and corner the criminal by theorizing which route he is likeliest to take to escape once spotted. Will he double-back? Play the “two moves in one turn” card? Go down the river? Zip across a train line? And if you know Mr. X’s piece will appear in the next move or two, how can you all get into position to be as mobile as possible and close in on him before he vanishes again?
It’s such a fun game for both sides. It can be incredibly tense when playing Mr. X, listening to the other players discuss your potential plans and trying to box you in. For the detectives, using your collective intellects to project several steps ahead and eliminate possible escape routes is quite satisfying—especially when you’re proven right and capture the crook.
The game doesn’t drag on too long since you’ve got a limited number of turns right from the get-go, and you can easily fit a few play-throughs in an evening, with various players trying their hand at being Mr. X.
Or, yes, Mrs. X.
Josh Vogt has been published in dozens of genre markets with work ranging from flash fiction to short stories to doorstopper novels that cover fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel, Forge of Ashes, adds to the RPG Pathfinder Tales tie-in line. WordFire Press is also launching his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor (2015) and The Maids of Wrath (2016). You can find him at JRVogt.com or on Twitter @JRVogt. He’s a member of SFWA as well as the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.