Scotland Yard is one of my favorite board games, although I don’t get to play it much. You need a few people who are into the strategy of it in order to get a really good game, and my kids just aren’t far enough past Hungry Hungry Hippos to get a kick out of cat-and-mouse strategic gameplay.
Thankfully, plenty of people on Game Center are.
What is it?
Scotland Yard is the digital version of the award winning board game published in 1983. Gamers assume the role of either the elusive Mr. X or one of up to five detectives who must scour the streets of London in order to catch him within 24 moves. If not, Mr. X escapes and wins the game.
How does it work?
The rules are a bit too complex to explain here, but the game does a good job of laying them out. Basically, each player draws a card to determine his starting position, and the game is afoot. Mr. X moves secretly, with his position being revealed only at designated times. The detectives must then work in tandem to try to corner Mr. X and land on his space. It’s not as easy as it sounds, though. With different methods of transportaiton, Mr. X can quickly move away from his revealed location. As such, some clever deduction and luck are required to pinpoint him.
Players can travel by cab, train, bus or foot, affecting where they can go and how quickly they can get there. Mr. X’s transportation method is revealed on the game board, so you can figure out at least about how far he went, if not which direction. After you’ve played a few times, you’ll start to develop strategies on how to use these clues and your movement cards to trail him (if you run out of movement cards, you’re done). On the other side, learning how to outwit the detectives—be they human or CPU—is very satisfying.
This is all implemented in an attractive, crisp, Retina enhanced interface. The developers realized that trying to jam the game board onto the iPad or (worse) iPhone screen would’ve created a cluttered mess, so a “camera” pans around the board to highlight the active players. Small icons indicate the position of the other detectives, so it’s easy to get a feel for where you are and where you need to be.
More importantly, perhaps, they didn’t load the game with goofy or cutesy animations. Rather, they’ve simply recreated the essence of the board game, and they let you bring in the personality and fun.
Is it contagious?
That depends upon what you’re looking for in a game, be it on a table or tablet. Scotland Yard can be a long game (you can limit the time players have before they must make their move), and it’s very cerebral. Fans of the board game should love it here, especially considering the Game Center multiplayer component with support for voice chat. Locally, players can take on others via Bluetooth, WiFi or hot seat play.
Ravensburger has done a great job with Scotland Yard, capturing the essence of the board game while taking advantage of the touch screen capabilities. If the tabletop version has been collecting dust in your closet, let the iOS version remind you of what a great game it is.
Now, if we could just get someone bring 221B Baker St. to the iPad…