As a self-confessed box art tart, I must admit I was excited when I first laid eyes on Get On Board: New York & London at the London Toy Fair. The retro styling of the cover got my eyes salivating. That makes it sound like I was crying, I wasn’t. Anyway, when I turned the box over to discover this was a flip and write with a board, my interest piqued!
Fast forward a few months and Get On Board: New York & London has now hit the retail shelves. I have now gotten on board and am pleased to share my board game musings with you. I guess that’s why you’re here reading this? Otherwise you have got dreadfully lost in the interwebs and will have to click that back button!
Unfurl the double-sided board and depending on player count, flip to the New York (2-3 players) or London (4-5 players) side. Add two common objective cards onto the board. Give each player all the components of their colour, a sheet of paper from the pad and one of the included pencils. Also give them a private objective card and two bus ticket cards which will give them a starting location to choose from. Once players have chosen, shuffle all bus ticket cards to create the draw deck on the board. Finally, choose a first player. Now you can Get On Board!
Players will compete to pick up passengers and visit buildings in an attempt to score the most points. Efficiency is key in the route planning and players will be eliminated if ever they cross or reconnect to any part of their route. This sounds drastic, but is easily avoidable!
In true flip and write form the first card of the deck will be turned over. Players will tick off this card along the top of their sheet, noting which shape they can place on the map with their markers. This will range from 1 to 3 places in a predetermined shape. This shape will vary from player to player, depending on their sheet. As you pass passengers and buildings you mark them off your sheet of paper.
Passing landmarks offers additional scoring bonuses. If you pass other player’s markers, i.e. traffic jams, you will regularly lose a point. Similarly, if you need to straighten or curve the shape you’ve been allocated you will also lose a point.
In addition to these point opportunities, each player will get ten points for completing their private route by visiting set locations on the board. The competition ramps up for the common objectives as the first person to complete one gets ten points, leaving six points for anyone else.
Once everyone has placed their markers on the board, the first player token moves around and the next card is flipped. Get On Board: New York & London continues until the last card is flipped. At that point, scores are tallied.
What it’s like
I’m not sure why, but I found the rulebook was like wading through a quag rather than driving the sleek city streets. It might’ve been my mood or the wording, but I didn’t find the rules very easy to follow, or subsequently refer back to. I think in part, it was because when reading it for the first time, it referenced things that had yet to be explained and so the mental picture of how to play never fully formed in my head prior to sitting at the table. I’m used to reading rulebooks, but I’m grown-up enough to know that I’m not infallible. It might’ve just been me. This lack of comprehension hindered mine and my wife’s first two plays. As a result neither of our first impressions were particularly special.
We’ve persevered and I’m pleased to say, Get On Board: New York & London is a fun game. You have that classic flip and write mechanic whereby you’ll be crossing things off your personal board. The twist is, that you have something three-dimensional and tangible going on too. I love a flip or roll and write, but I know some people overlook them and pass them by as it lacks that physical element. They are often quite solitary experiences with little player interaction. The board certainly changes that feel. There still isn’t an abundance of interaction, yet the presence of the board magically transforms it to feel less solitary. You’ll encounter traffic jams and a scrap for a common objective while you play too.
The randomness of the cards makes exact route planning a tricky thing until the last handful of moves. Generally you have to modify your path and wind along the roads in the general direction of an objective or scoring opportunity. Weirdly the luck of the flipped cards gives the game more strategy, which I’m aware sounds like an oxymoron!
Where you start does have a large bearing on whether you can complete the private route that you are allocated. This is compounded by you only being permitted to extend your route in one direction, i.e. the starting location is just that. Sometimes it would be nice to add to both ends of your route!
One of my biggest gripes is a trivial matter, there is no win condition for tied points. I always like that nerve-wracking moment when you reach for the rulebook to settle a tie. Don’t bother, there isn’t one for Get On Board, which for me is a shame. I’d like to offer up, the winner is the player who visited the most landmarks, in case you want to house rule it.
The game is good at all player counts, but shines a little brighter at four. I prefer the London side of the board, and not because I am overtly patriotic. The four and five player side is busier with rewards. It offers more route-making opportunities and even more traffic jams to avoid.
I think the recommended age of 8 plus is a bit low. While an 8 year old may grasp the concept and the basic play, they aren’t going to flourish playing it and it may not hold their attention.
This is a really stylish production. The artwork throughout oozes the commercial artwork of the 1950s. I could imagine it coming to life on television in a cartoon advert. The board has little landmark vignettes too, which I like a lot. Get On Board: New York & London pops and zings in retro cool – Monsieur Z has done a good job!
I’m not sure how friendly the colours of the player components will be for some, but I do like the palette used. The cards styled as bus tickets with holes punched deserve a special mention. These little details help make the game.
The player sheets have some slight asymmetry to them, which is a good addition, meaning you won’t all be playing the same shapes on the same turn. They are well laid out, and again once you’re familiar with the flow of it, it all makes sense. End game scoring is fairly intuitive. If there has been a bit of time between plays it is easy to forget that the male characters still score rounded down points “even if the bus hasn’t been parked” – that will make sense if you play it! I am also yet to play a game where I haven’t forgotten to cross off at least one of the flipped cards – that’s definitely on me, not the game though!
As I’ve mentioned, the instructions didn’t quite do it for me. When I think about it, I have had problems with Iello’s rules before. Which is a shame as they are making games that would, and should, appeal to those new to the hobby. Learning a game is one of the biggest put-offs in our hobby and companies need to make them as accessible as possible. That said, I have been struggling to teach the scoring succinctly myself. It’s easy, but clunky to articulate apparently!
I had concerns about the limited plays included with the pad of paper. The board and other components then being wasteful. Fortunately, Iello have added additional printable PDF sheets to their website that can be found here: Download Iello Get On Board scorepad sheets
What the kids thought
George (11): I quite like Get On Board. I like the different ways you can score points.
Harrison (14): I enjoyed it, I liked the mixture of the flip and write with the laying of the buses on the board. None of the scoring of the passengers is that different from one another, so it’s quite easy to follow. It’s a good game!
Final thoughts on Get On Board
After my initial visual first impressions being high and my first play being low, I am pleased to report that Get On Board: New York & London has got better and better the more I’ve played it.
Those that herald the Nokia 3210 as the epitome of phone technology will fondly remember the game Snake. There are a lot of similarities between that mobile classic and Get On Board: New York & London. Certainly in the way you traverse the board picking up passengers and not wanting to crash into yourself. Fortunately I’d say this flip and write-cum-board game has considerably better graphics, more depth and player interaction. On the flip side it is considerably less addictive, which may not actually be a bad thing!
Get On Board: New York & London offers enough to think about, but in a limited way. You have an overarching idea of your route and yet the restrictions of the cards flipped see you zig-zagging around and trying to make the best of what is around you. With a predetermined shape and only a few ways to manipulate it, turns are fairly intuitive and so play moves swiftly around the table.
There is plenty of fun to be had with this lighter game, driving along the streets of New York and London, especially at four players.
Number of players: 2 to 5
Board Game Review Recommended Age: 10+
Publisher’s Recommended Age: 8+
Playing Time: 30 minutes
Setting Up and Take Down Time: 4 minute
The addition of a board to the flip and write genre is certainly a welcome one. Certainly in terms of it feeling less solitary and more tangible. It is also necessary to the gameplay, so isn’t just a gimmick inclusion. Tweaks to the rulebook could help initial impressions and general accessibility. There is a lot to like in Get On Board: New York & London and if you are looking for a new light flip and write, this may well be, just the ticket!
Artwork and Components
Value for Money
- Quick to play
- Less solitary than others in the genre
- Shines at four players
- Great looking game
- Rulebook is a bit tricky to follow
- Lighter than you might expect
- Difficult to plan ahead until late on in the game
- No decider for ties
Buy Get On Board
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