Tuesday, 30 June 2009

New York Chase / Scotland Yard

I played a 5-player game of New York Chase at Carcasean boardgame cafe on 26 Jun 2009. Chong Sean was Mr. X (game owner / cafe owner is normally asked to do the honours of being on the lonely one-man team), Han, Kevin, Choo (2 new friends) and I played the detectives.

I actually intended to try Scotland Yard (played on a map of London), which is the older game and is very similar. Chong Sean has both Scotland Yard and New York Chase. Somehow we ended up playing the latter. Maybe it was because it has more elements - the helicopter and roadblocks.

New York Chase is a game about a team of detectives trying to catch Mr. X, the fugitive. Mr. X moves secretly and records his trail secretly on a piece of paper. The only clues he leaves are the modes of tranportation used to get from one location to the next (taxi, bus or subway). In specific rounds, Mr. X must reveal his location, making himself vulnerable. The detectives need to make good use of such opportunities to quickly surround and corner Mr. X.

Each detective has a limited number of tickets for the 3 types of transportation. Once he uses up his tickets, he cannot move anymore. If Mr. X can last until all detectives are unable to move anymore, he wins. If he is captured (by simply being on the same spot as another detective), he loses.

There are some twists. Mr. X has two double-move cards which can help him to get out if tight spots. He also has some black tickets (wild cards) which can hide his mode of transportation, and can also be used to take a ferry, which the detectives can't take (NYPD forgot to buy them some ferry tickets I guess). The detectives have a helicopter which can be used 3 times in the whole game to transport one detective quickly to any place in the city. There are also road blocks (if you play with less than the maximum number of detectives allowed) that can be set up when a detective leaves a location.

The game is a lot of deduction (for the detectives) and bluffing (for Mr. X to try to escape) and double-guessing. The detectives need to work together, just like in any cooperative game. The game mechanics is quite simple. Scotland Yard would be even simpler, without helicopters or roadblocks. The game is also a lot about planning. Mr. X needs to plan ahead for the rounds when he has to reveal his location. He needs to make sure he is at a place with many escape routes. The detectives need to plan for these rounds too, to make sure they are at strategic locations to be able to react quickly the moment Mr. X's location is revealed.

Chong Sean. The game comes with this hat-like thing, to allow Mr. X to hide his eyes, so that the other players cannot see which part of the board he is looking at. Something like this is useful for Ticket to Ride too.

New York. Four detectives at their randomly drawn start positions. Mr. X is off the board for now. His location is secret.

Close-up of the streets of New York. The pawns are half transparent, so that you can see the numbered locations.

Mr. X is the white capped pawn. The yellow pawn is riding the helicopter and is about to disembark to the spot on the left of Mr. X. The yellow disks are the roadblocks. When a detective leaves a spot, he can leave behind a roadblock. Depending on the number of detectives in play, the number of roadblocks differ. Once they are all on the board, you can still set up a new roadblock, but you'll have to take down one of the existing roadblocks.

Chong Sean was nervous in the game, because all of us were plotting aloud how to trap him and catch him. There was nothing subtle about it. He probably felt like a goat listening to the butchers discussing how it was going to the slaughtered. We had him trapped by about Round 18, just past the mid point of the game. So the detectives won. Chong Sean checked that the last time he played, Mr. X was also captured at about that time. The helicopter was a tremendous help. We had used up all three of our helicopter flights, and if we hadn't caught Chong Sean at that point, we might not have been able to do so anymore for the rest of the game. Roadblocks did not seem very helpful. Maybe we haven't learnt to use them well yet.

Quote of the game: "I hate helicopters" by Chong Sean.

I enjoyed the game. This is suitable for families, and I'll probably try to get a copy. I'll likely get the Scotland Yard version though, because my wife used to live in London, so the nostalgia factor may make her enjoy it more.


Chong Sean said...

Next time we should try scotland yard, I think it's easier for Mr. X.
And maybe next time you'll be Mr. X!

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Yes, actually I'm interested to try being Mr. X. :-)

Notso said...

I have played Scotland Yard, and I didn't like it much because I thought it was too difficult for the detectives to capture Mr. X. (We played 4 player, 3 detectives.) I am more intrigued by New York Chase because of the helicopters and road blocks; that sounds like those might fix the problems I had with New York chase.

I would suggest getting Scotland Yard if you like London and then adding some custom Helicopter cards. Otherwise, it is too hard to get around. We would think he was on one side of the board, we would move there and mr. x would simply move to the other side or etc. There wasn't enough ways for us to block mr. x's routes or etc. I only played it once, but I got the feeling that it was helpless trying to catch Mr X with the limited options I had as a detective.

Hiew Chok Sien said...


Adding a custom-made helicopter to Scotland Yard won't be difficult, but I probably won't do it yet. I just played Scotland Yard last night, and as Mr. X, I was caught on Round 5. :-P

In Scotland Yard, don't you play with 5 detectives regardless of the number of players, i.e. one player may control more than one detective? It seems to be so in the rules that I found on BGG. Possibly the rules differ for different editions of Scotland Yard.

Notso said...

Well, if that is the case, then we played it wrong and that would explain why it seemed so unbalanced and hard to catch Mr. X since we had 3 detectives instead of 5.

Chong Sean said...

Notso: you are playing the new ravensburger rules. Hiew read the old rules from Milton Bradley.

If you think the new rules are not balanced, you can check out the variants by Alain Munoz and Serge Laget.