Scotland Yard (board game)

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Scotland Yard is a board game in which a team of players, as "police", cooperate to track down a player controlling a "criminal" around a board representing the streets of London. It is named after Scotland Yard, the headquarters of London's Metropolitan Police Service. Scotland Yard is an asymmetric board game, with the detective players cooperatively solving a variant of the pursuit-evasion problem. The game is published by Milton Bradley in the United States and Ravensburger in Germany and Canada. It received the Spiel des Jahres ("Game of the Year") award in 1983.


One player controls "Mr. X", a criminal whose location is only revealed periodically, and the other players each control a detective, which is always present on the board.

All players start with a number of tokens allowing them a certain number of moves using the following methods:

  • Taxis allow the player to move only one space for each token used. They can be used to reach any point in London, most of which are not accessible in this game by other means.
  • Buses are available throughout most of the map, allowing longer-distance travel more quickly if the player is located at a bus-stop.
  • The London Underground in this game also allows quick travel between distant points of London. However, stations are far apart so the use of an underground ticket can narrow down the possibilities of Mr. X's location.
  • Water routes are available, which only Mr. X can use, following the water buses' routes along the Thames between Greenwich and Whitehall.

Each detective begins with a total of 22 tokens. Once each transport token is used by a detective, it is turned over to Mr. X, effectively giving him unlimited transport. As he makes his moves, he writes them in a log book or any book and covers them with the tokens he uses, so that the detectives have clues as to his whereabouts. Mr. X also has five 'valid on any transport' black tokens, and two 'move twice this turn' cards. The water routes require a black token; when one of these is played, the detectives must consider whether or not it is being used to hide a river trip.

At five specific times during the game, Mr. X has to reveal his current position. Detectives will take this opportunity to refine their search and, if possible, plan ways to encircle him. From each known position, the types of transport used by Mr. X limit the number of possible locations he may be standing in, which provides useful information to detectives (as well as preventing some types of cheating by the fugitive player).

The game is won by the detectives if they catch Mr. X by landing on the same square as Mr. X's current location, or it may be won by Mr. X if he remains out of the grasp of detectives until they all are unable to move (which happens after 22 moves at the latest, since all detectives will have run out of usable tokens by this point).

Although the game says it is for 3-6 players many play this game with only 2 players. The police, when controlled by 1 person, are far more coordinated and have a better chance of catching Mr. X, which can be hard if you have 5 people trying to work together as the police.

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