Get on Board: New York & London [Micro]

Base price: $30.
2 – 5 players.
Play time: ~30 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 3

Full disclosure: A review copy of Get on Board: New York & London was provided by Flat River Games.

I’m going to keep this format, I think. There are a lot of games worth talking about, and this helps me get to them a bit faster. Hopefully it’s useful for y’all, as well, though I’ll be asking around a bit more about that in the coming months. It’s hard for me to get in the mindset to write one of these, just because it’s such a departure from how I’ve been writing for the last … almost eight years. But 2023 is a time of great change, I guess, so might as well change things up here, too. We’ll see how it all shakes out. In the meantime, we’ve got more games to check out! This one’s a game I’ve been meaning to try for a while: Get on Board!

In Get on Board: New York & London, players take on the role of bus operators who just want to show folks a good time around town. You’ll pick them up and drop them off at schools, parks, and the occasional other public transit to help commuters, students, and the elderly enjoy whatever city they’re in. Unfortunately, all these busses moving around is going to create a bit of traffic, so you’ll take penalties if you end up moving your bus along a route another player has already taken. You want to be a trailblazer, I suppose. Each player will, on their turn, place a distinct set of wooden tokens in a based on the cards drawn. Each player will likely be placing different shapes, though, so that may change up the route that you want. Naturally, you can change the route if you don’t like what you’ve been dealt, but it’ll cost you. Keep building your route through town, picking up and dropping off guests to earn points and complete objectives. At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins! Probably becomes Bus Driver of the Year or something. I think that’s a thing in New York. Will you be able to give the people what they want: public transit?

Overall: 8 / 10

Overall, I like Get on Board: New York & London! It’s been giving me some grief because I was writing my On Tour: Paris and New York review at the same time and, frankly, it’s vexing why New York is first in one game and second in the other (to say nothing of the ampersand), but I’d say that’s probably the biggest problem I have with the game, and that’s barely relevant. I’ve long been a fan of Let’s Make a Bus Route, and while there are definitely some things I miss about the game (I really like the location, for instance, of the original game), there are some improvements.

To recap, the original Let’s Make a Bus Route is a roll-and-write game where players drive their busses around town, picking up passengers and dropping them off. The center was a shared board and each player had their own player boards. Get on Board is a new port of that game that adds some changes to maps and other gameplay features. Controversially, I think that the decision to get rid of the shared roll-and-write board in favor of placing wooden paths is mostly a good idea. This means that now instead of smudging markers and worrying I’m going to erase someone’s path every time I place my hand down, I can just place a little wooden stick and that mostly covers my bases. I think the reason that I like it less is that it takes away some of the charm of the original game and ends up turning the game into something that feels a bit more generic, to some degree. I always find Saashi & Saashi’s games incredibly charming, and this, while fun, feels a bit more manufactured, processed, and slightly generic. It’s still a good game, speaking very much to the strength of Saashi’s design chops, but perhaps it’s that I’m also not as invested in bussing tourists around New York or London. I had a similar gripe with MetroX when it got republished stateside by Gamewright. Some of the charm gets filed off with the serial numbers when a new coat of paint gets put on, I suppose. On the other hand, it makes a great game even more widely accessible to a large audience, and hopefully folks who like Get on Board will check out some of Saashi & Saashi’s other titles. Trade-offs exist everywhere, I suppose.

Speaking to the game itself, it’s very fun. I really like that they’ve added a layer of interactivity that’s not usually present in these types of games beyond the very generic racing element (though that, of course, is also here). Now, players engage with each other by driving through the traffic that they leave behind in spaces they’ve already been, encouraging players to go elsewhere. It’s a fun (and realistic) quirk that makes the game feel more authentic to the experience of riding a bus around town, and adds some nice strategic depth to the game. The different objectives that players have to compete (the personal objectives, the shared objectives, and just the challenge of getting people where they want to go) makes for a pretty compelling experience each time you play. I do also like that, in lieu of two different maps, they opted for maps based on player count. Took me a while to figure that out on Board Game Arena, but it’s nice having a slightly smaller map with fewer players to increase the tension. All that adds up to a pretty good time, though I’m not sure if it’ll end up being able to replace the original Let’s Make a Bus Route in my heart. If you’re looking for a similar experience, you want to try a roll-and-write adjacent game, or you dream of running your own public transit solution, though, you might want to take Get on Board: New York & London for a spin! I’ve been having fun with it.

If you enjoyed this review and would like to support What’s Eric Playing? in the future, please check out my Patreon. Thanks for reading!

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