Get on Board: New York & London, a bus-laden board game published by IELLO, puts players in the proverbial driver’s seat as they plot bus routes through the complicated thoroughfares of Manhattan and London, picking up important fares along the way.
Designed by designer Saashi, the Get on Board: New York & London board game forces you to think quickly, as your bus route is only developing a few blocks at a time. How will you content with traffic, passengers, and trying to get people to their intended destinations?
So let’s swing open those folding doors and make the best bus route ever seen in Get on Board: New York & London!~
Get on Board: New York & London Gameplay
Hitting its 30 minute estimate playing time squarely in the nose, Get on Board: New York & London is a combination of a roll-and-write style game that also utilizes pieces on a central board. It is played over 12 turns, and a bus ticket is pulled during each that dictates the length and shape of the route that must be used this turn.
Players extend their current route with this shape, picking up passengers and stopping at sights along the way. Each time your route goes through an intersection, you gain the associated passenger by marking it on your player sheet. There are a few types:
- Students – Students score based on the number of universities that you’ve passed through, multiplying the two values together
- Seniors – Seniors score a growing range of points the more that you shuttle
- Business Professionals – Every time you pass through an office, you drop off associated business-folks, scoring more points for having more of them on your bus
- Tourists – Similar to the business professionals, you drop off any tourists when you pass through worthy sightseeing spots
Each player also has a personal objective of guiding their route through three specific stops on the map, and there are two public objectives to work towards as well. The public objectives are first-come, first-served, so don’t wait too long to cash in on those.
It’s also important for your bus line to be efficient; you cannot revisit the same intersection that you have previously, otherwise you’re out of the game entirely! Luckily you can sacrifice a few points to manipulate the route segments that you need to draw, to hopefully mitigate such a chance. But even those are finite!
Whoever has the most points after all of the bus tickets have been punched is the winner!
Staking Our C.L.A.I.M. on Get on Board: New York & London!
Although not a true roll-and-write because there aren’t any dice, it’s always nice to get some other physical components for roll-and-writes that aren’t just pen and paper. Get on Board: New York & London gives thin tokens to map out the routes along the board, and some traffic light-shaped pieces to mark the route beginnings.
Of all the colors, I do find it very interesting that IELLO went with purple and *checks notes* a slightly darker purple. I really don’t think that the two shades are different enough from each other to stand out, and people with issues perceiving color differences will undoubtedly have difficulties distinguishing these when playing with a full table.
Other than that, I love the little aesthetic touch of having the bus ticket cards be punched; that’s the kind of thoughtful component care that helps bring everything together thematically.
You may feel that you’re living at the behest of the bus tickets that are pulled each round, but Get on Board: New York & London offers plenty in the way of strategy. I personally think that the New York side is a better challenge to play on, because of the traffic mechanics. There are certain roads marked in black, which means that you have to mark off buses on your sheet to drive through them. This can lead to negative points at the end of the game.
However, it leads to a lot of interesting choices by the players, because people tend to creating the same traffic issues by navigating around the perimeter of the island. It’s a fun dynamic to consider with real-world traffic patterns, where everyone tries to avoid the congestion which thereby leads to more congestion in those previously-alleviated areas.
The nature of the gameplay – placing 1-3 pieces of route each round – allows you to consider your strategy in more manageable chunks than just analyzing the entire board and becoming overwhelmed. React to the traffic and move the bus in the best route for what you’re given.
I haven’t documented this particular game design journey on the site, but one of my game designs nearing completion has the same 50’s/Mid-century vibe present in Get on Board: New York & London. I absolutely love how Manhattan is angled on the board, and how clarity and legibility isn’t sacrificed for the sake of gameplay; both support each other equally.
I really don’t have much more to say on the aesthetics than that; it’s very inviting and fun, compelling us all to get on that bus and start driving.
Get on Board: New York & London is a board game for people who like games that feel more connected to the table than the solitaire feeling that roll-and-write games often evoke. After a few short rounds, you’ll see how the map becomes a quagmire of transportation as you attempt to navigate towards your goals.
Other games that have aspects of route-building that are similar would be any of the Railroad Ink titles, Ticket to Ride, or even something like On Tour. What sets Get on Board: New York & London apart is this combination of writing and also managing your route on the central board. It’s one of the more interesting games of the genre because of this, promising higher interaction between players than you might get otherwise.
You know when you first set out on a long drive and everything’s perfect? The route is mapped, water is cold, and your snack bags aren’t quite tempting you yet. That’s like the beginning of Get on Board: New York & London, where everyone has a clean slate. But then rush hour hits and suddenly you’re scrambling to grab a Red Vine which avoiding getting sideswiped by a guy shaving in his Camry.
You’re going to have a hard time trying to drive a perfect game, so your goal instead turns to optimizing what you can with the opportunities that present themselves to you. It feels devastating to cross out a mostly-empty row of Tourists or Business Professionals, and yet it feels equally satisfying if you can manage to get a full row together.
Practice doesn’t make perfect, but soon you’ll be able to navigate London and New York without your precious Waze and Apple Maps!
Get on Board: New York & London: All Aboard!
Get on Board: New York & London is a re-implementation of Let’s Make a Bus Route, and comparing images to the original definitely proves that this version is a major glow-up. It’s hard to call the game innovative, but it’s impossible to deny that I really enjoy the game at the same time.
Coupling easy route-building with a low barrier of time entry, Get on Board: New York & London easily gets the shiny Nerds on Earth Seal of Awesomness Award! We’re citing its quirky mid-century presentation and bite-sized strategic decisions for its ability to pull off the shelf again and again.
You can pick up a copy of Get on Board: New York & London from your FLGS, or you can pick up a copy from IELLO through Amazon.
[Disclaimer: Nerds on Earth was provided a copy of Get on Board: New York & London from Flat River Group Games in exchange for an honest review.]