Get on Board: New York and London
Hurry up! You don’t want to miss the bus – and all the interesting characters on it.
In Get on Board, you’ll have 12 rounds to build the best bus route in the city. Get each passenger type where they want to go and avoid traffic. And don’t forget your private location goals!
Between 2-5 players drive their buses in this game designed by Saashi and published by Iello (distributed in the US by Flat River Games).
Each side of the board represents a city layout. The compact New York map is best for two or three players, while busy London is used in a 4-5 player game.
Each player chooses a color and takes their route markers. Every player gets a scoresheet with a slightly different top row.
Two common objectives go out on the board; each one depicts either five of a single passenger type, or three of a specific location type. The first player(s) to accumulate these on their scoresheet will get ten points; after that, they’ll be worth only six points.
Every player gets a secret, personal objective. This shows three intersections on the map that they’ll try to touch.
Finally, each player gets a choice of two intersections where they can start their route.
How to Play
Each round, the Inspector flips the next Bus Ticket card. Players cross off the corresponding ticket at the top row of their scoresheet, showing the shape of the route they can place this turn.
Then everyone takes a turn placing route markers on the board. Each player must place the number of segments shown on their scoresheet, starting at the intersection where they ended their last turn.
Placing Route Segments
The scoresheet shows not only the number of segments (1, 2, or 3), but also the number of turns that should be in that portion of the route. You do not have to follow the number of turns as specified, but any time you go straight when you should be turning (or turn when you should go straight), you’ll take a penalty.
No matter what the turning requirements are, you can never double back to an intersection or cross your own route. If you do, you’ll immediately be eliminated from the game.
As a conscientious bus driver, you’ll also want to avoid traffic jams when possible. If you place a route segment where there are already other segments in place (or on a permanent traffic jam in the New York map), you cross off buses in the Traffic section of your scoresheet (according to how many markers are already placed on that road).
The penalties here start very small, but they can still add up. If your bus is constantly stuck in traffic, why should anyone choose to ride it?
However, there is one type of bonus move available. End your turn at a traffic light to get a bonus segment to place: you hit a green light and can go a little farther along your bus route!
Scoring During Turns
After you place your route segments on your turn, score for the intersections you visited.
Grannies (AKA senior citizens), Students, and Schools are simple. If you visited one of these, cross off the next one on your scoresheet.
Tourists or Businessmen are slightly more complex. Mark the next person to the right in the highest row that hasn’t been scored yet.
Tourists will all get off the bus when you visit a Monument or a Museum. Check the point value under the farthest right tourist (in the highest row that hasn’t been scored yet). Write that score at the end of the row. Your next tourist picked up will go on the next line down. If you haven’t added any tourists to your current row yet, visiting a tourist location does nothing.
Visit an office building? Score your next row of businessmen. They score by row the same way as the tourists do, but businessmen also give you a bonus passenger (a senior citizen, a customer tourist, or an interning student), indicated next to the column score. This is a great way to meet those common objectives that involve passengers!
There are a few buildings – one of each of the four types – with names and stars on the map. Visiting one of these works just like other buildings of that type, but with an additional bonus, equal to your current number of passengers of that type.
Don’t forget to check common objectives at the end of your turn – if you’ve collected your fifth passenger or third building in the required type, you’ll score that, too.
After everyone has played their route and scored for this round’s destinations, the Inspector token passes to the next player. They flip any scored common objectives to their lower point value, then flip the next Bus Ticket card to start the next round.
The game ends once all twelve Bus Tickets have been used.
End of Game Scoring
Grannies score individually, each one has a point value (increasing as you pick up more of them). They don’t care where the bus goes, but they like to chat with their friends.
Schools want their Students to have reliable transportation. Multiply your crossed off students by the number of schools you visited.
Hopefully you delivered all the Tourists and Businessmen to their destinations. If you have any “leftover”, their rows score half of the points they would have scored.
Add up all of these with your starred buildings, objective scores, and the penalties in the Turn Zone and the Traffic Jams to get your final score.
For the seasoned gamer, Get on Board takes familiar game mechanics and combines them together in a new way. I’m a fan of both route-building and flip-and-write games, and Get on Board feels like it combines the best of both.
You’re creating your bus line on a map that all the players share – and you are discouraged from duplicating routes as much as possible. But unlike Ticket to Ride, another player can never block you from going where you want to go, keeping the game only lightly competitive.
Most of the “action” is on the individual scoresheets, with lots of different ways to get (and lose!) points. Your choices of which points to go for probably don’t interest the other players, but you are still all racing to complete certain goals first. Every player gets exactly the same opportunities. But unlike Welcome To…, each player sheet is slightly different, so no one is placing exactly the same combination of route segments on any particular turn.
Although the 1950s-style art from Monsieur Z is delightful, there’s a lot going on in Get on Board. Both the board and the player sheets are very full.
The board follows a logical city grid and highlights the important information while muting the non-essentials.
The scoresheet has eight distinct sections, each clearly separate from the rest. This lets players focus on one type at a time.
Each of these sections has a place for its own subtotal. But unfortunately, there’s no central place to gather all the subtotals and add them in a simple column or row.
I also have a personal vendetta against serpentine scoreboards, which appear here only in the Traffic Jam area. It fits with the theme of the bus weaving back and forth. But it’s inconsistent when everywhere else we’re scoring from left to right! More than one player found themselves crossing off the “wrong” bus in the second row.
A Friendly Family Game
Get on Board is a friendly game that’s never left us feeling jealous or unlucky. It’s always exactly 12 rounds, and players average only two route segments on a turn, so the game moves quickly.
Unfortunately, like many other route-building games, it can start to feel repetitive after just a few plays. The objectives and randomized starting spaces help with this, but there aren’t enough to make a big difference. There are only five personal objectives for each board and six common objectives to choose from.
The recommended age range on the box is 8+, and that feels about right. Although there’s very little reading and no complicated math, there’s too much going on here for younger kids to follow it all.
But if you’re looking for a light, pleasant game that will have players cheering as their favorite number comes up (and groaning when it doesn’t), Get on Board is a great choice.
Find it on Amazon or ask for it at your local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Get on Board from Flat River Group for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Get on Board
Age Range: 8+
Number of Players: 2-5
Playtime: 30 minutes