Updated: Jun 21
WBG Score: 8
Player Count: 2-5
Published by: IELLO
Designed by: Saashi
Get on Board was designed by Saashi and is a reimplementation his cult success Let's Make a Bus Route, which was a hugely popular game (within certain circles) in 2018. Saashi's games have a unique style, beautiful functionality, and are adored by most of those that play them. Get on Board delivers on all these levels too, lets get it to the table and see how it plays.
How To Set Up Get On Board: London & New York
First, you need to decide which board to use based on player count. If you have 2-3 players, then use the New York side.
If you have 4-5 players, then use the larger, London side of the board.
Then, give each player all the route markers of their colour, a departure board, sheet, and pencil. Shuffle the six common objective cards and place two face up on the board. Next shuffle the five personal objective cards specific to the side of the board you are playing and deal one to each player. Then shuffle all bus tickets cards when using the London side of the board, or just card one to six for the New York side. Deal two to each player face down. Players must chose one and place their departure pawn onto the traffic light at the intersection whose number is shown on the ticket they chose. Then take all 12 bus tickets back, shuffle them up again, and place them face down on the board. Give the oldest player the Inspector pawn, which acts as the first player marker, and you are ready to go.
How to Play Get On Board: London & New York
There are 12 rounds to a game of Get on Board and each round has four phases. The first is New Bus Ticket. At this point, the Inspector will flip the top bus ticket and place it face up for all to see. Each player will now have to mark off one of the 12 coloured boxes on the top of their player sheet, matching the colour and number of the ticket just flipped.
Players will then move to the second phase where they will Plot their routes. This is the main part of the game and is split into two parts. Placing your route markers down, then getting on the bus.
When placing your route markers down, you must follow a few simple rules. You must follow the shape of the route required by the ticket chosen this round, either a straight line, one turn, or two turns. You can only place one marker per road. Your route must begin where your previous route ended, or for the first round, where your departure pawn is. You can only place the number of markers shown on your sheet. You can never double back on yourself.
If you cross a road with another players markers on you must mark a space on the bottom left of your sheet showing a traffic jam. When playing on New York, the black roads act as a traffic jam to make up for the reduced player count. If you end on a space with a green light, you can add one more marker in any direction. If you reach an interaction you have already been at, your turns immediately ends, and, get this, you are eliminated from the game! I know, harsh right. But don't worry, it is easily avoidable.
If you want to add or reduce the amount of turns to optimise your turn, you can do so by marking of a space in your turn zone, the top right red section on your sheet. This will add flexibility to your turn, but add negative points to your end game scoring. And can only be done a maximum of five times.
Once this is done, it is time to move onto the Board Bus phase. This is where all the people and places you have moved though in the previous phase, come on board your bus or are marked off your route. For each of the four symbols of passengers your bus moved through this round, mark of one space of the matching image on your player sheet. You picked them up, they are now on your bus.
For the blue and purple spaces, if you have reached the specific building that matches that colour, you will drop off those passengers. Score points depending on how many of those passengers were on your bus at that point. Based on the number shown on the sheet below the furthest right passenger you had marked off. Scratch off any remaining passengers you didn't pick up on the row, that bus is now at its destination and parked, and will score that amount. You will now start another bus for that colour.
The purple area also provides bonus passengers, shown on the sheet. In addition to the points you gain when a bus is parked, you can also mark off one additional passengers as shown elsewhere on your sheet.
Finally, on each map, there are four sightseeing spots, one of each type and colour. They are marked on the board with stars and a coloured background. When you reach one of these spaces write the number of passengers of the matching colour that you currently have on your sheet into this space. You will score the highest number at the end of the game.
The third phase reminds players to check to see if they have competed any common objectives. You get a maximum of ten points for these if you are the first player to complete them. Then in the forth phase, pass the Inspector token one space, and move onto the next round.
After the 12th round, add all your negative points from any crossed off spaces in your Turn Zone in the top right of your board. Then add any crossed off spaces from the orange column on the left of your sheet. Then multiply the number of crossed off student icons in the yellow area of your sheet by the number of crossed off University building spaces. Add these to any points gained from the yellow sightseeing spot. For the blue sightseeing spots, you will gain points equal to the higher of the two values you have here. Add any points from the purple parked buses area, and half the points from any rows without points in the rightmost space (as you didn't finish them). Add all these points to any you gained from the common objectives, and your personal objective, and remove any negative points from Traffic Jams, and that will be your final score.
This sounds a lot, but after you have played it once, it will all make perfect sense.
Is this Fun? - Get On Board: London & New York Board Game Review
Playing Get on Board is so simple, but it feels full of strategy. Flip a card, move the appropriate amount of spaces and turns. Mark off the buildings you went by and the people you picked up. That's it. A turn can take just a few moments. It sounds like a lot above I am sure, but when you play, it really isn't, and a game can fly by in a few minutes. BGG suggests 30 minutes, I would say half that once you get used to the game and are playing with others who understand it too. And this is a joy. Quick games, with multiple ways to score, and a decent amount of strategy, that are fun to play, are not always forthcoming it seems. One of those areas usually has to be sacrificed. But Get on Board delivers for all four in a huge way.
With games like this, I want to feel I am making tough choices. I want to agonise between this way or that. Picking up that passenger to move on that track, or aim for that building to push on this one. Get on Board brings these decision to the table almost every turn. It is hard to score well in every area. The objective cards will push you in one direction (literally) whereas your own strategy may make you lean another way. This is what makes games like this great for me. It's fun to make these decisions and have your success of failure rest on them.
Moving over the letter spaces on your personal objective will score you 10 points. It may be that this route helps you out in other scoring areas too. But you can see how much they pull you around most of the board. I have found that players tend to go for this objective about 50% of the time. When it suits the rest of their strategy it can be a good way to score big points. But when it doesn't, it can be too much of a detour or distraction.
The shared objectives work towards picking up multiple numbers of a certain passenger. Again, this may suit your overall strategy or not. It can depend on the order of the bus tickets, in that if you head towards a few of a certain type early on, this may then encourage you to focus on that as a mid/late game goal. But you need to be flexible and adaptable in your strategy for this game. There are so many ways to score. If another player gets in your way, you could stay focused on your primary goal and score negative points for causing a traffic jam; or turn down another road, avoid those minus points and try for a different scoring route.
Overall, I would say that Get on Board is a very good game. Sure, it joins a very busy area of the hobby. There are so many good flip-and-write or roll-and-write games out there, you could easily pick 10 or 20 as being essential. Or you could also avoid many of these, just buy pone or two and be done. It could come down to theme. Do you want to study Dinosaurs? Would you rather fight of invading Picts? Or does a journey to the stars suit you more? Or perhaps planning a bus route is the perfect theme for you. Or, like me, you just love these games so much you want them all! I can find a place for all of these, and many (many) more in my collection. Sure, the mechanics are similar, but they all feel very different to me. The experiences are all unique. They are all good. And they will all get played a lot in my household.