WBG Score: 7.5
Player Count: 1-4
Published by: Blue Orange (EU)
Designed by: Matthew Dunstan
Next Station London is a game that simulates the experience of building the London Underground routes for the first time. Can you improve on the iconic transportation icon of the UK's capital city? Let's get it to the table to find out.
To play the game, each player starts with one map of London playing sheet and a pencil. In a three player game, there will be one pencil left. Place this on the table between any two of the players. In a two player game place the two remaining pencils to the left of both players. You are now ready to play. Shuffle the station cards and place them face down on the table.
How To Play
The game plays over four rounds, one for each of the coloured pencils. To start the game, players will find their starting stations. This will be a station matching the colour of the pencil in their hand. One player acting as the 'Controller,' will then flip the top station card over so that it is visible to all players. All players then must draw a line from their station, out to meet a station matching the current face up station card, following one of the grey potential routes on the map. The next card is flipped and now you can build out from either end of your current line.
When the Controller flips over the fifth pink or yellow underground card, this will be the end of the round. Any unflipped cards are ignored for this round. Players will draw one final line, and then this round is scored. Scoring is a little confusing at first and hard to teach but quickly becomes second nature"
Each line that you have drawn will score points based on three areas. First, the route it takes, scoring one point for each district your line passes through. Districts are shown by the nine main squares on the map, plus the four smaller ones in the four corners of the map. You will also score one point for each station your line passes through in the one district in which you have the most accessed stations. Second, you will score two points for each occasion on which your line passes through the central River Thames that crosses the middle of the map. Multiply the scores from the first two areas for your districts and most station together and add on your river score, to get your final round score.
Finally, you will score points for each tourist spot that you line visits. Tourist sites have the outer sun symbol on, with an empty circle inside. Each time you go through one of these you can cross off one circle on your tourist track on the bottom on your sheet. This will score you additional points at the end of the game.
You will now get ready for the next round by switching pencils, placing them to the left, changing who will be the controller, shuffling up the stations cards and going again. After the fourth round, you will skip this and move to final scoring.
Add all the points scored from the four lines you draw across the last four rounds. Then find your score on the tourist track and add this to it. And finally, add up the points scored for your interchange stations. These are any stations where you have more than one line coming in or out of it. You will get two points for each station with two lines. Five for those with three lines. And nine points for those with all four connected. Add all these together for your final score.
There are joker cards that will be flipped that allow you to connect to any station. A switch card that allows you to branch off from existing lines to new stations. Basically creating the Northern line! And a number of advanced modules to keep the game fresh. You can either add the shared objective cards that add two common goals for all players to aim towards for the duration of the game, chosen at random from a deck of five cards during set up. This will score each player ten additional points for each objective achieved. Or, you can add in the Pencil Power cards. These bring in a specific one-time use power linked to each of the four coloured pencils. You can either draw two lines linked to the same shape on one turn, treat the station you are working on as a joker, or as a switch card allowing you to draw a branching station, or circle on station which will now count as two stations instead of one when counting the points at the end of the round. All of them are easy to add, either separately or together.
Is It Fun?
Next Station London is a fantastic flip-and-write game. It ticks all the boxes that a game in this category should. Small, portable, quick and simple to teach and play, but full of interesting choices. It is simple but addictive. Relaxing but consuming. Next Station London works great in solo, or any of the player counts. What you do will not ever have an impact on any other player. It's just a challenge to see who can get the most points. So, player count will not affect the game length or experience that much, other than teaching new players the rules, and the obligatory post-game banter section.
If you enjoy games using this mechanic, chances are you will enjoy this game a lot. Although, saying that, it is also probably very likely you will have a game similar to this in your collection already. So, the question is; should you buy this game? I would suggest yes. It is different enough in theme and gameplay to fit in my bulging flip-and-write collection. And offers something fresh that will get it to the table in high numbers. I love the London underground theme. Being someone that commutes to London every day, but avoids the Tube like the plague, it's nice to create my own underground map. And not have to go down there myself! I like the sense of calm this game brings to me as I play it. And despite the fact that I am simply drawing lines on a piece of paper, I am always quite strangely proud of the end results. The coloured lines look more impressive to me than they should. Good or bad score, I am always left knowing I had a good time playing, and with a new, colourful, unique take on the London tube map to cherish.