diamond geezer

 Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tubewatch (34) The London Game
When I was little, almost certainly about 7, my favourite board game was all about the Underground. It was called, with staggering originality, The London Game, and it involved moving around a central tube map and visiting places. This webpage here took me right back. Being 1972 there was a chap with a bowler hat on the front of the box, and a girl in a bright orange dress feeding the pigeons, but I can forgive that now. The game came with thirty 'Souvenir' cards, with each player shuffled six they had to visit (in any order) to win. Venues as diverse as the Post Office Tower (Warren Street) and Lord's Cricket Ground (St John's Wood) were included, not places the average 7 year old visited regularly and thus imbued with a certain metropolitan mystique. Over and above rolling the dice to get around, the game had two strategic strengths. First you could block off certain stations with counters so that your opponents couldn't pass through until they threw a 6. And second, every time you changed line you had to pick a Hazard card. Sometimes these were nice ("You are a model visitor. Take three consecutive turns") and sometimes not ("Seized by a compulsion. You long to visit Drayton Park. Go there at once."). A simple enough game, but the semi-complexity of the London tube map made it very satisfying to play. I probably made the rest of my family play too often, but they got their own back by not letting me win too often. Thirty-something years later they remembered how much I liked the game and bought me the new edition, in full 21st century colour. It's pretty faithful to the original, although the Jubilee line's now included and the Post Office Tower has a new name. Great stuff. Although still not quite as good as the Great Game of Britain. Since I was little, almost certainly about 8, my favourite board game's been all about British Rail. Sssh.

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