On The Underground is a game released last year by JKLM Games and designed by Sebastian Bleasdale. The game is played unsurprisingly on a map of the London Underground and is about the efficient construction of rail networks to score points. On a player’s turn, he does two things. First he lays up to 4 pieces of track, scoring points if he connects his network up to a mainline station, a terminus, a connection station or creating a loop in his network. Then he moves the passenger piece to one or two of four locations, with those players whose track has been used on the journey receiving points. Once the deck of passenger location cards has been exhausted, the game ends and whoever has accumulated the most points wins.
In our game, the middle of the board became congested very quickly and one of my planned routes got blocked off before my second turn. Nige seemed to be developing a nice east-west route but Mark G also had a good network in the West. Steve and Mark G seemed to have an uncanny knck of building in exactly the place the passenger wanted to move to next. Late in the game, I chose to build into the NorthEast quadrant, an area that had been previously neglected and it paid off as I managed to get my route used a few times by others. The final scores were very tight but I was just able to use my last track builds to link two connecting stations and get a final three points to take the win by a single point.
This is quite a clever game with various routes to scoring points. We all were keen to ensure the passenger didn’t use others’ routes and that dictated to a large extent our track placement. Whether concentrating more on connecting to termini would be more efficient is a possibility but none of us really chose to do this although Steve started to towards the end. The only real downside with our five player game was the downtime, which was significant. And there was little you could do to plan ahead for your next turn as things change too much on other players’ turns. Our game turned out to take the best part of two hours. I do see that this will not be an issue with fewer players and it may be that the sweet spot is with two or three players.