Scotland Yard Junior is published in Finland by Ravensburger, and I received a free review copy from the Finnish distributor.
The game: Scotland Yard Junior by Michael Schacht, published by Ravensburger in 2015.
Elevator pitch: A new version of the old classic Scotland Yard, redesigned for children. The game has been simplified a lot and feels like a different game, yet looks like the old classic.
What’s in the box? There’s a board depicting London and various routes through the city, done in the style of classic Scotland Yard. There are also pawns, route tokens and visors, just like in the old game.
The components look nice, but are not as useful as they could be. The route tokens are a nod to the old game, but not really suitable for this game. The detectives don’t actually need them at all and for the Mister X, a set of wooden tokens would be better.
What do you do in the game? There are always two detectives and, depending on the number of players, one or two fugitives. The fugitives try to escape the detectives. On each round, the fugitives first decide where they will move by choosing a route token: that will tell where they went.
Then the detectives will move. Their goal is to guess where the fugitives are. They know where the fugitives start their moves, but nothing else.
When the detectives have done their moves, the fugitives reveal their moves. If the fugitives are caught, the detectives get one point, but if they manage to escape, they score one point.
This is repeated, until detectives get three points or the fugitives get nine points (this seems fairly balanced).
Lucky or skillful? The game is pure outguessing, so it’s mostly luck. You can’t really know where the fugitives are, or deduce anything. This is just a guessing game.
Abstract or thematic? Quite abstract, though there’s a nice layer of theme on top of it. It’s always fun to look at a map of London.
Solitaire or interactive? A thrilling chase, but how much interaction is in a game of “did you find me? no you didn’t”? Not much.
Players: 2–4. I’d say this is best with two, then with three, then with four.
Who can play? Age recommendation is 6+, which is ok. The rules are really simple and there’s hardly any strategy. Kids should be able to play this even without adults, once they know the rules.
Length: 15 minutes.
What’s to like: Simple game; looks good; there’s some logic to this.
What’s not to like: The game can be frustrating; it’s also quite repetitive.
My verdict: Scotland Yard has survived the test of time quite well. The new Junior version isn’t quite as long-lasting, I think. It’s just a guessing game, which can be frustrating, if you keep guessing wrong (or if your opponents keeps guessing correctly).
That said, it does look nice – despite some niggles with the components, where paying homage to the original has overruled usability – and plays quite unlike most other games.
Not a classic, by no means, but worth checking out, if you’re on the hunt for clever children’s games.
On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, Scotland Yard Junior gets Indifferent from me.