Richard van Vugt
O no, not yet another route game! Nevertheless this is exactly what we have here. In the wake of the success of 'Ticket To Ride' and its German nephew 'Thurn und Taxis' it is the London Underground that serves as platform for this route building game. Technically everything goes along the same lines: laying track and scoring points. The assignment cards have been replaced by destination cards from which four are laid open. A general token travels each player turn to the nearest gold coloured location, preferably not on foot and with as little changes on the underground line. Whenever this destination is reached, another location is picked from up to four blank locations, under the prerequisite that these colored destinations are available among the four cards, that are resupplied to four after each player turn in which or two destinations have been reached. The travvelled route scores points: one point for each continuous chain of track of each player that the token has used in reaching the destination. in a turn a player may build up to four track in one of his player colours; dependant on the amount of players he has two, three or four colours available to him. Once started with a colour, all track of the same colour must be connected to this track. Bonuses may be earned by reaching terminals, important junctions, or the joining of two similar symbols. Twines may be used but these must first be earned in other actions. When the card pile is depleted and all locations have been visited, the game ends and the player with the most points has won.
'On The Underground' has more than one resemblance with 'Ticket To Ride', Clippers' and 'Santa Fé Rails', all by Alan Moon, that this almost makes it plagiarism. It must be said, however, that with the series of route games that Alan Moon published he has copied himself numerous times. 'On The Underground' plays somewhat more grinding in a way, as there is more finding out how the token will travel within the system of the underground. It is not that inventing and publishing games of this type solely is the territory of Alan Moon; it's just that enough of these games already have been published. Despite the fact that this game is quite enjoyable to play, we expect smaller publishers to be more inventive in the kind of games they publish, making a difference from the larger publishers. Instead we are treated with the same middle of the road game we have seen many times before.
'On The Underground' has more than one resemblance with 'Ticket To Ride', Clippers' and 'Santa Fé Rails', all by Alan Moon, that this almost makes it plagiarism. It must be said, however, that with the series of route games that Alan Moon published he has copied himself numerous times. It is not that inventing and publishing games of this type solely is the territory of Alan Moon; it's just that enough of these games already have been published.
I decided that I wouldn't respond to negative comments, and I'll try not to do so here. However I thought may be interesting to outline why, having played the games you mentioned above, I still spent the effort to design On the Underground.
The reason is quite simple - after a game of British Rails, I was travelling home on the Underground, I started thinking about adapting the system to the London Underground. And the more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that there was no system which did the Underground, or indeed, metro systems in general, justice. In particular, none satisfied all of the following:
a) Caring about which lines were connected to which. When you're travelling in a city, it's cruical what lines connect to which. However, the majority of train lines only care about connections when someone else blocks you.
b) Had a building lines as the central mechanism. 'Ticket to Ride', 'Union Pacific', et al are great games, but the building lines always felt secondary to the main mechanic - collecting sets in TTR, share dealing in UP, and so on.
c) Had a system that could be changed so that the resulting game board actually like the Underground. This is a personal thing, but I really like building up something that looks like the real rail network.
Now the Underground system always seemed to me to be a great network to design a game around - full of interconnections and twists and turns, and it felt wrong that no-one had taken the time to design a game which did the network justice. So I took it on myself to try to design such a game. Fortuantely my efforts were more successful that I had dared hope when I started designing it; and the people I played it with persuaded me I should try to get it published. On the Underground is the result and I'm very happy with how it's turned out.
Sebastian, I think you did a great job designing this game. While it does have it's obvious similarities to TTR and the other rail games, I think that's just inherent with the theme.
I just played this game for the first time at BGG.Con this weekend and must say that thoroughly enjoyed the game. I think the game is pretty well balanced in that there are plenty of opportunities to block other people's routes while at the same time allowing each player to attempt to capitalize off the other players rail systems.
I like the passenger, even though it drives me crazy that he would rather ride around the entire tube system for a few hours rather than walk ten minutes down the street.
I think my favorite aspect of the game is the immediate use of the routes from the face up cards rather than collecting them in one's hand. That way all players have to keep the possible route selections in mind to make sure they are building routes that will hopefully benefit them in the future, rather than being completely concerned with the immediate routes only.
Are you planning on adding any types of expansions to the game, such as incorporating part of the outlying BritRail system?
Good job, I'm looking to seeing more from you in the future.
I see virtually NO similarity with Ticket to Ride.
TtR: Need to connect specific endpoints by drawing cards matching route colors.
otU: Can play ALMOST anywhere you want.
TtR: You can't place trains until you collect enough random cards to match a section of track.
otU: You can play track every turn.
TtR: Train theme is fake.
otU: You are actively trying to position yourself to move a passenger around between points of interest.
TtR: You score for each track section played, for connecting specific endpoints, and for longest train.
otU: 5 ways to score, including having the passenger use your lines.
You need to look more carefully at a game before accusing it of plagiarism.