My first game of Scotland Yard with my brother B was disastrous. Since B wasn't familiar with the detectives' strategies, I let him be Mr X and I took on the role of four detectives, supposedly only slightly in favour of Mr X.
Due to some wrong movements, I got only three detectives closing on him early on, and he slipped away rather easily. I never recovered from that.
This time, I played with five detectives and resolved not to make the same mistakes.
First, the transcript:
Move Mr X Red Yell Blue Gree Whit
0 138 13 141 50 53 197
1 t152 b 23 t142 t 37 t 69 t184
2 t138 b 67 b128 t 23 t 86 b153
r 3 t150 u111 u140 b 67 b102 b180
5 t166 b124 b153 u111 b127 t165
6 t181 b 77 b184 b124 b133 b180
7 t182 t 95 t185 b111 b140 t193
r 8 t183 t122 t184 u153 t156 t194
9 t182 b123 t185 b154 t155 t195
10 t181 t165 t184 b153 t168 t197
11 t193 t150 b185 t152 t167 t196
12 t180 t149 b157 t153 t183 t184
r 13 t165
14 x154 t123 b185 b180 t166 b153
15 x150 b122 b184 t193 t181 u111
16 x138 t146 b153 t194 t180 b124
17 t150 t163 t166 t193 b165 b123
r 18 t138 u111 t151 t180 b191 t149
b = bus, t = taxi, u = underground, x = black, blank = 2x move
I got Mr X's movement after the game, of course.
Since I'm controlling all five detectives, I placed the tickets side by side. It's easy to take the tickets from the wrong detective! I did it a few times and had to use the transcript to get back the correct count. This is very important, because near the end, the detectives are running low on tickets and a wrong count could mean a detective is stuck for good (happened in the first game). I saw a BGG image where a color mat is used for each detective. Good idea, I'm going to do that!
Most of the detectives made it to underground stations or bus stops on their second turn. I made a mistake in my first game that I moved onto underground stations on the first turn, hence some detectives weren't able to close in quickly on the third turn. And not just any bus stop, but bus stops that can move more than one stop.
Even so, I only managed to get four detectives to close in. One was rather far away. This is the variable part. If only four detectives were in play and only three managed to close in, then Mr X will slip away. If all four managed to close in, then it's 50-50.
The mid-game dragged because I refused to move in. My net just wasn't tight enough. I guarded the easy exits where he could disappear; I wasn't afraid if he took bus or underground as long as it's traceable. I noted that Mr X could slip away by the river and hence I was guarding either the source or the destination. You can see the Yellow detective moving around the same stop. That wasted a lot of Yellow's tickets.
At turn 14, I saw that the net was still tight, but whether I could catch Mr X is a good question -- the detectives were running low on tickets, especially those who never take the underground. It's important to take the underground once or twice!
The lack of tickets also means that it's almost impossible to regroup. Before I played the game, I thought the detectives had several chances to regroup if they let Mr X slip away. Not so.
A side note. B used taxi alot in his first game (and this game as well). That made it hard for me to find him. Since Mr X starts with 4 taxis, I attempted to deprive him by trying not taking taxis early on. Didn't work; some of my detectives had to use taxi on their first few turns. It'll be cool if Mr X gets deprived of one transport, though.
After the game, B said he moved wrongly on the first move, that's why he was trapped throughout the game.
After this game, we are not likely to play Scotland Yard very much, mainly due to the time. I don't know how anyone can finish the game in 45 minutes, unless Mr X plays poorly. My first game with B took almost four hours! I convinced him this would be a faster game because I would catch him way before 24 turns. It took a little under three hours.
One reason why the game took so long was because I wanted to emphasize the deductive aspect of the game. The two to three turns after Mr X surfaced are the meat of the game. To help me, I put markers to indicate where Mr X could be. The markers are updated after Mr X's move. This is a deductive game, not a memory game, after all.
Me and the wife borrowed this and have been playing quite a bit. We play with 3 detectives and you're right it's hard to get Mr. X. We always finish in less than an hour. I can't see why it would take so long. Fun game for what it is, but it can be really hard to get Mr. X if played well.