CABBIE - Reviewed by Mike

Category/Format: Fun/Boardgame

Beautifully illustrated game published in the 1970's by Intellect Games, which provides great fun for families but which will probably not appeal to 'proper' gamers as there is not a great deal of strategy in it. The detail of the mapboard showing the streets of Central London and the famous sites of the capital is a joy to behold.

This was one of the first games to break the mould of 'roll a dice, move a dobber, pay/collect money' genre. In this game there are no dice as players get to move 20 squares each turn with their cab in an effort to pick up passengers and take them to their destination. For achieving this they receive a fixed fare derived from a calculation table, plus a variable Tip, which is determined by turning over the top card from a pack of Tip cards.

From the deck of 47 Passengers there are always 5 Passengers awaiting pick up at any time and there are 30 different Destinations that they can go to, so there are plenty of variations in the game. Having obtained a Fare the player must then work out the best route to deliver them to their Destination in the quickest time by studying the street map and avoiding the common traffic jam areas. There are 6 of these and every round a Traffic Jam card is turned over which depicts where the jams occur for that round, which is normally in 2 different locations . It may just happen that for 3 successive turns there is a jam at say, Marble Arch, and if you've chosen that route then tough luck, you're stuck !!

In the early stages players can only operate one cab so once a fare is 'on board' they cannot pick up another Passenger. Players start with no money and the first milestone is to achieve 3 in cash, which they hand over to enable them to run a second cab. However the 20 squares of movement must be split between the 2 cabs, with one of them going at least 5 squares. This can lead to some blocking tactics as players finish their move of one cab on a crossroads, deliberately impeding the path of an opponents cab coming from another direction. They complete their 20 squares by using the remainder on the other cab. With 6 players and 12 cabs on the go the effect can be quite realistic.

One other thing to point out is that the 5 Passengers are represented by cards with Street names on them, such as Baker Street, Oxford Street, London Wall, Birdcage Walk etc. and these are visible by all players. When player's cabs are empty and they are looking for a fare it is the first one to enter the relevant Street name that can claim it. Oxford Street is a long street and traffic can drive through it in both directions. So Player A could be heading towards it from the South intending to pick it up when in their turn Player B drops a fare at Baker Street and, using the remaining squares of their move, turn the corner and pick up Oxford Street ! The fact that the Passenger cards are face up means that another Passenger is immediately displayed to replace the one just taken, but that could be in the City, such as Aldersgate or Bishopsgate, several squares away, no good for Player A.

This all adds to the fun and the game continues in this fashion until one player has amassed 10, or an agreed time limit has expired. I've seen the game have some close finishes with several players over 9 waiting to drop off their current fare, only to be held up in jams. There may even be one player on 8.50 who has got the longest trip on the board (Paddington to the Tower of London or vice versa) in their cab, which pays 1.50 plus a tip, so even they could win it.

The game is very difficult to find these days but worth buying if you do spot it..and don't forget a tip !

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