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Rules to Play the Scotland Yard Board Game. It's Real Fun!

Rules to Play Scotland Yard Board Game
Scotland Yard is a highly popular board game meant for 3 or more players who are ideally 8 years old or more. The game requires a good amount of physical and verbal interaction amongst the players, and is a great option to build the analytical skills of young children. Let's have a look at how to play the Scotland Yard board game, and the preparation that is needed for this.
Anuj Mudaliar
Last Updated: Dec 10, 2017
Did You Know?
The Scotland Yard board game was created by Ravensburger Spieleverlag GmbH, a German game company, in 1983, and won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres (German Game of the Year) Award in the same year.

Scotland Yard is a pursuit-evasion game which is produced by Ravensburger across Europe, and by Milton Bradley in the United States. In this game, a team of players, as police detectives, attempt to track down a player, as a criminal, on a board representing the map of London. The players must make use of a number of tactics, strategies, and bluffing, to achieve their objectives.
Game Objective
The goal of the detectives is to work as a team to corner and catch Mr. X, by moving to the same spot on the board where Mr. X is currently hiding. Mr. X, on the other hand, has to evade capture until all the detectives run out of their transport tickets and cannot make anymore movements.
Contents in Game Box
  • Game Board, 1
  • Player Counters, 6
  • Starting Station Cards, 18
  • Fare Tickets, 125 (54 Taxi Tickets, 43 Bus Tickets, 23 Underground Tickets, and 5 Black Tickets)
  • Double-move Tickets, 2
  • Travel Log, 1
  1. Players first have to decide which one of them will play the role of Mr. X. All the others will then have to play detectives.
  2. Next, all the game pieces are to be distributed as follows:
    Mr. X gets:
    • The colorless player counter
    • The travel log
    • Taxi tickets, 4
    • Bus tickets, 3
    • Underground tickets, 3
    • Double-move tickets, 2
    • Black tickets, equal to the number of detectives
    • A pen/pencil to note down his moves
    Each detective gets:
    • Colored player counter, 1
    • Taxi tickets, 10
    • Bus tickets, 8
    • Underground tickets, 4
  3. The Starting station cards are shuffled and placed face-down, and each player chooses a card from the pile. The number on the player's card will determine his/her starting position on the board. After setting their pieces on the board, the detectives will put their cards back into the box.
Important: Mr. X must not put his colorless player counter on the game board, and must keep his starting position a secret. He must also keep his card concealed from the other players.
How to Play
Scotland Yard board game rules state that Mr. X always gets the first turn. He is then followed by the detectives in a clockwise order. Each player must give up a travel ticket whenever they make a move. While Mr. X notes his moves in the travel log, the detectives must move their pieces on the board.
Basic Movements
Any move by a player should be a trip by bus, taxi, or underground, and each move should be paid for with an appropriate ticket. The different colored lines match the colors of the respective tickets and show the direction of movement depending on the mode of transport used. Every stop may have one or more color signals, depicting the transport options originating or terminating at that spot. Each move must advance to the next station of the selected mode of transport. You are not allowed to jump off on your way to a destination.
Moves for Mr. X
Mr. X gets the first turn in every round. He must note down the number of his stop in the travel log, and cover the number with the travel ticket he has used for his turn. This way, the detectives only learn about the mode of transport used, but not the actual location of Mr. X.
Moves for Detectives
After Mr. X, each detective makes their move using a travel ticket, to get to the next stop of the selected mode of transport. All used tickets will be given to Mr. X. He should be able to see the transport tickets of the detectives at all times.
Important: The detectives have a limited number of travel tickets. If a detective uses his/her stock of a particular type of transport ticket, he/she cannot use that mode of transport anymore.
Mr. X Reveals His Position
Mr. X has to reveal his position at the 3rd, 8th, 13th, and 18th round of the game. During this move, he has to note down his stop, place his travel ticket on the note, and keep the colorless player counter on the stop he has moved to. This is the detective's best chance to corner him, as he will again disappear in the next round.
Special Moves of Mr. X
Using Black Tickets: This is an extremely useful trick which Mr. X can use to evade arrest, and is dreaded by all detectives, because they do not know which mode of transport has been chosen by him. Black tickets can be used in place of the other tickets any time during the game. They are valid on all forms of transport, and can even be used to access the river transport system of the Thames, which can't be used by the detectives.
Double Move: Mr. X can use a double-move ticket at any time of the game to move two stops in a single turn. This move can be used with any combination of travel modes available at the stops. The player must note down the numbers of both stops and place two travel tickets over the notes. In case Mr. X chooses to use the double-move ticket in a round where he has to reveal his position, he must reveal his position only on the first stop, but should conceal the location of the second from the detectives.
End of Play
The game ends with either of the following scenarios:
  • Scenario No.1: A detective lands on the spot where Mr. X is currently located. If this happens, Mr. X must declare his position. The detectives win and Mr. X loses.
  • Scenario No. 2: All escape routes around Mr. X are blocked by the detectives. In this case too, the detectives win and Mr. X loses.
  • Scenario No.3: The detectives can't move due to lack of appropriate transport tickets, or Mr. X manages to evade them till round 22. In this scenario, Mr. X wins and the detectives lose.
Important Points of the Game
  • No two detectives can land on the same stop at the same time.
  • All players are allowed to travel on a route and back to their previous position. However, the return trip has to be done during the next round with a new travel ticket.
  • Detectives are not allowed to transfer or exchange tickets with each other. They must play with only those tickets that were given to them at the start of the game.
  • Detectives cannot change the order of their moves any time during the game.
  • If a detective runs out of moves, the game continues with the remaining detectives trying to catch Mr. X.
  • Detectives are encouraged to discuss their strategy amongst themselves, so as to surround and capture Mr. X.
  • Black tickets are best used by Mr. X after revealing his position, or in a situation where the detectives are too close for comfort.
Instructions for 3-player Version
In case Mr. X has only 2 opponents to play against, each of these opponents will have 2 detectives to play with. They get 2 player counters each, and double the number of travel tickets divided equally between them. Mr. X will get 4 black tickets. All other rules remain the same.
These were all the rules of the Scotland Yard board game that you need to know and get started. So gather with friends and family, and have a blast.