On Tour

The game: On Tour by Chad DeShon. The game was published by BoardGameTables.com in 2019 after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

I received a review copy of the game from BoardGameTables.com.

Elevator pitch: A lavishly produced roll and write game where you plan a tour of United States for your band.

What’s in the box? A big box contains gorgeous components. BoardGameTables.com makes board game tables, essentially a luxury item, and the same luxury is obvious here. The dice in this game are huge, the player boards big and beautiful, the cards large and well-illustrated.

The box is way too big for the game, but starts to make sense when you realize the game has no upper limit for player count. You can fit up to eight extra player boards (sold separately) in the box, turning this from a 1–4 player game to a 1–12 player game. At that point, the box size is easier to accept.

What do you do in the game? Every turn the dice are rolled to generate two numbers: a die roll of 1 and 4 generates 14 and 41, for example. Those numbers are written on the player boards, which depict a map of United States with 41 states on them (some smaller states have been combined).

Cards dictate where you can write the numbers. Each round three cards are drawn and you choose two of those cards, one for each number. Cards have one state and an area (North, South, Western, Central, Eastern). When you choose a card, you can choose a state from that area freely – but if you choose the state in the card, you get to circle it, which makes it worth two points instead of just one.

If doubles are rolled or all three cards show the same area, that means players can put a star in a state.

This is repeated until the boards are filled up with numbers. Then the boards are scored: player’s score is the length of the longest continuous route where each state has the same or a bigger number than the previous state. Starred states are wild. Your final score is the number of states in your longest route plus the number of circled states on that route.

Lucky or skillful? The numbers and cards are random, so of course there’s a plenty of random elements involved in the game. However, everybody gets the same numbers and cards, so it’s up to you how you use them. There’s skill involved: I managed to more than double my score between my first two games, just by understanding the game better on the second go.

You still have to make decisions based on information you don’t have, so there’s no way to know how good those decisions are beforehand.

Abstract or thematic? All the components ooze theme, so I’d say it’s pretty solid for a game that’s essentially an abstract number-manipulation game.

Solitaire or interactive? No interaction whatsoever. This is pure multiplayer solitaire, there’s no interaction between players and no theoretical limits on the number of players.

Players: 1–4, but with more boards (or printed maps) you can add as many players as you wish.

Who can play? The publisher age recommendation is 10+ and I feel that is pretty good. The rules are really simple, that’s not a problem, but doing well requires a bit of advanced forward planning, otherwise the game will just feel really random and opaque.

What’s to like: For roll and writes, getting that “I want to try again” feeling is crucial. On Tour succeeds there: doing well is hard enough that the best way to play is not obvious and you can keep on improving your score. The game looks very attractive and is guaranteed to draw attention.

What’s not to like: The box is very big for a light filler like this. If you’re not a fan of roll and write games, this game won’t likely change your mind.

My verdict: I’m not a big fan of the genre, but the production values attracted me to give On Tour a go. The game certainly looks very impressive. I found the game a solid representative of the roll and write genre: not my favourite, but certainly good enough.

Thus, while On Tour won’t find a permanent place in my collection, I would recommend fans of the genre to check it out. As far as I can tell, the only place to get the game right now is the publisher store. I would recommend getting at least some extra player boards with the game, because I think the bigger games are an environment where this game will shine.

On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, On Tour gets Indifferent from me.

The second US tour of the Jazz Police was a bigger success than the first one.

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