Tabletop Review – On Tour USA & Europe

On Tour

On Tour and On Tour: European Expansion from Boardgametables.com was just delivered to Kickstarter backers. The original printing released last year in limited quantities, but was brought back by popular popular demand to Kickstarter with the added bonus of the European Expansion

 

On Tour

On Tour is a simple yet clever little roll & write game that makes you think you’re doing well until it’s time to score. Players all take on the role of a band trying to plan out the most effective route for their national tour. Everyone is given their own dry erase map of the Continental United States with a total of forty one spaces on the board. The Tri-State area and New England have been combined into a single space labeled “NE”. I’m not sure whether that’s meant to be an abbreviation for Northeast or an overly inclusive New England, but I do appreciate that smaller states like New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island were all combined rather than attempting to cram a bunch of spaces into a small area for the sake of representation (and I say that as a proud Masshole).

 

On Tour

Each round players will roll a pair of giant red dice and draw three cards. The dice indicate which numbers players will write on their board, while the cards tell players where they can place write those numbers in. In the above example, the roll results of five and two tell players that on this round they will be writing both twenty-five and fifty-two on their board. 

One number at a time, players will choose two of the three cards to tell them where on the map they can write those numbers. You’ll notice that each card has both a region and a state written on it. Choosing to place one of the two numbers in a region grants players more placement options, but only gives players the chance to earn one point for each space. If players choose to write the number in the state, they’ll also draw a circle around it indicating that it’s possible to earn two points instead. After choosing a card and writing the first number, players then do the same thing for the second number, but must choose from one of the remaining two cards. Once both numbers have been written on everyone’s player boards, the dice are passed to the next player to roll again and draw three new cards.

To give a clearer picture of what a round looks like, I’ll use the same numbers and cards pictured above. In our hypothetical round, I’m going to start by choosing to place twenty-five in the West region by using the card on the left. I write “25” in Nevada which will only earn me one point if I use it later on. Next, I’ll use the card on the right to write “52” in Missouri. As I’m choosing the specific state on the card rather than the region, I circle the number making it worth up to two points if I use it later. With both numbers written on the board, the round is over and the dice get passed to the next player.

The game continues on like this with players simultaneous playing off the same cards and dice rolls until every space on their boards are filled in. If anyone should roll doubles or draw cards where the regions all match, players write in and circle a star in any open space. Stars are free spaces that each count as two points. They’re a rare occurrence but they can be game saving.

Once every space on the board is filled, players draw the the longest continuous line across the map that they can manage. The key is that the line can’t cross through the same space twice and spaces must be connected to a number of equal or higher value. 

Until this point, it’s difficult to tell how well players will score. In my own experience, I’ve always tried to write numbers from lowest to highest from East to West or vice versa in order to draw a mental picture of the scoring line. However, the random nature of the game leaves so much of the game up to chance that it’s impossible to effectively anticipate the final outcome. If you’re like me and don’t leave yourself a solid back up plan, you’re sure to find yourself in hot water eventually. 

 

On Tour

Ignoring my sad excuse for handwriting, take the above map for example. I tried my best to go lowest to highest/East to West, but my luck ran out pretty quickly and I ran out of options where the Eastern and Central regions meet. Even with two free star spaces, I ended up with a pretty low score. 

For each space with a line drawn through it players earn one point, or two points of the space is circled. My total score in the above example is only seventeen points, about half of what I’ve averaged so far. While I was playing this game, I knew that I was in trouble as number placement became difficult near the Mississippi/Louisiana border as well as Ohio/Indiana. 

And that’s the crux of the game. While rollin’ & writin’ only one or two values at a time, it’s difficult to accurately evaluate just how well players are performing. 

 

On Tour

 

This version of the game also includes the On Tour: European Expansion which is conveniently found on the reverse side of the dry-erase boards. It’s worth noting however, that the main gameplay difference is that there’s only a few less spaces on the board, shortening the game length by one or two rounds at most. Aside from that, the European side of the board provides almost the same exact experience.

I really enjoy the dry erase boards and how effectively they delineate regions by using colors and hues. The clearly defined borders make it easy to quickly interpret the map and its layout. The cards for each deck are equally as easy to understand which makes the entire game a really easy one to teach new players.

A game like On Tour is the perfect sized game to take on the road. All of the components are durable and large enough so they’d be difficult to lose. I even appreciate the over-sized dice which I would typically find too cumbersome. If I had any complaints about the game it would only be that the dry erase boards are so glossy that it was impossible to take photos of them without snapping my own reflection or capturing J.J. Abrams level lens flare. 

While On Tour is a highly random game that doesn’t offer a lot of depth, that doesn’t necessarily work against it either. It takes so little time to setup and play that it makes for the an excellent game to enjoy to open the night while waiting for everyone to arrive, or to keep kids entertained while waiting for food at a restaurant. It will never be the main event when I’m hosting a game night, but it makes for an excellent warm up and good addition to the collection.

 

Player Count 

1 to 8 players.

Play Time

20 minutes.

Core Mechanics 

Dice Rolling
Route Building
Push Your Luck
Groupies

Accessibility 

On Tour is an easy game to teach. There’s a slight advantage to anyone who has played before, but with a few pointers, even the newest players will be on equal footing.

Artwork/Components 

The board and card art work very well together, only furthering how accessible On Tour is to both new and familiar players. The size and durability of components also lends to the game’s portability.

Replay Value 

On Tour is a solid game with little variability. But nonetheless, it’s a quick game that scratches the roll & write itch than can be enjoyed by anyone. It’s sure to hit the table from time to time after its shiny new has won off.