Posted by James (admin) on September 12th, 2011
Looting London is a game that seems so simple you might think it doesn’t have much to offer as a game when the rules are explained; however, it contains a simple but clever little filler game. This is not too surprising when you know the game is designed by Renier Knizia and this game is quite typical of his designs.
The players are investigating the theft of London’s 5 biggest treasures (although the theme is inconsequential in this game). The goal is to score as many victory points (VPs) which are scored by collecting tiles.
The game consists of various tiles and cards. Each tile is one of 5 colours (each matching a treasure) and has a number between 1 to 5 and a character (boy, detective, policeman and lady) on it.
The tiles are laid out randomly in a 5 x 5 grid. Each turn you can either take a card (one of 4 face-up cards, or one off the top of the deck unseen) or claim a tile that is at the bottom of a column. To claim a tile, you must discard a number of cards equal to the number on the tile AND the cards must show the character that is on the tile you’re claiming too. You can play any pair of matching cards to count as any character.
The twist is that, when you claim a tile, you can first play a pair of cards that match a tile at the end of a column to remove it from the game before you claim a tile. When all the tiles of one colour (treasure) have been claimed, the players add up the numbers on the tiles they have of that colour. The player with the highest total receives the bonus tile for that colour which is worth extra points at the end of the game.
When all the tiles of 4 of the treasures have been claimed, the game ends. All tiles of the 5th (not fully-claimed) treasure are worthless. Players then add up the points on their tiles and the player with the most points wins.
Looting London is a simple tile collection game, but there are some interesting tactics to be found within it. The choice between drafting cards into your hand and claiming tiles is fairly standard but delivers good choices. The bonus tiles are important and you’ll find yourself checking who has what totals in which colours so you can aim to secure bonuses or try to stop others. Also, you’re always trying to work out which colour will be useless at the end too so you don’t waste effort collecting that colour, or you work to ensure a colour you have won’t end up being worthless.
However, removing tiles is what makes the game really work as you can suddenly grab a tile other players weren’t expecting, but you can also tactically remove tiles from the game which can increase (or guarantee) your chance of having the majority of points in a single colour so you can gain the bonus tile. Also, removing tiles using a pair of cards can accelerate game end, deny tiles from other players, and be a quick way to remove a specific colour of tile from the game to ensure that colour’s tiles don’t become worthless.
As a result, Looting London is a very nice filler which plays well with 2 players. I think it will play even better with more too (it plays up to 5 players). It’s a shame that the theme is irrelevant but that’s just a missed positive rather than a negative and the artwork is okay; however, neither of these factors matter as the game delivers a simple, tactical filler regardless of these issues.
[Played with 2 players]