Once or twice, as a young kid, I played an old board game at my grandmother’s house. I recall very little about it except that it involved taxi cabs picking up little round passengers. Thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to find out its name and discovered copies for sale on eBay. I contemplated buying one for nostalgia, then decided to go for it when I read the rules online and saw they weren’t half-bad. After watching prices for a couple of months, I got a copy at a decent price with a few pieces missing. Some Sculpey work took care of most of that problem.
The game is Cabby! It was originally released around 1938, though according to BoardGameGeek, most existing copies — including the one I have — are from the 1950s.
Players roll dice to move their own cab and police car around a city roadmap. Cabs pick up passengers and run them back to the depot. To expedite this, cabs may do “illegal” things like speed, go the wrong way on one-way streets, and pick up passengers from the wrong side of the road, though this puts them at risk of a rival cop landing on them and arresting them, which costs them all their passengers and sends them to a penalty space. Passengers are worth varying points depending on how far they start from the depot. The player who delivers the most points’ worth wins.
Everyone who played agreed it was a decent game for its era. It was a little slow-paced, and it dragged a bit at the end (neither of which was surprising), but the mechanics were a tight match to the theme and movement decisions were interesting. The squad cars felt a little weak, though I don’t know how much of that is because they have a hard time moving far and how much is because cabs near them simply choose not to break the law much. The latter isn’t necessarily a problem. I suspect a smaller, more interesting map would improve the game more than tweaking the movement rules.
All in all, all four of us enjoyed it. Thank you, Grandma.
Game 2: Cheapass’s Fish Cook. Players spend the first half of every turn buying fish and other ingredients from a dwindling market of ever-increasing prices, and in the second half they cook those items into seafood dishes for a profit. If you cook a recipe off your own menu, you get bonus money. If you cook one off another player’s recipe, they get the bonus but you might steal the recipe. Whoever has the most money after a fixed number of turns wins.
There was a bit of analysis paralysis on turn 1 as three new players took a long time planning what recipes to buy ingredients for. It’s not a clear game to develop a strategy for, in general, since profit margins are so tight, and this particular round had a weird mismatch of recipe requirements and available fish. Things kicked into gear after that, though.
I ended up winning this one with $211, $3 over another player I was expecting to surpass me. I’m chalking it up to successfully scoring a lot of end-of-game bonuses.