NOW BOARDING Board Game review

So its time for us to cover a game which some call, ‘A fly, buy, try and cry’ masterpiece! You will know it as Tim Fowers NOW BOARDING from Fowers Games. He described it as ‘ airline management game…with time restrictions. We called it a race game but with a sting. All from the mind of Tim Fowers. Fowers is a legend in the gaming world. Games like BURGLE BROS and FUGITIVE have taken the name and brand to exceptional heights and universal respect thanks to great playability and visual imagery. He is also something of a character, being part game making mastermind and part cool as cucumbers guy. We are hopeful of an interview shortly, so you too can hear from the great man himself.


We open with the NOW BOARDING box. A 60s inspired, age of flight image. If you have purchased BURGLE BROS, then this is familiar. In truth, it is the brands staple visual signature. Inside, the contents are, as expected, fitting into the world of Fowers. You get some plane pieces (seats, engines, wings and pilot cabin). A group of plane pieces in different colours, cards for customer flights, weather tokens, Upgrade/ pre-flight board and a board with the US mapped on it. Oh don’t forget the egg timer. It all works like a hand in a glove. It also seems to coalesces with something from a Steve McQueen movie. Some tongue in cheek side glance faces, brand insignia from the age of flight and cool cats. Inside is a note to watch the run through video (Tim Fowers explains the game but sorry Sir, there are better play through videos available) or you could refer to a well written, descriptive (but not heavy) rule book.


NOW BOARDING is an easier set up than some of the previous releases from Fowers. Its simple really. Place the board in the centre. All players choose an airline (taking the pilot, tail and one 3 engine piece and one passenger piece for the plane). Find your colour plane piece, flip the pilot piece to find the home airport and place it there. You can add either another passenger slot or another engine piece to the plane for free. Now find the pre-flight card and follow the set up rules (it details the number of weather cards to lay down tokens on the selected routes per round, number of passenger cards and draw number. Do not forget to shuffle them prior). Finally take a single flight ticket card that connects to your destination, Place the timer near the board and….lets fly!

The objective is simple. Deliver these paying passengers to their destinations. Don’t get them there and they complain (adding a menacing red cube to their card, get four and they go to the complain pile, get four of these, game over). In the first round you have 2 additional cards (alongside your own drawn card). You will work with however many players you have (2 – 5 but plays best with 4) to find ways to drop off flyers. Each can take the burden. Move them. Drop them. Organise their delivery and succeed. Each success is rewarded with hard cash. You can buy more passenger space or extra moves. The pattern is simple, the timer is flowing.


The co operative nature of the game bodes well for friends and families alike. The smoothness of gameplay deals a blow to the stuffy idea that people cant organise for the greater good. Its a collective adventure and one that reminded me of the ATC (I was briefly a member). You work together or you fail together. Rounds are quick and you need to discuss prior to make the most of them. Moves are limited but a clever player can expand quick and make the most of opportunity costs. This game should be on any economist or aspiring merchandiser. It teaches you so much about the act of working together but it tangible. Not intangible and driven by vested interests. So I liked that. A lot.


Hate is a strong word. I cant hate Fowers work or his games. I am a fan. A clear eyed one but still a fan. Which means I can see fault. There are two negatives. The first is the game plays poorly with more than 4 in my opinion. It lacks flow, cards become complex and confusion arises. 4 players can work in tandem and regionalise, 5 cant. The other issue is VIP extras. I didn’t mention these before because I covered the basic game but it is the expansion (or upgrade I guess) that adds layers on layers. It is hit and miss. When it hits, it does so with a fluid strike but when it fails, it becomes burdensome and bulky. The reason I feel is that the event is superfluous. Stifled by the aims and then becomes a downer for the player. Not a great look for a game that is smooth and flows like the timers sand.


NOW BOARDING makes co operative play fun, dynamic and energetic but all the while avoiding making it to heavy. You are not at the whim of others actions but working coherently on a masterplan. This is due to the round roles. Avoiding the turn based strategy or have to wait out others turns to implement actions, makes the game a must for those looking to involve everyone in its draw.

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