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Players must puzzle out how to make the most passengers happy on an airliner.

Board Game Review: ‘Overbooked’ from Randomskill Games

Overbooked from Randomskill Games turns the hectic world of airplane seating into a captivating competitive puzzle. Every passenger wants something different on a flight: some want to sit alone, some want to sit with friends or relatives, and some have a problem with sitting near kids. Overbooked simulates this as players work to gain the highest score by making their customers the happiest with their seats.

Each player receives a board with a grid of seats, just like those you see on airline booking sites. Colored discs represent Passengers to sit in these seats. The goal is to seat the most customers comfortably, although some may be bumped off with the flight being declared “overbooked.” Players also receive six Voucher cubes, which are a good way to send upset customers happily off to get some treats from food stands while they wait for a new seat.

The major mechanic of Overbooked is pattern-matching. A Passenger deck holds unique patterns, some complex with grids of four or more colored dots on them. Other cards hold stipulations, like a Passenger wishing to sit next to a window or in the middle of a row. Four Passenger cards are laid out each turn, and a player begins the turn by choosing which card to take. They may choose the rightmost card for free or pay Voucher cubes to choose more desirable cards down the line. These cubes stay on bypassed cards, meaning a later player could strategize to cash in with maximum Vouchers by taking on previously snubbed passengers. Players will have to choose carefully as a previously placed Passenger may need to be bumped to complete the new pattern.

Gameplay continues until one of the Passenger disc colors runs out; then the round is completed so everyone has had an equal number of turns. The winner is the player with most victory points, which are collected for Passengers, pairs of reds, whites surrounded by other colors, the largest clusters of other colors, and other accomplishments. Further points come from holding onto Vouchers. Perhaps most importantly, Passengers who had been bumped earlier cost a player two points apiece, meaning a player will have to balance making a good placement with the cost of moving over people.

Knowing the scoring system is the key to winning Overbooked. Players will need to keep track of not only placing Passengers to keep the game going, but ensuring that their Passengers are arranged in the most effective groups for maximum points. It may be worth overbooking a Passenger or two even late in the game to connect a whole set of colors.

Overbooked is a board game for one to four players aged eight and up. It is a fairly quick game, lasting about half an hour, maybe less if players are quick to choose their seating spots. A solo version of the game gives players a great chance to practice, working through different scenarios to maximize points.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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