DC Dash
a board game by Ryan Hackel

This boardgame lets players race around Washington DC on the city's MetroRail network, visiting stations throughout the area. DC Dash is a fast playing simple boardgame for the whole family. You don't have to be from Washington to play, but even lifetime DC residents will learn something new about their home city. So grab your SmartTrip cards, pack your bus maps, and watch out for those "doors closing"!


You will need to supply:

You will need to print out:


Set the board on the table where everyone can reach it. Each player chooses a pawn, and places it on Union Station (on the Red Line). It is helpful, but not necessary, for the pawns to stack. Icehouse pyramids or colored disks are recommended.

Spread the Station Deck face-down. Each player takes four from the District of Columbia (the red bars and stars), three from Maryland (the red-black-and-yellow checkers), and two from Virginia (the white circle on blue).

Each player should now have nine Station cards. Shuffle the remaining cards face-down, and set the Station Deck to one side.

Shuffle the Action Cards deck and deal three cards to each player. Place the remaining part of the Action deck to one side, face-down.

The player who has most recently taken a ride on public transportation goes first.


On your turn, you may perform any one of the three following options:

During the game, you will have two "hands" of cards: your unvisited Station cards and your Action cards. Keep them all secret from your opponents. You may keep them together in one "hand" if you wish, but think of them as two different groups.


You move your pawn up to four station steps along the line you started on. You don't have to use all four steps, but you cannot save unused movement for later turns. If you want to do anything else, such as play an Action card or discard your hand to end a service disruption, then you cannot move this turn.

Pawns can share the same station. There is no limit to how many pawns can occupy the same station. After all, everyone started at the same station.

If you started on a shared line or transfer point, you may travel along either of those lines. You can also change to a different line on your next turn if you're at a station that shares to or more lines but isn't a transfer station. For example, if you rode the Blue Line to the Smithsonian station on your last turn, you may still ride out from that station on the Orange line on your next turn; you don't need to continue on the Blue line.

You cannot travel along a line you didn't occupy at the start of your turn. For example, if you started at Archives-Navy Memorial station, you may travel along the Yellow or Green line this turn. You would not be allowed to go to L'Enfant Plaza and continue along the Blue or Orange line in that same turn. If you want to travel on a different line, you will need to stop on a transfer station this turn and travel along the different line next turn. If you start your turn at Franconia-Springfield, you can only use the blue line this turn. If you start your turn at L'Enfant Plaza, you can use any line except the Red line during that turn.

If you end your turn at a station, and you have that station Card in your hand, you may play it immediately. You made it! Put the station card face-up in front of you to indicate that you visited that station.

If you end your turn at a Transfer Station (indicated by a double circle on the map), you may draw one Action Card. You cannot hold more than six Action Cards; if you have too many, you must discard Action Cards until you hold six. Station Cards do not count against this limit. You may draw an Action Card even if you started your turn at a Transfer Station and didn't move during your turn.


When you play an Action Card, do what it says. When it's effect is finished, discard the card. But if it still affecting the game, leave it on the table in front of you. Note that when you play an Action card, your pawn might not move this turn. If you stayed at a transfer station all turn, you may still draw another Action card. You cannot play Actions cards when it is not your turn.


Sometimes you just get stuck. You may remove a service disruption token from the board, and immediately end all effects of that token, by discarding your entire hand of Action cards. You can do this even if you hold no Action cards in your hand. (Zero counts as a number here). Check your Action cards before you do this... some Action cards might help you overcome a service disruption and let you keep your other Action cards. And again, if you end your turn at a transfer station, you may still draw a new Action card.


Some of the Action Cards create Service Disruptions. These are events that make it harder for travelers to move about on Metro. These Service disruptions cannot be combined at a single station. Each station can have only one Service Disruption on it at a time. Service Disruptions are ended by card effect or when a player uses


The first player to arrive at Union Station with no unplayed Station cards left wins the game instantly!


I allow and encourage you to make your own copy of DC Dash. It's free, go for it!

Here's some tips to make the task easier. The map file is a multi-page PDF. You'll need to assemble the map from the pages. Trim away the white margin around each image, then overlap them together, attach the seams with tape or glue, then glue the whole thing down to a big sheet of cardboard or foamcore board, anything large and stiff.

The Station cards are meant to be double-sided, and it is important that each station card have the proper backside image. The files are formatted to keep everything in order. Page 1 of the card backs is the backside of page 1 from the card fronts. Just make sure that you keep the page order and orientation correct. An easier way to make these cards is to print the card fronts out on paper, cut them apart, and stuff them into card sleeves. Use some heavier card behind the paper to keep the sleeve stiff enough to shuffle. Put all the DC stations in one color of sleeve, all the Maryland stations in a different color of sleeve, and use a third color for the Virginia stations.

The Action cards are simpler to make. The card backs aren't important. I haven't designed a card back for them. Print them out on card stock, or print them out on paper and sleeve them, making sure not to reuse any of the sleeve colors that you used for the station cards.

The last page of the station card fronts has the service disruption tokens on it. Cut these out and use them to mark service disruptions. The supply of each type of token is intended to be unlimited. If you run out of tokens and need more, print out another page of them, or make your own from paper.

This game, like all games, is always a work in progress; I reserve the right to change the cards and rules as I see fit.


DC Dash was inspired by 1973's The Boston Game, designed by Jerome and Cynthia Rubin, and published by Emporium Publications. I felt that there were several rules changes that would make the game more fun and interesting. Also, the DC MetroRail system would make for a better network than the 1970s Boston T, with greater interconnections between the system lines. DC Dash is the Boston Game with a large rules overhaul and a new venue. Enjoy!

(After designing DC Dash, I learned about the existence of The London Game by Brian Edward Reeves, published several times since 1972. I'm certain that The Boston Game is merely The London Game wih a change of venue, so all that I have said about the relationship between DC Dash and The Boston Game applies to The London Game as well.)

Got a question? Contact me!

Last Updated: 21 September 2010

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