Your points and miles obsession is now a board game
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If you’re a regular The Points Guy reader, it’s assumed (and we’re not judging) that you are as obsessed as we are with the game of earning and redeeming airline points and miles. We all live for the thrill of the chase to get that ultimate redemption.
And now there’s a new board game that allows you to fulfill your biggest points and miles-earning fantasy — Frequent Flyer. The game, at $34.99 (Amazon or this website), is the brainchild of David Horowitz, who in his day job runs a venture capital firm called Touchdown Ventures.
“I actually came up with the idea for this game over 15 years ago. I used to travel a lot for business and was obsessed with collecting and maximizing my frequent-flyer miles, so much so that I felt like I was playing a game,” said Horowitz.
At some point, the light bulb went on and Horowitz decided this obsession should be a board game. “Then I started designing the prototype. I had always wanted to create my own board game. This was a bucket list item of mine growing up,” he said. “I decided to take the game to market during the pandemic when people were staying at home playing board games and also not traveling or flying as much as they used to.”
There was a lot of testing over the years, Horowitz recalled. “The first prototype was created over 15 years ago and I did a lot of testing back then. The game has not changed materially over the course of time. Most of the testing was from friends and family,” he said.
One of the inspirations for launching the game, said Horowitz, was that his two sons really enjoyed the game and so did their friends. “They both started playing the prototype when they were about 7 years old. They are now 12 and 15 years,” he said. “I saw how easy it was for them and their friends to learn. And I saw how much they enjoyed it. This also gave me evidence that it was a family-friendly game that tested well with young children.”
Horowitz formed his own company, Frequent Games, and self-published it.
Who better to put the game to the test than the TPG editorial team? So I gathered Juan Ruiz, credit cards editor; Andrew Kunesh, points and miles editor; and credit card writers Stella Shon and Chris Dong to play the game during our editorial retreat in Scottsdale, Arizona, and share their thoughts about it.
The object of the game
The game comes with an oversized board, a 20-sided die, two decks of cards (25 first class and 45 coach), a pad of destination checklists, a mileage chart and four game pieces. The board is shaped vaguely like a U.S. map with 20 large and hub cities. The goal is to visit all 20 cities and return to your chosen home city. You can also shorten the game by reaching any number of cities you choose, from five and up.
After shuffling the first-class and coach cards, choosing the color of your piece and choosing a home city, players fill out the destination checklist that will track the miles earned. Each player is given 5,000 frequent-flyer miles to start.
Now follow along with me — when you roll the 20-sided die, the number that is rolled corresponds to the city where a player must start their flight. So, for example, if your home city is San Francisco and you roll a seven, you must fly to Detroit, which will earn you 2,100 miles. You must move forward at all times.
When you land on a coach or first-class space, you must follow the instructions on the card, which can be good (extra miles) or bad (change of home city). If a card sends you to a different city from where you were originally flying to, you aren’t required to fly to your original city. Let me explain — if you were going to Seattle but are now forced to go to Chicago instead, you no longer have to go to Seattle. You now start again from Chicago.
Are you still with me? It’s uncanny how this game imitates the joys and pains of frequent-flyer programs in real life.
Players keep rolling the die until they get to their next destinations. Thankfully, you don’t have to roll an exact number to get there. If you’re five spaces away from Washington, D.C., and you roll five or higher, you’re there. Once there, you cross off the city on your checklist and mark the miles you earn on your checklist. So if you go from D.C. to Minneapolis, you earn 900 miles. Repeat these steps for each city until you reach your final destination.
All flights are in coach, but you can upgrade to first class by using a card or spending 10,000 miles. Just like in real life, there are benefits to that upgrade, including moving forward two spaces for each number rolled on the 20-sided die. So if you roll an eight, you can move 16 spaces. Unlike flying first on an airline, you don’t get extra miles for being a premium cabin player.
Redeeming your miles
Now that you’ve earned all these miles, you must do something with them, and the game gives you three options. You can spend 5,000 miles and choose a destination city rather than rolling the die. As noted above, you can spend 10,000 miles to upgrade to first class.
Or you can break the bank and spend 20,000 miles to go directly to the city of your choice during your turn, again, without having to roll the die. But there’s a catch: Since this is considered a private jet flight, you won’t earn miles for it — just like in real life!
You win the game after hitting all 20 destinations and returning to your home city. If you don’t want to do 20 cities, you can choose another number and play accordingly.
All in all, the TPG team enjoyed playing the game. There were starts and stops needed to read the instructions to ensure they were following the game’s rules. Our players had plenty of questions, but they do recommend the game for points and miles geeks. Their comments are in the video below.
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