Fighting serpents, transit planning in TTC-themed board game

Sean Benham got the idea for a new board game after watching the debate over transit in Toronto unfold over the last year.

Subways & Serpents plays on Toronto transit issues and snakes

Playing on what looks like a TTC map - with new stops and of course, serpents. (Subways & Serpents)

Sean Benham got the idea for a board game after watching the debate over transit in Toronto unfold over the last year.

So he designed Subways & Serpents, a new TTC expansion-themed board game that includes local characters and serpents.

"Last summer when there was the subway versus LRT debate, and there were all the proposed lines — the Downtown Relief Line, the Spadina extension proposal from the 1950s and things like that — I got to thinking: Boy wouldn't it be great if only we could afford to fund all these things?"

So he sat down and plotted subway lines on a map, he realized it started to look like a board game. Then he took the liberty of adding a few new stops, like the Peanut in North Toronto and Little Portugal downtown. 

"Being an East End guy, I had to have the Gerrard Square stop," explained Benham. "But living in the upper Beach now, I had to have the upper Beach stop. Everybody knows the Toronto subway map and when you see a little bit of a twist on it, it seems to resonate with people."

Every good game needs a villain though. So Benham threw in snakes, and Subways & Serpents was born.

"You're in charge of a team of four serpent exterminators and serpents pop up as you ride the trains," said Benham.

Your job is to get rid of the serpents. You can can use the help of local characters like Kristy Pitts, Sam the Wreckin' Man, Lester B Fearsome, Conrad Blackeye the Eradicator and more. 

"The goal of the game is to get from your home base which are sort of scattered around the map depending on which crew you are to take out serpents," said the board game inventor.

Benham started developing the game last summer. He's produced 100 games — only using local suppliers. So far he's already sold more than half of them.

"It's a labour of love, obviously," he said. "It's the kind of thing where if i didn't really believe in it, I wouldn't have brought it nearly this far."

He sells the game online and through a half-dozen local retailers.

He is proud of the game, saying he gets a sense of accomplishment that local politicians haven't been able to get with real transit planning.

"Public transit has to serve everyone and bickering right now doesn't serve anyone," he complained. "I don't want to politicize things too much, but that's sort of where I stand. It would be nice if somebody could just make up their minds and we could get moving on it one way or another."

Subways & Serpents sells for $35 and can be bought here.