Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

And now for something completely different.  Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is a very different kind of game.  This game can be played by anywhere from one to however many people you want, but any more than four or five would probably get unwieldy.  The basic gist of the game is that you are assisting Sherlock Holmes solve crimes throughout London.  The game comes with 10 separate cases, organized chronologically.  Each case has its own booklet.  The booklets contain specific encounters that relate to the case being worked, as well as the final solution and scoring track.

The way that the game works is that the players "move around" London investigating leads.  The players have the case book, as well as newspapers, a map of London, and a Directory of individuals.  If you learn about someone that you want to question about the case, you look them up in the Directory and that will tell you a letter/number combination to look for in the case book.  You then read the section under that letter/number combination, and you may or may not learn additional details of the case.  When you feel that you can solve the case, you flip to the end of the case book, where you will have a series of questions.  Write down your answers.  Then flip the page and get the REAL solution from Sherlock Holmes himself.  The scoring track is also here.  The way scoring works is that you get points from answering questions correctly, and you lose points for each lead that you used that Sherlock Holmes did not in his investigation.  So, if you spend a lot of time running around chasing false leads, you can lose a lot of points.  You can then compare your score to the Great Detective, who always scores 100.

The game can be played competitively, or cooperatively.  Even if played competitively, you are all still part of the team.  The only difference is that at any point in the investigation someone can declare that they have the solution.  They then look at the final questions and writes down their answers in secret, and the rest of the crew continues to follow leads.  This continues until the last person writes down their answers, and then you go to the final solution to check scores.  Obviously, the person who stopped searching first loses less points for leads followed, but they also might miss out on information that the others dig up while they continue the investigation.  Highest score then wins.

I'm not sure what I think about this game.  It is very different than any other game that I have, being a straight deduction game.  The mechanics work fairly well, but there really is no way to "lose" the game.  You just might do really poorly and get few or no points.  It is entertaining with the right crowd in the right mood, but that doesn't happen very often.