Date played: April 27, 2020
Basic details: 1-8 players; 60-120 minutes (but playing badly takes significantly less time)
Gist of the game: In this game, you, alone or collectively, take on the role of Sherlock Holmes’ small fleet of street urchins. It’s your responsibility to help solve cases using your knowledge of London (including a map and directory), the local newspaper, and the leads you track down.
In solo/cooperative mode, your goal is to beat Sherlock Holmes in the efficiency with which you solve the case. You keep track of the number of leads you follow, and when you think you’ve solved the case, you answer a series of 8 questions worth up to 140 points. Sherlock Holmes always scores 100 points, though the number of steps he takes varies. You are penalized for each additional lead you need but rewarded for each lead less you needed. In competitive mode, the most efficiently correct player wins.
There are currently 3 games in this series. This one (the original) has 10 cases. Each case has a booklet with information about the case itself as well as what you discover from all the possible leads. Using information from your previous leads, the newspaper, the map, and the directory, you’ll choose your next lead and go to that spot in the booklet.
Color commentary: I played the Munitions Magnate case by myself. Let me say from the outset that for someone who really enjoys reading mysteries and watching Law & Order, I am catastrophically awful at actually solving mysteries. I needed 8 leads (one was free, and didn’t count in my final tally, and I didn’t take a lead I wanted to because I couldn’t find it in the booklet, though apparently it was there, so who knows what happened).
I did not start at the scene of the crime, which in hindsight I probably should have. Every Law & Order episode starts there, at least, and 20 years of television can’t be that wrong. It didn’t actually occur to me to go to the scene of the crime until step 5, though I did takes notes that helped me.
The questions at the end of the case are divided into two categories: questions about the case directly (who the criminal was, the motive, stuff like that), and questions about things you might have discovered as you followed leads (the identity of a mistress, something about a particular clue, etc.). By pure luck (ok, not pure…by 50% luck; there were apparently 2 possible culprits based on a particular clue; I only knew about 1), I did accurately identify the murderer, earning me 25 points. If we’re generous, I earned half the points for the next question, which dealt with motive, so we’re up to 37.5 points. I had no idea about either of the last two questions, as they were branches of the investigation I never got to. I was able to answer 1 question out of the second set of questions, earning me an additional 10 points. Wooo, 47.5 points! I took 3 more steps than Sherlock needed, so I lost 15 points, bringing my final score to 32.5 If we are less generous with the first set of questions and say no partial credit is available, I ended up with 20 points. Not great.
Thoughts M might have had if he had played: Sherlock was a cocaine addict. I can’t endorse such lifestyle choices by playing this game. Also, I don’t like mysteries.