Originally published in 1981, this game contains no dice, no board, and no cards. Instead, it has booklets for each mystery that must be read aloud to the players.
This thematic storytelling game has the players using nothing but their wits to solve a mystery.
The game is published by Ystari Games and is the winner of multiple awards.
Designers of the game are Raymond Edwards, Suzanne Goldberg, and Gary Grady. The artists include Arnaud Demaegd, Nils Gulliksson, Neriac, and Stefan Thulin.
The game is designed for 2-8 players and has a play time of 60-120 minutes.
Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective, is one of the easier games to set up. First you unfold the map of London, grab the mystery and corresponding newspaper, and you’re ready to start. Pretty simple.
The game is very simple in concept to play. Each person in your group will take turns acting as the lead investigator. While that person is the lead investigator, they get to decide which lead they will be following up on. If you’re working as a group, feel free to discuss which lead you will be following. If, however, you’re trying to defeat Holmes by yourself, simply chose your lead and set off.
Make sure to keep track of the total number of leads you follow as they will be important in determining your points at the end of the game. Any lead you follow can be referenced anytime during the game at no charge to your lead total. Also, the newspaper and the directory can be accessed at any time. Use these items as they can be extremely helpful to solving the case.
Once the lead is chosen, find the corresponding number in the case book and read the text. After that, make sure to make notes on anything you feel may be relevant and then pass the book to the player to your left. If, on your turn, you’re ready to solve the case, you may flip to the Questions section in the book and attempt to solve.
To win the game, you must beat Sherlock Holmes’s score. Holmes starts with a score of 100 – he is the master after all. You gain points by correctly answering questions. There are a series of questions worth 25 points and bonus questions worth 10 points.
Once you have you points for correctly answered questions, you then adjust your score based on the number of leads you followed. Make sure to read the scoring section as some leads may be “free” and not cost, or add, to your point total. If you followed less leads than Holmes, you add 5 points to your score per lead. Meaning, If you follow two leads and Holmes follows four, you get to add ten points to your point total. If, however, you followed more leads than Holmes, subtract five points per lead above Holmes’s total.
Once you have the final points, you then compare it to Holmes. If you have scored more than 100, you win. If not, well, better luck next time.
When we set out to play this game I am not sure any of knew what to expect. Perhaps a campy walk through Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes? I don’t know. What I do know is we were not expecting the game to be as heavy as it is. Keep in mind, we thoroughly enjoyed this game; however, it is one of the most reading-intensive games we have played. You MUST pay attention to just about everything. Thematically, it makes sense. Holmes is perhaps the most perceptive literary figure there is. Therefore, to beat him, you need to be as well.
The mysteries you set about solving fit perfectly in the Holmes mythos. The theme of Victorian London is perfectly described and felt as you follow the leads trying to beat the master.
There are several mysteries included in the box (make sure to play them in order as more recent ones may give away clues to older ones.) which means you will be able to play this for a while. It is not at all advisable to go back and play the adventures again. Thankfully, there are expansion adventures that are available for purchase, too.
Overall, we greatly enjoyed this game. I wish I had done some research on it first, though, so we could have been better prepared.
Still, this would be an excellent addition to any board game collection
Patrick Cossel is the Publisher of The Forge Herald. He is a writer, gamer, father, husband, and level 1 Magic Judge. Professionally, he is the Operations Manager of a family-owned newspaper company. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2016, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.