May 162017
 

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Jack the Ripper and the West End Adventures (Amazon) is a series of cases that continue the investigations of the original Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. Space Cowboys (of T.I.M.E. Stories and Splendor fame) are updating and redoing the original releases. In this game, the West End Adventures are updated versions of the 1995 expansion to the original game with four completely new adventures centered around Jack the Ripper. The original Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective will be released as The Thames Murders and Other Cases later this year.

The Game

Similar to the original, 1-8 players work together as a team of “irregular” investigators working with, but also competing against, their boss Sherlock Holmes. Each case is contained in a booklet with an introduction, several locations with associated text, case questions to test how well you did, and the solution provided by Sherlock to measure yourself against. Each regular case utilizes a large fold-out map of London along with newspapers and a directory. The Unlike the original, Jack the Ripper cases are all linked together in a series and have a map of White-chapel included. 

An introduction is read aloud at the beginning of each case. The players are encouraged to explore the provided materials and come to a consensus on which location to search. The map has dozens of locations to visit in the course of your investigations. You will gather clues, visit locals who may provide information pertinent to your case or red herrings to lead you astray. Each location moves the team closer to solving the mystery new leads which in turn lead to new locations. Once the group has determined they explored and followed enough of the leads, they can move onto the questions for the case. There are a total of 200 points that can be earned from solving the primary case and any peripheral mysteries that may have been uncovered as well. Time is of the essence, so visiting too many sites and spending too much time can affect the final score.

Sherlock_Holmes_Consulting_Detective_02_2000x1333.jpgAfter the questions, the score is tallied and you compare your results to Holmes’ solution. However, the solutions provided by Sherlock require so many ridiculous logical leaps that it really only serves to prove to the players how intensely smart Sherlock is. You can ignore the score, and laugh at the result that Sherlock comes up with.  

Each case is a one-shot experience and with 10 cases supplied in the game. At 90 minutes a case, it more than provides enough value for the cost. At first glance there is very little option for replay-ability but having one person moderating the game (who knows the solution) can be fun to attract new players. It was also fun to allow new players to work through the game and provide an occasional hint.

Comparing this to T.I.M.E. Stories, I prefer the lack of game mechanics in Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. There is little set up, lots of reading, and plenty of discussion about what to do next. You can move from place to place, examine clues, develop leads, gather materials, and pour over the map and newspapers provided. Both games are certainly on rails but I find the streamlined experience of Sherlock Holmes much more enjoyable.

This is a gaming experience tailor made for bookworms! It reminds me of the experience of reading a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book with the added benefit of being able to share the experience with more than one person. Honestly, I never got to a good ending of a Choose Your Own Adventure book without cheating and I have never get even close to Sherlock’s solution in Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. Nor should I! Most of the fun is the disbelief of how he actually solved the crime and your own floundering steps towards a solution. You don’t get better as you play but you do get more creative in your solutions as you try to make the same logical leaps Sherlock makes.  

The Endgame

Take your time. Have a drink. Forget about the score. Explore possibilities with your group. Laugh at the red herrings and gloat over someone’s totally lucky guess that ended up being correct. It is totally OK to cheat at this game. If you can’t answer a question, go back and retrofit an answer. See where you went amiss.

This is a great introduction to RPGs for people who never even thought about playing an RPG. Let me be clear, it *isn’t* an RPG but it has that feeling of group cohesion, discussion and discovery. It has the added bonus of being played without a moderator and if you really wanted to toss in some characters, it wouldn’t be too hard to find some mystery tropes to include. They would have zero effect on gameplay but could make the experience even more immersive.

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is an overlooked gateway game that no-one ever mentions. And it should be right alongside with Splendor, Ticket to Ride, and Pandemic. It is a small jump into Fiasco if you want storytelling or into Letters from Whitechapel if you want to get a bit more mechanical. The theme is familiar and immersive to most. The mechanisms are simple to practically nonexistent. It plays with little setup or rules explanation. 

The only downside of this particular iteration is that the theme of the Jack the Ripper cases can be off-putting. I have this same issue when I introduce Letters from White-chapel to some gaming groups. It is just a whole different level of dark from the classic Holmes mystery.This sequence of linked cases is bloody, historically accurate, and can be tough to stomach. Something about the jump from a purely literary affair to the reconstruction of actual horrible events of real victims may be too much. As a simple test, if your group would be down with From Hell or the Ripper Street TV series then they may be ready for this. My recommendation is to play the West End cases first and move into the Jack the Ripper cases only if this level of darkness is appropriate to your group.

My recommendation is mixed. If you are worried about the grisly nature of Jack the Ripper, get the original Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective if you can find it or you can wait for the Space Cowboy’s re-release of the original as Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders and Other Cases. If you don’t have an issue with the visceral nature of the Ripper murderers, go for this collection.

Apr 292017
 
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong

In Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, 4-12 players are attempting to solve a murder and just arrived at a crime scene loaded with clues and potential murder weapons. Players need to sort through the clues with the help of their forensic scientist. Everything seems simple enough except that the murder is standing in their midst and in uniform. Players will need to suss out what the forensic scientist is hinting at, find the murder, and protect their start witness before three rounds of play elapse. […]

A 4 track EP (little album for you younger folks) based on some favorite board games – A Worker Placed

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Apr 192017
 
A 4 track EP (little album for you younger folks) based on some favorite board games - A Worker Placed

A Worker Placed is a four track album where each track is inspired by a current favorite game. You’ll find Love Letter, Gravwell, A Feast for Odin and Tokaido all represented. It’s only available on Bandcamp at the moment but you can stream it from the site for free, or spend $2 to download all four tracks. A Worker Placed by Musivational

Coldwater Crown satisfies as a light to medium Euro with a rich theme – fishing!

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Apr 072017
 
Coldwater Crown satisfies as a light to medium Euro with a rich theme - fishing!

Coldwater Crown –  1-4 players, 40-90 minutes, from Bellwether Games. Looking for a light to medium Euro with a fairly unique theme? Coldwater Crown is just what you’re looking for!  In this game players are taking part in a fishing tournament where they compete to get the highest weight fish of various species from three geographical locations: the river, lake and ocean shore. Setting Up To get things started, players will place the main play board on the table and each grab a tackle box – which […]

Musivational’s second album, Controlled Chaos launches today on all platforms!

 Ben's Corner, Gamer Tunes, Troll in the Corner  Comments Off on Musivational’s second album, Controlled Chaos launches today on all platforms!
Mar 092017
 
Musivational's second album, Controlled Chaos launches today on all platforms!

The second album from Musivational (i.e. Ben) launches today on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Music, Spotify and of course, Bandcamp! The latter is the cheapest option at $4 Once again Musivational has returned to the roots of 80’s music, generated by 2017’s digital instrument’s with a 90’s fashion sense and the scifi goodness of the 50’s through the present. Add all that up and you’ve got a little slice of Controlled Chaos. 17 tracks touching on such wide and varies subjects as 80’s manga, modern […]

Total Confusion 2017 – This one goes to 11

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Mar 012017
 
Total Confusion 2017 - This one goes to 11

There’s a peculiar thing about this particular convention – every single one I’ve attended has been the best one yet. That’s not bad, by any means – in fact, it’s great! Turns out Total Confusion 31 continues this streak with some new faces, some new friends and a hell of a lot of gaming. For that reason, this is going to be a long post! I’ll take a look at this convention day to day, but first let’s look at the basics. Total Confusion bills […]

Three Ring Circus: Automobiles

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Feb 192017
 
Three Ring Circus: Automobiles

If tracksuit bottoms are “give up on life” pants, then I am at the stage in life where I drive “give up on life” cars. I’m past the need for speed BMWs and sporty VWs, instead I like my cars to be tax efficient and thrifty.  With this in mind it is appropriate that I have found a car racing game that doesn’t like waste and even gives you a hybrid option. Automobiles is a racing game with a difference, because you’re building the engine […]

Total Confusion kicks off Feb. 23rd! Here’s my official schedule and more about the convention

 Board and Card Games, Role Playing Games  Comments Off on Total Confusion kicks off Feb. 23rd! Here’s my official schedule and more about the convention
Feb 192017
 
Total Confusion kicks off Feb. 23rd! Here's my official schedule and more about the convention

Every year in February, I have cause to celebrate! My favorite convention, Total Confusion kicks off and this year is no different! I’ll be in attendance all convention long, from Thursday the 23 through Sunday the 26th. If you’re in or going to be in the area this February, you definitely want to check Total Confusion out. I’ll get to my tentative schedule in a moment but first I can give you a few other reasons to join us. How’d you like to play games […]