I'm at my FLGS picking up some games, when I spy Sherlock in a shelf. It was around 9 dollars --that's pretty cheap for a game in my country-- and looked cute and sturdy. As I have 3-year-old gamer-to-be, I happily added it to my basket.
As I arrived home, the aforementioned kid was eagerly anticipating Dad's return. He knew I was going to "the game store" --or "the choo-choo store", as he has known it since the time I took him there to pick up Ticket to Ride Europe, which was a big hit with him. He didn't much care for the rules --he's obviously not an Alan Moon fan-- but loved lining up the cars to create routes.
But I digress. As I arrived, and with images of drool all over my brand new Mystery of the Abbey, I tried a preemtive strike and gave him the Sherlock box.
"Woof woof?", he asked upon seeing the nominal character on the box.
"Yep, woof woof", I added, and somewhere my elementary grammar teacher turned in her grave just a little bit.
Much excited mumbling on his part --he's still not that good at this "speaking" thing-- I interpreted as "Well, what the hell are you waiting for? Open it up!". So I did and was pleasantly surprised. The game consists of 50 cards; 49 are decorated with colorful and appropiate drawings of things that any kid would recognize, from chairs to balloons and birds, plus one Sherlock card, depicting the "woof woof" in question. I didn't have time then to read the instructions, but was dragged into a game of "flashcards", where I held the deck as the boy picked a card at a time, looked at it and named the thing on it --or, "what'i'that?" when he didn't know it. I'm happy to report that he actually learned a few words rigth there and then, such as teapot and anchor. And for some reason, he thinks the feather is a leaf and gets very, very irritable when I point out he's wrong. So I don't. A leaf it is in my house.
As I said, the cards are amazingly sturdy, and tried as he might, he couldn't dent them. That right there earns this game major points as kiddy fare.
As the novelty wore off in 10-15 minutes --oh, this MTV generation-- I put the game on the table. And there it remained after the kid went to bed.
"So, what's this?", asked my wife. I knew the drill. What she meant was "Is this game any good? Because I feel like trying it, but damned if I'm going to admit it". She's devious that way. So I opened the game and explained.
Each card, above the picture, has a number from one to four, and an arrow pointing left ot right. You shuffle the deck and take out the first eight cards, placing them in a circle around the deck --sort of like a clock that had only 8 hours. You put them face up for several seconds, take a good look at them, and then turn them over.
Then you get the 50th card --the "woof woof card" which, helfully, has also a different back-- and place it above one of the face down cards. Then the active player tries to remember what the card is and say it, and afterward turns it over. If he's wrong he turns it face down again and stands the mocking of the other players; if he's right, he gets to move the "woof woof" --whom I'll call Sherlock or "dog" from now on-- in the direction the arrow is pointing, a number of spaces equal to the number on the card. Once there, he tries to guess again what the card is. The procedure continues until: A) He makes a mistake, whereas all the cards are turned face down, mocking ensues and the turn passes to the next player, or B) Sherlock arrives at a card that was already face up, whereas the player collects the card and replaces it with one from the deck. Gameplay continues until someone gets 5 cards.
Now, as a children game, the game shines. The boy still doesn't quite get it, but he's close, so if you have a 4 year old, I'm sure he'll be all over it. The components are top notch, and the gameplay is simple yet fun.
As an adult game... I'm not so sure, but it has all the makings of a party game. If you try it with gamers, you'll be trated with derision ("What, no wooden cubes? And how do you determine initiative again?"). But in a relaxed atmosphere, it has a nice mocking element. Also, I like that it's easily customized. You find it too easy? Try it with 12 cards. What, still too easy? Try it with 16. Go on, I dare you. You'll be begging for mercy.
So, it's a very good children game, that will probably shine as a party game --and altough I don't usually drink, I suspect it will combine very nicely with alcohol. Heck, it could also be an extraordinary drinking game. It's just plain fun and, at this price point, you really can't go wrong.
I'd rather be gaming...
Yes, Sherlock is a great game for kids and adults to play together. I've also been wanting to try it as a party game with adults and a few drinks. I had to get the German version with Der Plumpsack though. Gotta love the Plumpsack!
Man, this is a sweet review!