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I picked this little game up at an educational children's store after seeing that it had been nominated for the children's Spiel de'Jahres award in 2003. It looked like it would be a little different from your ordinary memory game, and I was looking for a game that would really be enjoyable, yet mind-stretching for 2 of my young girls, ages 3 and 5.
The rules are very simple and easy to explain. There are about 50 very thick cards that almost feel as if they were made of plastic each displaying a picture of a common household object, such as a comb, bucket, kite, or pencil. On the top of each card is a number from 1 to 4 with an arrow pointing either to the right or left. After shuffling the cards, 8 of them are laid out face-up in a circle with the tops of the cards facing the outside of the circle. The players are given 30 seconds to memorize the position of the cards, and then they are flipped over face-down. The player to the right of the starting player then places a "Sherlock" card next to one of the face-down eight cards in the circle. The starting player must then remember which object is displayed on the other side of the card, and then the card is flipped over to reveal whether she is right. If the correct object was stated, the Sherlock card is moved either left or right a certain number of cards depending on the number and the direction of the arrow at the top of the face-up card. The player must then state the object on that face-down card, then it is revealed, and if this is correct as well, the process continues until the arrows direct the Sherlock card to an object card that's already face-up. Once this card is reached, it is given to the player and her turn is over. The top card from the draw pile is then drawn and placed face-down in the spot of the card just removed from the circle after all of the players have seen the new object. If an incorrect object is named before a face-up card is reached, all of the face-up cards are flipped over and her turn is finished. Play then passes to the left with the previous player doing the initial placement of the Sherlock card this time. The first player to win 6 cards is the winner.
The girls were excited to try this game out with some of their older siblings, and my hopes were met in the actual gameplay. My 3-year-old gave the others a run for their money, and I had to occasionally stop her from just blurting out the object on a face-down card while a brother struggled to remember it on his turn. I played along the first 2 times we tried it to see how it would work with adults, trying my hardest, and had little trouble remembering each object, keeping each entire game to 6 rounds. This is one game that would be just too easy for most adults. Playing the full 6 rounds still took over 30 minutes since some of the kids would take a lot of time to try and remember the objects at times. In the last game I played, my 5-year-old girl beat her twin 7-year-old brothers and her 8-year-old brother as well, ending the game with 3 points to their 2 points. She was pretty proud of herself.
It is evident that the game can play itself out somewhat differently depending on which cards come up where. In the second game we played, most of the time a card was won, it was from the exact same space among the eight cards in the circle. This meant that it was easier to remember most of the cards as they rarely changed, if ever.
This may just be the best kids' memory game I've ever played. I can see why it has been considered for as many awards as it has. It won't work as well with older kids, but it hits the 3 to 8 year range very well. I highly recommend this title!