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Jayson Myers
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Read my other reviews at:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/145695/item/2410075#it...




Conclusion:

Let me start off by saying that I liked this game, but I did not like it more. Odd statement, eh? This is an odd game and not what I expected. First of all, this is not a game. Well, it is a game, but not like any game you have likely played.

First, I would not play this anything but solo. I couldn't imagine sitting around with my friends and reading to each other. There would just be too much down time. Oddly enough, it would be a fun game to act out.

Second, you will be reading a lot through this game. I think something like Arabian Nights accomplishes what this game is trying to do better (tell a story).

As I was playing the game, I kept asking myself why I just don't sit down and read a book. The game requires an expert level concentration and dedication. On top of that, it is very, very hard to be Sherlock Holmes.

In the end, this is a purge item for me.

*I am reviewing the 2012 version of this game.



Components:

Since there really isn't a "game" in the box, your components are very different than what you are used to. You get a rules book, a map (you move nothing around the map), some newspapers to refer to and some case books. Everything is of fine quality (the map is paper) and everything is simple to use. The directory book has some small font and it is very hard to read. Everything works as it is meant to. I just wish there was a sample "crime" that the book walked you through because I ended up "wasting" the first "crime" not really understanding the detail required in this game.



Rule Book:

The rules are simple and the only issue you will have is there are not any other games like this so you have no reference point. In the end, the rules are easy to digest and scoring can be understood after the game is over. I wouldn't even care about scoring really, I would just try to enjoy the game (if you can).



Flow of the Game:


The flow of the game is easy. You start off with some universal information about some people you can visit and talk to (this information is for all cases and includes reporters, the cops etc.).

You then read the facts for the case you are currently working on. As names appear, people are known, places are used, you can visit people or places to get clues/facts. These clues/facts should bring the story together for you so you can solve the case/crime.

There are newspapers you can read for clues, people you can visit, places you can see and they all utilize the directory where you can find where people are. You find out their location and you turn to that location in the "clue book" and read what they said.

You must keep careful notes while you are playing because you will get a lot of facts.

After you are ready to solve the crime, you answer a series of questions. You get points for a correct answer and you lose points for going to see more people than Holmes. In the end, you compare your points to Holmes and see if you beat him.

For the majority of the game, you are just reading in a book what someone said or did. You don't make many decisions outside of who to talk to much and deducing the crime and details about the case.



Should I buy this game?:

For the majority of people I will say no. After reading this review, you will know if this game would appeal to you. In all honesty, I would just go read a book. The fun comes from trying to put the case together with little information. There are red herrings (facts that lead you no where). There is little re-play value with the game because once you score you know how the case ends.

This is a purge for me and highly recommend you try this before you play it.



-------------------------------------------------------------------

Update:

5.5.15:

I played this game more with my wife and we enjoyed it a lot more. It is more of an activity than a game and we never try to compete with Sherlock. We look for clues until we get bored and then we go on what we have. We don't play the game as intended perhaps, but we are finding a good time with the game. For us, just solving it is a challenge enough. We will continue to get through a few more mysteries and report back. We find this game fun as an activity.
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Michael Mesich
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I still have my original Binder version from when I was a teenager and we would play it collaboratively just fine.

I can never bring myself to dedicate time to solo-play, so it just would never happen for me. But I having several people each taking notes and coming up with ideas actually worked quite well for us.

Mileage may vary, of course.

[edit: This is assuming the game plays the same as the original. I believe it does, but I haven't yet see it.]
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william4192 wrote:
For the majority of the game, you are just reading in a book what someone said or did. You don't make many decisions outside of who to talk to much and deducing the crime and details about the case.


Thanks for the review. For me, the deduction is at a far more literary level than most other games out there. I think it does this quite well. I disagree with a lack of decision making, because I think the game is entirely wide open and everything rests on your decisions.

But that said, the images you link to are from the old version and the French version. Have these not been updated in this English 2012 release?
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Andrew MacLeod
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Well, I've played both Sherlock Holmes and Tales of the Arabian Nights. In terms of the Arabian Nights, I'd say you'd be better off reading a book! Tales of the Arabian Nights is not a game, nor is it a story: rather, it's a collection of random events that get boring fairly quickly.

What you've said about Sherlock Holmes not being like any other game is absolutely right. So, if one is looking for the "same old game", you better look elsewhere since Sherlock Holmes is brilliantly and utterly unique. And it ain't an easy game! It requires a lot of logical thought and ingenuity. It also has the wonderful benefit (unlike most games) of making you feel like you're actually a character (a detective)in the game.

About the only reason I don't rate it a 10 is due to the fact that (as the OP said) once you've played a given scenario, you can't replay it: you know whodunit.

I mean no offense to the OP in what I'm about to say (it's just a general comment, not directed at him in any way): the only people I would recommend NOT to play Sherlock Holmes are those who dislike thinking while playing, and those who prefer a style of game that is the same old/same old.

Pax!
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amacleod wrote:
It also has the wonderful benefit (unlike most games) of making you feel like you're actually a character (a detective)in the game.


I agree! And when I'm playing, I'm pretty much doing what Sherlock would do in the short stories -- sitting in a chair, scanning the news paper, pondering, and then (figuratively) entertaining a visitor who begs for my help, travelling to different locations in the city, like the crime scene, and speaking to a couple of people of my choosing (and no more than necessary), ..... followed by brilliantly solving the crime (except for that last point, which I don't do particularly well).
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Pretty much any sentence that starts off with "I don't mean to offend you but" is meant to offend the person in question. If it wasn't, they would have kept their mouth shut. Or in this case, sat on their hands.

Personally, this review reminds me why I haven't picked this up yet. The idea of reading lots and lots of text isn't all that appealing (or it is, but when I read mountains of text, I want it to be written by someone like Salman Rushdie or Margaret Atwood, people with skill), particularly out loud back and forth with friends. Is it different? Sure, but different doesn't necessarily mean good. I have played a lot of different terrible games.
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loquitur wrote:
For me, the deduction is at a far more literary level than most other games out there.

This is really the key for me. Most "deduction games" are logic puzzles pared so close to the bone that you can see the maths peeking through. This one lets you roleplay being Sherlock Holmes and that's pretty special.
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Athos
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Well this is definitely not a board game. It is much more a GM-less roleplaying game. It comes from a different era when gaming was much more about thematic immersion. I find it odd that you ask 'Why not just read a book?' This game obviously provides a quite different experience from what one gets from reading a book. It is much closer to the 'interactive fiction' that it was contemporaneous with when it originally came out. Rather than playing Zork, why not just read a book?
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M King
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Couldn't disagree with the OP's review more strongly. Far from a game to purge, this is a game I've kept from move to move for the almost 30 years since I bought it in grad school. As another poster said, it is for people who like to think. It is also for people who love mysteries. It is almost the only game that actually presents you with a mystery and clues to solve it, instead of tasking you with using the process of elimination to figure out what cards are hidden in an envelope. I love playing this cooperatively--actually the only way I'll play it any more. It's great fun discussing different theories about whodunit and how.
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Per Starbäck
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william4192 wrote:

First, I would not play this anything but solo. I couldn't imagine sitting around with my friends and reading to each other. There would just be too much down time. Oddly enough, it would be a fun game to act out.


I haven't played it solo (and wouldn't want to do that), but I think it is playing it solo that has made it seem like just a lot of reading. When my group has played it it has been mostly about discussing. Especially when there has been disagreement on whether a particular move would be good to do or not it has been very rewarding (or not!) to finally agree to do that move and see that it really gave a lot of information (or not!).

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star wrote:


I haven't played it solo (and wouldn't want to do that), but I think it is playing it solo that has made it seem like just a lot of reading.


Excellent point, Per! To the OP: Have you played it only solitaire, or have you played it multi-player? I haven't played it solo....but it does seem to me that, if I did...well...I think I'd much rather read a book than play it solitaire!
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This is the funniest review title I have read in a long time. thumbsup

I've had the binder version for several years but have never gotten it to the table. My wife and I are big Sherlock Holmes fans, so I think/hope we'll enjoy at least 1 play of it because of the theme once we finally get to it, but your review jives with my own concerns about how it actually plays.
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Jayson Myers
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I used pictures already on geek, so nothing was yet available.


loquitur wrote:
william4192 wrote:
For the majority of the game, you are just reading in a book what someone said or did. You don't make many decisions outside of who to talk to much and deducing the crime and details about the case.


Thanks for the review. For me, the deduction is at a far more literary level than most other games out there. I think it does this quite well. I disagree with a lack of decision making, because I think the game is entirely wide open and everything rests on your decisions.

But that said, the images you link to are from the old version and the French version. Have these not been updated in this English 2012 release?
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Jayson Myers
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I know you didn't intend it at me, but I do like to think. This is almost overly thinking. You really, really have to think. I'm not a dumb guy, I have an advanced degree, and I own and run a successful business. With that said, I'm not smart enough for this game. I take that back, I don't have the patience for this game. This game requires a lot of work.


amacleod wrote:
Well, I've played both Sherlock Holmes and Tales of the Arabian Nights. In terms of the Arabian Nights, I'd say you'd be better off reading a book! Tales of the Arabian Nights is not a game, nor is it a story: rather, it's a collection of random events that get boring fairly quickly.

What you've said about Sherlock Holmes not being like any other game is absolutely right. So, if one is looking for the "same old game", you better look elsewhere since Sherlock Holmes is brilliantly and utterly unique. And it ain't an easy game! It requires a lot of logical thought and ingenuity. It also has the wonderful benefit (unlike most games) of making you feel like you're actually a character (a detective)in the game.

About the only reason I don't rate it a 10 is due to the fact that (as the OP said) once you've played a given scenario, you can't replay it: you know whodunit.

I mean no offense to the OP in what I'm about to say (it's just a general comment, not directed at him in any way): the only people I would recommend NOT to play Sherlock Holmes are those who dislike thinking while playing, and those who prefer a style of game that is the same old/same old.

Pax!
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Jayson Myers
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It is a lot of reading. I think the game is interesting, but to be honest I'm not sure I am scratching my reading itch when I turn to a game. Does that make sense? I think when I play a game, I'd rather play something. With that said, I think this would be an interesting read.

It is also a little frustrating how good and optimal Holmes is

chearns wrote:
Pretty much any sentence that starts off with "I don't mean to offend you but" is meant to offend the person in question. If it wasn't, they would have kept their mouth shut. Or in this case, sat on their hands.

Personally, this review reminds me why I haven't picked this up yet. The idea of reading lots and lots of text isn't all that appealing (or it is, but when I read mountains of text, I want it to be written by someone like Salman Rushdie or Margaret Atwood, people with skill), particularly out loud back and forth with friends. Is it different? Sure, but different doesn't necessarily mean good. I have played a lot of different terrible games.
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Jayson Myers
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Only solo (sorry that wasn't clear).

I don't believe I could find anyone who would play this with me. If I read to my gaming group, they would laugh at me


amacleod wrote:
star wrote:


I haven't played it solo (and wouldn't want to do that), but I think it is playing it solo that has made it seem like just a lot of reading.


Excellent point, Per! To the OP: Have you played it only solitaire, or have you played it multi-player? I haven't played it solo....but it does seem to me that, if I did...well...I think I'd much rather read a book than play it solitaire!
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Kevin B. Smith
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oneoldgamer wrote:
It is almost the only game that actually presents you with a mystery and clues to solve it, instead of tasking you with using the process of elimination to figure out what cards are hidden in an envelope.

There do seem to be very few games like that, although NCIS: The Board Game is another. I assume it is far less literary than SHCD, with far shorter clues. But like SHCD, and unlike most other deductive/mystery games I have played or read about, you actually have to think like a detective to decide who to interview next. I hope to try SHCD, but until I do, my guess is that NCIS is kind of like a light version of it.
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peakhope wrote:
oneoldgamer wrote:
It is almost the only game that actually presents you with a mystery and clues to solve it, instead of tasking you with using the process of elimination to figure out what cards are hidden in an envelope.

There do seem to be very few games like that, although NCIS: The Board Game is another. I assume it is far less literary than SHCD, with far shorter clues. But like SHCD, and unlike most other deductive/mystery games I have played or read about, you actually have to think like a detective to decide who to interview next. I hope to try SHCD, but until I do, my guess is that NCIS is kind of like a light version of it.


Thanks for the tip. I'll try to find it. There was an Ellery Queen game that was similar but I think it had some problems. And the people who made this game made a noir style game called Gumshoe
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william4192 wrote:
I know you didn't intend it at me, but I do like to think. This is almost overly thinking. You really, really have to think. I'm not a dumb guy, I have an advanced degree, and I own and run a successful business. With that said, I'm not smart enough for this game. I take that back, I don't have the patience for this game. This game requires a lot of work.


Well, I consider myself to be an idiot, and I can handle it!.......

.......Mind you, I have yet to win at Sherlock Holmes whistle...........
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amacleod wrote:
william4192 wrote:
I know you didn't intend it at me, but I do like to think. This is almost overly thinking. You really, really have to think. I'm not a dumb guy, I have an advanced degree, and I own and run a successful business. With that said, I'm not smart enough for this game. I take that back, I don't have the patience for this game. This game requires a lot of work.


Well, I consider myself to be an idiot, and I can handle it!.......

.......Mind you, I have yet to win at Sherlock Holmes whistle...........




Yes, I think if I kept reading it until I figured it out, I'd be able to figure it out. For example (this might be a spoiler)....
















...... Sherlock solves the crime in 4 clues. I guess that is the "perfect" score. It is nearly impossible to beat Sherlock. And because you cannot play each case more than once, you can't get better. So, for the game purpose, you can't improve and it is a very very hard game. Other than the game, you just read.
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Neil Sorenson
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I've had a copy of this one since the 80s and although I think it's a well done piece of work, there are two issues with the game that sunk my interest in playing it collaboratively.

The first is that MUCH of the game requires careful scanning of newspaper archives and that becomes more and more awkward as you add players but the real deal killer is that the later missions may or may not require you to recall information read from earlier editions of the newspaper archives. This wouldn't be a problem for someone with a photographic memory but what happens is that the archives become more and more unwieldy as the back issues start to accumulate to the point that by the end missions you are carefully scanning through more than a dozen pages of 19th century newsprint. FUN!
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Angus G
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Great review! This is the first one I read that described the fact that you actually want to read as few clues as possible, which although I understand, would drive me nuts, since I'd feel like there was a whole lot of the game not being used (I'd want to read them all). You mentioned the fact that you're doing a whole lot of reading that I would find awkward with multiple players. This was high on my wishlist, but you nicely covered some very real issues that I would have had, and I'll be saving my money. I'm disappointed, but at least I'm not disappointed and $30 poorer. Thanks!
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oneoldgamer wrote:
There was an Ellery Queen game that was similar but I think it had some problems. And the people who made this game made a noir style game called Gumshoe

I have both the Ellery Queen game and Gumshoe. Ellery Queen is a bit lighter and faster than Consulting Detective, and it plays quite well. I'd say its only real problem is that it only has 5 cases, but it does have some pluses as well:

- a mounted map, printed on both sides (Manhattan on one side, a small college town on the other)
- six detectives to choose from, each with individual characteristics
- a detailed system for creating additional cases

Gumshoe is like Consulting Detective on steroids. It's only one case, but it's a huge one and has multiple sub-plots in addition to the main story line. There's no way you'd complete Gumshoe in a single session.
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dooof wrote:
This is the first one I read that described the fact that you actually want to read as few clues as possible, which although I understand, would drive me nuts, since I'd feel like there was a whole lot of the game not being used (I'd want to read them all).

It depends on how you're playing the game. My family played it cooperatively when the kids were still at home, and we enjoyed it immensely. Yes, solving with a smaller number of clues gives a higher score, and we never did match Holmes' score, but that was OK. We used as many clues as we needed to reach a solution by consensus, and after reading the answer and how Holmes solved the case, we wound down by checking any clues we hadn't used. There were always interesting tidbits to discover.

I'd say it is a great game when used in that fashion. It never failed to have the whole group engaged, thinking and discussing and brainstorming to solve the case. The materials work to that end, too. We always had somebody poring over the map, somebody else skimming the paper, etc. Quality time.
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Michael Ink
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Has anyone considered using this game as a basis for a more structured rpg? I run a Cortex + game (simple rules) night and think this could be excellent material for a mystery session. Would this work or would it be too unwieldy?
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