Murder, mayhem & really embarrasing secrets abound in this 2-6 co-operative deducion game with a nice asymmetric twist.
Each player has to work together to discover the murderer before they escape. The twist is one of YOU is the murderer and will be secretly trying to thwart the rest and get clean away!
The game is fairly quick to set up and gameplay is straightforward. Although there are minor variations on cards depending on the number of players (2, 3-4, 5-6) the ruleset stays the same.
At the start of the game the ‘You are the Murderer’ card is added from the black ‘Secrets’. Three secrets are then dealt to each player, and the remainder replaced in the box out of play
From the white cards the ‘The Murderer has Escaped’ and as many ‘Not So Fast, Fiend!’ cards as there are players are removed and the remaining shuffled. Each player is dealt 5 further cards, to which a ‘Not So Fast’ card is added, making a total of 6 cards for each player. The remaining cards are placed in the centre with the ‘Murderer has Escaped’ card at the bottom. Three cards are then turned over from this pile to form a communal bank.
The aim is to get your suspects to turn over their ‘Secret’ cards and reveal the ‘Murderer’.
There are three types of cards in the play deck to help you find the scoundrel in your midst.
Firstly the ‘Detectives’. These naturally include Poirot & Marple, but also lesser known characters such as Ariadne Oliver, Tommy & Tuppence and Mr. Harley Quin (What? You thought he was a superhero?).
The ‘Detectives’ must be played in sets of 2 or 3 as the card specifies (Harley Quin can only be used as a wild card). Most allow you to force another player to turn over a ‘Secret’, sometimes of their choosing, sometimes of yours. However, others allow you to turn a ‘Secret’ back over or even take them from another player.
The second type is an ‘Event’ card. Some, such as ‘Look into the Ashes’, allow you to return cards to your hand from the discard pile. Others force everyone to trade certain cards. There are many choices. The ‘Point your Suspicions’ card is particularly fun.
This is where the third type, ‘Devious’, comes into play. When a card must be traded you may pass one of these cards instead. They give a forfeit to the receiving player who has to immediately do as the card says, such as reveal a ‘Secret’.
The Game's afoot!
On your turn you may play an ‘Event’ card, play a set of detective cards or add one to an existing set (but only once and not using a Harley Quin). Ariadne Oliver can only be added to someone else's set. If you can’t go, or choose not to, you must discard at least one card but can discard up to all your remaining cards and draw back up to 6 from the deck or the communal bank (which is immediately refreshed).
To win, each ‘Detective’ must work to make the ‘Murderer’ reveal themselves by turning over their ‘You’re the Murderer’ card.
As the ‘Murderer’ your aim is to either use up the play deck until the ‘The Murder Escapes’ card is revealed, or get everybody else to reveal all their ‘Secret’ cards. Why? Because once all a player’s secrets have been revealed they are in ‘Social Disgrace’ and then they can’t stop you [insert evil laugh here]!
With 5-6 players the ‘Accomplice’ card is added to the initial pile of secrets as with the ‘Murderer’ and thus an ordinary ‘Secret’ card is removed instead. The cards are then mixed and other secrets dealt as before. The ‘Murderer’ & ‘Accomplice’ make themselves known to each other at the start of the game. It is the job of the ‘Accomplice’ to help frustrate other players! If discovered they can no longer help. However, the ‘Murderer’ can still escape.
In the 2-player variant the ‘Murderer’ is obviously know immediately and the game becomes a cat & mouse between the ‘Detective’ proving murder and the ‘Murderer’ escaping.
Play along & enjoy the fun!
This really is a clever little game that becomes more fun the more players put into it. I first played with 3 others who got into their role-playing, voices and all! Strategies can be as deep as you wish, whether you are ’Detective’ or ‘Murderer’. Learning what cards do is simple as each card has text explaining exactly what it does on it.
The secrets to be revealed are always humorous and often laugh out loud. For instance, we do not EVER talk about the vicar’s party...OK?
The weakness is the 2-player variant. Although a challenge, knowing from the start the identity of the ‘Murderer’ takes much away from the excitement. A minimum of 3-4 players works best.
There is a ‘gotcha’ element in this game but it has no malice, and is in fact the whole point. Playing as either ‘Detective’ or ‘Murderer’ is equally fun. In addition, the ‘Accomplice’ card in larger games helps even out the balance and keeps the pace moving. Age range is certainly older children & up, but it is all light-hearted.
Replayability is good as the ‘Murderer’ & ‘Secrets’ are chosen at random each game. Although there are not a huge amount of ‘Secrets’ there are enough to always ensure a chortle.
The card quality is good, if not outstanding and the artwork is certainly in keeping with the tongue-in-cheek 1930s theme. It comes in a compact magnetic fastening box which is sturdy as well as decorative.
Recommended, especially for budding thespians!