Deduction isn't a simple thing you can just do. There's a line between a guess and a deducted outcome that's quite clear. The same line that separates Homer Simpson and Sherlock Holmes, or a hammer and a precision tool. Guessing until you're right may result in success after the trial and error period, but figuring out and identifying patterns is what'll result in a win. So is there a game where it's the speed of one's deductions can be put to the test? There is! Concluzio by Puzzling Pixel Games. It's a super light deduction and pattern recognition game for 2-4 players that'll take around 15 minutes to play.
To begin playing Concluzio, all players need to be dealt five cards which are private, and one that is unknown to only them. This is done by fanning the cards in hand with the sixth unknown card facing other players. The mystery card is the one the owner needs to guess. Every card consists of three elements: a colour, a number and a shape. Cards are all unique and there is a card for all possible combinations. The objective of players is to identify their muster card, but they may only have one guess. Finally, all players choose one card to pass to the player to their left as a "hint". This should contain at least one element of their mystery card. You are now ready to play.
The game is effectively a race for players to deduce their mystery card. This is done through choosing a card in your hand, and other players saying whether it's associated to your mystery card or not. You then organise your "Yay"s and "Nay"s in a system that works for you. This is public information. Sooner or later, you'll have a pattern that highlights the mystery card's identity and will be able to guess it on your turn. The first player to identify their mystery card will be the winner.
How It Handles
You ever have that moment when waiting for something, where you're stomach is doing backflips and you're trying to wrack your brain around something? When you're on the precipice of certainty, but know any margin of error means failure? That feeling of dread as the turns go by and everyone else is smiling and you're sat there, sweating? That's Concluzio. The race is on to find that card, and no amount of calculus in your head is going to let you count cards. It's tense, heavily logic-based, and awesome.
The Numbers, What Do They Mean?!
Concluzio's system is simple but so, so tricky to master. There are enough cards to cover all possible combinations but at the same time a limitation to make it so you may never encounter the one clue you need. How you deal with that is part of that deduction. If you're certain you have a square on your mystery card, you'd play a square. But you have no squares. In fact, you may never have one. Deducing you've got a square and proving it aren't poles apart, but there's a trick to making those theories correlate.
The game encourages you to explore all possibilities to find the three matching elements. Playing that element and getting a "Yay" is one, playing around it and watching others' cards is another. If all squares are played and out, you won't have one. It's not possible, but then you've got to manage the other two elements. And ensure you remember which clue on which card was the "Yay". Then it all becomes too much and you overthink it all. Was it a square? Is it blue? Six or a seven? What even is a card? Does it exist? Do I really even exist!? Then boom, someone nails their guess because they didn't have an existential crisis. Why? Because they had a system.
Organising the Chaos
A mathematician with a flavour for probability, odds and other geeky elements would have a field day with Concluzio. Its entire premise is that whittling down of what a card could be and couldn't be, based on correlation. Where the clues line up and where they don't. The only thing you can be certain of on the surface is that the cards with a "Nay" associated to them have no link to yours. Red Circle Six as a nay rules out all three elements. It's where these blacklisted bits link to your approved clues that tell you what you've got.
I won't lie when I say I get swamped by the amount of information thrown at me in Concluzio. I start a system, adjust it, change it, then ignore it. There are moments of clarity and that coveted "EUREKA" moment, but that's all a part of the process for me. Others may see it and get it immediately, and that's the process for them. What ensures that those geniuses who part-time card counting in casinos can't just win outright through wizardry and Rain Man style math is the way the cards fall. The chaos that a shuffle cause means you can't outright know. You may get the right cards immediately, but being played in the wrong order will cause havoc with your system. It's beautifully random and relies heavily on player choice.
But Wait, There's More!
Should you manage to move past the deduction element of Concluzio, the game has one last trick up its sleeve. And in true to form styling for any magician it comes on the shape of cards. Four ability cards are also provided which can be dealt to players. These are unique to the player and enable them a buff in some respect, be that a second guess or the ability to just have more cards. Simple changes, but enough to make you a bit more wary of everything!
Concluzio is a fast-hitting deduction game that leaves a positive impression on its players. The guessing in this guessing game is replaced with intense investigation and correlation. How you manage your cards is up to you, and which cards you select is also yours. Whether you win or lose will be down to your ability to watch your cards, others' cards, and track the links between everything. It's a real brain tickler, and it'll test your ability to use logic to solve a problem. We really enjoyed Concluzio as a warm-up/filler game, and found that a few rounds of it prepped us for truly meaty games.