St Ives, Sydney
First time out for Gilbert Obermair's neat but long OOP deduction game. It's Cluedo without the board! And better for it I reckon. No more getting dragged around the board at other player's whims.
There are 27 agent cards, 3 of which are secretly removed - they are members of the infamous spy ring calling itself "Black Vienna". The rest are shuffled out as evenly as possible to the players. It's your job to be the first person to deduce which 3 are the spies.
There are 36 investigation cards which assist, each of which have differing combinations of three agents. You choose 1 of the 3 face up investigation cards and place it in front of one of the other players. They will place a number of chips upon the card equal to the number of agents they hold in their hand. Three matches, tick em' off, they're no criminals! No matches, cross them off as not there. 1 or 2 matches ... hmmm, some future deduction required. The asked player then gets to perform an investigation on a player of their choice. More and more of these investigation cards will be played in front of players and it gradually gets to the point where a simple tick off of 1 agent against 1 player has a ripple point through all the other partial matches. "Ahh, if that's one with Player A, then that means he can't be with Player B, so that means Player B must have this one, which means Player C ..."
You can also perform special investigations. Each time you perform an investigation, you can pick up any previously played investigation card that collected no matches at that time and get both the new and the old cards answered by the player you're asking.
The game was enjoyed by everyone. Lots of thinking went into which was the best investigation cards to play against which player, and then doing the mental gymnastics to solve a heap of decision trees once information was revealed. You'd think as the information was public that most players would come to the answer around the same time. That may true (don't know after 1 play), but there are some tactics involved in getting another player to find a match on investigation cards that have your agents on them so that they can't be asked back on you. And then there the whole issue of record-keeping. We all said afterwards we'd change / improve our methods next game, which is being looked forward to.
There's one caveat of course. Everyone must be warned beforehand NEVER to make a matching mistake on the investigations! Otherwise the whole game is screwed. But it didn't happen in ours. And despite that, no got it right in the end. Most everyone was close, but no cigar! Mind you it was all caused by self-induced pressure to make the first accusation. Two agents were known fairly early. There were a few pot-shots at the final agent, but to no avail. After only Andrew was left, and with just one investigation allowed to be asked once the penultimate player goes down, we poured over his shoulder to watch him try to narrow it down. Sadly, Black Vienna slunk off into the night to continue its nefarious undercover activities ... until next time!
A 7 after 1 play for "good game, usually willing to play" but I've got a good feel about this one. It may rise.