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Subject: Beyond Baker Street - a quick review rss

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Craig Somerton
North Ryde - Sydney
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I don't play to win - I play for enjoyment and social interaction.
This short review is a summary of our game session on 1 November 2016 and my first game.

The guys invited me to join them for a quick game of Beyond Baker Street toward the end of our gaming evening.

Not having played the game before, the guys described it as Hanabi with a theme, and they were 100% correct - and that theme alone really adds to the feel of the game. In contrast it makes Hanabi feel quite abstract.

Like Hanabi, the core mechanism is that you get a hand of cards which you reverse so everyone else can see them but not you. Personally, I love this mechanism - it introduces tension and doubt into the game and in fitting with the theme of investigating a crime, it works well. I also enjoy deduction games and combined with the Sherlock Holmes theme - this is a game that is highly attractive to me.

Everyone has a hand of cards in one of 4 colours and symbols and they have to work together to play those cards to match the card values of several piles. Thematically, players are competing against Sherlock to solve the crime first and Sherlock's progress is measured on an investigation track, adding a constant feeling of pressure.

Gameplay is simple and there are lots of agonising decisions to be made throughout. Being blind to your own cards, getting information about your cards is crucial to success, but giving clues to others will advance Sherlock along his track.

The added complexity comes from the limits imposed by the investigation values you have to match and from the unique character abilities, but the added complexity is fairly low - so this isn't a brain burning game, but it is one with some interesting little options and decisions.

The game includes increased levels of difficulty and the description says it plays 2-4. We managed to win our first game quite easily, so we played again with a higher difficult level - we also won that, but it was a close-run race with Sherlock.

I really enjoyed the game and after just two plays, I feel this game may be a Hanabi killer for me. There are distinct differences between the two and I will still play Hanabi, but mechanically Beyond Baker Street feels considerably more thematic, and that plays far more into my area of enjoyment.

The only complaints I really have about the game is that the colours of the cards are rather muddy and indistinct. Apart from the turquoise, the rest aren't really clear, and the icons are only on the top of the card, so if you mistakenly hold your cards upside down (as I did), nobody can see the icons - silly, but a minor usability complaint.

The unique character cards can really be used to distinct advantage, and some are very very useful in the right circumstances - others less so. I'm not sure they are all that balanced, but further plays will tell.

Easy play, 2-4 players, co-op, deduction filler, and with the Sherlock Holmes theme - this is a game that ticks a LOT of boxes for me, and it's all done in around 20 mins, which makes it a big winner in my book.

Initial rating for me is 7.5 and I purchased the game from my FLGS a few days later.
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