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Subject: Light review of Sleuth rss

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Matt McMahon
United States
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In Sleuth players take the part of a detective and attempt to determine the missing gem by questioning the other players.

Components: 6.5

The game consists of 2 card decks. 36 Gem cards and 54 Search cards.
The Gem deck contains 1 card for each combination of the 3 different gems (diamonds, opals and pearl) in each setting (solitare, pair or cluster) and color (red, blue, green, yellow).

The Search deck consists of 3 cards (one element, two element and free choice). The cards determine what type of questions a player can ask of another player.

The cards are a good thickness and should hold up to repeated use without significant wear and tear. The graphics used for the Gem cards are a bit of disapointment to me. I know that they are intended to be language independent, but they are very confusing. Each gem card has a unique image at its center that is surrounded by a graphic with all three gem types displayed. Even after more than a half dozen plays, I'v found that my eye keeps straying over to this centeral border and causing me to check each card 2-3 times to make sure I am recording the information correctly. I have found that by ignoring the central grpahic entirely and instead looking at the top left or bottom right corner shows a much smaller representaion for the gem card without this graphic.

Rules: 6.5

The rule book is another let down. Most of the rules are straight forward, but the rules concerning dealing out the Search cards appears to contain a typo. In the rules it tells the dealer to shuffle and then deal 4 Search cards face up to each player. But later it says that on a players turn they should play one Search card face up in the center of the table. If the cards are all face up to begin with then I'd expect it to say the card should just be played in the center of the table, but not have to point out it remaining face up. We have taken to playing with our Search cards face down until played. Either way it does not seem to effect the game play.

As for the rules:
At the start of play, the dealer draws one card at random and places it aside. This gem is now the missing gem whose identity all players are attempting to discover. Next a number of the remaining cards are dealt to the players with odd number cards placed face up in the middle of the table.

Next each player receives 4 Search cards. Each turn a player may either play one search card to question another player or discard all 4 of his Search cards to draw 4 replacement cards.

Play continues until a player beleives they know the identity of the missing Gem. They may do this at any time, not having to wait for thier next turn. They announce to the other players the identity of the Gem and check the previously place aside Gem. If they are correct they have won. If not they are out of the game, but must continue to answer questions of the other players, but taking no more turns themselves.

Gameplay: 7

If a player uses a one element card he may ask another player how many Gem cards that player has that match the search criteria on the card (ex Yellow). The questioned player must then announce this number to all the players.

If a player uses a two element card, the player of thier choice must announce the number of cards that match the 2 criteria on the search card and then show the active player the Gem cards they have that match.

Free choice cards allow the active player some flexibiity. They may use them either as a one or two element card. Most of these cards have one fixed search criteria and allow the player to choose the second criteria (if used as a two element card). There are also Free choice cards with no preselected criteria, which allow a player to pick both elements if they wish to use it as a two element card.

Overall: 6.5

This proved to be an enjoyable light weight game that could really be played in 15-20 minutes for 3 players. I'm looking forward to playing this with a larger group and trying out the more challenging game where players attempt to identify two Gems.
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