$20.00
$60.00
Frank Hussey
United States
Olympia
Washington
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THE CARDBOARD BOX:
221 Baker St. Sherlock Holmes & The Time Machine is not an expansion for the original game, but a separate game in its own right and the original is not required for play. However, the gameplay is identical to the original, so if you like one you'll like the other. The original conceit to this version is that Holmes and Watson have borrowed HG Wells' time machine and can thus solve the great mysteries throughout time.

A conscious observer may realize that calling it "HG Wells' time machine" breaks the theme -- Holmes is fictional but Wells is not. However, Wells didn't name the protagonist in The Time Machine and I guess the publishers figured at least everyone knew who HG Wells was.

Each time you play the game you choose one of the included scenarios or cases. There are twenty cases included so once you've played them all it's game over. One of these cases, Who Was Deep Throat, has been solved in the real world since the publication of the game. Each case takes about an hour to play.


THE FIVE ORANGE PIPS:
The gameplay consists of simple roll 'n' move to get your pawn to different locations on the board when you get clues. Each location gives you the opportunity to read one specific clue in the cluebook. The clues for all the cases are jumbled together such that's it's unlikely you'll accidentally read a clue you're not supposed to. The clues don't tend to have a whole lot to do with the location they are found in. For example, going to the bank you might learn something about Russian spy networks. Once you think you can solve the mystery, you have to race back to the time machine where you can announce your solution.
Each player may also have a badge and a key with which they can lock or unlock locations. It does add a little something to the game but I haven't seen this mechanic play an important role. However, the mechanics of the game really only exist as a mystery delivery device.

Based on my plays thus far, the included mysteries are really quite clever and can even be witty. They were very fun to try to figure out. Also, you don't need all the clues in order to guess the right answers for the mystery. There's a nice tension between wanting to check more clues to confirm your guesses and to race to the time machine before anyone beats you to it.


THE MISSING THREE-QUARTER:
The primary downsides to the game are the roll and move mechanic and the occasional lag in pacing. In the last game I played, one person rolled a 2 or under at least three times in a row, while others sometimes rolled a 6 twice in a row. We decided that for the next time we play the game, we'll either just assume each roll is a 6 or we'll use numbered cards such that everyone gets the same numbers to play but has to choose when to play them.
Let me be clear that I consider roll 'n' move to be a downside for this game not because it causes imbalance but simply because you only really feel like you're playing the game if you're getting a new clue reasonably frequently.
The lag is caused by the fact that some of the clues are puzzle clues and can take a while to write down. If the next player also gets a clue on their turn, they may need to wait for the previous player to finish with the cluebook. This is a minor quibble, but this is a game which should go as fast as possible.
Also, there can be some frustration when three quarters of the way through the game you've solved for all the questions but one and you can't seem to find a location that will give you a clue for it.
The game will accommodate 2 - 6 players. I've only played it with four and I'd rather not exceed that unless we were playing teams.

THE FINAL PROBLEM:
There really isn't a whole lot of game here, but if you enjoy trying to solve mysteries that's irrelevant. If you are a mystery fan you will enjoy this game though you may want to come up with house rules or even ignore most of the mechanics. I wouldn't pay a great deal of money for the game, but it would be a truly awesome thrift store or BGG Marketplace find.

Here is a sampling of the twenty included mysteries:

The Black Dahlia Murder
What Happened to Jimmy Hoffa?
The JFK Assassination
Did the FBI Really Shoot Dillinger?
How Could Three's Company Be the Most Popular Show in the US?

Thanks for reading!




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barbro barbro
Sweden
Sweden
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Excellent review! Very well written!
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Benjamin Maggi
United States
Clifton Park
New York
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Brazen Hussey wrote:

Here is a sampling of the twenty included mysteries:
How Could Three's Company Be the Most Popular Show in the US?


This mystery is probably one that will never be solved!

Great review!
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