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Sunday, October 23, 2005



Sid Sackson's Sleuth was originally released in 1967 by 3M. It was released last year to a new audience by Face 2 Face games. In Sleuth, players are dealt a hand of cards which depict various combination of gems. One card is placed face down to the side. By asking other players questions about the cards in their hands, players try to deduce what the face down card is.

Each card depicts a unique gem with 3 characteristics. Each gem is either a diamond, opal, or pearl, and is arranged as either a single stone, pair of stones, or a cluster (three) of stones. There are 4 suits, each contain all 9 arrangements of stones. Suits are red, blue, yellow and green.

There are, in fact, two decks of cards with the game. The main deck is the 36 gem cards. The second deck is a deck of questions players can ask each other. Players must have the appropriate card to ask a question.

The second deck is divided up into 2 types of questions, one element questions, and two element questions. One element cards have one item on them, for example: Diamonds. This card would let you ask one opponent how many diamond cards he has in his hand. The chosen opponent would have to tell you how many he has in his hand. The two element cards contain two items, for example: red diamonds. If you ask an opponent a two element question he has to respond how many he has, and hand the like cards to the inquiring player for the inquiring player to see. After he looks at the cards he passes them back. Other opponents simply note how many cards were passed.

Players puzzle out who has which cards based upon the questions. When a player thinks he knows which card is face down he writes down his guess, looks at the card and, if he guessed correctly, reveals the card.

It is a very unforgiving game. One mistake will throw you off in a bad way and leave you confused and frustrated.

The key to the game is developing a system that you can use to keep track of player's answers. Every player will prefer a slightly different system. Some players like to figure out which cards each other player has in his hand, and by process of elimination deduce the hidden card. Others will prefer a larger, grid elimination method. Find a process you prefer, and stick to it.

Sleuth is a very well designed, simple, logic game with little luck. As the game winds down you may find yourself in a position of not being able to ask the one or two questions you need to ask to deduce the hidden card. If you find yourself in this position you can, on your turn, ask one specific question of your choice to a player of your choice without having the question card in your hand that you need. Otherwise you can guess the hidden card at any time, even out of turn.

All that being said, I really don't like the game. I recognize that it is well designed game. It has a rating of 7.20 over at BGG, which makes it the 223 best game ever and that is an appropriate ranking. I understand that it will have strong appeal to logic puzzle lovers. It went over well with my game group. It just isn't my kind of game.

Sleuth crosses the line of being mentally challenging and crosses over into the realm of work. Sleuth is much more like work to me than it is fun.

I've owned the game since it came out. In fact, I bought it because I knew it would appeal to my wife, and it did... Much more than I could have imagined.

I have no qualms with playing the game occasionally, but it went over entirely too well on Saturday night gamenight at my house. I won the first game, but only on the strength of a foul committed by Dame Coldfoot. She guessed incorrectly, then stated she only missed one of the characteristics. That one clue was enough to give me the correct answer.

There was a resounding call for a second game, which I also played simply because a couple of guys who had never played before were very enthused with the game. After the second game a resounding cry was heard for a third game. I had to excuse myself from the third game. One game a month is about my limit for Sleuth.

Try it. You will probably like it.


I stumbled across this blog the other day http://www.boardgameblog.co.uk/ Someone seemed to put a lot of work into it for two days, then stopped. Looks like they are trying for a daily "Best of the boardgame blogosphere blog". I'll keep my eye on it for a while to see if they can pull it off.

Got to play another game of Age of Steam. My main game buddy pronounced that he would never play again. No one else seemed too impressed either. We only played a couple rounds and switched to Shadows Over Camelot.

Shadows Over Camelot is a pretty good game, but after a dozen or fifteen plays it is fading fast in my estimation. It really isn't a game that is different enough from time to time that it holds my interest. I suspect I will play it fairly often as it has a theme that appeals to newbies, supports 7 players and has a cooperative format that makes it rather unique.

Speaking of "cooperative format", I bought my first game designed by Bruno Faidutti the other day. I found it at a thrift store, still in shrink wrap. The game is called Terra. It is a cooperative game where players vie to save the world's environment (from Americans and Republicans, no doubt). Although a cooperative game, I believe there is an individual winner if the players win the game. It is ranked 1523 over at Boardgamegeek, with an average rating of 6.20. Maybe I'll break it out at my wife's next company party. She works with a bunch of Birkenstock-wearing, French-wine-drinking, Joan-Baez-listening Greenies.

Good gaming

I think the concept of pointing to the best articles is great, but I have a big problem with the implementation.

Extracting a paragraph or two, summarizing, and/or providing a link are fair use. Reposting the entire article is certainly not. All posts are copyrighted automatically by the Berne convention.

They should try something more on the realm of Techdirt or something. I certainly don't give blanket permission to repost anything I write in its entirety without asking.

It doesn't really bother me. I can see how Adam over at Gamefest might not want those blogs reposted, but I don't recall seeing any of the Gamefest blogs reprinted.

They are attributing everything that I noticed.

Also, it seems as though they stated that the purpose was to collect the articles for their personal use. They didn't advertise the blog anywhere, I'm the one who publisized it.
Sleuth is definitely one of the world's great games, and one of the few that can play 7.
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