Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective casts you and your friends as the investigators working to solve 10 cases in Victorian London. Pore over a map of the city, consult Watson’s journals and the day’s newspaper for clues, and rush around London to investigate key locations and interview persons of interest. Follow your leads and put together the truth – only you can collect the proof needed to stop whomever is manoeuvring in the darkness.

Rating: Fiendish!
Completion Time: 2 hours +
Date Played: 30th August 2020
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: Murder Mystery Fans, Board Game Fans

Wait what? What is this? It’s a NEW CATEGORY on my website for Board Games? Yep! As you can see, I’ve played Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective back in August and I’ve been holding off writing about it. “It’s not an escape room” I hear you say? No, but it’s very, very close. You’ll have to utilise the same logic and puzzle solving skills in order to crack the case.

Please Note: This game has 10 cases to solve, each taking at least 1 – 2 hours. I have decided to write this review based on the first case only (The Munitions Magnate). Whilst the experience of playing differs from case to case, I feel that this ‘introductory’ case is representative of the experience of playing the game as a whole. If there’s any sort of demand I’m happy to write separate reviews for each case.

So to begin this review, there are a few things to know about Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective:

  • The game is completely narrative based. If you don’t like reading a lot of text, this isn’t for you.
  • I’m calling it a “board game” but there actually isn’t a board.
  • It’s really, really difficult. It took me 3 or 4 cases before I realised it was possible to actually solve a case 😉
  • You can’t beat Sherlock Holmes’ score, don’t even try.

With that out of the way, I’ll explain the game!

This game is best played co-operatively in a team of 2 – 6 players. You could definitely play solo if you like, but any more than 6 players and I reckon it might get out of hand. Actually a few weeks after we played the first case, we had a couple of friends round for wine and board games (within our strict social bubble, I’ll add). 3 bottles in and someone suggests we give it a go. It did not end well. So my second piece of advice would be to be on your absolute a-game when you give this one a go.

You start with a map of London, a case book, the day’s newspaper and a London directory. That’s right! No board, no dice, no meeples. Your case book is the game, it’s in here that the scene is set and the clues are to be found.

Once you’ve heard the case and Watson’s advice, you may quite literally move anywhere on the map in any order! Points are given based on the ‘fewest moves’. When I played with Player 2 I think we were up to 30 locations before we tried to give our verdict of the case. A lot of points = A low score.

In terms of those points, technically you’re up against Sherlock Holmes himself. Beat his score and you ‘win’. But I wouldn’t take this too seriously. He’s super-human and frankly impossible to beat. Fight me if you disagree, haha.

*shakes fist at Baker Street*

I mentioned at the start that this is a review for Case 1: The Munitions Magnate, so a few notes on this. The case is quite simple – it’s a murder. The head of a munitions company is shot and robbed. You interview a connection to the victim and then, the game is afoot.

Plenty of place names and people are mentioned in this introduction, so it’s up to you to choose wisely and follow up the relevant leads.

How did we do? TERRIBLY. We followed false leads, asked for help from irrelevant people, never investigated 2 key places, and eventually condemned the wrong person to prison. Then of course, when Sherlock Holmes explains the true solution it all makes sense. I was reminded of this meme:

But was the game fun? Oh ABSOLUTELY! It’s like nothing else I’ve ever played and is such a refreshing experience. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like being a detective (or Sherlock Holmes himself!) give this a go. It’s completely cerebral, you’ll have to quite literally solve the case and absolutely nothing is going to be handed to you easily.

Even though you may get a lot wrong and wander down the wrong alleys, it is possible to solve a case. And those you don’t solve, you learn a lot from.

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders can be purchased for between £30 – £50 from any good board game shop, like this one.

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