Ruse is a game by Levi Mote and Sarah Sharp, published by Bonsai Entertainment and Game Salute. It is for 3-5 players. In this game, players will be making accusations and providing alibis to counter those accusations, all while trying to pin the murder on another player in this Victorian Steampunk game. The player that is unable to prove their innocence will be declared the murderer.
To begin, each player will take a character portrait placing it color side up in front of themselves. One of the unchosen portraits will be placed in the center of the play area as the victim who was murdered. All of the cards are shuffled together and 5 cards are dealt out to each player. The top card of the deck is flipped face up as a discard pile, while the rest of the deck is placed face down beside it. Play now begins.
On a player’s turn, they will draw the top card from the deck and then perform one of the following 5 actions: make an accusation, reveal a joker, provide an alibi, cover up evidence, or discard a card. To make an accusation, you will place a card face up in front of another player and then make an accusatory statement based on the images and words on the card. The card played will be either a method, motive or opportunity card. Only one of each type may be placed in front of a character and they must all be from the same suit. That card will remain in front of the character until the player provides an alibi to refute it.
The next thing a player can do is reveal a joker. Playing one of these cards allows you to move an accusation card from one player to another. Normal rules as stated above apply. Once the joker is played, it is removed from the game. Again, an accusatory statement is made in role play fashion.
Another thing that can be done is to provide an alibi. To do this, you will play an alibi card that matches the value of an accusation that has been made against you. For example, a 3 for a 3. Again, you will role play your statement proclaiming your innocence.
Your character can also cover up evidence. This can only be done once per game. It’s mainly used as a last ditch effort. To do this, you will simply flip your character portrait over to the black and white side and remove one of the accusations in front of your character, placing it at the bottom of the discard pile. You must also discard a card. The role played statement can either be done or not done, it’s up to the player.
The last thing that a player can do is to discard a card. If the player can not or chooses not to do any of the aforementioned actions, then they must discard a card from their hand, ending their turn. This continues until one guilty person with a method, motive and opportunity card of the same suit are in front of them without an alibi, ability to move an accusation or ability to cover up evidence. That person is the murderer and they must then tell their story. Using the cards in front of them, the player in true role play fashion, must confess their sins before being hauled off to jail, thus ending the game.
Also included with this game is Inspector Montgomery’s Challenge, a solo dice game. The idea is to arrest the murderer by placing 3 accusation dice or 2 accusation dice and a wild guess die on one of the suspects in less than 7 days (turns). This uses the included 5 dice as well as 7 white day markers and the 6 suspect tiles from the main game.
To play this simply arrange the suspects face up in front of you and the white day markers beside you. On your turn, you will remove a marker, to indicate the start of a new day. You then roll the dice. You can then place 1 accusation or wild guess die on a character that matches the die. You then must remove a die from a suspect tile that matches the green alibi die. You may then remove an accusation or wild guess die from a suspect, if you want to. This gives extra dice to be able to roll. If you end any day with 3 accusation dice on a suspect, you win and the culprit confesses. If you end a day with 2 accusation and 1 wild die, then the arrest is made but the case is shaky. If you fail to make an arrest after 7 days, you lose. Scoring then takes place. Scoring is based on the dice used and the amount of day markers used. The lower the score the better you did. You then check your score against the chart on the back of the rule book to see how you did.
There are a lot of different components in this game box. To start with, the game comes with a nice little novella that’s based on the game. I’ve not had the time to read it yet, but I look forward to it. There are also some very nice character bookmarks included in the game. There are also several deck boxes for use with the game. They are thin cardboard with nice artwork on them. All very nice extra pieces. Now to the actual game. The character cards are SUPER thick and really nicely done. The artwork on these things looks amazing. I’m truly blown away. The cards share the same amazing artwork and are very sturdy and shuffle very easily. Now for the solo game pieces. The dice are pretty neat. Each one has one of the characters on it and look great. The day markers are thick wood and are really sturdy as well. All in all there’s a lot to this really simple game. One extra thing about the cards that’s really cool, these can be used for a regular card game like poker or rummy as they are a basic set of 52 playing cards. They just look a lot better than you’re regular deck of playing cards.
10 out of 10
The rulebook is simple and easy to read. It’s full color and even includes a set of quick start rules on the back cover for ease of play. There’s lots of artwork throughout the book as well as several examples of what to do. There are even role play suggestions for how to make accusations or defend against them. There are character biographies, that detail the history of each character. There are also sample confessions for those players who need a little help. The solo dice game’s rules are as well put together as the main game, just smaller. It’s only 4 pages, but that’s all you need to learn how to play it. It too is full color with nice artwork on the cover. Both books look really nice and are well written.
9 out of 10
The game is really unusual as it combines several different ideas together. For one, the murder mystery aspect is really well done and it plays out really nicely through the use of the cards. It feels a little like Get Lucky but distinct enough that it’s not a clone. The role playing can be a little difficult for those not familiar with the story telling aspect of the game. If you can get your players through that, the game really plays nicely. It is great with more players. I think you will really want to go with the max of 5 players for best results. Just makes it a much richer game.
The solo game, is a nice little diversion. It’s not a long little game to play but it’s fun enough to play through a couple of times. Once you’ve done that, you probably won’t really feel like messing with it again. It doesn’t have a great deal of replayability to it. I played it a couple of times in a row and at this time, have no desire to pick it up again. The good think is that the main game makes up for what the solo game lacks.
9 out of 10
Ruse is a light steampunk murder mystery card game of role playing and hand management. It doesn’t take a long time to play, usually lasting around 30 minutes. It’s definitely an interesting party game. I’m not quite sure that’s what it was designed to be, but that seems to me to be what it does best. The artwork is truly fantastic throughout the game. The theme definitely comes through in every aspect, including the solo game. I love the added fact that the cards can be used as standard set of playing cards. That makes me very happy, even though I almost never play regular card games anymore. All the extra components are nice but completely unnecessary. I truly feel that the game could have been made cheaper without the inclusion of these added pieces, thus making a much better game. Still at it’s core, the game is rock solid and a joy to play. Those that love the steampunk genre like i do, or that love a good murder mystery will enjoy this game. Fans of Clue should even like this one. I recommend giving it a try. The next murderer might just be you.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Bonsai Entertainment at their site.
Also check out Game Salute at their site.