Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft Review

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Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft is a game by Diego Ibañez, published by Devir. It is for 2 players. In this game, players will take on the roles of the legendary literary characters, Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. Each player will be trying to prove either the innocence or guilt of the suspected bomber of Parliament, Michael Chapman. They’ll have a week to complete their investigations as they run around town interacting with various persons of interest while trying to gather clues and information. In the end, the player that can gain the most points and thus solve the case, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board should be placed on the table between the players. The character cards for Doctor Watson, Mrs. Hudson and Inspector Lestrade are placed in their appropriate spaces. The rest of the character cards are shuffled together and placed face down on their space on the board. 2 character cards are drawn and placed face up in the 2 Day one spaces. The investigation markers are placed within reach of both players. The first player is chosen and they decide which character, either Sherlock or Mycroft, they want to be. Players are then given the 3 action markers of their color along with 5 investigation tokens taken from the pool. The clue deck is shuffled and placed face down between the players. The top 4 clue cards are drawn and placed in a row beside the deck. Play now begins.

The game is played over 7 rounds that each simulate a day of investigation. Each round consists of 3 phases; start of the day, investigation and end of the day. The first phase is the start of the day. In this phase, a new character card is drawn from the character deck and placed on the appropriate day space on the board. The action markers placed on the character cards are then stood up. This phase is skipped on the first turn of the game.

The next phase is the investigation phase. In this phase, players take turns moving their action markers. This is done by taking an action marker that is standing on a character card and placing it laying down on another character card that does not have one of their markers on it. The player then uses the skill of the character that just had an action marker placed on it. These skills can be anything from gaining investigation markers, to using these markers to gain clues from the line of clue cards or from the deck itself. Players continue performing this action until both players have laid down all 3 of their action markers. It should be noted that if a character’s skill causes a player to gain investigation markers, these should be placed in the player’s play area where the opponent is able to see them. If the player gains a clue card, they must place them on their side of the board organized by type of clue. The cards are placed on top of each other but spread out so that the opponent can see how many of each type they have. Once a clue card is taken a replacement is drawn and added to the line.

There are a few things that should be noted about clue cards. First some characters allow a player to gain cards from the deck. The player checks them out secretly and then places them in a separate stack face down but spread out like the other clue cards so that the opponent can see how many hidden clues they have. Another thing of note are special clues like wild cards and map fragments. Wild cards can be added to any type of clue or can start a new clue type. However only 1 wild card may be added to the same type of clue. Map fragments count for points at the end of the game depending on how many fragments the player has.

The final phase is the end of the day phase. In this phase, players check to see if there are any characters that have an action marker of both colors on top of it. If so, the character card is turned face down to indicate that the character is unavailable. If there are any character cards that were turned over on a previous round, these are now flipped face up and become available for the next day’s investigations. It should be noted that Doctor Watson, Mrs. Hudson and Inspector Lestrade are always available and can never be flipped over.

The game continues until both players have used all 3 of their markers at the end of Day 7. Players then reveal their hidden clues and added them to the corresponding clue type. Scoring now occurs. Players gain points for having the most of a particular type of clue. They gain the value of that type of clue minus the the number of clues their opponent has of that type. They gain bonus points for having all the cards of a particular type. They also get points for the number of map fragments that they have and subtract points for any wild card that has not been assigned to a type of clue. Players add up their points and the player with the most points is the winner.

One last thing of note, the game comes with a special double sided Sherlock/Mycroft card, as well as Moriarty and Moran villain cards. These are optional but can be used to increase the difficulty of the game. More information on these can be found in the rule book. Just something to be aware of.

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COMPONENTS
The game comes with some very beautiful looking pieces. The board is really great looking and has places on it for all the different days of character cards. The action markers are brightly colored meeples made of wood. They are very nice and sturdy. The investigation markers are thick cardboard pieces that resemble a magnifying glass. I really like these as they remind me of the clue tokens from Arkham Horror, just better. Of course the star of the game are the cards. The character deck looks amazing. Each card is illustrated really beautifully and recreates the look of some of the great supporting characters from the Sherlock Holmes stories. The clue deck is made of several different designs that give the feel of a criminal investigation. I really like how great everything looks here. Every piece is made of great quality and is designed really well. Overall I’m well pleased with the look and feel of the game.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is great. It has lots of great pictures and examples throughout the book. There’s a really nice introduction to the game that gives the history of this particular story. All the different steps of the game are explained really well. The book also includes a section devoted to each of the character cards and explains how each one works in great detail. There’s also an extra section devoted ot the optional cards that I mentioned in the overview, along with the details of how to include some or all of them to make the game more difficult. The final page concludes with a detailed example of a turn of the game. Overall, everything looks really nice and is explained in such a way that there should be no problems understanding how to play the game. I’m really pleased with the look and feel of the rules.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really fun two player game. It’s is a great worker placement style game as it doesn’t throw too many things at you at one time. Mostly what you’ll be doing is collecting investigation markers so that you can trade then in for clues. Of course some of the characters will do things a little bit differently but that’s the basic concept of the game. The other aspect of the game is set collection. That’s where the majority of your points will come from. You’ll be trying to gain the majority in each type of clue while limiting what your opponent gets. It’s not a really difficult game to play. That said, it does take a bit trying to understand the iconography on the different character cards. Some are pretty self explanatory like Mrs. Hudson allows you to collect 3 investigation tokens. However some of them take a bit of decoding, like Irene Adler. Thankfully the rulebook has a great reference section to help you out with that. The game also scales up the difficulty quite a bit with the inclusion of the optional cards. This makes the replayability quite a bit higher. The theme feels a bit weak and doesn’t quite come through like I wanted it to. To me it didn’t feel like I was pounding the pavement, interrogating witnesses while trying to unravel clues to the case. That said, the game is still really fun and interesting. It’s not going to give you the feeling of playing Sherlock Holmes but if you look at it as a light 2 player game, you won’t be disappointed. Players looking for a good 2 player game should really check this one out. I would definitely recommend, especially for fans of worker placement or set collection style games. Overall I think the game looks great and is quite enjoyable.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft is a light 2 player worker placement and set collection style game. It doesn’t take long to play with most game sessions lasting no more than 30 minutes. The components are gorgeous. I really love the artwork on the character cards. Unfortunately the theme doesn’t quite come through like I’d hoped it would. Even so, it’s a really fun 2 player game. Once you’ve played through a time or two, you’ll be ready to add the optional cards in to amp up the difficulty. It has a good level of replayability. The iconography takes a bit of learning but the rulebook helps out well with that. Players looking for an interesting 2 player game should really enjoy this one. It’s fun and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. I would definitely recommend checking it out.
8 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Devir at their site.

http://us.deviramericas.com/

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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