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Mystery Detective: Can you Solve these Cases?

Mystery Detective board game
Mystery Detective Vol 1 and 2 board game published by Add-A-Game

Mystery Detective Vol 1: Classic Cases and Mystery Detective Vol 2: Funny Death Real Life Cases, feature single card death mysteries requiring some hard-thinking detectives to solve them! These board games, published by Add-A-Game, takes combinations of real-world cases and some outlandish scenarios, offering little more than a sentence or two and an illustration for you to put the clues together.

Designed by Holger Bösch (Vol 1), and Corinna Harder and Jens Schumacher (Vol 2), the Mystery Detective board games are basically like little riddles that require you to think way outside the box in order to come up with a plausible solution. There are plenty of correct answers, but there is only one that is right!

So, let’s put on our thinking caps and see what Mystery Detective is all about!

Mystery Detective Gameplay

You can open up any volume of the Mystery Detective board game and start playing almost immediately. Also, as a sidenote, I’ll be referring to this interchangeably as a board game and a card game, even though there isn’t a board present. Sue me! (Please don’t).

Each box features 100 cases, all represented by a single card. There’s an illustration on one side and the premise of the case. This gets read aloud to the Detectives by the Captain, who knows the solution for the case that’s on the back of the card.

It is then up to the Detectives to begin their investigation by asking questions. They can ask as many questions as they like, but the caveat is that the Captain can only respond with either a Yes, No, Close, or Not relevant. That’s all you need to play the game!

At some point the Detectives will present their final answer, and the Captain reads the card to tell them if they’re correct. Then it’s as easy as switching the Captain if you want and keep rotating so that everybody gets an opportunity to theorize on these wacky cases.

Staking Our C.L.A.I.M. on Mystery Detective!

Mystery Detective board gameComponents

When I first opened the box for Mystery Detective, I thought that the cards will shrink-wrapped, when in fact they’re just a gorgeous, glossy finish. These are larger cards too – 5″ x 3″ – so they have plenty of legible real estate for the case details and illustrations to shine.

I should also point out that the box opens like a book, complete with magnetic clasp. This trend of including magnetic clasps on the boxes ala Skora or Final Girl is one that I’m really digging because it just helps the box stay nice and closed, accompanied by a satisfying snap.

Mystery Detective board gameLuck

Not much to say in terms of strategy for the Mystery Detective card game because this is designed to be a cooperative experience driven by discussion and theory postulation. People drawn to riddles will find that these cases tend to follow some really obscure angles, so don’t be afraid to speak your mind. The more spaghetti that you throw at the wall, the better!

You can make the game more difficult by restricting the Captain’s responses to simply Yes or No, if you are finding the game to be too easy, although I doubt that will be the case here. For some of these cases I really don’t know how you can possibly get within the same ballpark as the solution! Just ask, ask, ask away, and when you’re all out of questions, ask some more!

Mystery Detective board game

Mystery Detective board gameAesthetics

Sometimes the illustrations themselves give you some hint towards the answer to the case, so don’t ignore the wonderful illustrations in Mystery Detective. They remind me of some of the books that I read during my German Literature classes at university, which is fitting since Vol 1 of Mystery Detective is actually something of a republication of the German Black Stories and Black Stories 2.

Illustrations are present on the front and the back of the cards, which is really necessary in a game that’s as mechanics-lite as this. I do appreciate the use of only black lines and red color; it’s an old-school style that tends itself well to the noir theming of the game.

Mystery Detective board game Interest

Mystery Detective is super digestible, and it is great for short bursts of gameplay or even if you wanted to rattle off a bunch of cards all in a row. I will reiterate that a lot of the solutions are really out there and would be difficult to pinpoint exactly what happened, but by encouraging extensive question-asking you can usually get close to the ballpark. Oftentimes it’s one question that opens the whole thing up.

If you enjoy doing daily riddles or logic puzzles, Mystery Detective might be something you want to check out. Also, since it’s just cards, you can easily take this traveling on a roadtrip or plane ride to help pass the time. The replayability is fairly low because once you know the answer to something – especially if it’s outlandish – you will probably remember it for awhile. Time might need to pass between game sessions if you want to play through all of the cards again.

Mystery Detective board game

Mystery Detective board gameMood

Some might find Mystery Detective to be agonizing because of the absurdity of some of the answers, but I think that’s part of the allure and charm that makes it fun to play. You’re essentially playing hot/cold with every question, and whenever you ask a question that gets a ‘Yes’ response you are suddenly invigorated to pursue that line of questioning. There’s a deductive thrill that comes packaged with that which I find very appealing.

The game also plays fine just with two players, but it shines much brighter with multiple detectives asking questions. You don’t feel the weight of the entire case on your shoulders this way and can think of other questions while the other players are doing so. Your odds of success will rise the more people that you have.

Mystery Detective: Outrageous Cases!

Growing up we used to have a book of riddles that we would run through quite a bit, and I can probably attribute my love of riddles to that tiny little blue book. A lot of times we would inadvertently play Mystery Detective just by asking follow-up questions about those riddles, so it’s nice to have a game that includes handpicked and custom short mysteries designed for the format.

And even if you don’t solve the cases, know that you’ll have fun along the way! Plus you can try and stump someone else with the same case later and watch their face scrunch up in thought which is always fun.

You can pick up a copy of Mystery Detective from Amazon, or better yet – your FLGS!

[Disclaimer: Nerds on Earth was provided a copy of Mystery Detective from Flat River Group in exchange for an honest review.]

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