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Sherlock 13

Originally published in 2013 as Holmes 13, Hope S Hwang's Sherlock 13 is 2-4 player deduction micrograme that uses just 13 cards. This edition from Arcane Wonders has art from Vincent Dutrait.

The 13 cards each represent a character from the Sherlock Holmes ouevre, including Holmes himself. Each card shows the character plus two or three icons. With three or four players, a single card is taken from the deck and placed face down. That card represents the disguise adopted by the thief you are trying to uncover. The other cards are dealt out evenly to each player, along with a sheet and a shield so that players can make notes and eliminate characters without other players peeking at what they're recording.

Obviously you can immediately eliminate as suspects the characters dealt out to you as your hand. You also need to keep track on your sheet of which icons are accounted for (the sheet shows hown many there are of each). On your turn you can either name an icon and ask who has at least one of that icon in their hand or you can direct a question to a specific player and ask them how many they have of a specific icon. You get to hear everyone's answers, so when you pose a question you are very likely helping other players too... When you think you've worked out which is the face-down card, then, instead of posing an icon question you use your turn to announce the guilty character. You peek at the face-down card; if your deductions are correct, you've won the game, if you're wrong, you keep the card concealed - you're eliminated but you stay in the game because you continue to answer other players' questions.

Tho' better with more players, Sherlock 13 works surprisingly well with just two players. In the two-player game, you take out another two cards and place them face-down. With only one other player, there's obviously no option to ask an icon question to multiple players so instead you have the option of taking one of the two face-down cards and replacing it with a face up card (either the card itself or another from your hand).

Sherlock 13 takes no more than 10-15 minutes to play. Because all the information is public, players soon realise that if they have narrowed the suspects down to just a couple then the likelihood is that others will likewise be at least as close to the solution. Sometimes then you have to take a push-your-luck 50/50 gamble between the two suspects you've narrowed things down to because otherwise you fear another player will make the winning reveal on their next turn. There's also scope too in Sherlock 13 for bluff and bluster: if I give the confident impression that I'm about to make the winning reveal, I might bluff you into a premature and wrong guess...

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