Thursday, December 5, 2013

First on the list: 221B Baker Street

221B Baker Street the Master Detective Game

Originally published in 1975, 221B Baker Street is a classic Sherlock Holmes themed board game in the same mold as Clue, although not nearly as well known. At the beginning of the game, players are read a card with a short story detailing a mystery, followed by the elements of the mystery that the players must solve.

In our game we were faced with "The Adventure of the Chameleon's Vengeance," a tale about an attempt on Holmes' life by his old enemy the Chameleon. We were given a story about Holmes and Watson attending a violin performance at the Playhouse, and tasked with: a) discovering the nature of the Chameleon's deadly surprise for Holmes; b) where it was hidden; and c) who the Chameleon was disguised as.

From here, the players are in a race to see who can solve the mystery first. Each turn, you roll a single six-sided die to see how many spaces he or she can move, travelling around the board to different locations such as the Playhouse, Scotland Yard, the Pawnbroker, and so on. At each location you are given a clue to the mystery, to be silently read from the clue book and recorded on a provided solution checklist form. The goal is to figure out the mystery in as few moves as possible, then get back to Baker Street and announce the solution, which is then read silently from the clue book. If the first player to get there is correct, they win, otherwise they're out of the game and the others keep playing.

It's a light, reasonably entertaining game, with a few minor flaws:
  • There are a lot of empty spaces between the board, at least 5 between each location, so unless you roll really well, you will spend many turns doing nothing but moving.
  • The clues given are often simple word puzzles rather than story-driven clues.
  • Frequently the locations mentioned in the setup story fail to yield any especially meaningful clues, so where to move first is often based on lucky guesswork.
Somewhat deviously, the word puzzle clues will often seem to point to a different character or story element when not interpreted correctly. This is what happened in our game: Katherine made it back to Baker Street first with what she thought was the solution, but one of the word puzzle clues misled her into getting the Chameleon's identity wrong.

Rating: 2 (out of 5) We don't mind playing this game, but it would rarely be our first choice on game night.

Date played: November 28, 2013

1 comment:

  1. My grandma got me this game for my 9th birthday. I have happy memories associated with it :)