Designer: Martino Chiacchiera, Silvano Sorrentino
Artist: Alberto Besi
Publisher: dV Giochi
Times Played: 1, on a copy I borrowed from Dale
Decktective is a sort of sibling line to dV Giochi’s Deckscape series. Whereas Deckscape presents the player(s) with a series of mostly self-contained puzzles with clear answers, the Decktective series pushes towards the mystery end of the puzzle niche, where players will take on the role of detectives solving some crime.
Rather than individual puzzles, most of your time will be spent observing evidence and considering the possible implications for all of your W questions. At the end, expect a series of Big Picture questions, that while not explicit before the end game, should likely be predictable (e.g. whose crime is this crime?)
While the structure of Deckscape is largely “here’s a stack of puzzles, do them in order” and there aren’t too many rules past that, Decktective has added a bit of gamey-ness as it shifted towards the mystery section. Depending upon the player count, you’ll each have a hand of 1 to 5 cards. Actually, before we get to that, we need to follow the game’s setup –the setup that happens prior to getting your hand of cards:
Your own little crime scene! Look at it all around. It even has illustrations on the reverse! Anyway, there’s been some sort of royal murder and you can sorta of see the bloody body on the ground there.
Most of the deck will look like the cards below. Blank. At least, on the side you can see. Rather than each player having access to all of the cards, you’ll need to be able to earn the ability to share the information that is on the reverse (though you can always share the title of the cards in hand.)
The cards have different values (one to ten), and in order to play one face up, you must have a number of cards face down in a communal discard pile equal to that value. So it will be up to you, largely individually, which of the pieces of evidence in your hand do you think will be unimportant to cracking the case such that you can afford to not share the information and set it aside to perhaps unlock more fruitful attestations from other players’ hands.
That’s how your turns will go: play a card or discard; then draw a replacement.
Other than that, communication is largely open and you and your fellow players are free to discuss the face up cards and the who what where and whenceforth. Play continues until the evidence cards are exhausted and then the players are faced with a series of questions. (As I said before, these are largely predictable, but I’ll avoid specifics.) In a simple-but-elegant component, the game comes with a set of plastic paperclips to mark your guesses on one side, and if correct, when you flip the card over, the clip will be outlining how many points you earned! (You don’t flip any of the cards until you’ve answered all questions.)
I liked it! In general, I’m not predisposed to enjoying the mystery/deduction corner of this puzzle genre. I like the self-containedness of puzzle games, and for me, typically, mysteries introduce too large of a sandbox to play in for any answer to sit comfortably. But that didn’t happen here. I played two player, so we each had a hand of three cards. There were times when we had the right tick tock of the crime schedule in our discussion as we went along, times we moved on to other scenarios, and times we moved back (and sometimes back again!) The decision of which evidence to keep and which to discard was at times an anxious one, and at just the right level for me.
Ultimately, this one likely falls on the easier end of any such spectrum, though maybe we kept the right pieces of evidence. Regardless, I was fine with that. Mysteries like this are sort of a series of mini-puzzles for which you get no intermediate feedback. You’ll sort of only know if you’re right when you get to the end and a coherent narrative of the crime clicks into place. For me, I’d rather that happened than didn’t happen!
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
I love it!
I like it. James Nathan
Not for me…