WBG Score: 7.5
Player Count: 2-6
Published by: Gibsons
This is a free review copy. See our review policy here.
Ah, so you're ready to embark on a mysterious and captivating journey through 1800s London and 221B Baker Street, the board game! Grab your detective hat and let's dive into the ingenious world of Sherlock Holmes. Get ready for a game filled with intrigue, deduction, and perhaps a few hilarious mishaps along the way!
221b Baker Street was initially published in 1975, featuring 20 cases to solve, and it quickly became a sensation. Over the years, many new cases were released as expansions, and different versions of the game were created. Fortunately, Gibsons has graciously published this new version, which includes a whopping 75 cases. There's also a deluxe version with 180 cases, but acquiring it can be quite challenging. Personally, I believe 75 cases provide more than enough content! So, let's gather around the table and see if this game, which predates me, still stands the test of time.
How To Set Up 221b Baker Street
Alright, my dear Watson, it's time to delve into the world of mysterious cases in 221B Baker Street! Are you prepared for an adventure?
Indeed, Holmes! I have my trusty magnifying glass and my wit honed to perfection. Let us see if we can outmatch the brilliant detective himself!
Splendid, Watson. Allow me to explain how the game unfolds. We are presented with a series of peculiar cases that require solving, and our objective is to be the first to unravel each mystery. Throughout the game, we will visit various locations, gather vital clues, and conduct thorough interrogations of suspects. However, we must remain vigilant, my dear Watson, as our opponents may attempt to foil our plans!
Oh, the game of deduction and mischief! I love it already. How do we start, Holmes?
Well, Watson, first, we will place the board into the centre of the table. Each player will choose a coloured playing piece and place it into the starting location.
Is that 221B Baker Street?
By Jove, you've got it! Each player will take one skeleton key card and one Scotland Yard card and place it in front of them. Place the remaining skeleton keys into the Locksmith and the Scotland Yard keys...
Into Scotland Yard?
That one was a little easier, but yes! Then choose a starting player with the roll of a dice, and a case to play and you can begin! The starting player should read the case aloud, a few times if necessary, and then the game will be afoot!
How To Play 221b Baker Street
... On each turn, we'll roll the dice to determine how many spaces we move. We can choose to visit various locations, and once we arrive, we'll read the corresponding clue. Each case will show which number to read in the book on the back.
Ah, the suspense is killing me, Holmes! What do we do with the clues we gather?
Fear not, Watson, for each clue presents a baffling piece of the puzzle to add to the overall mystery, and our task is to collect all the clues we need to solve the case. Each case will have a different requirement of things that need to be solved. The murderer. The weapon. The motive. Who the Villain was. And why certain things happened. Each case has its own specific challenges. We can collect our thoughts on this handy sheet each game, so we do not forget what we have learnt. Do not read what is on the below Watson if you want to keep the first case a mystery.
I cannot read your writing anyway Holmes!
So, we must carefully strategize our route to narrow down where to go first to find the suspects and motive. But what if they try to mislead us, Holmes?
Ah, Watson, that's the exciting part! Our opponents might try to throw us off the scent with outrageous and ridiculous facial reactions to clues they just read. They can block off certain locations they have visited using their Scotland Yard card. We can then only enter that building or location if we have a skeleton key. But did they lock it because the clue there is vital to the case? Or because they want to trick us into heading down a dead end? We must be prepared for their shenanigans and rely on our keen deduction skills!
Oh, Holmes, this is going to be quite a challenge. But I have faith in our wit and cunning. What happens when we think we've solved the case?
When we believe we've cracked the mystery, we must had back home to 221B Baler street. We'll announce our solution to the group then check the case book to see if we were right. If we're correct, we'll bask in the glory of victory! But if we're wrong, Watson, brace yourself for the laughter and mockery from our opponents. We must then watch on as they continue playing.
Oh, I can already picture the scene, Holmes. Our grand theory shattered, and our rivals revelling in their triumph. But fear not, my friend, for we shall persevere!
Indeed, Watson! Let us embark on this challenging adventure, filled with wit, mystery, and a good dose of absurdity. Remember, it's not just about solving the case, but also about enjoying the whimsical journey we're about to embark upon!
Absolutely, Holmes! With you as my partner in this detective escapade, I'm ready to face any challenge that 221B Baker Street throws our way!
221b Baker Street Board Game Review: Is It Fun?
The cases featured in this game offer a delightful range of complexity, presenting intriguing challenges to solve. The satisfaction derived from moving around the board, meticulously gathering clues one by one, and gradually piecing together all the information to crack the case is truly rewarding. The thrill intensifies as you race against other players, striving to solve the mystery quicker and more efficiently. It's crucial to pay attention to the details mentioned in each case. For instance, if the case refers to a theatre, it's wise to head there promptly.
Similarly, if there's an event at the pub, make it a priority to investigate. Not every location is necessary for every case. Some locations may lack clues altogether, while others may provide redundant or inconsequential information. Knowing where to go and in what order becomes a vital strategy.
Now, let's discuss movement on the board. In the original game, movement is determined by the roll of a single six-sided die (D6). However, I have addressed the potential frustration of long distances between buildings by introducing an additional twelve-sided die (D12). As the game was created in 1975, I believe it's perfectly acceptable to adopt house rules to alleviate the monotony of roll-and-move mechanics. Ultimately, the decision to implement this rests with you.
Nonetheless, it's important to be mindful of your movement and its order. Consider which buildings are crucial for the specific case you are investigating. Also, remember that you must eventually end your movement at 221B Baker Street, so ideally, you wouldn't want to venture too far and then have to travel all the way back. Personally, I find it helpful to utilize the Carriage Depot, allowing me to travel to any building on the board early in the game. This way, I can plan my movements accordingly and ensure I am well-prepared when returning to 221B Baker Street for my final deduction.
The cases themselves are absolutely delightful and mysterious. I won't spoil them here, but as you can see from the first case, they capture the desired style perfectly. They transport you back to the era of the great (fictional) Sherlock Holmes, where you're ready to engage in a battle of wits with the criminal masterminds of the late nineteenth century.
The clues provided in the game come in various forms. Some are general statements, others are useless tidbits, and then there are the puzzles. The puzzles are often presented in groups, requiring you to visit multiple locations to gather all the pieces of those clues. They may be related to the weapon or the killer and often involve clever wordplay. However, at times, solving the puzzles may require pre-existing knowledge. For example, in the second case, you need to know what a group of orange trees is called. We resorted to a quick Google search. Additionally, in the aforementioned first case, having some familiarity with the play Hamlet proves to be quite helpful. These factors may make the game more challenging for younger players or those lacking specific areas of general knowledge.
It's important to keep in mind that this game was created 47 years ago! Naturally, there may be aspects that don't align perfectly with the modern era. Just as you wouldn't expect a car from 1975 to have self-driving capabilities, there may be elements in this game that reflect the time it was designed. However, one can still appreciate the charm of that car and how it evokes a particular feeling while driving it. Similarly, this game possesses a certain charm that I find endearing, entertaining, intriguing, and, above all, fun.
This game indeed benefits from house rules regarding movement around the board, as the standard mechanics can potentially lead to frustration. One alternative approach that I often employ is treating the movement as a worker placement game, allowing players to move between adjacent buildings without the need for dice rolls. This modification significantly speeds up the game, removes the luck factor of dice rolling, and minimizes frustration. While it may reduce some of the tension, it amplifies the importance of strategic decision-making when selecting the buildings to visit and in what order. In my experience, the true joy of this game lies in the process of solving the case rather than the movement mechanics. Thus, adopting this style of play addresses the issue and enhances the overall enjoyment.
I wholeheartedly recommend this game to anyone who appreciates deduction games, seeks a touch of nostalgic charm, or is a fan of the Sherlock Holmes universe. With 75 cases included in this version, it offers hours upon hours of engaging gameplay. I can envision playing through all these cases and this game becoming a beloved favourite for many years to come.