Sherlock 13 was originally published under the name Holmes 13. It gives players the task of identifying who among them is actually the disguised thief, Arsene Lupin. The game consists of 13 different character cards from the world of Sherlock Holmes (beautifully illustrated by the wonderful Vincent Dutrait), some clue sheets and four screens. Each game character cards are dealt out to the players with one placed face down. That is the person Lupin is disguising himself as. It’s up to the players to figure out the missing card.
Using your clue sheet your going to track the information you get and eliminate suspects until there is only one possibility remaining…or few enough to make a stab at it. Right off the bat of course you can scratch off any of the characters you’ve been dealt, but then it’s going to be a matter of investigation to narrow the field and find the true culprits.
Each card has a series of symbols on the bottom of it relating to the character. Pipes, necklaces, books, badges and so on, go towards helping to identify the different people. Investigations can be performed in one of two ways. You can ask all the other players if any of them have a certain symbol in their hands. All players with that symbol must raise their hand. That gives you a bit more information to work with. Alternately you can ask a specific player how many of a certain type of symbol they have in their hand and they must respond honestly.
Once you feel like you have enough information you can forego further investigation on your turn and make an accusation. You announce to the table who you think the criminal in hiding is and take a look at the face down card. If you’re right then you’ve won the game. If not then you lose. You can’t investigate any further, but you still must answer questions asked of you. Once someone makes a correct accusation or all players but one have made a failed accusation the game is over. In total a round of Sherlock 13 takes only about 15-20 minutes.
When I was playing it I was struck by how much Sherlock 13 has in common with Clue. It is a similar mechanic of asking information from the other players and making inferences by what they ask the group. The nice thing is in this game you’re not at the mercy of the dice to move around the mansion, it’s pure deduction. I wondered if I understood the rules correctly, that when a player asks a question the entire table gets to see or hear the results. I felt like if I’m using my turn to get clues, they should be mine alone. In practice it works pretty well. People do get the responses, but they will interpret them entirely differently than you. In fact some of that information might lead them down the wrong path depending what exactly you ask. It’s up to you to come up with questions that will help you the most.
Sherlock 13 is an interesting deduction game by Hope S. Hwang. The quick little puzzle looks amazing with the Vincent Dutrait art and the short play time makes it fairly replayable. Definitely give it a shot if you’ve got a sleuthing itch that needs scratching.