Today sees a new first for the blog, (I think), as I am reviewing a mystery themed game. The Will Without an Heir, is one of several games in the Decktective series and is composed of its box and a deck of cards. You can play by yourself but also with friends and it takes about an hour to reach the end. The story setup for the game is this:
‘The Netherlands, 1698: Cornelius Kloos, the old president of the Kloos Trading Company, is found dead. His studio safe is open: inside it, there is a will, still sealed. Thirst for power? Greed? Vengeance? What led to such a dreadful epilogue? Collect the clues: documents, traces, witness statements… Investigate and come up with plausible theories.’
You work through the deck of cards chronologically and below are some of the earlier ones which succinctly explains game play.
I really enjoyed how you need to play tactically to ensure the cards with the best information are played onto the table and do not end up in the archive, a.k.a. discard, pile. However, you do need to put some cards into the archive pile in order to be allowed to play later cards which have a higher card value. The card value can be found in the corner, as demonstrated below:
Deciding which cards to play and which to discard is a collaborative activity as you are allowed to read out the titles on your cards in your hand, which give your partner(s) some idea as to what topic they are about. The fact you don’t get to use/play all the clue cards, is an interesting game mechanism which I liked and overall, I would say that the deductive element is very much present in the game and therefore it avoids the problems some find with Cluedo. The evidence is good at helping you develop possible theories, but I did wonder if it needed maybe a couple of cards which helped to tip the scales in favour of one theory, since it is possible to come up with several tenable theories and there is not really a way of deciding between them.
I think this is partially influenced by the other key characteristic game: the 3D crime scene.
This puts the box for the game to good use and I liked having this additional means of gathering clues. Unfortunately, due to its pocket size and portable nature, I think two-ish clues were too small to pick up and in one case the artwork itself is not fairly drawn. I didn’t think it was clear enough. I should also point out that despite coming in a small box, you do need a decent table or floor space to play the game, as you end up with a lot of cards put down in front of you. It is not something you could easily play in the car or on a train for instance.
However, to conclude on a positive note, multiple choice questions are used to help the players declare what they think the solution is and there is an easy point system at the end.
Whilst it is not a perfect game, I had a lot of fun playing it, and found its game mechanisms novel and refreshing. I would be interested in playing another game from the Decktective series, or from its sister series Deckscape.
I hope this out of the ordinary review has been of interest. I might do more mystery themed games reviews, so if you have any suggestions do let me know. Although, I imagine cost might make it a bit prohibitive to do these reviews on a regular basis, but it might be nice to do them from time to time.