A couple of years ago, I looked over my game collection and sighed at the number of games that hadn't seen the attention they deserved. I wrote a post listing games that I wanted to spend more time on, even as I realized that as long as leisure time is limited and the game collection is big, there will always be neglected games on my shelves. It's a topic worth revisiting from time to time - both because it's interesting to see how the list has changed (and how it hasn't) and because it's helpful to look at the collection with fresh eyes and think about resurrecting a few titles that might bear dusting off and playing again.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Sunday, July 1, 2012
|Image (c) Mayfair Games. Used by |
permission. All rights reserved.
For my family, Clue has been a multi-generational favorite. Whenever we'd go home to visit my mother, we'd play it on the kitchen table. I lost count of how many different copies and editions we went through. My kids enjoy playing it even today. Clue is not what you'd call a great game in the context of the boardgame culture, but it has great sentimental value and meaning as a focus of family get-togethers.
Nevertheless, recently, we have been looking for another mystery game for some variety, as Clue has betrayed its age and repetitive nature with so many playings. Based on a review by BoardGameGeek "Tim," I had added Alibi to my wishlist as "a bit more interesting than Clue, though not compellingly so." It seemed worth taking a shot to bring Seth's unplayed copy into our household and see if it couldn't get some attention.
My two teenage sons, my wife, and I played our first game this afternoon. At first, the task of adding emotion (motive) to the customary questions of murderer, location, and weapon seemed only a minor complication - until we realized that there are ten suspects, 18 locations, 18 weapons, and 18 motives to eliminate, as well as time of day (morning, noon, or evening). Whereas Clue has 21 cards from which to determine three, Alibi has 78 cards from which players must discern which four describe the murder. Daunting, indeed.
But of course the game works very well, and in many ways very differently from Clue, which is what we were really hoping for. Questions can only be asked that have a number as an answer, and only of one other player. Rather than ask (as in Clue), "do you have Colonel Mustard, the knife, or the dining room," a question might be, "How many weapons do you have," or "How many blunt objects have you seen?" Even more dramatically different is that players are required to pass one or more cards to the left after each question is asked, so that some cards eventually get seen by some or all players.
|Three "Auto" location cards.|
(c) Mayfair Games. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.
The result is a game that requires completely different approaches and strategies to deduce a near-correct answer well enough to outscore one's opponents. In our game, our 16-year-old initiated the end-game with what turned out to be a correct accusation, but my wife tied his score because she had exposed higher-scoring card combinations. Everybody agreed that it was a fun, approachable, and different take on deduction games, and we are likely to play it again soon. I am sorry for Seth that he had to give it up, but he may like knowing that his copy has found some fresh life in its new home.