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The Game Is Afoot

An Example of Gameplay in Watson & Holmes

1 March 2017 | Watson & Holmes


“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.”
–Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

The pea-soup fogs are rolling across London, shrouding the streets in an impenetrable grey-green haze. Within this cloud, misdeeds are perpetrated every day—but few of these crimes are intriguing enough to pique the attention of the world’s only consulting detective: Sherlock Holmes. After all, in the words of the great detective himself, “Crime is common; logic is rare.”

Still, there are cases that may interest Holmes and anyone else who takes pride in calculated logic and the science of deduction—and thirteen of those cases have been collected for your enjoyment in Watson & Holmes, a new board game from Space Cowboys to challenge your observational skills and the power of your intellect. Today, we’ll take a few moments to give you an example of gameplay in Watson & Holmes to give you a taste of the ways that your mind might be tested…

We don’t want to spoil any of the thirteen cases included in Watson & Holmes for you, but fortunately, we’ve devised a bonus case—A Damsel in Distress—that’s perfect for demos and examples! This scenario will be available for you to download and play after the release of Watson & Holmes, and although we don’t plan on spoiling the mystery, please note that some cards from the scenario will be revealed in this article!

On the Culprit’s Trail

Every Watson & Holmes scenario begins in the same way—by reading the introduction to the case. These paragraphs set the stage for your case, laying out the initial facts. Of course, you won’t be able to solve anything from the very beginning of the mystery: you’ll need to hit the streets. Still, the introduction draws you into the world of Sherlock Holmes from the first lines…

In addition to your first collection of facts, the introduction to the case also lays out the questions that you and your rival detectives must strive to answer. In A Damsel in Distress, you must answer three mysteries:

With those questions fixed in your mind, it’s time for you to move out into the streets of London and race to uncover the answers before your opponents can do the same! Every game of Watson & Holmes features an array of Location cards placed in the center of the table—such as, for this scenario, Bont’s Surgery, Hyde Park, Scotland Yard, the Rose and Crown Pub, the Grosvenor Street Pharmacy, and many others. Each of these locations features information on the back that could be critical to finding the solution, or nothing more than a red herring. But before you can access that information, you need to travel there.

Catch a Carriage

In our example, we may have two players—Irene Adler and Inspector Tobias Gregson. Inspector Gregson is the first player, and he begins by moving his player pawn to the Grosvenor Street Pharmacy. He must also choose whether to travel by foot or take a carriage—he decides to ride in style, and he spends one of his carriage tokens, placing it next to his pawn, as shown below.

As it so happens, Miss Adler was also planning to go to the Grosvenor Street Pharmacy on this occasion! Unfortunately, only one player can be in a location at a time, but hope is not lost for Irene Adler—she just has to get there faster than Tobias Gregson. Irene places her player pawn on the Grosvenor Street Pharmacy and spends two carriage tokens to travel faster. Tobias must now remove his player pawn from the Location card, and his carriage token is returned to the reserve.

Now, Inspector Gregson could return to the pharmacy once more, using three carriage tokens to oust Miss Adler… but this would significantly dwindle his remaining stockpile of carriage tokens. Admitting defeat in this matter, Tobias Gregson chooses to walk to the Diogenes Club, spending no carriage tokens, since Irene Adler has already chosen her location.

Irene has successfully visited the Grosvenor Street Pharmacy, but this location happens to be under close police surveillance, and they’re not allowing just anyone into the premises. Throughout the game, players may collect police tokens, which can be left on Location cards after you visit them. These police tokens make it difficult for other players to visit, but they can still be bypassed if another player can call off the police or pick the locks to infiltrate undetected. Irene, like any young woman of stature, is carrying a lockpick, which enables her to slip into the location under the nose of the policemen.

Once every detective has reached their own location card, each player secretly looks at the back of the card, gaining the information from their location, and taking a few notes on anything that they believe is pertinent to the case. In this case, Irene Adler looks at the reverse side of the Grosvenor Street Pharmacy, and uncovers a few clues about just how Dr. Bont may have died…

Crack the Case

Choosing when and where you move, and how to deceive your opponents is a crucial aspect of Watson & Holmes, but in the end, it’s just you and the facts. Can you weave your way through the mystery faster than anyone else at the table? Prepare to return to Victorian London when you pre-order your copy of Watson & Holmes at your local retailer today!