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“In February 1895, London woke up to a loud bang. A large pillar of smoke showed that a bomb had exploded in the Houses of Parliament. Security forces were activated immediately and they arrested a suspicious young laborer near the area.
Mycroft Holmes, at the service of the crown, was commissioned to investigate the relationship of the young laborer with anarchist groups. He thinks it will be an easy task that he can do from the comfort of his armchair in the Diogenes Club — until he is informed of disturbing news; his younger brother Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective, has been hired by the boy’s parents to prove the innocence of his son, who believes to be a scapegoat of a dark conspiracy.”
As far as a Sherlock story goes, it’s pretty standard fare but it does work as a nice set up for a competitive card game and provides a little context for the evidence collecting and character bothering in the narrative.
Holmes Sherlock & Mycroft (which is an awkward title and hereby shortened to Holmes) has you and a friend take on the roles of Sherlock and Mycroft as you seek to collect pieces of evidence like bootprints and bullets as well as pieces of a map. Taking it in turns, players move their tokens around the available characters (revealing a new character each round) in order to use their abilities to draw evidence cards from the flop or to gain investigation tokens which are spent to buy evidence cards.
The strategy comes from the unique ways that character abilities change based on the point in the investigation that they are used and as there is a larger cast than available spaces, there is a decent amount of replayability. Like most of the Devir games I’ve reviewed, Holmes ends up more engaging than it seems on first run through. Each clue has a value of 3 – 9 (with map fragments giving a substantial bonus the more you have and wildcards standing in as an extra clue of your choice) but at the end of the game you compare and the one with the most of a certain clue wins the value of it. However, they also detract the number of cards the loser has from the card’s value, meaning the higher value cards end up muddied in the competition.
And for even more replayability, there are special villain cards like Sebastian Moran that, if activated, force the opposing player to exhaust one of their tokens. A tactic that can be very useful in forcing the end of the game before your opponent can finish a combo.
As for appearance, Holmes has high quality cards and while the art is a little generic, it’s functional and reasonably attractive. But where it shines is the gameboard which is themed as Dr Watson’s journal and which just makes the narrative come together. Doubly so if you put on your worst Sherlock/Mycroft impressions and improvise your own version of what’s happening.
All in all, a fun little game that’s great for playing over coffee and which has enough replayability and strategy to, while not be my go to game, at least cement itself a place in my collection.