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Store:  Card Games, Strategy Games
Edition:  Sleuth
Series:  3M Gamettes
Theme:  Gems & Jewelry
Genre:  Logic & Deduction
Format:  Card Games



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Designer(s): Sid Sackson

Manufacturer(s): 3M

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Product Description

Sleuth is the fascinating detective game in which players call upon their powers of deduction and logic to discover the identity of the missing gem. Could it be the pearl cluster? The blue opal? The diamond solitaire? Through strategic questioning, each player gathers his bits of information, then skillfully welds them together to form the clues which will provide the solution to the mystery. Clever questioning, skillful deductions--combined with some plain old-fashined luck--will make Sleuth an absorbing game for 3 to 7 players.

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Sid Sackson

  • Manufacturer(s): 3M

  • Year: 1971

  • Players: 3 - 7

  • Weight: 261 grams

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.6 in 5 reviews

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Clue on steroids
January 11, 2004

One of the simplest, most enjoyable games I've ever discovered. The first time I ever played it, with three other friends, we intended to play it once and then move on to some other, more complex game. We never got around to that other game because we just kept playing this one over and over. Truly a remarkable creation.

The mechanism is extremely simple, and in a three-person game, it's not a whole lot harder than 'Clue'. But the game gets an order of magnitude more difficult with every player you add. This game is unique in my experience in that just figuring out what information you need to write down is part of the game, one of the first challenges you'll overcome as you learn how to play. This is a game that needs to be put back into print as soon as possible!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
a true classic
November 16, 1999

This game has been a family favorite for years. After college I married and moved to another state -- and discovered the game was out of print! My sleuthing wife, however, called Avalon Hill and discovered that although the game is no longer for sale, all the individual bits are available as replacement parts -- the gem deck, the question deck, the rules, and the scorepads. We purchased the card decks and rules but opted not to buy the scorepads. (I've never liked wasting all that paper, so we designed our own laminated, reusable scorecards that we mark with dry-erase pens.) Voila -- the complete game!

Another reviewer (Virginia gamer) has done a great job of praising the game, so I'll devote some time to a more detailed description. The mechanics of the game are very simple. At the beginning of the game, one or more 'gem cards' are removed from the 'gem deck' and set aside, hidden. The gem deck consists of 36 cards made of up of 4 colors (red blue green yellow), 3 gem-types (diamond pearl opal), and 3 setting-types (solitaire pair cluster). (eg. 'red diamond solitaire', 'green opal cluster'). The remaining gem cards are dealt equally to the players, who note them on their scorepads. From the 'question deck', four 'question cards' are dealt face-up to each player. Question cards may have one or two elements, such as 'greens' or 'pearl solitaires'.

On each turn players use one of their question-cards to interrogate a player of their choice. If the question card contains two elements the asking party is entitled to see any matching cards. 'John, show me your red diamonds.' John would then announce how many red diamonds he had: '1 red diamond', and discreetly show them to the player who asked him. Here's the rub: the asking player learns specifically what cards John has, while the other players must simply jot the information down and wait to correlate it later on. If the question card only contains a single element -- 'Sally, how many opals do you have?' -- only a count is given in reply and no cards are revealed to anyone. The asking player draws a new card from the question deck to replace the one they've used, and play rotates to the left.

When one player thinks they've deduced the identity of the missing gem card(s), they cry out and check their findings. If they are correct, they are the winner and the game is over. If they have stumbled along the way and guessed incorrectly, they must sit out the remainder of the game but continue to answer questions posed by the other players.

One particularly nice aspect of the game is the ease with which you can adjust the difficulty level. For beginning players, a large number of 'gimmes' can be used -- gem cards turned face up at the beginning of the game for all to see. For more experienced players, the number of hidden gem cards can be increased and the 'gimmes' eliminated to minimize the chances of one player solving the game through lucky coincidence. The variation my family and I most enjoy is to never show cards in response to questions, removing the advantage of the asking party in seeing specific gem cards.

A very fun logic/thinking game. Highly recommended!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
My Favorite Game of All Time
November 15, 1999

I firmly believe this is the best board (box) game ever invented. How's that for hyperbole? In fact, that belief is the only reason that I am filling out this review. The principle of 'Sleuth' is similar to 'Clue' in that one is attempting to deduce which cards are not being held by other players. It lacks 'Clue's flaws, however, such as the excessive role of luck, and it adds additional virtues, such as the greater role of logic and deduction, and greater flexibility in terms of questions to be asked. One can ask some 'Clue'-style questions, which require another player to show you certain cards held, or one can ask vaguer ones, which entitle one to know the total number of cards another player holds of a certain type, but cannot see them. The questions one can ask are a function of cards drawn, although some cards contain options. It has all of the elements of a truly elegant, satisfying game. The rules are simple, and easily understood, but the strategy is wonderfully complex, and will tax the capabilities of the best logicians. Each person develops his/her own method of working their way through the problem, and each knows slightly different information about what is held in each hand. Another wonderful feature of this game is that it never feels like a 'blowout' -- each person playing inevitably believes that they are one question away from deducing the answer, when their opponent makes their guess. So be efficient -- the move you wait to guess might be the one that enables your opponent to win! I have been a lifelong game enthusiast, but this was the game that convinced me that Sid Sackson was a true artist. So elegant, so simple, so entertaining, and so much fun for everyone. I have played an embarrassing number of games in my life, but this one is, in my opinion, as fun as any. It's one of the few games I've ever played where, after I played it with friends for the first time, we all couldn't help but comment on just how cleverly designed it was. It's addictive, and it's testimony to the unique genius of its creator.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Much Deeper Than It Appears
January 27, 2002

This is not a game for the faint of heart. It involves the use of incredible thinking and deductive skills beyond Clue or Alibi,and it can truely test your thinking skills

It's hard to believe that this is possible in a card game, but the mechanism is such that confusion reigns.

The most important skills involved are the questions that a player asks and the assumptions made as a result of the answers given. Paying attention to details has never been more important.

We have enjoyed this on several occassions as a family, and the best and deepest thinker always prevails- after which we have a question and answer discussion of 'How did you come to that conclusion. ' Attention to detail and the order in which you ask questioons has a major effect on the outcome.

This is a game that requires a fair amount of concentration , so it is not for the light hearted gamer. But if you want a game that can be extremely challenging on a mentallevel, consider this a must have.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A "gem" of a game.
June 15, 2001

Both Clue and [page scan/se=0072/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Master Mind fans will feel right at home with this little gem. In fact, that's the goal of Sleuth: find the missing gem!

Sid Sackson is responsible for creating an unparalleled variety of brilliant games and one of them is indeed this one, Sleuth. Originally published by 3M, it was later released by Avalon Hill.

Sleuth is a challenging detective game for three to seven players. The game consists of nothing more than two different decks of playing cards, a 'Gem Deck' and a 'Search Deck.'

Each card in the Gem Deck represents a different Gem combining three elements:

1) the KIND of Gem (it's either a diamond, an opal, or a pearl),

2) the TYPE of Gem (it's either a solitaire, a pair, or a cluster),

3) the COLOR of Gem (it's either blue, green, red, or yellow).

Combining these elements in all possible ways (3x3x4) results in a Gem Deck of 36 unique cards.

The game begins by shuffling the Gem Cards, removing one, and putting if off to the side without anyone looking at it. The goal of Sleuth is to be the first person to identify this 'missing gem.' The remaining Gem Cards are distributed evenly to each player, the number determined by the number of players playing. (The more players in the game, the fewer Gem Cards each receive.) Remaining Gem Cards (if any) are shown to all.

'Search Cards' allow a player to gain information about the gems another player holds in their hand. The Search Deck is shuffled and each player receives four Search Cards face up. The remaining Search Cards are placed face down in the center of the table to form the drawing deck.

During the game, players obtain clues to the identity of the missing Gem by 'interrogating' other players. Each player uses their own Information Sheet to keep track of the interrogation evidence gathered during the game. I won't go into the mechanics, but in a nutshell, when questioned, a player either announces to all how many of a certain type of card he has ('I have just two clusters.'), or he actually reveals to one player the cards in his hand pertaining to the elements inquired about.

Play rotates clockwise as players ask each other questions. The first player who believes he has deduced the missing gem announces so, writes his solution down, and then peeks at the missing Gem Card. If he was correct, he wins. If he was wrong, he's out of the game (but continues to answer questions from others), and play continues until someone else is ready to make a guess.

Playing Sleuth is like solving a typical logic problem and thus I don't believe it will be enjoyed by youngsters and most teens. Most kids will certainly not understand how to correctly deduce which gem is missing from the information given. (In fact, many ADULTS will have their hands full doing so!) The more you play, however, the easier it becomes to organize your detective notes and keep everything straight in your head. As with Clue, learning just one piece of information can suddenly bring everything into focus. (Ah! If Jennifer has the Yellow Pearl Cluster than Kyle cannot, which means Kyle must have the Yellow opal Cluster which means Neal cannot, which means Grant must have... etc.) This type of deduction invariably happens every game... you just hope it happens to you first!

As I mentioned above, Sleuth can certainly be considered a cousin to the board game Clue. The difference, of course, is the different theme, lack of a playing board, and lack of dice. I know some who would find locating a 'missing gem' not nearly as exciting as 'solving a murder mystery' and may actually be turned off by Sleuth's lack of playing board and tokens. True gamers, of course, can appreciate Sleuth without these props. In fact, one big advantage of Sleuth compared to Clue is that Sleuth moves along a little faster, since players don't have to roll the dice and spend time moving from room to room. I'm not saying Sleuth is a better game than Clue, but it certainly isn't any worse. Both games have their advantages and disadvantages.

Speaking of which, Sleuth does suffer from a few drawbacks. One, if someone inadvertently makes a mistake in announcing their holding, things can really get ugly later. Two, the game requires more brain power than a lot of people are willing to commit themselves to when playing a game, and thus it may be hard to find three or four opponents. Three, finding three or four opponents who are equal in deduction strength is harder still.

These drawbacks are unfortunate, because playing several games of Sleuth is an excellent way to spend an evening... assuming you enjoy the 'mental torture' of logic puzzles. I do, Sid. Thanks. Four stars.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

Other Resources for Sleuth:

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