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Sleuth


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Product Awards:  
Games Magazine Awards
Family Game Nominee, 2005

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 30+ minutes 3-7

Designer(s): Sid Sackson

Manufacturer(s): Face 2 Face Games, Gryphon Games

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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. 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 question and skillful deductions, combined with some plain old-fashioned luck, will make Sleuth an absorbing game for 3 to 7 players.

Out of print for two decades, this classic Sackson design is being reproduced with all new artwork and in multiple languages.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Family Game Nominee, 2005

Product Information

Contents:

  • 36 gem cards
  • 54 search cards
  • 1 pad of investigation sheets
  • rules
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Product Reviews

 
 
 
 
 

Average Rating: 4.1 in 5 reviews

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by Janice Stamm
40 years of play
January 09, 2015

Have liked playing Sleuth, since 1973. Everyone that we've introduced it to has enjoyed playing. Would like to be able to purchase in the stores. I like it's simplicity.

 
 
 
 
 
by Greg J. Schloesser
One of the best -- if not THE best -- deduction games
November 11, 2010

Designed by: Sid Sackson
Published by: Face 2 Face Games
3 – 6 Players, 30 minutes
Review by: Greg J. Schloesser

NOTE: This review was first published in Knucklebones magazine

Originally released in 1967 by the 3M Game Company, Sleuth is a masterful deduction game from master designer Sid Sackson. Players must deduce the identity of a missing gem by skillful questioning of their opponents, using logic and the powers of deduction. Only one will prove to possess the skills to earn the title “master sleuth”.

I must confess that I am absolutely HORRIBLE at this game. I played it numerous over the decades and have always lost. Always. I’m fairly certain that there are police forces that are very thankful that I never pursued by childhood dream of becoming a detective! Still, in spite of my clear lack of deductive skills, I admire the purity of the game’s design.

After being out-of-print for far too long, Sleuth has been given new life by Face2Face Games. The new edition features redesigned packaging and cards, which while more attractive, are a bit less clear than the very plain cards in the 3M versions. It also includes a thick rulebook, which at first glance is quite formidable, until you realize that it includes the instructions in six different languages. The actual rules are quite brief, and easy to understand.

The deck of cards is divided into two components: gem cards and search cards. The gem deck consists of 36 cards in four colors (red, yellow, green and blue). Each color has three gem types – diamonds, opals and pearls – and each of these is subdivided into settings – solitaires, pairs and clusters. These are shuffled and one is secretly removed, with the remainder being distributed amongst the players.

The search deck contains cards which dictate the questions a player may ask of his opponents. They, too, come in several varieties. “One element” cards allow the player to ask an opponent to reveal the number of cards he possesses that depict either a type of gem, or a type of setting. The opponent must announce the number of cards he possesses that match the criteria to all players. “Two element” cards are a bit more specific, as the cards specify two criteria (blue opals, yellow pearls, etc.). The targeted opponent announces the total he possesses to everyone, but passes the matching cards to the active player. In this manner, the player gets specific information, while everyone else gets general information. There are also “free choice” cards which gives the player a bit more freedom when asking his question. A player discards the card after asking a questions, drawing a replacement from the search deck.

Each player is given a information sheet upon which he can record the answers given by opponents. The idea is to develop a system whereby answers can be cryptically recorded, helping to eliminate cards that are in the possession of the players. The ultimate goal, of course, is to eliminate all but one card, thereby correctly identifying the card that was removed at the beginning of the game.

The recording of information on the sheet is critical. Players must combine the information gleaned from the responses to the wide range of questions being asked, using logic and deduction to discern the identity of the cards being held by the players. Information which may seem useless early may later be combined with other information to help identify cards. Fitting these pieces of the puzzle together is the key to skillful play, and is obviously a skill in which I am woefully lacking.

When a player feels he has discerned the identity of the missing gem, he can declare this at any time, even if it is not his turn. If he is incorrect, he cannot win, but must still answer questions when asked. If correct, he is elevated to the “chief of detectives” position … and wins the game.

Sleuth is direct, pure and simple to play. While players are limited in the questions they can ask by the search cards they possess, deductive reasoning and logic will prevail over any luck factors. While the game can accommodate up to seven players, it last far too long with that many involved. It truly shines with 3 or 4 players.

While deductive games are not my forte, Sleuth is one of the best – if not THE best – of the genre. Fans of deduction and logic puzzles should certainly investigate this gem of a game.

 
 
 
 
 
Better wear your thinkin' hat.
August 29, 2004

Sleuth is a game for people who like logic puzzles. It is rather unique in that it is a rather heavy card game. Most card games that utilize a non-standard deck of cards are fluffy affairs that are suited to larger gatherings of casual or non-gamers.

Not Sleuth. Sleuth requires concentration and lots of it. Players try to discern what the missing card is by asking one player one question on each of their turns. You have to keep track of all the questions and answers asked and answered by other players if you want to win at all. You can only ask a question if you have a card for it. Players are limited to 4 question cards, so they rarely are able to ask the questions they want to ask.

Information comes out in bits and pieces and it can be hard to keep track of it all. A system is needed by each player to keep track of all the information given. I have tried several systems and haven't yet managed to find one to my liking.

The more people who play the less information you get from each question, as each player has fewer cards. For example if you are playing a 2 player game and ask 'how many yellow cards do you have?' the answer might be five. With this answer, coupled with the 4 yellow cards in your hand, you could easily deduce whether the hidden card is a yellow card or not. With 9 people playing the answer would likely be 1 as there are 9 yellow cards in the deck. You would need to ask that same question 7 more times to 7 other people to find out if the hidden card was yellow. And that is just to deduce if it is yellow, there are 2 more characteristics that must be deduced. Each of the 36 cards has a unique color, type of stone and number of stones.

My point? My point is that you need to consider the size, demeanor and brain power of your game group before starting a game of Sleuth. It is not for the faint of heart, especially with more than 4 players. It is a game that will appeal to a specific type of person. I am not that type of person. My wife likes it so I will play and I will have fun for a while, but I will be praying for someone to figure it out and win quickly.

I have a rating conundrum for this game. Given my druthers, I really would rather not play it. But I recognize the system as very good and can see the appeal this game would have to a narrow audience. It isn't bad, I will play it again without feigning a heart attack. I would even suggest it for the right group. Just know that I almost gave it a 2.


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