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Police Precinct is a cooperative/semi-cooperative game where players are tasked with solving the mysterious murder of the district attorney while simultaneously working the streets - arresting criminals and helping citizens to keep the city from falling into chaos.
Players take on the role of police officers with different areas of expertise. The players work together to solve the mystery by collecting evidence and eventually arresting the suspect (with a possible chase involved). Complicating matters is that the city is alive. Other crime is happening and must be dealt with as well - various emergencies such as car accidents, robberies and assaults suddenly occur and calls for police attention, while street crime in the rough neighborhoods continue to slowly grow, if not dealt with, as well. Also, there may or may not be a corrupt officer that is being paid off by the murderer to suppress evidence, the same evidence everyone else is trying to uncover.
Players move around the six city blocks searching through randomly shuffled investigation cards for evidence for the murder. The number of investigation cards drawn depends on the character’s rating as well as how many player cards are added by the current player or other players to boost the character’s rating for the current “search”. Also, patrolling officers can be called in to intensify the investigation. There are four decks of investigation cards (Interview Witness, Collect Crime Scene Evidence, Examine Body and Locate Murder Weapon) to be searched. These decks are shuffled and split, each section being placed at a different location. So, a player might search the cards in one area and not find any evidence at all… or maybe the bribed cop, if there is one, did the searching and just said no evidence was found… the cards searched are shuffled with any remaining cards at that location and placed back down.
Players have to find a total of thirteen evidence cards from the investigation decks to reveal who the murderer is and where the murderer is located. The players then go to arrest the murder. The arrest is a roll of dice vs. a target number. The number of dice rolled depends on the character’s ability and how much help the other players give. If the arrest fails, the suspect escaped to another part of the precinct and the case is on.
At the end of each player’s turn they draw an event card. These cards represent what is happening in the city and are things that must be dealt with at some point. These cards are placed on the game board at the locations they occur at. Some of the event cards have “unknown circumstance” tokens placed facedown on them because often police don’t know the exact situation they are sent to take care of, these tokens represent the “unknown” So, not only are the players investigating the DA’s murder, they must also arrest street criminals, handle emergencies, and dispatch patrol officers (which give bonuses to players in different areas of the board).
Speaking of bonuses, sometimes when a character successfully completes a task, that character is rewarded with a doughnut token. These tokes can later be used to help with tasks. However, if the character does not complete the task in time, the city crime track advances. The track can also advance if street crimes grow so large that no more street criminals can be placed, when called for. If that track advances to the end, the murderer escapes justice and the good cops fail the game.