Let’s Fight Crime!

Crime, no thanks! If you’re anything like me you’ll not like crime at all, UNLESS it’s in a board game setting and you get to be the detective hired to solve it! It’s one of my favourite genres of game and if you’d love to get solving some yourself, here’s some recommendations:

Sherlock Holmes – Consulting Detective

Here it is, no messing around, no desperately scrolling to the end of the article like those online recipes, it’s here, my favourite crime-solving game! And one of my favourite games ever. The setting, well, you guessed it, fighting crime in Victorian London. Oddly you don’t get to be Sherlock, but you are mates with him and he lets you solve a few crimes. Thanks Sherlock!

These games come as a series of cases, presented in a “choose your own adventure” style book where you pick your next location, looking for clues, witnesses and ideally a dead body or two. There is a map of London, a list of shady contacts and best of all, that day’s newspaper to read! Opening up a fake copy of The Times from 1897 to peruse it for clues is such a great feeling. Print media is not dead! But our victim is… so move fast, or… at whatever pace suits you! Because, sure, you can smash through a case in an evening with no trouble but my favourite way to play is to take a case away on holiday, mull over it all over a few days whilst reading the newspaper in the sunshine and proclaiming “I say, looks like the circus is in town, we simply must go along, but first a visit to the home office to see if have know anything about these missing diamonds…”

To date there are 4 versions of this game available, my heavy recommendations are the latest one “The Baker St Irregulars” and the kinda beigey-brown one. That one is also good. At the end you get to check your “score” against Sherlock but, I wouldn’t bother, there is no need to score anything, instead just enjoy diving into the world of Victorian London and fight that crime!

Chronicles of Crime

If making notes is not really your thing (yeah, sorry, you gotta make notes in that last one) and the post-lockdown world has got you nostalgic for QR codes, then look no further than this absolute banger of a crime-solving narrative game. Whereas Consulting Detective is purposefully analogue, this one relies on an app that tracks all the information you have, don’t have, what time it is, and best of all, gives you 3D, VR-style crime scenes that you get to investigate! Not every version of this game comes with the lil 3D glasses but any cheap VR set for a phone works just as well. When the VR bits come along you’ll have about 20 seconds to scour the scene shouting out things you can see – “bloody clothes!” “a piece of rope!” “some lions!” – whilst the other players line up matching cards to scan. The board itself is mostly made up of different cards with pictures and QR codes on but you, very pleasingly, get to start adding them to a murder board style tableau whilst slamming your fist down on a table and declaring, “This has gotta be our guy.”

The base game comes with about 5 cases, you can download more in the app and there are loads of expansions, none of which I have actually played but they go all the way back to medieval crime and into the future, so that’s pretty much all the crimes there can be! There are also some fun mechanics where certain people will or won’t be at locations at certain times, shops close, bars open etc, all tracked in app. But the 3D death scene, that’s the best bit, that’s the bit that really makes you think, now we’re fighting crime!

MicroMacro: Crime City

What were they thinking calling it Crime City?! That’s asking for trouble! Well, if even the thought of having to read an app seems like too much hassle and you’d much rather stop reading altogether and instead scour a giant tableau for clues, then this is the crime-solving game for you! Think a giant “Where’s Wally” game where the board is one massive (it’s really big) folded-out top-down cartoony drawing of a town. In it, countless crimes are going down and it’s up to you to track down these criminals and stick them where they belong… Crime City Jail (It’s pretty full tbf.)

The different cases are handed to you as a deck of cards telling you where to start your search (look for the man in a weird hat by the bakery…) from there you follow the characters around the map as we see their day and the crime pan out. Were they being tailed by someone? Did they jump a train to a different spot? The whole thing looks a bit like a kid’s game but, warning, some of the crimes are best solved by adults. It’s an engrossing, easy going game and a pleasingly different way to solve a crime. My top tip would be to play on hard mode where you just get the starting card and have to work out the whole story from there. You don’t need no extra clues to fight crime!

Those are my clear top 3, but here’s two more for you quickly because crime never sleeps; DETECTIVE : A Modern Crime Board Game falls somewhere between Consulting Detective and Chronicles Of Crime. You have to use a laptop to access special FBI files (a website) but also read through clues and scenarios. I’ve played three cases of this, two I really loved and one I thought was just too obscure to be able to solve. Perhaps I’d had one too many sherries, who can say, but it’s definitely worth a look if you’ve played the others and wanna bust some more crimes. And finally, ever heard of CLUDEO? It’s a favourite of writers here at NRB and you know what, if you’ve not played it in an age, it’s still really good and always good fun when you realise, not only are you fighting crime, maybe you ARE the crime!

Written by Tom Bell.

If you want to pick up any of these games, check if they’re in stock at Zatu. Buying them there supports No Rolls Barred via our affiliate partnership. Read more here.