Sometimes it takes me a little while to review a game that’s been on the market for years but I really enjoy. And even though these games aren’t NEW they’re still worth reviewing because games don’t “go bad” unless they’re trivia based or heavily rely on pop culture or politics. It’s what makes games so great! If you pick up a game from the 1950s, odds are very good that it’s still playable (provided none of the key pieces wandered off in the last 60 years). This week’s game isn’t quite that old, but it was a 2003 nominee for the Kinderspiel des Jahres* so it’s been out for close to a decade, but it would still be just as good if it came out a month ago. What game am I talking about? It’s Sherlock, “an elementary game of memory and deduction.” (that’s the last bad joke in the article, I promise.)
Sherlock is essentially a memory game – but a memory game that does not bore the adults! The game starts with 8 cards placed face-up in a circle around the rest of the deck. Players take time memorizing the pictures on each card and then they are flipped face-down. The youngest player gets to be Sherlock first and they take the Sherlock mover (which is a card, see right) and place it above whichever face-down card they’d like to guess. Then they guess and flip it over. If they’re wrong their turn is over and you have to wonder what they were doing for the last minute instead of memorizing pictures! If they’re correct the card stays face-up they get to continue and guess again – and this is where the game gets fun! There are red arrows next to a number on the top of every card and that indicates which direction and how many cards over you need to go. Where the Sherlock mover lands is the card you MUST guess next. If you can’t recall correctly, your turn is over and all the cards are flipped over again. But if you’re right you keep that card face-up and advance the Sherlock mover based on what the number and arrow says. When the Sherlock mover finally lands on a face-up card you get to collect it and replace it with a new one from the deck (of course showing everyone what it is before you place it face-down). Then make sure all of the cards are face-down and it’s the next player’s turn. The goal is to be the first player to collect 6 cards.
What is so amazing about this game is that after a little bit you’ll realize that you can plan out shorter moves by remembering the number and arrow direction on the cards. I also like that you can play with 6 (easiest), 7, or 8 (hardest) cards in the circle without taking away the fun and excitement of the game. Sherlock was invented by Reinhard Staupe and this spring I wrote about another one of Reinhard Staupe’s games, Saddle Up! which is another cute game for kids 5 and up. In that article I gave a little information about the inventor and if you’d like to read about Reinhard or Saddle Up! click HERE.
* The Kinderspiel des Jahres is awarded every year (since 1989, although prior to 2001 it was called the “Sonderpreis Kinderspiel”) to the best children’s game judged by German game critics. It’s the “kid sister” to the Spiel des Jahres which is awarded to the best family game.
- ~$7-10 Amazon and some mom & pop game stores
- 2-5 players
- ~15 min. (but it kind of depends on how good you are at remembering!)
- Ages 5 and up