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Hunt Jack the Ripper in the New Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective

Hunt Jack the Ripper in the New Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective is perhaps the best deduction game on the market. It’s an empowering table top story game about researching leads, questioning witnesses, and slipping into the thick tweed suit of an 1880’s London sleuth. Each case presents a compelling mystery that throws coal into your intellectual stove. As your brow is furrowed and you’re knee-deep in the replica period newspapers, the smoke wafting from a lit pipe flirts at the tip of your tongue and you can hear Watson pacing in the background.

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Conspicuously missing the weekend funnies.

The Consulting Detective system is all about the experience and this standalone expansion is no different. Jack the Ripper and West End Adventures features a brand new mini-campaign of linked scenarios alongside six new cases that parrot the format of the original release. The latter are a re-issue of the West End Adventures expansion originally released in ’95. The Ripper campaign is completely new content developed for this contemporary edition of the game.

This four case sequence of linked scenarios is the bleeding extricated heart of this release. It’s a gruesome affair that hovers tightly alongside the historical events surrounding this infamous serial killer. You will discover the bodies of actual victims and fumble through vague clues as you dive deeper into the grisly rabbit hole. Evisceration and sexual deviance are rampant and these narrative beats are much less family friendly than what we’re typically accustomed to with this game.

The experience is fantastic. You actually gain a relatively thorough knowledge pertaining to the events and the mechanical twist of building upon that education over time is fascinating. The designers even included historical notes in the solution section explaining where decisions were made to present certain elements as fact or falsehood, and more importantly why. You’ll learn about the Dear Boss letter, become familiar with names like Annie Chapman and Elizabeth Stride, and you’ll feel immersed. It’s really something as the game taps into a deeper emotion of dread. Chills abound as the real-world context adds gravitas to your work.

The tail-end of the release provides six independent cases that offer a more familiar and expected detective romp. They’re more appropriate for younger audiences and don’t hit home quite as hard. The writing here is stronger and more clean than the previous release as typos are minimized and effort seems to be increased. This was a large flaw in early printings of the 2014 edition of the game that has since been rectified. Typos would skew leads and minor errata gummed up the works. This entire experience is IMG_1706funneled through language and those case books, so the presence of errors are more grievous and insurmountable than we’re typically accustomed to in this hobby. Luckily efforts were taken here to provide the best experience possible.

That sense of care permeates the entire package. From the slipcase box to the gorgeous double-sided map of London and Whitechapel, everything here feels like an increase in quality–deluxe even. The rules are also the clearest presentation of concepts we’ve yet to see for this system. Everything is offered in logical order and eloquently explained. Translation issues won’t enter the conversation and play won’t miss a beat.

The only downsides to this title are the existing limitations of the system. Cases are one-time only affairs where once the solution is determined, you’re not going to head back for more. You’re also flipping through a story book where you need to be careful not to spoil entries you haven’t made it to yet. Finally, Holmes is still a big wally who seems to cheat and make deduction leaps that are outside the scope of mortal man. You just have to suck it up and live with these qualities, gleaning all those juicy story bits and wallowing in the atmosphere while you can.

If you were a newcomer to this series then Jack the Ripper and West End Adventures is the title you want to scoop up. The physical product is excellent and the cases offer two delicious formats to dive into. The notion of a non-replayable table top game is not quite as scary as it was in yesteryear, with prolific titles such as T.I.M.E Stories and Pandemic Legacy shifting the board gaming zeitgeist into a new direction. Take up the pipe and scrutinize the London Standard over a cup of coffee. The safety of Whitechapel depends on it.

Have you played Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective? Are you looking forward to trying this new expansion? Let us know in the comments below!

Title Image Credit: Asmodee 

Article Image Credits: Charlie Theel


In addition to Geek & Sundry, Charlie Theel writes for Miniature Market’s The Review Corner and co-hosts the gaming podcast Ding & Dent. You can find him on twitter @CharlieTheel

 

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