Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty’s Trail
Don your deerstalker hat and grab your magnifying glass! This week IDW Games brings us Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty’s Trail, an adorable take on deduction and cooperative gameplay that puts you in the role of a new inspector at Scotland Pound. Is the stalking of our felonious feline worth the trouble? Should you take the time to track these criminal critters? Let’s take a look!
Purrrlock Holmes is very easy to set up and the rules are excellently laid out. First, players build Furriarty’s trail using circular victory point tokens with paws printed on them. The instructions clearly show how many tokens should be laid out in a row, either face down or face up. Somewhere along this trail the Furriarty token is placed, showing how far along the trail he is!
Each player gets a player board (Paws side down) and a card stand. They then draw a card from the suspect deck and place it in the stand in front of them. Don’t look at this card! This is the suspect the player is trying to track down. The first player draws a hand of four cards from the suspect deck and everyone else draws two.
Every card in the deck has a picture of one of the five gangs in the game and a number, corresponding to an hour on a 12 hour clock. There are five gangs, 12 numbers, and no duplicates, so the deck is sixty cards.
Once each player has a suspect card in their stand they draw two more cards to “seed the investigation”. They show these cards to the other players who indicate if the card is a “lead” or a “dead end”. A “lead” is a card that is either in the same gang as the suspect, or within an hour on the clock on the suspect card.
In the image above, the suspect is the Dog at 3. The player board has Dog 5 on the left side as a lead because the gang is the same, but the Rat at 7 is a dead end because the suspect is not a rat, and the time is not within one hour of the suspect (3, 4, or 5).
Play begins once everyone seeds their investigation!
Each player has two actions they can do on their turn: Investigating and Guessing. Investigating is just like seeding: the player holds two cards from their hand up to the suspect to see if they are leads or dead ends. Depending on what they are, the player puts the cards on the appropriate side of their player board as in the picture below.
The other action the player can do is to guess the suspect. They can guess the gang, the time, or both. If their guess is correct, the player picks up tokens from the beginning of Furriarty’s trail: one if they correctly guessed the gang OR time, two if they guessed both. The player then discards the suspect and all clue cards (leads or dead ends) and draws a new suspect. They then seed the investigation like normal and continue with their turn. If the player tries to guess both and is wrong in either, they cannot take any tokens. The suspect remains, and they cannot draw cards at the end of their turn.
After the player’s turn, they pass two clue cards to the player to the left. If they did not guess or successfully guessed their suspect, they draw two cards.
Each round after each player has gone once Furriarty moves one token closer to the end of the trail. Players flip the token Furriarty passes so everyone can see the number on it. If Furriarty is already past the last token and moves again, he escapes!
The game ends when either an inspector catches up to Furriarty because enough suspects were caught and tokens retrieved, or when Furriarty escapes. In either case, the winner is the player with the most victory points from tokens. The winner gets the Scotland Pound Chief Inspector token if Furriarty was caught, but if Furriarty escapes, the winner merely receives the Chief Litter Box Inspector token.
At any time during the game, a player can call “Pause!” (or “Paws”) and flip their player board over, This will cost them one victory point at the end of the game, but the player can immediately guess who their suspect is. Calling pause is valuable if a player narrows their suspect down to two possibilities and guessed the wrong one first.
The fact of the matter is, Purrrlock Holmes is absolutely adorable. The art is a delightful take on the noir detective genre with an aristocratic flair. Well constructed components and excellent iconography make the game clear to understand and a pleasure to handle. Children probably need to be 8+ to understand what is going on with Purrrlock Holmes, (its rated for 10+) but our precocious 6-year-old could play with some help. Of course, we are looking at Purrrlock Holmes as a family game, and in this it absolutely excels.
Although a winner is declared at the end, capturing Furriarty is the driving goal of Purrrlock Holmes, and winning becomes an afterthought. The process of logical deduction is so clear that Purrrlock Holmes is actually an excellent tool to teach deduction to younger children. There aren’t any meaningful words to trip up younger ages. If a child can count to twelve and understand the face of a clock (they don’t need to really read analog time at all) guided deduction is extremely easy.
The difficulty of the game couldn’t be easier to adjust as well. The guides in the rulebook for how long Furriarty’s trail should be is merely a guide. The only real limit is the number of tokens. To further mix this up, we played with players only getting one clue on their turn instead of two. This made it much harder to land our suspects in a timely manner!
Purrrlock Holmes is a game we love to play with adults and kids alike. The soft collaboration allows us to help our children along with understanding deduction where needed, and yet the challenge remains sufficient to afford a sense of victory when the game is won. It is a fantastic game for every family to keep in their collection, and we couldn’t recommend it more. Find it on Amazon today!
IDW Games provided The Family Gamers with a copy of Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty’s Trail for review.
Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty's Trail
- Art - 9/109/10
- Mechanics - 8/108/10
- Family Fun - 8/108/10
Age Range: 10+ (We say 8+)
Playtime: 20-30 minutes