Hey everyone! For today's review we're going to take a deductive look at Devir Games' Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft. I'm just going to call it Holmes from now on, because Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft is just a lot to type every time... Anyway, Holmes is a 2-player game in which players are trying to beat each other to the punch as they try to solve a case involving a bomb detonation the night before and whether or not some kid is involved. So does Holmes bring fun to the table, or should you leave this case closed? Let's find out!
The Board--The board is big enough for 12 Character cards. There are three starter cards, and then a new Character comes out each "day" of the investigation.
Investigation Markers--These tokens in the shape of magnifying glasses are used in various ways, but mostly to gain Clue cards.
Cards--There are two types of cards: Character cards help the investigators gain Investigation markers and Clues,which are the other types of cards.
Meeples--There are six meeples--three orange and three blue--and each player gets one set.
The goal is to score the most points. You score points by collecting sets of Clue cards. The Clue cards consist of sets from 3 to 9, each set contains a number of cards equal to its value (three 3's, four 4's etc.). The player who holds the majority of a set will score points equal to the value of the set. (For example, the set of 3's is worth three points.) Also, if you happen to hold all of the cards of a set, you score a bonus three points. There are also wilds that can fill in (but don't count toward owning the complete set). AND, there are map fragments. If you only collect one map fragment, you score -1 point, but the more fragments you collect the more points you score.
Let's talk about how we collect those points!
The game is played in rounds or "Days." The game starts on Day 1, with four Character cards in play: three starter cards, and one dealt from the Character card deck. Each Day a new character comes into play, and by visiting a character (placing your meeple on it) you gain that character's ability. That can be gaining Investigation markers, or spending those markers to gain cards, which are laid out in a lineup.
When you place your meeple on a character, you lay the meeple down, and after each player has played all three of their meeples, you deal a new Character card and stand up all of the meeples where they are. If there are two meeples on the same card at the end of a day, that Character is spent for the next day--turned over and cannot be used for the day. As long as you have a meeple on a character you can't play a second one. At the end of a week, you tally scores and declare a winner.
I've been enjoying two-player games lately, because they're easier to get to the table at this point in my life. So Holmes came along at a great time, and I've been enjoying it for sure.
There are more Character cards than there are days, and because you deal them out randomly it adds some variety to the game and keeps the re-playability high. With more and more replays the game really takes shape. The mechanics are easy to learn (I taught my wife with ease), but going deeper and learning strategy and timing of when to make certain moves is definitely a refining process--this one gets better as you play it more.
For a two-player, set-collection game Holmes brings some interesting mechanics and twists to the table. It's a fresh take on light worker-placement, with a little bit of set-collection tossed in to boot. The real strategy lies within the ability to only visit a certain Character after you've moved away from it in the round while also choosing the right time to "spend" a Character to snag the cards you're looking for.
One thing I didn't mention, is that there are certain cards that will allow you to steal a card from your opponent. They usually come at a high cost, but can swing the game back in your favor if done at the right time. Just remember your opponent has access to everything you do, and turnabout is fair play, my friends!
Holmes is a well-made game. High-quality components, cards, and game board, not to mention the artwork, which I REALLY enjoy.
Jeremiah's Final Verdict--I don't have an extensive 2-player library but when I find a good game in that category, I know it, and Holmes is that type of game. It's a super-fun easy-to-learn game that has great, light-weight depth and replayability! Holmes is definitely worth adding to your collection!
Thanks for reading!