Updated: Oct 17, 2019
by Guest Contributor: Justin Borges
Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty’s Trail is a deduction card game game with a Sherlock Holmes theme.
So, I consider myself a punny guy. Being both a dad and a teacher, I am unapologetically attracted to the most cringe-worthy jokes out there; and that includes puns that make your eyes roll waaaaay back. But one day a few years ago I met local game designer, Stephen Sauer (who also runs the brilliant Harry-Potter-esque store, Curiosa), and when he mentioned his upcoming game, Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty's Trail, I thought:
I almost gagged at the name! It was too punny even for me! I rolled my eyes and vowed (in my head, of course, so as not to be rude) to never play a game with such a name! BAM! End of story!
Clearly, that was not the end of the story.
A few months later I was at a game night and my friends pulled out their brand-new copy of Purrrlock Holmes. I begrudgingly agreed to give it a try, especially since I had recently fallen in love with the game Beyond Baker Street, and I was eager to try new deduction games.
Let me tell you, it was love at first play. Purrrlock Holmes not only immediately usurped the title of my favourite deduction game, but currently shares the privilege of being my favourite game (aside from Kingdomino - but that’s another review, for another time).
Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty’s Trail is a deduction card game game with a Sherlock Holmes theme (clearly). It is what I call semi-semi-cooperative, in that players are not actually helping each other to win, but do “work together” to catch Furriarty. If caught, the players win, but the one who has scored the most points, becomes the Chief Inspector of Scotland Pound [hah]! If he gets away, however, the players lose and the one with the fewest points becomes the Litter Box Inspector of Scotland Pound [insert cringe here]!
The animals are part of Furriarty’s gang, and each card is a Clue, listing both the animal and a number.
Purrrlock Holmes features a deck of 60 cards, numbered 1-12, in one of five animal suits. The animals are part of Furriarty’s gang, and each card is a clue, listing both the animal and a number. Each player has a card in front them that they cannot see, which is their current Investigation Card. This is the card that they will attempt to figure out the details of; either the animal, the number, or both.
Each player is given a small player board that will help them organize their clues, and in the middle of the table is a line of paw print tokens that act as the points that players will collect as they correctly figure out their investigations. Within this line is also placed the Furriarty token, who acts as the timer, moving one space towards the end of the line at the end of each round.
On a player’s turn they will have four cards in their hand, and will choose two of them. These two cards are placed on the table face up and the other players will say "yes" or "no" for each card. A played card is a "yes" if the suit matches your Investigation Card, and/or the number is within one of your card's number. (So a “2 of Frog” would be a "yes" if your Investigation Card is a Frog card, or a 1, 2 or 3 of any suit. It is a "no" if it is not a Frog suit or any other number.)
Others players are not permitted to explain why your cards are a "yes" or "no", so you'll have to figure that out on your own.
That little player board is helpful here, as the left is the Lead side (with green pipes) and the right is the Dead End side (with red fish bones). The player board also shows all five suits and the numbers 1-12 like a clock face, perfect for deducing your Investigation as you gather new information through the Clues.
From the Box Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty's Trail 2–5 Players, ages 10+
Playing Time: 20–30 minutes
Designer: Stephen Sauer
Artist: Jacqui Davis
Published by: IDW Games
Good Tip I will mention here that some players who prefer a more visual aid, and/or have a tough time remembering various bits of information at the same time, might fare better if they play with small tokens to cover up the eliminated clues as the game progresses.
Aside from having to play the two cards on their turn, a player may, but doesn’t have to, make a guess. They can guess before or after playing cards, and it can be about one or both attributes of their Investigation. If either one or both attributes are wrong the other players will just say "no," without a reason why. The penalty for an incorrect guess is only having two cards, instead of four on the following turn. If correct, however, the player gains one or two point tokens from the middle of the table, depending on how many attributes were guessed.
The Investigation and all of that player’s played Clues are sent to the discard pile, and the player receives a new, unseen-to-them Investigation Card, two free Clues, and the game continues. Guessing at the beginning of the turn, if able, is great in that not only does the player get the points if correct, but they still gets to play their two cards, now on the new Investigation Card, giving them an extra jump on figuring it out.
When a player’s turn is over, regardless of whether they guessed or not, they will pass the two unplayed cards in their hand to the next player, and draw two new cards for themselves. The game continues like this for a number of rounds until the Furriarty token in the line is collected, in which case one player will be named Chief Inspector. However, if the token makes it to the end of the line, Furriarty escapes and someone is going to be stuck cleaning up the litter box!
And that is Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty’s Trail. I’ve left out a few details, but you can catch those in the rulebook when you pick up this game for yourself. And you will! Because the game is just hands-down fantastic! It is quick (20-30 minutes), plays 2-5 players and works for players as young as 10, according to the box (although the Board Game Geek community suggest players as young as 8 can handle it, which I would agree with).
I highly recommend this game! Get into this deductive card game. You will not be disappointed.
Players looking for the pure cooperative elements in Hanabi and Beyond Baker Street may be disappointed here, but I have found that players of Purrrlock Holmes often think out loud, which usually garners aid from other players. Then again, I tend to play with friendly, helpful players, and maybe other groups will not be so forthcoming with aid.
I highly recommend this game! If you have not tried it, then try it! In fact, just go buy it and force it on your friends. Ignore their, and your, rolling eyeballs at all the puns (I did not even mention all of the puns in the rulebook!), and get into this deductive card game. You will not be disappointed.
About Our Guest Contributor Justin Borges
Justin Borges is a human, and most definitely not a unicorn. Probably.
He is a dad to two boardgaming young boys, a teacher of many things, and has an unusual attraction to board games, Star Wars, Lego, and grilled cheese.
He makes a lot of funny faces, and says it’s for the camera, but really that’s just his face.
Find Justin on Instagram.
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