17 March 2021
The butler did it. Or the groundskeeper. Maybe the maid actually? It’s a tale of murder as old as manor houses. You and your fellow detectives must unearth the truth about the grizzly Manor House Murder in a game that’s a little bit Guess Who? and a little bit Happy Families. Foul Play is the creation of After Dark Murder Mystery, a murder mystery production company who turned to competitive sleuthing card games while the current pandemic kept the more theatrical murders socially distanced.
Players lay a grid of cards on the table between them to form the crime scene, they then take a hand of cards each, and the hunt is afoot. Play a card, follow its action – steal a card without looking, replace a card in the crime scene, swap a card and so on – and then draw from the evidence lockers. Amongst the action cards are suspect cards and evidence cards, the latter give you a clue about the suspect, and the former you need in your hand to claim that you’ve worked it out.
It’s quite jolly in its way, and there is a certain amount of tension in trying to work out what other people have already seen. It does all feel like a race through the deck however, which soon dissipates the tension. The amusing Bad Cop mode where it doesn’t matter who you name as the perp, as long as you can frame them with the right evidence, is even more of an arbitrary race. Foul Play feels like it would play better with a bigger group than we were able to get together, but it lacks a lot of the whodunnit elements we’d like from a game of this theme. Still, it remains a light entry to the spot the murderer genre, which is always welcome.
Christopher John Eggett
PLAY IT? MAYBE
Designer: Ben & Lee Cooper-Muir
Publisher: After Dark Murder Mystery
Time: 15-40 minutes
This feature originally appeared in Issue 53 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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