Thursday, 23 March 2017

Grand Theft Loco

Thursday, and Ian, Andrew and I gathered around the table ready to test our wits and indulge our senses in a deduction game: Watson and Holmes. This takes its leave from Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, but unlike the older game it's not co-operative. Instead you utilise various currencies to get ahead: bobbies, whistles, keys, but mainly carriages - as you dash from place to place to pick up clues to solve the crime.

location, location, location

Thematically it's slightly weird to be spending carriages when you're going up and down a train - as we were in our case - but whatever. After a prologue read aloud to establish the case, you're given three questions to answer. In our case it was Who stole from the train's mail car, How did they access it, and How did they get clear without being identified.

Cards are laid out denoting the various locations to visit - when you go there, you get to flip the card and - secretly - read the information it contains. The catch is that you bid carriages to visit a place, and if someone outbids you, you're forced to either up your bid or, as Holmes would say, bugger off elsewhere.

competitive detecting

We all established theories but, under a time pressure to crack the case before anyone else, they became increasingly surreal. Andrew wondered if the felon had hurled his cache from the moving train onto a bridge as he sailed under it. Ian wondered if a dog was responsible - he did have sooty paws, after all.

But I was first to have a stab at answering the questions, and got them all right - or right enough for our little company. It was the man t and he got in through a thing and hid the stuff cleverly.

It wasn't a heavy game, but there was a palpable tension, even though much of it is spent in silence, as you read cards and curse the fact they seem to have no bearing on the case whatsoever. However we agreed that for the bidding to really have any weight to it, you need at least 4 players. With 3 there's simply too many places to go at minimal price - like a deductive avenue full of Lidl clues.


With Holmes back in his box, we went for the other gaming extreme - Martin Wallace's push-your-luck adventure of undead avoidance. I put rather more thought into my choices in the early rounds, having been serially eaten in my previous games. And it seemed to work out, although in the end it was extremely close.

Andrew blasts his way through

With two rounds to go, Andrew succumbed to the zombies when his lack of resources finally counted against him in the worst possible way. Ian - down to his last survivor - saw off four zombies in the penultimate round, and six in the finale - but he was out of strength and options when the final wave fell upon him.

Ian's last stand

Sam: lives to tell the tale - just
Ian: dies
Andrew: dies also


  1. An evening of Sherlock Holmes and zombies. It's almost as if we'd just come round to watch a couple of films! Holmes & Watson was fun, of the frustrating thinky kind. I got the criminal and the method of hiding the goods wrong so I'm a bit worried that that was the easy one!

    Hit Z Road is very good. It has a feeling of futile desperation that you might expect during a zombie apocalypse. As I was down to my last survivor, I was desperate for someone else to have some bad luck with their dice rolls, which is also strangely fun.

    Cheers for the evening, chaps!

  2. I really liked Sherlock Holmes but I think the sweet spot is probably 5 or even 6. We had too much freedom to move around uncontested. But the race element still came through, as did the deduction challenge. Katy would love it and I think it might help Adam shed his Mystery of the Abbey experience.

    Finally won Hit Z Road!!! But I nearly didn't when I came close to sacrificing one of my two remaining survivors - hadn't realised I was about to lose another on my final card. There's something inherently comedic about the way death comes in this game - via gormless looking maples, advancing across the table toward you.

    1. autocorrect alert! Gormless meeples. Not maples.

  3. Gormless looking maples advancing - that was the march of the Ents from Lord of the Rings I think.

    Both games sound like fun. I always like my Zombie apocalypses to have the great taste of 'futile desperation'.