Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I think I’ll always have a deep admiration for creators of card games – the immense work involved to get every mechanic and all the different possibilities working just right always seems to impress me! Having worked in the board/card gaming industry and having a shelf for games almost as big as the ones for my books, I just had to take part in this blog tour – wait, hold on. A card game which combines my love of games with my love of murder mystery?! Let me at those cards!
Welcome to Edwardian England. The Lord of the Manor is dead! The servants are our lead suspects and it’s up to you to unearth the evidence, seek out the suspects and catch the culprit in order to scupper the other sleuths, and win this game of murder!
There’s more than one way to catch a killer though. So what’s it gonna be? Good Cop or Bad Cop? These two game versions come with their own set of rules and tactics to crack the case and finger your suspect, but will you use fair play or FOUL PLAY?
The Game is Afoot! Playing as detective, you’ll need to find the three evidence cards that point to a specific suspect in order to catch a killer in this crazy criminal caper. Will you uncover them in the crime scene? Could the other detectives be willing to collaborate and share their findings? Or will you resort to more tricky tactics, and plunder the proof you need to solve this crime?
How to play
Foul Play is a game for 2-4 players aged 14+. There are two different game modes; Good Cop and Bad Cop, with both following the same rules of play. However, Good Cop is more of a beginner game as some of the cards are removed and there is basically a little less to think about! Bad Cop is the juicy game for when you’ve mastered Good Cop – all cards are in play and a lot more detective work is needed. Read about our failures a little later!
The cards are distributed and laid out as per the instructions – I’ll not bore you with the details of how to set up the table, but the instructions are pretty straightforward. Depending on which game mode you’re playing, each player will start with either 5 or 7 cards. Make sure you analyse these well, as you never know when you’ll have to share your hand, get a card stolen or maybe even conceal a card in the Crime Scene for use later on…
The aim of the game is to collect and analyse evidence cards in order to pin the murder on a suspect. Will it be friendly lil’ Mort Throttle, the chauffeur, with his dodgey looking gun and leather gloves, or polite Ivy Smothers with that completely innocent blade and guilty expression? In fact, I’m throwing you all off a little there because every suspect looks guilty as hell, which only makes your job as a detective harder!
The first thing we did was open the pack of cards and give them a good sniff. May sound weird, but have you ever whiffed a freshly opened pack of cards?! It’s just as good as new book smell, trust me. We played a two player game because Penny the Golden Retriever wasn’t able to hold the cards to make a three as much as she wanted to, bless her. See the image below:
The instructions took a few read-throughs which didn’t bother us too much because this is what usually happens with a game you’ve never played – you have no idea what to expect and you need to get your head around it before you dive in! We had a game of Good Cop to get us started, but we had our cards on show to the other player so we could help each other out in our first run through. I’d recommend this with any game as a tester round where you can glance over the rules if you need to and help each other out if you have any questions. When we thought we understood the rules well enough, we started a new game, put our detective hats on, and got a little competitive.
At first, we didn’t really see the significance of having a table full of face down cards as this wasn’t fully explained in the rules, but the more we played, the more we understood its significance. You’ll find that the more you play, the more you’ll get the hang of things, and each run through of the game gets more and more fun. We quickly enjoyed playing the Good Cop game due to its simplicity, but we both agreed that it could be more fun with more players. (Something we’ll be doing when we can finally mix households!)
Next, we tried a game of Bad Cop. All was running smoothly until I threw down my winning evidence and suspect cards and yelled, “AHA, FOUND HIM.” It felt like I’d ‘won’ a little too early, and we both agreed it was a little too soon. To clear up a little debate, I contacted the After Dark crew and found that I had indeed become too confident in my detective abilities. It’s safe to say that I’ll not be moving into that sector of work for a very long time…
We soon realised that we needed to do a LOT more digging. There are a ton more evidence cards in Bad Cop, and much more detective work to be done before you can pin the murder on any one suspect. In fact, you might have to stumble across any suspect a few times before you can be 100% certain he or she is the killer. This game takes a lot more patience and a keen eye for detail, and again, I’m sure it’d be even more challenging with even more players!
There were a couple of things that we still questioned (because that’s what we’re both like when we get a new game):
- We (potentially) saw an opportunity to ‘break’ the game at the beginning of Good Cop. What if all crime scene cards and some evidence cards are placed randomly into the 3×3 ‘Crime Scene’ grid at the start of the game? Even though this is unlikely with a good shuffle of the deck, it could still happen, then we’d never get to the end of the game and the killer would walk free!! (After Dark guys, can you shed a little light and tell us if we’re wrong?)
- If we played the game a ton of times and had the evidence and suspect cards burned into our brains, we’d definitely have an unfair advantage if we played with a new player or group of players. However, I’m sure this would be an issue with most card games! You simply get better and better…maybe just too good…
Overall, the game is immensely enjoyable and perfect for if you want a quick game to pass some time, or a deeper game to really get your teeth into. We appreciated the different modes of play – a simpler version and a more in depth version to suit a wide variety of gamers. The game gave us a laugh, especially as we stole each other’s cards, and found the humourous side to our initial failures!
Even though we didn’t see the point in the Crime Scene grid when we first played the game, we were so wrong about it, and it soon became our favourite part of the game! We constantly found ourselves hiding evidence and tricking one another, which worked so so well as the game progressed. Another thing we found sneaky was remembering the colours of cards and this was yet another factor that worked in the game’s favour.
The game looks brilliant with some detailed and quirky artwork, and you can really tell the quality of the cards from how they feel. It just makes the game so much more enjoyable to me! Overall, a fun game which is incredibly addictive and soon gets competitive! The perfect game to build observation and memory skill, as well as one you can play again and again with the same enjoyment factor. Will definitely be recommending!
Thanks so much to the team at After Dark and Emma at Damp Pebbles for our copy of the game and our place on the blog tour! You can find out more about Foul Play here and purchase a copy for yourself. Make sure you’re following the creators over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what they come up with next!