Tag Archives: Playroom Entertainment

Sherlock

It is very hard to find a game in which kids can expect to compete with adults, but Sherlock (Playroom Entertainment, 1999) is one of them. It is strictly a memory game, but it uses a much more interesting mechanism than classic memory games (such as “concentration”).

Sherlock consists of a deck of cards (see pic below), which depict a simple iconic image, a number, and an arrow. There is one “Sherlock” card used as a starter. The illustrations are clear and attractive, and geared toward children’s tastes without being too babyish.

The game is played by dealing 8 cards to the center of the table in a circle. Players have a chance to memorize the identity of each card. If necessary, an adult can be handicapped by getting less time to memorize at this point. When players are ready, the cards are turned face-down, and the Sherlock card is laid down next to one card, which is to serve as the starting point.

On a turn, a player must accurately identify the card adjacent to the Sherlock card; if wrong, the player who missed it chooses a new spot for the Sherlock card and play passes to the next player. If the guess is correct, that card is left face-up and the number and arrow on the card indicates the direction and number of cards to jump to. In the example below, the guessing player identified and turned over the pail first (note the Sherlock card above it), moved one to the right and identified and turned over the cherries, then moved three to the left and identified and turned over the comb, and so on. The turn ends when a player guesses long enough that they end up on a card that they have already turned over. In the example below, the chair indicates a move two spaces to the right, which would be the already turned comb. The guessing player wins that card and replaces it – first for all to see, and then face down. The other cards are turned back to face-down, and the Sherlock card is moved to a new spot for the next player. The first to collect 5 cards is the winner!

Since Sherlock is a kid’s game, it’s simple, but it is still a nice challenging game for adults to play with their kids. It even offers a great opportunity to observe and assist kids as they discover and implement memory strategies – which can end up being useful throughout school and life in general.

I highly recommend this game for any child (5 and up), and any family with children. Most people who have played will tell you it’s more fun than they expected, as it was for me. So buy this game – it’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s fun!

Buy Sherlock from Amazon!

Poison

poison box

Poison (Playroom Entertainment, 2005) is a creation of Reiner Knizia – whose name is prominently displayed on the box cover. If you aren’t a gamer, then you should know that Reiner is one of the most highly regarded game creators of the past 20 years, and has created hundreds of games.

I played Poison when it first came out in 2005, and it immediately went on my list, although by the time I tried to buy it, it wasn’t easy to find. It’s a great family game that takes about 5 minutes to learn and one (quick) round to really understand.

The concept is simple enough, and it seems like it should be easy to duplicate with a regular deck of cards – but that is not the case. The game consists of three cardboard “cauldrons” (see below), and a deck of cards of four different colors. Red, Blue, and Purple cards are regular point cards, but green cards are poison! The regular cards have various values (1, 2, 4, 6, 7 only; this is important), but poison cards are always worth 4.

poison layout

On a turn, players place a card in one of the three cauldrons. Once a cauldron has a color, no other color may be added, and no other cauldron may include that color; hence there is an element 0f following suit. If by adding a card a player goes over 13 points in any cauldron, they must leave the card they played and take the rest of the stack. That’s usually a bad thing, unless that player has a chance of having the most cards of that suit, in which case that’s a good thing. Once all the cards have been played, the round is over and scores are tallied.

The players who had the majority of cards in any color are immune to the effects of that color. All other players with cards of that color must take one point for each other card. The poison (green) cards are worth two instead of one, and no immunity is possible from poison.

Such a simple game, but true to its theme, attractive, and fun! I recommend it to any family or group that includes mixed ages. Kids older than 8 should be able to grasp it and have fun playing, but groups of adults can have fun playing it too.

Buy Reiner Knizia’s Poison from Amazon!