Game review: Beyond Baker Street: Solve the case before Sherlock Holmes
Posted August 6, 2016
Beyond Baker Street by Z-Man Games is a game of deduction and team work for two to four players. In 20 to 30 minutes, players will work together to solve a case by examining motives, evidence, suspects and opportunities. Beat Sherlock Holmes to win.
This card-driven game begins by selecting one of six detective cases. This will determine the difficulty level of the game by limiting the number of turns available to players. Each player is then dealt a character card with a special power and some evidence cards.
A small board on the table keeps track of several things important for the game. First, a Sherlock Holmes marker is placed on a track from 20 to 0. If the marker ever moves to zero, the game is over and Sherlock Holmes has solved the case, resulting in a defeat for the players. Another track on the board has numbers 1 to 20. It keeps track of discarded evidence and starts at zero. It must be at exactly 20 when the last part of the case is solved, or the players also lose.
Evidence cards are a core mechanism for the game, and players get a handful of these cards to start the game. They help players solve the case they're working on, but evidence cards are manipulated in a unique way. Each player holds evidence cards outward, so only teammates can see them. The evidence cards have numbers and icons on them that have significance in the game.
One of the key actions every turn is to let fellow players know what cards they have in their hands, so they can play them correctly, but this has to be done a certain way. A player may let fellow players know which cards they have either by numbers or by icons. For example, a player might point to three cards in a fellow player's hand and indicate that they all have a value of three. Or a player might point out to a fellow player that two cards in his or her hand contain suspect icons on them.
Three card piles on the board keep track of three aspects of the case. These are motives, suspects and opportunities. These must be solved to win. The card on top of each of these stacks shows a number and an icon matching players' evidence cards. Players must play evidence cards from their hands that match the icon of the pile. In order to solve the case, the number on the case card must be matched exactly by totalling any evidence cards there.
For example, the "suspect" case card requires magnifying glass cards totalling a value of 13. Susan plays a six magnifying glass card on her turn, and Tom contributes a seven magnifying glass card on his turn. This completes the requirements to solve the suspect case card: magnifying glass cards totalling a value of 13. One more player must confirm the evidence on his or her turn, and then this part of the case is done.
Players continue to solve the three parts of a case until the last case card is ready to be confirmed. A quick check is done to see if the evidence track is exactly on 20 and, if it is, the game is over, resulting in a player-led victory.
Beyond Baker Street is an excellent deduction game where players work together to beat the game. More importantly, it is fun to play. It involves trusting fellow players and taking some risk. The various case cards will keep the game interesting by providing different difficulty levels. This game is recommended and more information can be found here.