The Evolution of Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
An Interview with Space Cowboys
With not one, but two new Sherlock Holmes games releasing from Space Cowboys soon, we've been thinking a lot about the great detective and how he fits into our world of tabletop games. The more we dug in, the more curious we got about what has drawn the studio to the character's stories, particularly in the deeply narrative series, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, so today, we decided to ask. Our friends at Space Cowboys were more than happy to discuss how we got from the original game, over thirty years old, to both the revised and brand new cases they bring us today in Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures, and they even shared a little bit about what we can expect from this dynamic line in the coming year.
The New Consulting Detective
Asmodee: What do you find most fascinating about the Consulting Detective Line? How is it different from other tabletop games?
Space Cowboys: Let’s face it, Consulting Detective is a weird game, but we think good designs never die, and this one won the Spiel des Jahres awards in 1985! So it’s different because it's thirty years old, the actual game system can be explained in under two minutes, and there are no real rules, in the boardgaming sense of the word.
In that sense, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective is more than a boardgame. Somehow, it’s as much an activity as it is a game. You can play it in a very dedicated manner, with four players taking notes, creating theories, and checking everything in the directory, the newspapers, and the map. You can, however, also play it in a very casual, relaxed way, while enjoying a quiet evening with friends.
Somehow, this game was among the first to promote cooperative play. This is a very important part of what makes the game special. It’s a real "team of detectives" game, in the way many crime shows are made.
Asmodee: What prompted the combination of Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper for the latest version of the game?
SC: First and foremost, that came from the author’s passion. Jérôme Ropert is an history buff and is fascinated by Jack The Ripper and the Victorian era. As a gamer himself, he felt it natural to create something out of both passions. Of course, the cases were more stories than cases. We added a lot of twists and red herrings, and reduced the amount of historical details. It was a painful process as some texts were amazing, but we had to think of the game, too.
Asmodee: What kind of research went into creating the Jack the Ripper campaign? How much of it is factual?
SC: A lot! We drew on many recent theories and hypotheses, wrapped in a very serious, historical background. Of course, we had to take liberties with the "shadow" parts of the Jack the Ripper cases. The testimonies, autopsies, some characters, and more, however, are very close to the realities of the reports and studies we referenced.
Asmodee: Moving on to the West End Adventures—those are revised from a previous collection. What have been the biggest changes? Are the solutions different than they were before the revision?
SC: All cases have been revised and changes have been made. In some of the cases, I would say they’re very minor. However, we changed the solution(s) of… oh, no, sorry, I can’t tell you!
Asmodee: Can you give us a sneak peek at what’s to come for Holmes, Watson, and the Irregulars in the coming year? Will you be revising even more classic cases?
SC: We have all kinds of exciting plans for 2017. There will certainly be more revised cases as well as some never released before in English. We're also working on a collection of brand-new cases that we'll be able to talk a bit more about later. In short, the range is far from over.
We have made one major change to the line, with Jack the Ripper and West End Adventures, and that will not be changing with the upcoming games. Every Consulting Detective box functions as a stand-alone game, containing ten cases and everything you need (rules, map, directory, etc.) so that you can enter Holmes' world beginning with any box you want!
What cryptic clues, you have, Space Cowboys! We're getting so excited to reveal what's next for the Consulting Detective line, and we haven't been without teasers. Just check out the video we posted a few weeks ago:
Now we know it's not much, but don't fret — we have big announcements coming very soon. The best way to keep up on the latest is to keep checking back here, but also to follow the Space Cowboys US Facebook Page. You'll always find our news shared there, along with reviews, updates along the way, and maybe even a few exclusive sneak peeks at what's coming up next.
Crack the Case
Though you may have to wait a couple weeks for more news, there is something you can do right now. With light shed on the development of the Jack the Ripper campaign and the revisions on the West End Adventures, you're ready to begin investigating! The first of the new collection of Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective games, Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures can now be found at local game stores across the US. We can't wait to hear where your search for the truth leads, so be sure to share your stories with us on the Facebook page as well!