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Sleuthing: An Investigator's Guide

A Peek at the Gameplay of Watson & Holmes

2 December 2016 | Watson & Holmes


The work of an investigator is dirty work indeed. Any witness has the capacity to become your suspect, and any suspect has the potential to be innocent. Your job—to find the truth—is not clear-cut. The trembling in the hands of your witness may be a sign of everyday trifles or a tell that something far more sinister lays beneath the surface. And your suspect, well, there are a lot of smooth talkers out there. Can you see beyond their clever disguises? Sherlock Holmes has the secrets to your investigative success, and it is with his guidance that you will improve upon your skills in an effort to become London's next master of mystery in the competitive sleuthing game, Watson & Holmes.

It is with these devils in hand that a mystery comes to you and your comrades at 221B Baker Street. Up the seventeen steps this riddle travels, bearing few leads and little to no certainty. A sparse case file is given to you, and nothing more. As the burden of proof grows heavy upon your shoulders, you must travel across the city with haste in order to follow leads, separate the red herrings from the truth, and outsmart your opposing detectives. While you each bear the same goal, only one of you can grow to such fame as the great Sherlock Holmes, and solving a case of this kind may be your one-way ticket to the top.


‘My name is Sherlock Holmes.  It is my business to know what other people don’t know.’

-The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

Your most valuable asset as an investigator is your contacts, and your list of who you know is are entirely reliant on who you are. In a game of Watson & Holmes, you will take on the role of a randomly assigned character whose skills you will use to crack this case. Understanding your own strengths and concealing your identity are paramount at the beginning of each game, as there is nothing quite as powerful as knowledge, especially knowledge only you hold. Each character has a set of unique abilities which can be triggered at a specific time by disclosing the role to the rest of the group. Conversely, they may choose not to take advantage of that trait in exchange for carriages, giving them an advantage during travel. 

What's more, in your search for the truth, you will come across a myriad of handy tools and instruments for success. Carriages are one of these, giving you an advantage over your opponents while you race to explore and investigate each location. Others to make use of include Police tokens, which allow you to obstruct your fellow detectives by using your connections with the police; Call Off tokens, which can send the police away; and a crafty Lockpick, which permits you and only you to sneak past the police into a location without sounding the alarm. 


‘You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles.’

-The Bascombe Valley Mystery

With all of these handy tools, you may be itching to get a move on, but don't get ahead of yourself, investigators. Before you leave 221b, you would do best to study the information you already have. Sparse as your clues may be when the case is first presented, Holmes has long subscribed to the theory that the devil is in the details. Within your slim evidence, you may be able to identify subtle clues and bits of information that the others might miss—and this may set you apart in the long run. By identifying important locations and players in the crime, you may be able to get a head start once you venture out into the city.


‘There is nothing like first-hand evidence.’

-A Study in Scarlet

The bulk of your investigation will take place out on the streets of London, following leads both big and small. With each clue you discover, people of interest will emerge and particular locations will gain immense intrigue. Should you come to the same conclusion as another detective, however, you may have to fight to visit the next location on your list. With your carriages, you can bid for first access to the space. If you're feeling particularly devious, you may also choose to call the police to the area, inhibiting your opponent's ability to follow in your footsteps. At the same time, you may find the location to be of no use whatsoever, and must then redirect your investigation. That is, unless you run into your adversaries yet again.


‘Nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person.’ 

-Silver Blaze

The ultimate conclusion of the case will take place at 221B Baker Street when an investigator has successfully identified the answers to each of Holmes' questions. You may return to the flat whenever you please, though at a risk. Doing so with an incorrect solution will take you out of the game entirely, leaving your opponents to proceed with their investigations in search of the truth you were unable to find. That said, you musn't get ahead of yourself. Trod carefully, listen intently, and judge fairly, or your lack of evidence will be your undoing.

Watson and Holmes is expected in stores in early 2017.