Review: ‘Foul Play’ Murder Mystery Card Game [AD]
This post contains gifted items. All views are our own.
School’s out for the summer here in Scotland! We’re hoping to get away for a mini seaside vacation in our local area for a few days next month, and we’ve got a new card game to share with you that’s perfect for popping in your bags for a holiday. Foul Play is a murder mystery card game for 2-5 players, that is available in two different editions, and each one has two different versions of play so there’s plenty to keep you busy.
Let’s start with The Manor House Murder edition, set in Edwardian England. The Lord of the Manor is dead, the servants are the lead suspects, and it’s up to you to prove who did it.
The pack of cards includes 8 suspect cards, 15 evidence cards, and 29 action cards, as well as four instruction cards. Before I introduce the rules of the game, I want to explain the cards a little more, as understanding the cards and what they each do is crucial to the game. Here are the eight suspects:
The evidence cards are labelled either A, B or C, and to identify the killer, you’ll need to find one of each along with the suspect that matches those three pieces of evidence. As the combination of evidence cards changes with each game, you can play this countless times without it becoming repetitive. So in this example here, the victim was stabbed, the killer wears a hat and has a red flower – which leads us to Ivy Smothers.
But if the third piece of evidence changes from a red flower to grey hair, then suddenly Olive Mangle is our guilty suspect.
Then there are the action cards. There are seven different action cards in total (see below). I won’t go in to them all in great detail, but most of them allow to you either swap, steal or take a look at other players’ cards. There’s also ‘block’ which lets you block another player’s actions, and the ‘red herring’ which is completely useless so you want to get rid of that as quickly as you can.
So, now that you know what all the cards are, let’s move on to how to play! As mentioned above, there are two different versions to play – Good Cop, and Bad Cop. The set up for both is very similar. For Good Cop, you use just one each from the A, B and C evidence cards, and for Bad Cop you use all of them. And for Good Cop each player gets dealt 5 cards, whereas for Bad Cop you receive 7. To set up the game, place a 3 x 3 grid of face down cards in the middle of your table (this is your crime scene), deal the relevant number of cards to each player, then place the remaining cards face down next to the crime scene (this is your evidence locker) and place the top card face down on the opposite side (this is your discard pile).
The game play itself is fairly straight forward. On you turn, you play an action card by placing it face up on front of you. If no one blocks you, then you carry out that action, and at the end of your turn you discard that action card and pick up a new one from the ‘evidence locker’. There are a few extra rules about playing and discarding cards which I won’t go in to here, but your aim is to find three evidence cards and the corresponding suspect, through a process of swapping, stealing and peeking at cards, and then to reveal the correct suspect to win the game. The difference is that in Good Cop there are only three evidence cards in play so there is only one suspect that will be a match, whereas in Bad Cop, all the evidence cards are in play so you can collect any A, B, C combination and the suspect that goes with that combination.
And our verdict? We love this game! It’s aimed at age 8+ so I played with my husband and our eldest boy, who is 10. After an initial practice round, he totally got it. He loves anything that involves detectives or solving mysteries, so this was right up his street. And I love myself a good old crime story too. We played both versions, and I felt that Bad Cop was a little harder and it took a little longer, but my son said that it was his favourite version out of the two to play – probably because he won, haha! My husband and I are both working full out for the next two weeks, but we’ll definitely be playing some more Foul Play once we switch in to holiday mode. The Foul Play website has a very helpful tutorial video that talks you through both games, so you might find that easier than reading the instructions.
We also gave the other edition, Once Upon a Crime, a quick test drive. The premise of the game is the same, except this time the setting is Storybook Land, and the suspects are all fairytale characters. And obviously the evidence descriptions are different too, so that they correspond to the suspects.
Everything else is the same, except for two of the action cards. If you compare these action cards to the ones from The Manor House Murder above, you’ll notice that the two green action cards that get players to show their hand, have been replaced with an action to turn over two cards from the crime scene, and an action to get another player to discard and replace all their cards.
I did like the turning over of the cards, as it meant less for my ailing memory to remember, but both sets of action cards were fun to play with. My son did prefer the Once Upon a Crime edition though, because he really loved the fairytale characters. The Manor House Murder edition does also include some characters that are smoking, so if that is in any way problematic for you then I would definitely recommend you go for the fairytale cards.
The Manor House Murder is available to buy now from the Foul Play website, and Once Upon a Crime will be available to buy from 1st July 2021.
Disclosure: We were gifted copies of both editions of Foul Play, in return for an honest review. All opinions are our own.