My d4 D.I.C.E. review can be found here.
Player count: 2 – 6 players
Play Time: 45 – 120 minutes
Designers: Brandt Hoffman & Seth A. Cooper
Publisher: Blueprint Gaming Concepts
It is 1893, World’s Fair, Chicago and you need a place to stay. Welcome to World’s Fair Hotel owned by the infamous H. H. Holmes. The man responsible for the deaths of many residents at his bloody “Murder Castle”.
In Crimes in History: H. H. Holmes’ Murder Castle you are racing to collect evidence whilst battling through the crazy, chaotic and booby-trapped “castle”. Explore the rooms, collect the evidence, dodge H. H. Holmes and avoid the other backstabbing guests.
Welcome to Murder Castle, welcome to a house of horrors.
In Murder Castle players will select actions from a number of action tiles. The active player performs the standard action and the bonus action, whilst all other players perform the standard action. Actions include moving from room to room, exploring the castle, collecting evidence, drawing event cards and moving Holmes. Once all players have selected an action tile, Holmes moves by drawing a movement card. If Holmes moves in to a room with a player they must discard evidence cubes. Event cards can be played to mess with other people, manipulate the evidence cubes, move Holmes and generally cause chaos in the game.
Players have to collect a number of evidence cubes in five different categories. Once they have collected all of their evidence they must move back to the Pharmacy to escape and win the game.
Murder Castle is a fun packed box with a certain amount of crazy randomness thrown in. It is a laugh a minute.
The main action selection mechanism is reminiscent of San Juan with the active player choosing and performing the basic & special action. All other players perform the basic action. The actions are fairly simple and easy to understand. The selection for the most part is an easy choice to make. If you are in a room with evidence that you need you will collect it. If there is no evidence then you would explore or move.
The movement of Holmes at the end of the round (or using the action selection card) is drawn from a random deck. You could get lucky and him not move to you or you could not. There is very little way to mitigate this so its worth knowing this when going in to the game. The “Rampage” cards can be pretty brutal, if they come up. If they don’t then the threat of Holmes’ doesn’t seem that high. But there is always that tension that a “Rampage” card might be drawn. There are three Rampage cards in the deck so the chances are you will see one or two.
At the start of the game the explore action tile is used frequently and usually by the first player, if they can. Towards the end of the game the explore action tile became redundant (once all rooms where explored). It would be good to see this tile have a reverse side that gives players another option. When a player explores a room they place evidence from the Ferris Wheel in to the room. This is another point of slight randomness as you are limited to five cubes at that particular position. The colour of evidence that you want could not be present and your options could be limited. The Ferris Wheel is populated randomly from a bag and as such there could be limited amount of evidence for a particular category. There are event cards that let you move the Ferris Wheel or populate the room with evidence but players need to dig through the event decks to find these.
Personally, my preference is to keep the player count to a maximum of four. At six players the game can last a bit long for the amount of randomness.
Overall, Crimes in History: H. H. Holmes’ Murder Castle is a fun game. It offers laughs, hilarity and lends itself to table talk and banter between the players. If you are looking for a brain burning, highly strategic game then this is not for you. However, if you want to grab a group of mates and have some fun then be sure to check out Murder Castle when it hits Kickstarter 13th January 2020.
Please note – Crimes in History: H. H. Holmes’ Murder Castle was provided as a review copy from Blueprint Gaming Concepts.