Recent Vintage Review: Mord im Arosa

   Posted by: Jim   in Board games, Reviews

(Part of a series, reviewing games I played in September 2013 at That Board Gaming Thing.)

(image courtesy of duchamp@BoardGameGeek)

Most mystery games use cards as the clues, and you solve the mystery by elimination. The classic example is Clue (or Cluedo) — a set of cards are removed, and by tracking down all or most of the remaining cards, you can deduce the suspect, room and weapon. Games like Sleuth and Mystery of the Abbey are just variations on this.

Mord im Arosa is different. In this case, the clues are cubes in a tower with eight levels, representing different floors of the Hotel Arosa. As you drop cubes in the top, they will fall through the tower until they stop on one of the levels (and possibly knocking other cubes off). By guessing correctly where the cubes have fallen (ostensibly by listening), you collect clues, draw attention away from yourself and eventually determine which one of the players is the murderer.

To start the game, you drop in the two victim cubes, then each player in turn drops in two cubes of their color. Then there are two stages to the game: finding the victims and then determining the suspects.

To find the victims, you guess which floor those cubes might be on and lift the upper sections of the tower to reveal that floor. If you’re right, you place the victim cube on that floor on the investigation board, and a new cube of that color for each cube found near the victim (except yours). If you’re wrong, you must throw an extra cube of your own into the tower. In either case you return all the cubes found (except the victims) into the tower.

To determine the suspects, you accuse one or more players and then reveal a floor to see if their cubes are there. If they are there, then you add a new cube of that color to the investigation board for that floor for each cube found. If they are not, then you must throw in a cube of your own. In either case, you again close the tower and throw in all the cubes found back into the tower.

You can also try to cover your tracks — name a floor, and if your cubes are on there you may remove them before throwing the remainder back in the tower. But if they’re not… again you must add an extra cube of your color in addition to those found, back into the tower.

The game ends when one player runs out of cubes, or has ten cubes on the investigation board. Then players are scored depending on how close their cubes are, by floor, to the two victims on the investigation board. The player with the lower score is the winner, and the player with the highest is the murderer…

I thought the use of a cube tower for a mystery game was very interesting — the only other use of that mechanic I’ve seen is for games like Wallenstein and Shogun (probably because Queen Games has a patent on that particular cube tower). However, beyond that this one didn’t really light me on fire. I think the main issue I had is that the cube placement is random. So while you can try to cover your tracks and remove your cubes, if your cubes are placed on the investigation sheet near the victims, you’re stuck with that high score. You could try to guess the floors near the victims just to incriminate other people, but there’s no guarantee any cubes will be there. So while I certainly enjoyed playing it, I can’t see myself picking this one up.

Final verdict: Borrow

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 5th, 2013 at 8:16 pm and is filed under Board games, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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