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Unusual Suspects


Paolo Mori

Cranio Creations

No. of Players:
3 - 16



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Unusual suspects by CRANIO CREATIONS is a light deductive game for 3 to 16 (!) players. The story of the game is quite simple. A witness has seen a thief but does not really remember how he looked like. However, he can tell a lot of the thief's habits, tastes and opinions. How exactly he knows these details, but not his look, nobody knows. But Anyway, someone will know... So one of the players takes the role of the witness. Only he knows which of the 12 possible suspects (for which Suspect cards with portaits have been placed on the table) is the thief. But as he cannot describe him, he must be interrogated by all other players (who present the police), asking about the preferences and habits of the thief.

Now, how does this work? Well, the first thing we have to know is that all players, with the exception of the witness, form an investigative team and work together. So in reality the game is independent of the player number as the investigative team only needs to discuss the habits of the suspects, but there are no individual turns of the single team members.


So, at the beginning of each new game 12 suspects are randomly drawn from the 52 available Suspect cards and the drawn cards are arranged in a 3 x 4 grid in the middle of the table, so that each player can see the cards. All cards show the face of one suspect. The faces are illustrated in a comic-style, but the illustrations are quite distinct with a lot of details. All cards represent "normal" people from the street, so their attributes are not grossly overstated. Now the witness, who may wear a witness cap that comes with the game, draws a Guilty card, which tells him or her exactly the position where the culprit can be found on the table.


Then the alternating moves of questioning and trial will begin, continuing until either the culprit has been found or has been eliminated by the players from the group of suspects. The questioning itself is done by drawing cards from a Question deck and reading out loud what the card says. In return the witness will answer with yes or no. So, for example, there is a question if the culprit is a fan of Sci-Fi, and the witness player will have to say whether this is true or not. Quite unexpectedly, the only hint the witness player has for answering the question is the culprit's portrait on his/her Suspect card, and so the witness player will have to look at the portrait and speculate whether he should answer the question with yes or no. It is then the task of the investigative team to discuss about who of the suspects might correspond to the answer. As a result of their discussions they have to eliminate at least one card from the group of suspects (who - they think- does not correspond to the answer) for each round of questioning, but they may also eliminate more cards if they think that more than one suspect does not match the answer of the witness. If one of the eliminated suspects was the culprit, the investigators have lost, but if not, the questioning goes on with a new question until only one suspect card remains on the table. Of course, this final card then must be the culprit. The faster the culprit has been found, the better is the work of the investigation team. So, you can find the best team by playing multiple rounds.


This may sound like a quite simple game, and perhaps after reading this review you might think: is this simple mechanism enough for a good game? At least this was my first thought when I had read the rules. But on the other hand: how long are the rules of those Werewolf games? And in fact, the game play is much more fun that I had thought - indeed it is really great fun. It is amazing how well you can conclude things a suspect likes or not just by looking at his or her face on the card. It is all about prejudices, but the deduction mechanism is implemented amazingly well, it works perfectly. While discussing whether a suspect corresponds to an answer or not, a lot of weird theories are constructed and funny stories are told, and so there is a lot of laughter during the game. I must confess that I really underestimated the entertainment value of the game - I really love it! Simple, easy rules, a high replayability and short game duration. So, at the moment it is my undebated favourite filler game for larger groups.

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Copyright © 2015 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany