Wednesday 30 June 2021

Foul Play Family Murder Mystery Card Games Review: Age 8+ (Sent for review)

Foul Play are in the business of creating experiences to remember, and with COVID putting a pause on a lot of in-person fun, they've come up with card-based murder mystery games that can be played again and again. Suitable for 2-5 players aged around 8+, each pack also has 2 ways to play, so in essence you have 2 different games - Good Cop or Bad Cop. 

Foul Play sent us both of their current games for review - Manor House Murder and Once Upon A Crime (released 1st July!)... 

Foul Play Murder Mystery Card Game Review Age 8+ Sent for review

There is nothing unusual in the box, just a pack of really nicely decorated game cards, and 4 Instruction Cards. The images are great. Everything is bold and brightly coloured, and the characters are excellent. It's very modern and the drawings are actually a lot of fun.

Each game has a scenario, or backstory. Once Upon A Crime is set in Storybook Land, and Manor House Murder is more of your traditional Agatha Christie - but will the Butler do it? 

playing card with background story text

The instructions are a little clunky - sorry guys. Foul Play is in some ways like Cluedo, but in many ways more like Rummy, and you need to know the aim, which we didn't find clear in the instructions:
Bad Cop - The aim of the game is to collect in your hand 4 cards which go together. 3 evidence cards (A, B and C) and a suspect who can be adequately framed as the murderer...
God Cop - The aim of the game is to have seen all 3 pieces of evidence and then locate the suspect who matches. You need the suspect in hand to solve the murder.

Foul Play 3 different evidence cards and suspect

All of the Foul Play cards are shuffled together (although you are told which to remove for Good Cop games). 9 cards are dealt upside down in a 3x3 square on the table. This is the 'Crime Scene'. Players are dealt 5 or 7 cards each, depending on whether you are playing Good Cop or Bad Cop. The spare cards become the 'Evidence Locker' and go to one side of the square of 9, and the discard pile is on the opposite side. 

Foul Play Card Game table set up in play with hand reaching to take a card

Players take turns to play a card, or swap with the evidence locker, and by following the instructions on the card, play progresses. Cards are swapped, placed on the crime scene, stolen from other detectives, crime scene cards are turned over etc.

There are a couple of pretty nasty cards in there. Gone Cold, which can swap out another player's hand completely, and Block, which can prevent another player using their turn to solve the mystery AND lose them their suspect. Originally Foul Play was going to be aimed at gamers aged 14+, who can cope with that sort of let down - if you do play with younger players, they might find it a bit harsh. Be gentle, at least at first.

Foul Play Murder Mystery Card Game good cop bad cop set up cards

Good Cops have to locate the evidence and memorise it. Bad Cops have to fit a suspect to what you have in hand, but either way we found with 5 players that we went through that evidence locker several times. Each game has taken us a good hour with 5 players, and it is exciting the whole time, especially when you know someone else has the 4 cards needed to solve the puzzle (Bad Cop) or has the suspect in hand and has seen the 3 different pieces of evidence to accuse them (Good Cop). 

Foul Play IS loads of fun. We played 3 adults and 2 pre-teens, and all really enjoyed the gameplay. Once we got into the swing of it, we were really fast, and several times 'nearly' had a winner before we actually ended the game.

An 8 year old can play, but I do think they could struggle with some of the harsher game mechanisms, so you might have to set some extra rules or limits for your own family or group (e.g no-one under 13 has their whole hand swapped if it's after 7pm seems a sensible one here...). 

Foul Play Card Game evidence and other cards laid out 2 x 4

Foul Play is unique in that not only do you have 2 different ways to play, giving a very different game experience, but it's a 'Murder Mystery' that you can play again and again, without ever being able to guess the end result. Loads of fun, and really an excellent job from a company who had to try and evolve or risk closing. Definitely a game that we'll play again and again... and already have... 

Foul Play Games are created by the people behind After Dark Murder Mystery Events, and they are available now priced at a vary reasonable £8.99 each, in two different storylines - Manor House Murder and Once Upon A Crime - from the Foul Play Games website

We were sent our games for review. 

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