Outfoxed: A Cooperative Whodunit Game

Details

Ages 5+
2-4 Players (Cooperative)
20 minutes

The Blurb

Mrs. Plumpert’s prized pot pie has gone missing and now it’s a chicken chase to crack the case! Move around the board gathering clues and then use the special evidence scanner to rule out suspects. You’ll have to work together because the guilty fox is high-tailing it towards the exit! Will you halt the hungry hooligan before it flies the coop… or will you be Outfoxed?


Well, this wasn’t exactly what I had planned last week when I said to be prepared for something a little different this weekend. Actually, as I noted on Twitter I have no memory at all of what I had planned but all my ideas had to be shelved after what has been a really busy week.

We are still currently in the working from home phase which we have been balancing with frequent meetings and the need to entertain our five year old. Throw in the really frustrating mix of our AC unit breaking and really warm weather and it has not been the most comfortable week! Hence no Wednesday or Friday reviews.

Fortunately we were able to get our AC unit and furnace replaced. While that means I have to be a bit better behaved when it comes to expanding my TBR pile in the coming months, fortunately I had a whole set of books on their way before that and, it turns out (because I ordered it at the start of the stay at home order), a whodunnit board game that we could play as a family.

There is also an instruction booklet that is not shown.

While I normally would grumble at a game taking over a month to arrive, in this case the timing could hardly have been better. As it happens my daughter had recently discovered a children’s book series with animal detectives (The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake) and so the idea of a mystery game was enthusiastically embraced.

This game is also animal-themed as the players each play as detective chickens while the culprit is one of sixteen fox suspects. The players work together to identify clues that will enable them to identify and whittle down the suspects. The problem is that while they work to do that the thieving fox is making their way to their den along with their loot.

In terms of gameplay this feels like a blend of a sort of cooperative version of Clue and Guess Who. Players decide whether they will be looking for clues or identifying suspects on each turn. Then they need to roll three dice and get each of the sides showing a symbol matching their goal. If they fail to do this within three rolls the fox gets to move instead of the players.

The clues that are uncovered each show a different item of clothing that the different foxes are wearing in their suspect card pictures. Any individual item is held or worn by three or four foxes so the key is in balancing looking for suspects and new clues.

When a clue is uncovered it is placed into the viewer shown below. Each clue has a hole cut into it in a different place around its edge. When aligned with the window, if a green dot shows through then the guilty party holds or is wearing that item. If not, the guilty fox will not be. It is a clever mechanic that works well and keeps you from accidentally seeing the guilty party.

My daughter did raise the concern that the fox may have changed their clothing to avoid suspicion. She also wondered if all of the foxes may have been working together in some sort of conspiracy. She really enjoyed the story of the game and quickly understood the object of the game and the rules.

So, I love that this game has a luck component that allows adults and children to play together (though their role will be to support the young players in gathering evidence). Younger children could easily play with an older sibling and each feel that they contributed to the solutions. I also think that it teaches coordination of activities and deductive reasoning skills well to young ones.

The game pieces feel durable and the instructions are reasonably easy to follow. I enjoyed the theming of the game as much as my daughter and the twenty minute set up and play time is about perfect for a five year old’s attention span. There are also suggestions of ways that the players can adjust the rules to make the game more challenging.

Having had this for several days now, my daughter shows no sign of losing interest in the game yet and so I feel pretty good about this purchase. To my delight she is showing interest in other detective stories and I am looking into some series I might be able to shake with her (I may, for instance, return to the Miss Mallard mysteries or try the Cam Jansen books).

Do you have any favorite mystery stories or series that you might recommend to a 5 or 6 year old? If so I’d love to hear any suggestions.

Unboxing: Coffee and Crime (September 2019)

This past weekend I travelled to Port Townsend near Seattle to attend my sister-in-law’s wedding. With a five and a half hour flight each way, I was left with plenty of time to read and I managed to polish off four or five books over the course of three days – not to mention several comics into the bargain.

A few of those books you will already have seen reviews for here – others will be added in the next couple of days.

Aside from the festivities themselves, the other highlight of my trip was finding some used book stores that actually stocked some vintage crime novels. I posted the photo below of some of my haul – the discovery of a set of three pristine Levin paperbacks was particularly pleasing to me, and while I have been able to buy Carrs through AbeBooks, it was nice to see a few actually on the shelves in person. Unfortunately the only one I didn’t already have was The Hollow Man but still…

The flight home was exhausting and honestly I think I will be spending most of the week recovering, not least from the repeated kicking my back received the whole way back. Still, Seattle looked pretty cool from my all-too-brief time there and we hope to make it back there again someday.

Happily a surprise awaited me when I collected my held mail – my latest Coffee and Crime subscription box. If you are curious what was contained within, I once again opened the box up on camera.

As always I was thrilled with the contents – particularly the selection from one of crime fiction’s more divisive figures. Expect reviews of these in the next few weeks!

The Coffee and Crime subscription box is a venture by Kate at CrossExaminingCrime where the recipient receives a box containing two vintage crime novels (in very good condition) and other assorted goodies that crime fiction fans will enjoy. You can find out more details about the box itself and the various subscription offers at Kate’s Etsy store.

Unboxing: Coffee and Crime (August 2019)

It has only been a couple of weeks since I opened my first Coffee and Crime subscription box on camera but I came home to find bookpost waiting for me and I couldn’t resist doing it all over again.

The Coffee and Crime subscription box is a venture by Kate at CrossExaminingCrime where the recipient receives a box containing two vintage crime novels (in very good condition) and other assorted goodies that crime fiction fans will enjoy. You can find out more details about the box itself and the various subscription offers at Kate’s Etsy store.

I paid full price for my own three month subscription and I have really enjoyed the surprise of discovering just what lies inside the boxes. Last month’s authors were both pretty much unknown to me and so far I have already tucked into (and loved) the spy thriller by Holly Roth. As you will see, I was much better acquainted with both of the authors – enough that I could actually comment a little about them.

Once again I was very happy with the package overall though I think my favorite surprise was the postcard. Which reminds me that I really ought to get around to writing (or perhaps talking about) that series of films in more detail…

Notes

My review of Holly Roth’s The Sleeper.

You can see my thoughts on the Elizabeth Daly novels I have read so far here.

Thoughts on the Ellery Queen novels.

Unboxing: Coffee and Crime (July 2019)

Let’s do something a little different today…

I have been wanting to treat myself to a Coffee and Crime subscription for a while and when my wife suggested I should treat myself I couldn’t resist. I was very excited when I found out that the box was waiting for me when I got home today and I decided to go ahead and shoot a quick video where I open it up and let you all see what I got along with me.

Suffice it to say that I am not a natural in front of camera but hopefully this gives you a better sense of what these boxes are like and whether they may appeal to you!

One thing I forgot to say in the video is that the two books themselves were both in excellent condition given their age and had minimal wear and tear. In fact in the case of the Holly Roth the text itself was pristine. I was very pleasantly surprised!

If you are interested in checking these out for yourself they can be purchased from Etsy here. Please note that if you want to make requests such as changing the coffee to tea or hot chocolate or sharing your reading preferences that you can message Kate through the store.

I am really excited about the two books that Kate sent, not least because they’re now the first Penguin green cover paperbacks in my collection. Quite how I got away with being a vintage crime fan without any of these before I don’t know. I hope to review both books at some point soon as they sound excellent.

If you have any questions about the box or opinions about either book do let me know!

The Pocket Detective compiled by Kate Jackson

the-pocket-detective
The Pocket Detective
Compiled by Kate Jackson
Originally Published 2018

The holiday season is still several months away but knowing my readers are a canny bunch I am sure many of you are already giving thought to gifts or are perhaps tentatively putting together your lists for Santa. The Pocket Detective is pretty much the perfect stocking-stuffer for fans of Golden Age-era mysteries and, in particular, the British Library Crime Classics range.

It has taken me a week or so to get around to writing about this book because I wanted to have done (or at least attempted) every single puzzle. Being a genuinely pocket-sized book, I have been able to carry this with me wherever I have been and reach for it in quiet moments or during breaks at work. I appreciated the sturdy yet flexible binding and can happily report that after a week of heavy use it still looks very attractive.

While I didn’t manage to work out all of the answers – I am terrible at working out anagrams – I had a good time working through these and found the experience to be simultaneously quite calming and stimulating. It is a great book to reach for in a quiet moment and in most cases you can dip in and out of the puzzles at your leisure.

The book contains a nice variety of puzzle types from simple word searches and crosswords to odd one outs and letter jumble puzzles. Most of these are themed after titles from the British Library Crime Classics range but there are a few puzzles here that deal with Christie and Sayers too which came as a nice surprise for me.

One of my favorite puzzle types involves titles of mystery novels being broken up and jumbled around the page. The reader then has to reassemble the titles using each word only once. I hadn’t encountered that type of puzzle before but I felt it worked really well.

If, like me, you have only read a portion of the British Library’s output you have no need to worry. For one thing there is a handy list of titles at the back of the book that can be invaluable with some of the crosswords. More importantly though, very few puzzles require specific knowledge about the plots of stories – really only the Odd One Out puzzles and even those can usually be worked out by referring to their blurbs on Amazon. This makes it quite approachable, even for those puzzlers who are not avid crime fiction readers, while staying true to the theme of the book.

Pretty much my only (minor) complaints are that I wish that the puzzle types had been grouped together and that I think the color print in the Spot the Differences section was a little dark making spotting a couple of differences in The Notting Hill Mystery and Quick Curtain puzzles a little more challenging than I suspect they were meant to be. Neither issue seriously affected my enjoyment however and I think some of the differences are really quite cleverly achieved!

Overall I had a very good time with this and will no doubt continue to attempt to solve those last few remaining crossword clues in my spare moments in the weeks to come. I may even go back to try to work out some of the anagrams that had me stumped earlier in the week as I found my skills with them have noticeably improved!

Chimney Meddler Hog

Review copy provided by the publisher for early review though I have a copy on order. It is being released in the UK on October 18. This book is being published in the US as Golden Age of Detection Puzzle Book on November 6.