Sherlock Holmes: The Queen's Park Affair

We played the sprawling adventure of the "Queen's Park Affair" (Sleuth Games, 1984) on vacation—how did it stack up? Spoiler-free.

Sherlock Holmes: The Queen's Park Affair

Chill cabin vacation activity: the 1984 Sherlock Holmes "Queen's Park Affair". Four in-game days of rigorous investigation kicked off by a reporter's disappearance after a bizarre cricket match.

The game sees London become a chess board upon which rival criminal outfits are locked in a life-or-death struggle and, without spoiling anything, let's just say the body count is high here. As interesting as the concept was—and the idea that we were in pursuit of a "something big" across multiple days is really interesting—I don't quite feel as satisfied as I'd like.

I think it boils down to this: the investigation is "broad" rather than "deep". Most Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective adventures—or at least the best ones—are deep. They ask you to make big inferential or deductive leaps, like Sherlock, and the backstories of the cases are often at least a little twisty. Here, the case complexity comes from how very many names, locations, and events you're trying to keep track of... but you don't, ultimately, have to follow any of them that deeply.

We had a fairly clear outline of the chessboard by the end of day two. We spent much of day three and four trying desperately to keep all of the names straight and working to figure out if we were supposed to "get ahead" of the events and making sure we weren't missing something deeper about them—and we never really did, so the back half felt like more of a drag than a race to the finish line.

Rather than racing to find the missing reporter, it was more like "when can we look at the questions to make sure we didn't somehow miss an entire investigative arc." In the end, we missed a couple minor points. We didn't know exactly which minion of one of the baddies had done a couple of the crimes, but we got everything attested correctly around that.

I'd give it a B.

This mystery has been lightly remixed by Space Cowboys, the new IP rightsholder, and combined into a box with the truly excellent "Carleton House" cases, if you'd like to give this a go yourself. I will suggest that you check Board Game Geek for any errata before embarking on the modern version of the cases! Here's an affiliate link.

A couple of technical points:

  1. There was a mistake in a clue point on day four. Not the end of the world, and not game-breaking, but I had to do some serious hunting. If you find yourself wanting to visit 33SE (The "Bar of Gold" tavern) on day 4, use the clue point from day two instead. Alternately, if you've already been there, day three.
  2. The number of people, places, and events here merits a corkboard and index cards. We didn't have anything suitable with us in the cabin and boy it was hard without a spatial-visual representation.
  3. There's always one of the minor questions where the answer seems totally and completely out of left field. And this time Sherlock didn't even explain how he answered that one! I'm tempted to just read the case book to find out now...
  4. Mild spoiler: there's some really cool work to be done here in the Central Carriage Office records, but be prepared: it's real detective work. Gritty and tedious. Plus, the outcome of doing so is "interesting" but not "vital."
  5. I'm given to understand that the original run of these boxes didn't have the solution included—the company ran a marketing campaign offering $10,000 to the first person to write up and mail them an accurate and fully detailed answer sheet. Neat! But also—if you have that edition, BGG has your back.
The 1984 Non-contest edition