Deadline Review - Film Noir distilled into a board game.
- Game Type – Co-op mystery solving card game
- Number of Players – 2 - 4
- Mechanics – Cooperative play, variable player powers, deduction, hand management
- Difficulty to learn – Easy
- Release – 2017
- MSRP - $39.99
It was a dark, cold Friday night. I hadn't had a case in weeks and was living off whiskey and bread crumbs. Rent was due and things were desperate. Then she walked in.
The moment I saw her I knew I had a wild card on my hands. She had flowing red hair, deep piercing eyes, and a coy smile that said “When I roll the dice, I always roll 6's”.
“Are you Mr. Jarman?” she asked cautiously.
I studied her face for a moment then nodded a yes.
“I hear that you're the best detective in the city” she said, slightly more assertively.
This time I was quicker to nod and hoped she didn't notice the growing collection of dust on my desk. She reached in her bag and I tensed up, suddenly wishing I had my revolver ready. Thankfully though, all she pulled out was a medium sized box. She tossed it down in front of me and I saw a picture of two private eyes on the cover with one word emblazoned above them, "Deadline".
The dame looked up at me and said “If you take this case for me I need to know you won't play any games”.
I smiled and leaned in, “Sweetheart, all I do is play games”.
Deadline is a card based deduction game set in 1930's New York. Each player is a detective, each with their own "once a game" special ability, trying to solve one of 12 cases by playing cards to get clues which you then use to answer important questions about the case. The more questions you answer correctly, the better your score.
Each round players pick a lead to peruse which has a number of symbols on it such as guns, whiskey, and money. Then players take turns playing a card from their hand, all of which have a combination of three symbols and/or blank spots. A player must overlap at least one symbol played previously and can only overlap like symbols, with blanks counting as wilds. If all the symbols on the the lead card are played, players get to read the clue on the back of the card which comes in to play at the end of the game. If a player can't play a card then they drop out of the round, discard their hand, and put a plot twist card (which has an ongoing negative effect) in front of them if they have any.
The game ends when the players either complete all the lead cards in the deck or after all players have failed a round and dropped out 4 times. When the game ends player then look for their case in the question book and have to answer a series of questions about the case, which they can deduce from reading the clues.
Not only is the rule book well written and laid out nicely, it also has red emboldened boxes with important rules in them. In addition there are a lot of picture examples. The game isn't that complicated, but it's still nice to have a competent rule book
I've played a few WizKids games recently where the theme wasn't immersive, but this game is steeped in classic detective noir. This is extra important since a big part of this game involves solving a mystery. While I did have a problem with some of the jumps in logic case 2 has you make, that's really my only gripe when it comes to theme. Even the flavor text on the cards is fantastic. My girlfriend and I couldn't resist reading every card in an old timey detective voice after we played them.
Possibly the easiest game to set up that I've reviewed so far. Just shuffle a deck, pick a case, and play.
As always, WizKids delivers a game with fine pieces. Nice stock on the cards, evocative art, and some pretty heavy duty cardboard tokens. I do have a slight gripe with the box being WAY bigger then it needs to be, but it's not as bad as some other games I like (cough cough, Splendor).
When I first heard about this game I couldn't help but compare it to Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. If you haven't played that one, it's a great game of pure deduction and mystery solving. It's not an exaggeration to say that it's the gold standard with this type of game. So is Deadline just redundant then? I'm happy to say that it is most certainly not.
Deadline is pretty unique when it comes to this type of game due to the hand management and card playing aspects. It can be pretty challenging to get cards down in the right order. You're not allowed to tell the other players whats in your hand or where to play cards so you really have to read the table when you play. Games play out like a lighter, quicker version of some harder co-ops out there like Shadows Over Camelot and Ghost Stories, with the added bonus of having a fun mystery to puzzle out at the end.
Not to mention that the flavor makes this game very immersive. I know I said it above but I can't stress how much fun we had just reading the cards. The two of us were laughing and smiling pretty much the entire time we played. I feel like that's a fairly big accomplishment for a game.
So if you like co-ops and solving mysteries I would definitely recommend this game. Just make sure you practice your detective voice before you get started.