Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures, a standalone expansion for the remarkable board game Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, has just been announced and is immediately out of stock almost everywhere. I know this because, before writing this piece, I tried to preorder it.
Its announcement, though, is great news. The base game, consisting of ten unique cases that take players across Victorian London, rapidly cemented itself as the gold standard of detective games, but could only ever be played once. Ten more cases, four of which featuring the hunt for Jack the Ripper, can only be a good thing.
If you've never played Consulting Detective, you should rectify that immediately. Each case takes around an evening to play, and involves travelling between various London locations while attempting to piece various clues together. Very little in the game is abstracted—there are no "clue tokens" or "guilt trackers"—it is, at its heart, a detective game about being a detective, and the apparatus of the game does everything it can to further that fantasy.
Each case comes with single broadsheet newspaper, featuring the stories in London that week. The newspapers might contain clues. They might contain red herrings. One member of your group will almost always be poring over several.
Above: members of the Waypoint team play Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective as part of our 72-hour launch stream.
I almost wish I could tell you about the cases themselves, but I can't. A seemingly minor detail I let slip now might prove to spoil the keystone for one of your discoveries when you play.
So. I'll tell you what you'd see, if you entered the room as we got close to solving The Tin Soldier.
I am lying on my back with my hands over my face saying something like "Right. Right. Can we go back to the Ambassador's house? Could we—no, that won't work."
My friend is sitting hunched over a newspaper, occasionally saying things like "Oh! A ship came into port on—is this relevant? Is this? No, okay. Hang on."
Another friend has four pieces of paper in front of them, filled with lines of cramped writing. She circles a word and then another, then suddenly picks up another newspaper. Her face lights up.
There are papers all over the floor. A map of London.
I cannot wait for the expansion to be released, to be in stock, to submerge myself once again in these stories and thought processes.
Coming into the room, in that moment, you would swear we were detectives.