I recently wrote a review of the game “Spy Alley“, in which players move around the board and attempt to gather all of the items that their spy needs while keeping their identity secret. Simply Suspects is very similar to Spy Alley, but sets itself apart in a few different ways.
In Simply Suspects, players will assume the role of one of six characters, though their identities are hidden. As players move around the board, they’ll be landing on spaces that allow them to plant evidence onto other players, making them ripe to be eliminated from the game. Let’s take a quick look at the components and gameplay before we head into the review.
Suspect Cards – Each player will be given a suspect card, which lists their secret identity.
Suspect Board & Pegs – The board lists six names, representing the six possible identities that players will be assuming. During the game, all six names will be used on this board, regardless of how many people are playing. The board also has a total of seven columns, representing the status of a particular piece of evidence (#1-7). Initially, one peg is placed on the top of each column, but can move up or down the column as evidence is planted on different suspects. Pegs never jump to a different column…there should always be one peg per column.
Get Away Cards – Instead of rolling a die to move, players can play one of these cards to move a fixed number of spaces.
Board and Pawns – Players will be moving their pawns around the board, landing on spaces and performing various actions.
Setup & Gameplay
Each player receives a Suspect Card, three get away cards, and chooses a pawn to place on the “Start” space. A die is rolled by each player to determine who goes first.
On a player’s turn, they can either play a get away card or roll the die. Should they land on a space that allows them to plant evidence, they can move a peg from the required column(s) on the suspect board to any name they wish. A player who has two or more pegs in their row can be automatically eliminated from the game if their pawn lands on the “Grand Jury” space. If a player lands on the “Grand Jury” space and is not eliminated in this fashion, they have the option of guessing the identity of another player. A correct guess lands the newly revealed player out of the game and an incorrect guess lands the player who made the guess out of the game. Either way, someone is being eliminated when a guess is made. A player who makes a correct guess can guess again to try and eliminate others, if they wish to.
Players continue taking turns until there is only one person left standing, who at that point becomes the winner.
The above is simply an overview of the game, but should give you an idea of what the game is like. I was unable to find a manual on the Internet…if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.
Simply Suspects is a fairly light game that doesn’t take that long to play. I can see younger kids enjoying the theme behind it, though whether or not they’d be able to keep the suspects straight in their heads is another matter. For example, in order to guess the identity of someone (assuming that they haven’t eliminated themselves already), you have to first eliminate who they are not. Sometimes, it ends up being a memory game as to who you tried to eliminate and what names you attempted to associate with what player. I found it easier just to keep two or more pegs on a random name and do my best to keep them there until I was sure that all players landed on the Grand Jury space. After a while, players simply eliminate themselves. I’ve also had more luck watching the kids place evidence on characters…the ones they planted evidence on the most were the ones I eliminated from my “watch” list. It’s definitely more fun when you play with more people, as there are less “fake” names on the board that aren’t in use by anyone.
The components themselves are fine, no complaints in their quality or durability. The board is very simple and the rules are easy to understand, making this a pick up and play kind of game. I can see this game appealing to casual gamers who enjoy games like Clue, though its simplistic nature makes it viable for players of all ages.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, Simply Suspects plays a lot like Spy Alley. Though, given the choice, I’d rather play Spy Alley. That’s not to say that Simply Suspects isn’t fun to play, but in my opinion, Spy Alley offers a bit more. Still, if you are looking for a casual game for family game night that requires a little bit of thought, it can’t hurt to take a look.
Final Verdict: 6/10