Turbo Sleuth [Mini]

Base price: $20.
2 – 8 players.
Play time: ~20 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 3

Full disclosure: A review copy of Turbo Sleuth was provided by WizKids.

I keep trying (and failing) to review some of my bigger-box games, which is always a funny problem. I think there’s an emotional barrier of sorts, with them. Usually more rules to learn, more overhead, a longer review, and if I’m having one of my (embarrassingly few and far between) game nights, I usually optimize around playing as many games as possible. As a result, I’ve got a super-tall stack of small-box games that I want to talk about (I think the largest game in the stack is Deep Dive or Point City, but I’ll be talking about those later). I’ve been meaning to tell y’all about the delightful little game that is Turbo Sleuth, though, so here we are. Let’s get to it.

In Turbo Sleuth, there’s been a murder! I mean, like, nobody particularly liked the guy, so while it’s a murder, it’s not a particularly tragic tragedy. Unfortunately, the family has already made their moves and they’re starting to descend on the money like vultures. This doesn’t give you a lot of time to sort things out, but you have to! Can you imagine if someone undeserving managed to get into a major split of the family’s money? What a tragedy, probably, on its own merits. Over several rounds, you and your fellow detectives will race to determine whodunnit by matching suspects and evidence to come up with the culprit and the implement. Naturally, you want to be the fastest (or, more accurately, you’d rather not be the slowest), so move fast. Just like real life, however, it’s more important to be correct than to be fast, so make sure you don’t go accusing the wrong person of doing a murder! If your appetite for puzzle-solving isn’t whetted by the core game, there are additional modules that allow you to check alibis, find witnesses, and determine which pieces of evidence are linked! There’s always more puzzle to solve, so hop to it! Can you clock the killer the fastest?

Overall: 7.5 / 10

Overall, I like Turbo Sleuth! It’s definitely on the lighter side, as far as these sorts of games go, but real-time games generally tend to be lighter and faster. It’s kind of their thing. So Turbo Sleuth leans into that quite well, challenging players to move quickly and make mistakes with some slight penalties as they try to pattern-match across a bunch of different Clue Cards. I like that conceit a lot, though it very much is a pattern-matching game, not a deduction game; don’t get that twisted. I think I was a bit disappointed on that front, but only slightly; a real-time deduction game comes with its own challenges (see The Key series). The cards themselves also have pretty fun art, though if I’m being nitpicky, the text on the cards is rather small. Maybe I’m just getting old, but having larger text especially when I’m trying to move quickly is going to make my life a lot easier.

Turbo Sleuth’s major advantage is its modularity. Instead of just one mode where you speed-search for the murderer and the weapon, there are other modes where you’re looking for a witness, a suspect with no good alibi, or linked pieces of evidence. They all use the same fundamental set of Clue Cards, just overlaying a new set of rules on top of them. And they’re pretty fun! A nice way to mix things up as players get used to the core game. What impresses me most about Turbo Sleuth is that the designer has done a very smart job of accounting for edge cases. Each game has a set of criteria that allow players to determine what the right answer is. Since the cards are randomized, sometimes that criteria is not met or it’s met by more than one thing. Every mode has its own (effective) tiebreaker, allowing players to avoid those potential pitfalls with no major changes to gameplay whatsoever. I understand that that’s just good design, but I’m always happy to see it in games; it’s quite smooth. There’s even a press-your-luck (ish) element to gameplay, as players who mess up return a score token to the center and flip it over, making it worth double points! If you take it and then mess up, however, it gets removed from the game. So do you take the safe token or do you take the more valuable token and bet that you’ll never get it wrong? The tension is interesting. I will say that this does make Turbo Sleuth a bit more interesting with more players; with two, either you get the token or your opponent does. Still fun, but this particular feature doesn’t see much play as a result.

I’m always a bit interested to see where a game would fit in my ideal collection, and I’d definitely place Turbo Sleuth somewhere around the same place as The Key, as I was mentioning earlier. I do like the idea of organizing a collection based around mechanics or genre, and real-time puzzling is one of my favorites, for sure. For a little game, Turbo Sleuth’s modularity gives it a lot of runway, and that’s been something I’ve quite enjoyed. If you’re a fan of real-time games, you want to try your hand at a puzzle-matching detective game, or you just think Turbo Sleuth is fun to say (I do), you might enjoy Turbo Sleuth as well! I’ve had fun with it.

If you enjoyed this review and would like to support What’s Eric Playing? in the future, please check out my Patreon. Thanks for reading!

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