Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: More strategy tips for beginners
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is a difficult game. If we want to compete against the world’s most famous detective and don’t come off like complete amateurs, we’ll need all the help we can get. If my previous strategy guide wasn’t enough, don’t despair! There’s more you can do to match the Victorian sleuth and it’s all within your reach.
Whenever I play Consulting Detective with my group I use wooden cubes to mark the locations we’ve visited. You can use pieces from other games, like Terraforming Mars or El Grande, and use different colours depending on what you found. For example, you can mark murder scenes in red and potential suspects in yellow. If you have meeples, they make for good victims.
This has a couple benefits. The first is that it gives you a visual reminder of where you have been. Remembering that the body was found close to the river can be key in solving the case. When you are reading text for hours, you’ll naturally forget details or simply don’t pay too much attention to them. I’ve found that having the clues on the map helps to keep all the details in our head.
More importantly, cases require us to keep distances in mind. After all, one cannot carry a dead body through the middle of Oxford Street. If we know where the suspects have been, that makes it easier to know if they did it. After all, even criminals eat and sleep and will return to their houses after work. Don’t miss the opportunity to gain information this way.
Placing tokens also comes helpful when asking the cabbies for help. On an empty map, it might be difficult to tell how relevant an anonymous trip is. But when you have the markers, it’s unmistakable. You’ll see suspects get off close to the crime scene or meet in key spaces. Without markers, you’ll need to check what you’ve done before, slowing the game down.
Lastly, the time it takes to move around London can also be a relevant factor. On the bottom right corner of the map there’s a key explaining how long it takes to go from one place to another. While not necessary in most cases, it can be a good way to check alibis or determine how far could the criminal escape in a given time frame.
ASK THE EXPERTS
Consulting Detective allows us to consult a series of informants. From Jasper Meeks, chief of forensic medicine, to Porky Shinwell, scoundrel and source of information on London’s criminal underground, they are extremely valuable tools to the investigator. Do not be afraid to ask them for advice. They are necessary to clear most cases.
In that sense, they are not any different than any other clue. Don’t think of them as an extra or “cheating” to make the game easier. Rather, they can be as central as the crime scene. While their help is not always necessary, I can’t think of any case from the top of my head where they weren’t useful. You can’t go wrong with them.
Two underrated informants are Somerset House, the civil registry, and Disraeli O’Brien, archivist for the National Archive Office. They don’t sound as fun as other characters and, hence, may end up lower in the list of priorities. But, while wading through birth certificates and criminal records is not exciting, they can be far more useful than the coded message sent by a mole in Moriarty’s organization.
They also aren’t the only experts in the game. We’ll come across many people in our investigations that may lend us a hand. Going to a smoking club or visiting a weaponsmith can put us on the right road to solve a case. These minor experts are not as reliable as true authorities on the subject but they may help you get an investigation back on track.
Still, try not to go overboard. You do not need art lessons to understand that stealing paintings is valuable. Like always, ask yourself what you hope to obtain before diving into the book in search of answers. Taking a moment to think what you need instead of barging in at every opportunity will improve your scores.
SEARCH BY NAME
One of the key components of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is the London Directory. We might assume it’s just part of the interface, the way the game tells us which paragraph to read. But the London Directory can be a tool in its own right. Within it, we can find the names of suspects, key locations or all sorts of interesting information.
After all, dead men tell no tales, but their family might. Perhaps the victim’s spouse knows something about his habits or who he hangs out with. A disapproving parent or a jealous friend can be a powerful motivation. Often, we don’t even need to actually talk with them, just knowing their names and locations can be enough.
We can also find businesses in the same way. If we know a suspect went drinking, perhaps looking at nearby pubs can tell us where he was the night of the crime. Again, marking places in the map can be extremely helpful. It makes it much easier to follow people’s steps and, often, just following the path from one location to another is enough to tear down an alibi.
Don’t be afraid to get creative. There’s no harm in looking up every pharmacy in London or every place to buy a gun. In fact, at least one case requires us to look in the directory to find the scene of the crime. Streets will often have a single building in them, too, which makes it easy to know where you are supposed to go.
Some important caveats. First, the Directory only lists people who live in London. Foreigners and visitors from other cities won’t appear on the list. Try to ask at their hotels or lodgings instead. Women take the name of their husbands but only after they marry. Finally, it’s possible for suspects to use a fake name to try and protect their identity.
Note, however, that the Directory was not updated for The Baker Street Irregulars. This means most characters won’t show up on the list, even if they should. This is a flaw with this particular expansion, not an intentional design choice. My advice is to keep using the Directory but lower your expectations accordingly.
Lastly, remember that London is a real city. Its streets and famous buildings still exist and can be found on Google Maps. This comes handy when looking for small alleys. Instead of searching the whole map street by street, we can simply input the name online and learn where it is. To paraphrase A Study In Scarlet, don’t burden your mind with small matters unless you have a very good reason to do so!