Having someone knock at your door, which you foolishly open, only to get stuck listening to that someone go on and on about something or other, is a memory that I am not fond of. And I couldn't just slam the door in their face or say "get the fudge off my land," with my Dorset accent. In fact, it's more that "a" bad memory. It's many bad memory's.
That's why I'd like to live in Small Town. If someone knocks on your door there, it's normally just a quick call to check who is there or what weapons you have. And normally, it's a detective. Some very Small Detectives.
Small Detectives is exactly that...Small. It's a mini Cluedo. It comes in a mini box. It has some mini decision for you to make. And a mini memory aspect too.
In this 2 to 5 player game, each players is trying to get to the root of a murder that has happened in Small Town. As the Police can't handle such a thing, they have contacted you and many other detectives (1 to 4 others, if your keeping count) to get this mystery solved. Doing some footwork, going from door to door, you will be collecting evidence that will eliminate the four suspects and four possible murder weapons. Being careful not to step on the toes of the other detective going around town, as this will reveal nothing. Occasionally, popping into the local bar for a swift pint and pick up some rumors as well. And finally, going to the Police Station to make your accusation.
The game uses a card drafting mechanic to move you around the town, getting you from door to door. Every turn, players will simultaneously place a card in front of themselves and then when everyone has concluded this action, they reveal this card, that dictates your action this round. These cards are also numbered, starting with the lowest, each player will preform their action. They may move the detective around town a number of spaces. The may send them straight to the pub (I need a card like that). They may make the houses in the street, swap places.
Each house in Small Town hides a secret. The backside of each house tile has either a person or murder weapon marked on it. At the beginning of the game, one of each of these categories is removed and placed under the Police Station. These are the murderer's identity and the weapon they used. By visiting the other house's in play, our detective players will deduce which of these two tiles have been removed.
The problem come (but also the fun of this game) from the possibility of another detective knocking on the same door as you. When all action are carried out, detectives that are alone at the door to a house, get the chance to see whats inside. Or technically, whats on the other side. Having two or more detectives on the same tile means no one get's a peak at the evidence, leaving a bitter taste as you walk away this round, empty handed. And then, when you are alone on a house, you look on the underside of the tile, only to see that it is a clue you've already seen! Somebody switched the tiles...GRrrrrr!!!
A point of interest is the local bar. There, you will have the chance to question one of the other detective about what they have seen. You present them with 1, 2,or 3 items that relate to the crime and they will respond with a "yes" or "no" response. Being careful about who you ask and what you ask is important in narrowing your search for the truth. But also a reliable way to get lots of answer, quickly.
And after a hard days work, in this case, the end of the round, players collect the card that the player to their left have just played. Meaning, if you were stuck with some un-useful cards in the last round, you may pick up better ones later, as you pass your ones on. Do you play you powerful 'Go Go Go' card now, allowing you to move wherever you want. Leaving this card to another to use or not, on their turn. Or do you save it for when you need to be the first player at the Station, catching the murderer.
This is a light, family style affair that will probably replace that space in your heart that was called Cluedo. It's speed of play will have you tense at the table for about 20 minutes. Just long enough for your tea to arrive at a drinkable temperature. You drink. Then you start you revenge rematch.
It's simple to learn, making it great for a family sit down. The memory aspect is not to large as there are only a total of six things to remember that you seen. Although, remembering where you saw them as them dance around the place could make your head scratch. The light iconography is quick to pick up and within a game, you'll know it all.
Playing with more players introduces more card with more specialize actions, such as; being able to look a two tiles or switch two played cards around, so you can collect a useful card for the next round. And more players means more chaos. More houses get shuffled around and there are more feet to step on as you walk your beat and knock on doors. Getting no response, of course. As the other players block your progress. This is a race against the others. Being efficient and retaining information is the key.
The box is small and portable. The components a small and solid. And the game is small, not taking up much of your time.
Technical Score 9/10
My BGG Score 6/10
(It's OK - will play if in the mood)
Combined Score 7.5/10