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Dice Game Review: Unusual Suspects

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Unusual Suspects from Fundex is a game mixing the age-old styles of matching card games dating back to Old Maid or Gin with the newer wave of dice-tower games. The motif is a whodunit ala Clue, but only so far as to give aesthetic weight to the game mechanics. Cartoony caricatures outline six shady characters: Chip Nightingale the mascot, Ned Monee the businessman, Bill Sleetersnow the mailman, Tabby Cattail the cat-lady, E. Clair the chef, and Buffy Hampton the socialite. Someone is a murderer, and players must solve the case, mostly by “tampering with the evidence” and framing someone else.

Mechanically, the game comes from the dice slide games (“The Way to Roll!”) setup. There is a plastic tower, which also serves as the box, that the players use to roll dice. Six dice are rolled and carefully slipped onto the “Evidence Locker” card, giving a collection of six colors. Players each get six cards in their hands, and the goal is to have a hand matching the dice. On top of this, however, each player receives a “secret identity” card that they place hidden in front of them, and that identity may not be one of the colors in the murder. This extra level of skill draws out what would be a quick game of luck, adding a layer of complexity and strategy to get around what other people would want.

During each player’s turn, he or she may draw a card and discard another or “tamper with the evidence” by rolling a die. The card replacement is the easy way to build toward matching the Evidence Locker, swapping out cards for more useful ones, but it can also be slow when drawing cards players do not want. The other option of rolling the die not only gives a player a one-in-six chance of getting what he or she needs, but it may also frustrate other players, which is grounds for hilarity. As a caveat, be sure to play in a well lit area as the brown and purple sides of the dice may get mixed up. Like all detectives, be sure to pay close attention as play is quick and it is easy to miss when your turn is up.

The case is solved when one player’s hand matches the dice on the Evidence Locker. It could be on drawing the proper card, or a player may roll the dice and come up with a victory for someone else out of turn. There is a great deal of luck to the game, making it more for players who want a low key game night than those wanting a deep, competitive puzzle. Unusual Suspects is listed for two to four players ages eight and up, which is appropriate as more players would make it convoluted and younger players might get mixed up.

You can check out a video of the game setup here.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.