Crimes in History: H. H. Holmes’ Murder Castle (2020)
Race to collect evidence while battling through the absurdities of a chaotic castle.
Gameplay 2–6 Players |Playing Time 30–90 Min |Age 14+
Designer Brandt Hoffman, Seth A Cooper |Artist Holly Carden
Publisher Blueprint Gaming Concepts
Unsolved crimes? Count me in!
We joke that I have watched so much BBC Mystery Dramas that I have my own PI badge.
I am a fan of whodunits, and I was deep into the radio drama, The Angel of Vine, when Crimes in History: HH Holmes’ Murder Castle came across my desk.
*Angel of Vine combines classic old Hollywood with true crime podcasting to tell the fictional story of a contemporary journalist who uncovers the secret audiotapes of a 1950s private eye that cracked the most significant unsolved murder mystery Hollywood has ever known… and didn’t tell a soul. Season One, I can confirm, is bingeable.
H. H. Holmes’ Murder Castle concept sounded intriguing and the art bewitching. After a lengthy wait due to the upside times, the captivating game arrived!
After much investigating, Unboxing the game did not disappoint. The game tiles, components, cards, and tokens are all of high quality. First-time designers Brandt Hoffman and Seth Cooper, who published it under their company Blueprint Gaming Concepts, blew the door off the hinges!
Now that the door is open let us examine the game…….
Crimes in History: H. H. Holmes’ Murder Castle travels back to the time of 1893, daring to investigate the twisted and unpredictable World’s Fair Hotel. Tasked to collect evidence while battling through the absurdities of a chaotic, booby-trapped castle – all while dodging Holmes himself. It is not just sleuthing for evidence while exploring the maniacal hotel; the other detectives thrive in solving the case first, which leads to sabotage and backstabbing, all while alluding Holmes.
We found this game to be teeming with amusing and challenging mechanics. There are thirty room tiles inspired by the original blueprints of the Murder Castle that contain safes with varying amounts of evidence for players to collect. The tiles have a comic book vibe, and each image tells the narrative of the room. It is tile placement reminiscent of Betrayal at House on the Hill game, however this game brings new tactics and variables. Each game, the order and evidence is random, bringing a fresh methodology play.
The World’s Fair Ferris Wheel is revamped to be the evidence cube holder. Each gondola holds five randomly chosen cubes. The bottom gondola is the Unloading Zone for the adding of new evidence on the tiles. Knowing what evidence would be next helped plan ahead to see when you should place a room tile and fill the safe. The rotating Ferris Wheel refills from the evidence bag.
The first player marker is an old skeleton key, which is a nice touch and furthermore needed as turns can get confusing the first few games.
The event cards can make around fascinating and or frustrating. These cards can sabotage with trapdoors and pickpocket a fellow investigator. They can bring lucky breaks with free evidence from the Evidence bag and finding hidden pathways.
H.H. Holmes gets a turn each round and can move freely through the castle. Some cards offer the choice of rooms to move Holmes, and there is where you can play more cooperative and move him away or cutthroat and place him in a room with a player. There are adverse effects when you run into H.H. Holmes.
We didn’t want the game to end when the first player succeeded so we implemented a House Rule to continue playing till the last investigator made it to the end.
The only addition we would like to add, is a way to sabotage the safes in the rooms. Then it would not be a guarantee that the evidence is collected when in a room. Yes, this would make the game longer, and we would be very alright with that.
The game-winner is the first player to collect all of their evidence and move back to the Pharmacy.
Players select a character and evidence set up cards. Fill the Ferris Wheel with Evidence cubes. Players begin the game with their evidence board partially filled and based on a starting evidence setup card.
Player turns- select action tiles to explore the castle. Turn actions, move into rooms, place a new room tile, collect evidence cubes from safes, draw an event card or move Holmes.
Every player gets a chance to use every action selected, the action tile has a special bonus action available only to the player who selected it.
Once all players have taken an action card, it is Holmes’s turn.
Regardless if the Move Holmes Action Tile was selected during the round, the player with the Skeleton Key that began the round will always reveal a Holmes’ Movement Card at the end of the round and then follow the same rules as the Move Holmes Action Tile.
Holmes knows every nook of the Murder Castle and he can appear in any room forcing players to drop their evidence or head down a different path.
The next round begins with the Skeleton Key being passed to the next player in clockwise order. Repeat the above steps until a player collects all of their Evidence Cubes and moves back to the Pharmacy.
Bits and Bobs
Crimes in History: H. H. Holmes’ Murder Castle is a competitive tile-placement and card drafting game. Very engaging with significant interaction and new mechanics.
Art is campy, and very impressive components.
Steeped in strategies and treachery but remember the consequences- H.H. Holmes is just around the corner!
Nerdz Garage recommends trying to solve this caper!
Hope you enjoyed the Crimes in History: H.H. Holmes Murder Castle review.
Let us know in the comments if you have played it or a similar game.
Let’s be honest; there is still a bit of drama when we play.
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