Game Buzz – Mord im Arosa

I saw a news item about this game on BGN a week or so ago, and it kind of intrigued me.  It seems that it might be really luck based, but it’s got some pretty cool components.  So, I thought I’d take a look.

Mord im Arosa - image by BGG user olric

Mord im Arosa (Murder in Arosa) is a game designed by Alessandro Zucchini, which I think is a serious contender for the greatest designer name ever.  Art was done by Tobias Schweiger, and the game is being published by Zoch Verlag.  It’s for 2-6 players, takes 30 minutes, and is playable by ages 10 and up.  To me, it seems like it would be just fine for kids younger than 10, but perhaps that age limit is because of all the little tasty cubes.  Though what 9 year old is still eating tasty cubes, I haven’t any idea.  Perhaps it’s because of the theme – a couple of murders have taken place at the Hotel Arosa, and you need to figure out whodunnit.  Maybe it was you.  It may sound like Clue, but there are several very interesting twists.

Components - image by BGG user olric

The game comes with 122 cubes – twenty in each of six player colors, and two red cubes to represent the victims.  There’s an investigation sheet where you will keep track of who is suspected, but the coolest thing is the hotel itself.  This is an eight level tower , numbered 0-7, with a shaft where you will be dumping the cubes.

At the start of the game, each player will take their 20 cubes as a supply.  One player drops the victims in, and then all players drop two of their own cubes into the hotel.  Apparently, if you listen, you should be able to tell where everything drops.

There are two parts in the game.  During the first part, you’ll be searching for the victims.  During the second, you’ll be trying to find clues that cast suspicion on your opponents.  During Act I (as it is called), you will inspect a floor by lifting it (carefully) off of the tower.  If there are no victims on that floor, you take all cubes (clues) that are there and drop them back into the shaft once the floor has been replaced.  In addition, you must drop an extra cube from your own supply into the shaft.

If there is a victim present, you remove it and place it on the investigation sheet in its space that corresponds to the floor on which it was found.  This is the crime scene.  If both victims are on the same floor, they get placed on the same space of the investigation sheet.  If any other cubes are found on the floor, the “caught” players must put one cube per cube found on the crime scene space of the investigation sheet (the player who found the victim conveniently ignores his own clues).  The clues on the floor get thrown back into the shaft.

After both victims have been found, move on to Act II.  You can either accuse other players, or you can cover your own tracks.  To accuse other players, name one or more players you suspect.  Then, expose one floor.  If cubes belonging to the accused player(s) are present, those players put cubes on the investigation sheet (from their own supply).  For each suspected player that was not present, the accuser has to add one more of his own cubes to the hotel.  The clues found on that floor, as well as the cubes of the accuser, will all be removed and thrown back into the shaft.

To cover your tracks, investigate a floor.  For each of your own cubes that are there, remove one cube from the corresponding floor on the investigation sheet.  If you don’t find any of your clues, you must add another of your cubes.  In either case, you’ll remove all cubes from the floor and toss them back into the shaft.

The game ends when one player has 10 cubes on the investigation sheet, or when one player has no cubes left in their supply.  You’ll count up points based on cubes on the investigation sheet – each cube at a crime scene is worth 3 points, each cube adjacent to a crime scene is worth 2 points, and every other cube is worth 1 point.  The player with the most points is the culprit, and the player with the least points is the winner.  There can be several of each.

At the very least, this game seems much more interesting than Clue.  There’s a lot of luck involved, and the first act could be over pretty quickly, particularly if it’s as easy to listen to where cubes lands as it seems (at the longest, it would last eight rounds).  But the second act seems to add more strategy, knowing when to try to cover your own tracks and who to go after.  I’m definitely interested in giving it a try sometime…maybe there will someday be an English version?  The rulebook is poorly translated, but it’s easy enough to follow what’s going on.  The game is coming out at Spiel 2010, so there may be more reports coming out at BGG once people get their hands on it.  Thanks for reading…insert clever tagline here.

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