Review: Purrrlock Holmes 


Published by: IDW Games

Designer: Stephen Sauer

Artist: Jacqui Davis

Plays: 2-5 players 10 to 30 at max player count

A copy of Purrlock Holmes was provided for review by IDW Games. I want to thank them for supporting my site.

Purrrlock Holmes is a short and sweet deduction game where players take the roles of  detectives who are hot on the tail of Furriarty. During the game, you will solve investigations to catch up with Furriarity before he escapes London. If a player catches the Furriarity token, then the player with the most points wins. If Furriarty makes it to the end of the track, he gets away and everyone loses. The player with the fewest points is awarded the Litter Box Detective.

The Recipe

  • Cats Cats Cats
  •  Deduction
  • Party time, family time, anytime

The Suspects

To begin the game, each player receives a facedown Clue card. The Clue card should be placed in a stand with the suspect and the hour facing away from you. Each player’s card in the standee, is called an Investigation. No peeking silly goose! There are five different animal suspects and 12 possible hours (you knew that but…). Everyone will receive two additional Clue cards and take turns seeding (two Clue cards) their investigation by telling the player if each card is a “lead” or “dead end.” I will cover what that means later on. The players all receive two Suspect cards for their actual hand. The starting player will draw two additional Clue cards for a total of four to begin the game.

Clue Cards have 1 of 5 animal suspects and display a time 1 thru 12. The player boards have a regular side and a PAWS side.

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Action Phase

On your turn you have two choices and they can be done in any order. You can play two cards or guess the suspect.

Play two cards: You must play two Clue cards every turn. When you play each card, show it to the other player and they will tell you if it’s a lead or a dead end. A lead is considered a matching suspect (animal) or a time that’s within 1 hour of your Investigation. If the card is a dead end, the time and animal conditions were not met. Leads are placed on the left side of your player board, while dead ends are on the right.

Guess: You have the choice of guessing the suspect or the time. You may guess both, but you have to be clear if you’re guessing one or both components of the Investigation. If you are guessing both (suspect and time) then you must be correct at both. I made the mistake of giving half credit when people missed on one out of two. Don’t play like this guy if you want to win.

If you’re correct in guessing one or both, grab one or two tokens from the paw print track.  Some of the tokens on the track are face down or face up. Tokens remain faced down or face up based on where you pick them up off the track and clear all of the player area of previous lead and dead end cards. You will seed (refresh) your next investigation as if you were starting the game. Lil’ tip, try to pick away at paw print tokens by guessing one of the two elements. You definitely want to pick up the face down paw print tokens so other players are not aware of the points you have accumulated.

If you guess incorrectly, you will not draw two cards in the Cleanup Phase. Losing two cards leaves you with only two options for cards instead of four on your next turn. Since another player is passing you two cards for you next turn, they might give you two terrible Clue cards. It’s still a game of points.

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Clean Up Phase

The end of a player’s turn is passing two cards to the player to their right and drawing two new cards to refresh their hand. When all players have played one round of turns, Furriarty makes his move one paw token to the right. If he makes it to the end of the paw print token track, that triggers the end game and the players have one more turn before he gets away. Don’t let Furriarity escape London.

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The Verdict

Purrrlock Holmes is the type of game where players are going to be all in or all out on. There’s so many deduction games on the market, but Purrrlock Holmes has a couple things I think will attract player to it. The theme……let’s be honest, it draws a lot of family gamers and cat lovers to the game. Definitely sells itself on the shelf , but it still needs to be “sold” by someone who hopefully knows more about the game at your FLGS.  Some games need attention and I rely on game stores to find games like this to promote to walk ins. The rules are really simple to read, set up, and play in 30 minutes. I personally like the appeal to different age groups. I can play this with my son who is 5 (with assistance) or with my work crew who are in their 30’s. You could potentially retire that old game of Clue sitting in your closet (suggested) and convince your family to play this instead. Easy comparison and shorter to play. I appreciate the PAWS action that gives casual gamers an extra “chance” in a pinch or opportunistic moment off turn. You might stink at deduction games and thank the Gods there is a mechanic to save your tail or is that just me?

I don’t have an issue with this, but I want to warn you about the down time at max player count. I think about more casual players struggling with the wait time, but I also see it as an opportunity to steal strategy from others.

Rule confusion, I messed up the full refresh or seeding after guessing one of the two Investigation conditions and for some reason I don’t think that’s clear in the rules.  If you guess anything correct, discard everything in your Investigation. They used the term seeding and I got confused, so I decided to use refresh instead. Hopefully I didn’t confuse YOU and I’m nitpicking here.

I believe Purrrlock Holmes has a home in my collection, because of its ease of play and the fun sticks around at all player count. I like deduction games and the risky “moment of truth” feeling when you’re gambling on a guess with little information to snag victory points. I’m a risky fellow so this game is right in my wheelhouse. Give Purrlock Holmes a shot if you’re looking for a filler that’s fun, fancy, furry, frisky…..I’ll stop there.

I hope you enjoyed today’s review of Purrlock Holmes and if you have any questions leave it in the comments below. Take care and thank you for your time.


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