13 CLUES is a game designed by Andrés J. Voicu for 2-6 eight-year-olds and upwards and published by dvGiochi
This isn't a new idea or design for a social detection game, I have played at least one game (several years ago and its name currently eludes me) which was almost identical, but it is a good fun game idea and dvGioci have made an excellent job of producing it with a theme that is absolutely spot on. The box cover art ensures that there is no mistaking exactly what type of game 13 CLUES is - the picture of a Holmes-like character complete with magnifying glass and deerstalker hat is the first of the 13 Clues, the others are in the form of cards. There are 30 Clue cards in 3 sets of 10 identified by type and sub group : The types are: People (Male/Female), Locations (Indoors/Outdoors) and Weapons (Up Close/Ranged).
Each player has a Secrecy screen, a card holder capable of displaying 3 cards, one of each type, a pencil and Casebook sheet (both thoughtfully provided), a Top Secret folder and a Magnifying Glass token. Each card type is separated from the deck and shuffled independently with one of each type being dealt to each player. Then all the cards are shuffled together into one mixed stack and a further 2 (random) cards are dealt to each player to give them a hand of 5. From these the players each secretly select one of each type which are placed face down until all players have done this action.
At this point in the game it is imperative that the seating arrangements are such that no player can see behind the screen of any other player, secrecy is the name of the game (actually it's 13 CLUES but you know what I mean). Unless you are playing with 6 players use the Secret Informant board. This is a board that holds a number of face down cards which you may secretly look at (one at a time only) in your hunt for the 13 Clues.
With 3 cards face down in front of you there are two remaining which should be slipped into the small plastic stands and stood behind your screen so that only you can see them. When all players have selected their three cards in turn they pick them up and display them face forward on the card holder of the player immediately to their left, ensuring that the receiving player does not catch even a glimpse of the cards being positioned in front of them. This set up should allow every player to see every displayed card except those in front of themselves. (check for players wearing reflective glasses, TV screens, glass windows or mirrors behind you).
Of course the idea is to be the first to detect or discover by process of illimination the exact three cards that you cannot see - those in front of you. Listen closely to the questions asked and the answers given by all other players, marking off the necessary on your Clue sheet as each is discovered. Magnifying Glasses are especially helpful but you may not hoard them, you must spend every one you have when it is your turn. All questions asked must be valid within the rules of the game, mainly being of the "How many ... ?" type, such as "How many Outdoor Locations can you see? asking it of the person you have given a Magnifying Glass to. Answers must be truthful - cheating isn't fun it simply spoils the game. If you give a Magnifying Glass to the player who has the least Magnifying Glasses (if a tie you can choose who) and then peek at one of the face down cards on the Secret Information board. By using all of your Magnifying Glasses you have that many chances of detecting the answers, hence the game is playable within 10-30 minutes due to luck, number of players and questions asked and answered.
It plays well and is good for social gaming whilst chatting/drinking (tea/coffee/hot chocolate), has no real surprises or weird actions - the cards, strong and durable, are simply Clues and have no additional use. The illustrations by Giacomo Tappainer add a good deal to the visual impact of the game. Overall this is well produced, has nice rules - both sides of one sheet - it's good to have the pencils included, unfortunately the pad of Casebook sheets do quickly run out, especially when playing with 5 or 6 players, so either get in touch with dvGioci for more (I am pretty sure they will have a parts department to deal with this) or photocopy/print your own.
My play hints are to:
a). Ask pertinent questions
b). Choose the 3 cards from the 5 carefully - don't make it too easy
c). Make good use of your Magnifying Glasses and be thoughtful as to who you give them to - the more a player has the more chances they have on their turn. The gameplay revolves (and resolves) around the use of the Magnifying Glasses.