P.I. is a boardgame by Martin Wallace. It is for 2-5 players who are competing to be the best P.I. (Private Investigator)
in the city - the city being shown on the board as a collection of titled picture postcards. These postcards include the
areas of Skid Row, Union Square, Central Station, China Town, Little Italy and Rick's Cafe making the city a creation
by Martin Wallace as an amalgamation of places of interest in a number of American towns.
The game is played through three times for one full game. In each mini game the players are trying to solve the Crime
held by the player to their right.
The board is set up at the beginning of each mini game by placing Crime and Suspect tiles randomly into the spaces on
each (Postcard) Location. These tiles are only used once in each game thus any remaining at the end of the first (and then
the second) mini game on the board are returned to the box out of play.
Each player is dealt three cards - one Location, one Suspect and one Crime Case - these are the cards that the detective to
your left are trying to discover. It's rather like a long-winded and complex game of "Happy Families". When you make a
deduction you place one of your Investigator Counters on a Location and the player to your right has to let you know if
any of their cards are associated with that Location. If you have deduced correctly or are "warm" (as one says in guessing
games) then you place either Cubes or Discs - a Cube if your guess is adjacent to the correct Location, a Disc if your guess
Turns are fairly simple as you only have 3 options - Place and Investigator (as previously detailed), Select an Evidence card
from those on display - and once again the player to your right has to indicate if your selection is pertinent to the cards they
hold, or the third option is to make an attempt at solving your case. You place three black counters on the deduced Crime,
Suspect and Location and declare your case solved - the moment of truth! If you are correct you score the points for the
present mini game but if you are wrong in your deductions you score negative points.
There is no luck in the game, nor is there what I would call skill, it is all about deduction and commonsense. It's a game that
is designed more for families than board-gamers to play but in my opinion games-playing families, like mine for example,
would probably look to play something that is better known, takes less time to set up, such as CLUEDO, or simply play
Happy Families itself.
The artwork on the cards is really good and I loved the
character cards with their nod to the stars of the greatest detective movies of the 40's and 50's. Look carefully and you will see
likenesses of Fred MacMurray, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Edward G Robinson, James Cagney, Robert Mitchum and
Richard Widmark, amongst many other great actors and actresses. (I have to admit my poor memory has let me down on the
three main women cards - Bubbles, Queenie and Frenchy, so I looked online at BGG where I discovered these girls are possibly
as follows: Bubbles = Ida Lupino, Queenie =Barbara Stanwyk and the most lovely Frenchy = Gloria Grahame). Like the Forum
writers on BGG I am totally stuck on whom the Maurice character is based.
P.I. is a pure deduction game, with players competing in three consecutive mini-games in order to see who's got the best
chops in terms of solving their cases. Each mini-game plays out the same way. To start, you receive in secret one suspect
card (out of 12), one crime card (out of 10), and one location card (out of 14); this set of information represents the case
that the player to your left must solve. The game board shows fourteen locations arranged so that each location touches a
few others; each location has space for a suspect and crime tile. Shuffle the suspect tiles (12, plus two "no suspect") and
the crime tiles (10, plus four "no crime"), then place one face up in each location. Each suspect, crime and location is
included in a deck of evidence cards, and nine evidence cards are revealed.
On a turn, a player either places an investigator, chooses an evidence card, or attempts to solve her case. When you place
an investigator in a location, the player to your right looks at his case cards, then places a disc on this space for each case
card he holds that matches the suspect, crime or location in this space. Additionally, he places a cube on this space for each
suspect, crime or location that's adjacent to this space.
When you choose an evidence card, the player to your right places a disc on the matching tile if the card matches one of the
case cards he holds, places a cube on the matching tile if this tile is adjacent to a tile matching one of the case cards he holds,
or places nothing if you've made a wild-eyed guess and the tile isn't adjacent to anything.
To attempt to solve the case, you place a black token on your guesses. If wrong, you're penalized two points and continue play
next turn. If right, you receive 7, 5, 3 or 1 points depending on how many others have solved their cases in earlier rounds.
The mini-game ends once everyone has solved their case or only one case remains unsolved. All used investigators are removed
from play, then the board and cards are reset for the next mini-case. Each player has only five investigators total, so use them wisely!
Whoever has the most points after three mini-cases wins.