Almost exactly a year ago we had Harry pull up the car to slip into the roles of ambitious, but in some criminal cases, overwhelmed investigators. With the second part of the crime series Crime Master we get another chance to prove our skills as an investigator. Instead of going into the city, Crime Master 2 - Tatort: Vacation in some of the most beautiful travel regions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where crimes have to be solved in an extremely humorous way. You can find out how the successor to the popular crime game does in our review of Crime Master 2 - Tatort: Urlaub by Sonja Klein (Gmeiner Verlag). Harry, pull up the trailer!
Cooperative, competitive? The main thing is vacation!
“Milan or Madrid? The main thing is Italy!” is one of the most legendary statements by our record national player Lothar Matthäus. Sometimes it just doesn't matter where you go - as long as the sun shines. Also the cases of the crime role-playing game Crime Master 2 - Crime Scene: Vacation kidnap gambling investigators to popular holiday resorts. Investigative duos or large groups of case analysts travel across Germany, Austria and Switzerland to solve crimes. After all, crooks know no boundaries.
We are on the way from Sylt via Chemnitz to Constance and investigate arson, break-ins or physical injuries, but also in murder cases or in the context of bomb threats. Sonja Klein, the author of Crime Master 2 - Crime Scene: Vacation, covers a large part of the criminal code with its cases and thus provides variety in the investigator's office. Players solve criminal cases in two game variants: cooperatively as a team of investigators with at least 2 players or competitively with 3 or more players in order to find out who is the best investigator at the gaming table. The game material required for this is in a handy box, what Crime Master 2 - Crime Scene: Vacation also makes it a perfect travel game. A total of 25 criminal cases are supplemented by 25 large-format reconnaissance cards. Players record their (guess) results on the enclosed investigation pad. The four-page manual shows that Crime Master 2 - Crime Scene: Vacation urges a quick start of the investigation work.
Crime Master 2 lives from the players
Already the review to the predecessor Crime Master - Tatort: Big City made it clear how much a game can live from its players. This is common in role-playing games, but with some board games the playful freedom is so restricted that the real role-playing feeling is only rudimentary. Also at Crime Master 2 - Crime Scene: Vacation it is difficult (depending on your personal self-portrayal skills) to embody the role of the investigator. The first case turns out to be tough under certain circumstances, because the great playful and content-related freedom ensures that the investigating players in particular do not really know what to do first.
If you have solved a few cases or if the game concept of the crime roleplaying game works anyway, the gameplay is noticeably smoother. Crime Master 2 - Crime Scene: Vacation thrives on the interactions of the players and last but not least their creative case-solving ideas. Approaching one of the criminal cases, which vary in difficulty, sometimes depends on general knowledge. Cultural or geographical knowledge gaps are not always responsible for a player treading water when solving a criminal case. Some framework conditions are so special that one could definitely describe this knowledge as "nerdy". But that's not a reason to despair of the tricky cases: the "all-knowing case breaker" uses his large-format solution cards to give subtle hints to guide players out of a mental one-way street.
The basic gameplay is very simple. Each of the 25 cases describes a criminal case in 4 sub-categories: the crime, the crime scene, the secured evidence and possible witness statements. A brief overview at the end of the case cards shows the factors from which the sequence of events must be reconstructed. In the case of Kripo Aurich, for example, 2 references to the perpetrator, 2 motive references, 2 crime aids and 6 steps in the course of the crime must be named in order to get the full number of points (12 points). Of course, solution points do not always have to be named verbatim. Which result point counts as hit is determined by the so-called (fair acting) investigator.
In the competitive game mode with 3 or more players, one point is awarded for each hit. The players take turns and may ask questions as long as they are answered with "yes" by the investigator. This continues until the case is solved and all of the 12 points have been awarded. The investigator with the most points wins.
The service in the cooperative variant of Crime Master 2 - Crime Scene: Vacation is determined with the help of a small overview of points.
Overtime: Time-consuming investigation
Both variants of the game are appealing and motivate you to do some logic work. The conclusions of most criminal cases are logically structured and (with the help of the head of investigation) easily solvable. Incidentally, with puzzle players of this type, the advantageous instrument of the "power of the crowd" is evident. The larger the group of players, the more everyone benefits from the so-called swarm knowledge, which not only leads players to solve a case more purposefully, but also makes the entire gameplay noticeably more exciting - also because investigators are dependent on less help. A duel-like two-player round tends to run out of steam.
If the head of the investigation and the investigator are facing each other in a round of two, it quickly happens that the investigating player runs out of ideas or his thoughts are stupid due to the always complex case constellations. The head of the investigation is then busy giving tips that are as helpful as possible but that do not solve the problem so as not to destroy the guessing fun. With increasing player experience, however, the chance also increases in two-player games that difficult cases will be successfully mastered with a high score - over time you learn which corner to think around as an investigator.
Professional investigators absolutely have to plan overtime: the time frame of a game round should therefore not be underestimated. We rarely achieved the specified game round times of approx. 15 to 20 minutes during our game rounds as part of the review. The solutions took at least 30, sometimes even 60 minutes to complete. Basically, however, the players determine their playing time themselves. Impatient teammates are simply assisted by the head of the investigation earlier. With increasing swarm knowledge, the playing time decreases anyway.
Number of players: from 2 players
Age: from 14 years
Playing time: 30 to 45 minutes
Difficulty: medium to high
Long-term motivation: low
Published by Gmeiner Verlag
Author: Sonja Klein
Year of publication: 2017
Cost: 10 Euro
As a reviewer, one could make it simple and say it at this point Crime Master 2 - Crime Scene: Vacation like the predecessor, only play with other cases. This is basically the case, but does not do justice to the exciting idea of the crime mystery puzzle. In some cases, the player gets the impression that the solution is anything but logical, but that is also what mathematicians say when it comes to multifactorial variance analyzes.
Crime Master 2 - Crime Scene: Vacation is aimed at fans of the first part as well as crime and mystery fans who have firmly anchored the Sunday crime scene evening in their daily routine. All cases are humorous and provided with (kept simple) crime scene sketches, which make it easy for investigators to get involved in the gameplay. After the initial tough rounds of play, determining is a lot of fun. Solving new cases is appealing and being able to reconstruct a sequence of events down to the last detail feels like a great success. The replay value, on the other hand, is rather low because known solutions offer little incentive for renewed investigative work. It takes many hours of play until all 25 criminal cases have been successfully played - which is very fair given the purchase price of around 10 euros.
Who visites Crime Master - Tatort: Big City liked, shouldn't miss the second part of the series. Other fans of logical puzzle games can safely audition. In addition, the more players sit at the table, the greater the fun with it Crime Master 2 - Crime Scene: Vacation.