Funded with Kickstarter

Moriarty's Machinations

The year is 1891, and the city is London. The Napoleon of Crime, Professor Moriarty, has planned out a series of fantastic heists that will grant him untold fortune and power. However, he knows that the brilliant detective, Sherlock Holmes, has caught on to his plans and is trying to sabotage them! Prepared for this possibility, he has hired all his henchmen through intermediaries and hidden himself among them. Who will be discovered first: Sherlock or Moriarty?

30 min to play, 5-10 players, Ages 13+

Objective

Moriarty's Machinations is a game of deduction and manipulation. Each player assumes a unique Role that is secret to most of the other players. Each Role is part of a team with other players (except Irene Adler, who is on a team all by herself). The Robbers team is trying to go on a series of heists for massive wealth, while the Cops team is trying to secretly sabotage those heists. More importantly though, each team has to keep the leader of their team hidden from the other team.

Players may say anything they wish to convince their fellow players of a correct course of action, and discussion among the players is essential to effective play. Deception is inevitable, so chose who you trust wisely. Hone your observation skills, the game's afoot!

Setup

Dealing out Role Cards

Count how many people are playing, and compose the deck of Role Cards accordingly. On the back of each Role Card is a diagram that specifies which Roles to use for a given number of players. The front of each Role card also lists how many should be playing in order to use that Role. The minimum number of players is 5, and the maximum is 10.

After separating out the correct Role Cards, shuffle them up and deal one to each player. That card determines each player’s Role for the game. Each Role Card describes the Role in brief, as well as a sample strategy, but once you feel comfortable with the game you should deduce your own.

Information Exchange

After everyone has had a chance to memorize their Role, every player must place their Role Card face down on the table. You may not show anyone else your Role Card. You can always look at your Role Card again during the game as many times as you need. One player (the Announcer) is selected to conduct the Information Exchange, and everyone (including the Announcer) puts their fist out in front of them and closes their eyes.

The Announcer reads from the script (see below). This script calls out who knows what, and doesn’t have to be read in the exact order given, as long as everyone has the information that they should. If the Announcer is also one of the players, then he should be careful to ONLY see the information that his Role indicates (by shielding his gaze for example).

The Script

This script is for the Information Exchange. Read the script that matches the number of players you have.

5 Players

“Everyone! Fists out and eyes closed.

Lestrade and Watson, put your thumb up. Moriarty, open your eyes and see the righteous thumbs of Watson and Lestrade. [Pause]

Thumbs down and eyes closed. [Pause]

Everyone open your eyes. The game is afoot!"

6 Players

“Everyone! Fists out and eyes closed.

Lestrade, put your thumb up. Moriarty, open your eyes and see the righteous thumb of Inspector Lestrade. [Pause]

Moriarty, close your eyes. [Pause]

Sherlock open your eyes and find the inept thumb of Inspector Lestrade. [Pause]

Sherlock close your eyes, and Lestrade put your thumb down. [Pause]

Sherlock, put your thumb up. Irene, open your eyes and find the beautiful thumb of Sherlock Holmes. [Pause]

Irene close your eyes, and Sherlock put your thumb down. [Pause]

Moriarty, put your thumb up. Moran, open your eyes and find the thumb of the Napoleon of Crime. [Pause]

Thumbs down and eyes closed. [Pause]

Everyone open your eyes. The game is afoot!"

7 or More Players

7 players:
8 players:
9 players:
10 players:

“Everyone! Fists out and eyes closed.

Lestrade and Watson, put your thumb up. Moriarty, open your eyes and see the righteous thumbs of Watson and Lestrade. [Pause]

Moriarty, close your eyes. Watson, put your thumb down. Lestrade, keep your thumb up. [Pause]

Sherlock open your eyes and find the inept thumb of Lestrade. [Pause]

Lestrade, put your thumb down. [Pause]

Watson, open your eyes. Sherlock and Watson gaze into each other's eyes with brotherly love. [Pause]

Watson, Close your eyes. [Pause]

Brutus, put your thumb up. Sherlock, find the filthy thumb of Brutus. [Pause]

Sherlock, close your eyes. [Pause]

If 9 or more players

Judge, open your eyes and find Brutus's pitiful thumb. [Pause] Judge, close your eyes. [Pause]

Mycroft, open your eyes and look for Brutus's decrepit thumb. [Pause] Mycroft, close your eyes. [Pause]

Brutus put your thumb down. [Pause]

Moriarty, put your thumb up. Moran, open your eyes and find the thumb of the Napoleon of Crime. [Pause]

Thumbs down and eyes closed. [Pause]

If Adler is in the game (8 or 10 players):

Sherlock, put your thumb up. Irene, open your eyes and find the beautiful thumb of Sherlock Holmes. [Pause]

Irene close your eyes, and Sherlock put your thumb down. [Pause]

Everyone open your eyes. The game is afoot!"

Playing the Game

Choosing a Proposer

Once everyone knows the information they need, the player that has most recently committed a crime is selected to go first. That player (The Proposer) will come up with a Heist and a Crew. The Heist can be anything, a bank robbery, digging potholes on Mass Ave., or stealing the moon! The proposer will also select a crew of other players to go perform that Heist. The Proposer may select anyone they wish (including themselves), and any number of players they wish (minimum 2). Even the most epic Heist can be a two man job.

Crew Selection Phase

Once the Proposer has chosen a crew, everyone playing the game simultaneously APPROVEs or OBJECTs to that crew. This is done by everyone secretly selecting either their APPROVE or OBJECT card and placing it face down in front of them. Once everyone has done so, they are revealed simultaneously (and publicly), so that everyone can see how each player voted. Do not shuffle the APPROVE and OBJECT cards before revealing. If a majority of players approve of the crew, then those individuals who were selected to be on the crew proceed to the next step (the Heist). If there are not a majority of votes approving (or if the APPROVE/OBJECT votes are tied), then the next player (to the left) gets to select a crew (becoming the new Proposer). This continues until either a crew has been approved, or every player at the table has had a chance to select a crew for approval. See Alternate Ending below. Once a Heist has gone through, this process repeats until the game ends (see below).

Note: it is customary (but not required) to hold your OBJECT card in the air to make it easier for other players to see, while keeping your APPROVE cards revealed on the table. Think of it as "raising an objection."

Make sure everyone playing understands these three pro tips before you start:

Pro Tip #1: If you're not sure about a crew, you should err on objecting to it. You can wait to see if the next proposed crew is more to your liking, and you might learn something by how others vote.

Pro Tip #2: There are very few Heists before the game ends, so most of the information revealed in the game is through these APPROVE and OBJECT decisions. Do not underestimate their importance, and certainly do not rely exclusively on the outcomes of the Heists to gather information!

Pro Tip #3: This is not a memorization game, although it certainly helps. If your fellow players agree, feel free to take notes as you play to keep everything straight in your head.

The Heist Phase

Everyone who was selected to go on the Heist receives one Abet (Mask) card, one Foil (Wrist Irons) card, and one Take the Fall (Brutus) card. Anyone can choose to either place an Abet (Mask) card or a Foil (Wrist Irons) card. Brutus has a special ability in that once per game, he may play a Take the Fall (Brutus) card instead.

These cards are put into a pile secretly and shuffled so that no one knows who contributed each card. All cards not selected are set aside and shuffled as well. The result of the Heist is then revealed to everyone. If even a single Foil (Wrist Irons) card is shown, then the Heist is awarded to the Cops (the police were tipped off and prevented the Heist). If all the cards shown are Abet (Mask), then the Heist is awarded to the Robbers. Brutus's Take the Fall card can negate one (and only one) Foil card, but otherwise counts as an Abet card.

Player Eligibility

Each player cannot be on multiple Heists that have the same number of players. For example, if a player was on a 2 player Heist, he could not be on a 2 player Heist again. He could be on 3 or 4 (etc) player Heists though. Additionally, other players can go on 2 player Heists without him.

Note: Each player is ultimately responsible for keeping track of his eligibility, but a notepad is recommended to have a communal record until players get more comfortable with the game.

Points

The first Heist awards 1 point. All other subsequent Heists award 2 points. The number of points needed to trigger the accusation phase is 2 less than the number of players. The table below lists it out for each sized game.

Players 5 6 7 8 9 10
Points 3 4 5 6 7 8

Ending the Game

Two roles are of particular importance to the end of the game: Jack the Ripper and Inspector Lestrade (the Accusers). As soon as one team reaches the required point total (see above), then players with those two roles must reveal their Role Cards and accuse another player of being the leader of the opposing team. Jack is trying to accuse Sherlock, and Lestrade is trying to accuse Moriarty. No one besides Accusers may reveal their Role Card until the final selection.
 
Note: in a 5 player game Jack does NOT reveal his role card. There is no Sherlock to accuse.
 
The accusers may solicit advice from any of the other players before finally selecting a player to accuse. The Accusers may elect to secretly or publicly discuss their targets, but the final selections must be revealed simultaneously.
  • Cop players win if Moriarty is accused correctly (arrested by Lestrade) and Sherlock is not.
  • Robber players win if Sherlock is accused correctly (killed by Jack) and Moriarty is not.
  • The accusers tie if either BOTH leaders are accused correctly, or NEITHER leader is accused correctly. In this case, whichever team has more points then wins.
Adler has special win conditions (see below).

Alternate Ending

If every player has had the opportunity to propose a crew for the next Heist, and each proposed crew has failed to gain majority approval, then the game ends immediately. The Cops are then hailed victorious for foiling the Heists (by sowing confusion among the Robbers). Irene Adler also loses if this happens.

The Roles

Each role has a name, a title, a note on how many players should be present when using that role, and what team they are on.

Sherlock Holmes (The Detective) (6+ players, Team Cops)

  • Known by Watson and Adler

  • Knows Brutus, Lestrade, and Watson

  • Wins if either Lestrade correctly arrests Moriarty, or Accusers tie and the Cops have more points

  • Loses if Jack murders Sherlock, and Moriarty remains Free

Professor Moriarty (The Mastermind) (5+ players, Team Robbers)

  • Known by the Bodyguard

  • Knows Lestrade and Watson (but can’t tell which is which)

  • Wins if either Jack correctly murders Sherlock, or Accusers tie and the Robbers have more points

  • Loses if Lestrade arrests Moriarty, and Sherlock remains alive

Inspector Lestrade (The Policeman) (5+ players, Team Cops)

  • Known by Sherlock and Moriarty

  • At end of game, must arrest one player. This is Lestrade's accusation power.

  • Wins if either Lestrade correctly arrests Moriarty, or Accusers tie and the Cops have more points

  • Loses if Jack murders Sherlock, and Moriarty remains Free

Colonel Sebastian Moran (The Bodyguard) (6+ players, Team Robbers)

  • Knows Moriarty

  • Wins if either Jack correctly murders Sherlock, or Accusers tie and the Robbers have more points

  • Loses if Lestrade arrests Moriarty, and Sherlock remains alive

Judge Grede (The Corrupt Magistrate) (5, 9+ players, Team Robbers)

  • Knows Brutus

  • Wins if either Jack correctly murders Sherlock, or Accusers tie and the Robbers have more points

  • Loses if Lestrade arrests Moriarty, and Sherlock remains alive

Jack the Ripper (The Killer) (5+ players, Team Robbers)

  • At end of game, must murder one player. This is Jack's accusation power. In a 5 player game Jack does NOT have this power, and also does not reveal his role card at the start of the accusation phase.

  • Wins if either Jack correctly murders Sherlock, or Accusers tie and the Robbers have more points

  • Loses if Lestrade arrests Moriarty, and Sherlock remains alive

Irene Adler (The Love Interest) (6, 8, 10 players, Her own team)

Adler has special win conditions. She is not entirely on one team or the other (see below).

  • Knows Sherlock

  • Wins if Lestrade arrests Moriarty, and Sherlock remains alive.

  • Wins if neither Moriarty nor Sherlock are accused, and the Robbers have more points

  • Loses if Jack murders Sherlock

Doctor Watson (The Loyal Friend) (5, 7+ players, Team Cops)

  • Known by Sherlock and Moriarty

  • Knows Sherlock

  • Wins if either Lestrade correctly arrests Moriarty, or Accusers tie and the Cops have more points

  • Loses if Jack murders Sherlock, and Moriarty remains Free

Brutus (The Thug) (7+ players, Team Robbers)

  • Known by Sherlock, the Magistrate, and the Agent

  • Once per game, may use a "Take the Fall" (Purple) card during a Heist. This negates one (and only one) Sabotage (Blue) card. 
  • Wins if either Jack correctly murders Sherlock, or Accusers tie and the Robbers have more points

  • Loses if Lestrade arrests Moriarty, and Sherlock remains alive

Mycroft Holmes (The Government Agent) (9+ players, Team Cops)

  • Knows Brutus

  • Wins if either Lestrade correctly arrests Moriarty, or Accusers tie and the Cops have more points

  • Loses if Jack murders Sherlock, and Moriarty remains Free