Pros: The games always work and the evening is unquestionably excellent.
Cons: You can only play the game one time.
My family owns and play most of the time tested traditional games and the ones that have come and gone in a year or two. There is one game that has left us more wonderful memories than any other game we have ever played. That game is How To Host a Murder.
You do just that. You set up four to five hours where a total of eight guests come in costume, playing their rolls and you can have a dinner within the game, or is it the game within dinner? The game can be played in a much simpler form, however we play it to the hilt! If you are fun loving and a little daring, read on.
The game is very simple to play. We find out there is a murder. The murderer is one of the eight who are playing. Even the murderer does not know they are the one for a part of the game. Each person will have some notes and through simple conversation they will reveal facts and details of what they have learned. Everybody tells what they know but in no particular order. The facts are revealed through a series of rounds. Relationships, motives, suspicions, means and opportunity are tossed around. By the last round the facts start to come together. The game ends with each person making an accusation. Those who get it correct are the winner! We generally have one person who guesses it correctly.
As I tell you a bit about what the game comes with you should get a better picture of the overall game. There are many episodes of this game. We have played about eight of them. They all run in the same way. The only deviation is that they have differing themes which in turn dictate a different cast of characters. This will all slowly come together as you read on. This particular game is Episode #13, The Tragical Mystery Tour.
We had a guest from England come over and it happened to be his birthday the week he was here. We thought a murder would be a wonderful way to celebrate.
This tells you, the host, what you must do to make the evening successful. It gives all the information but not at all overly detailed or confusing. They designed the game so it is easy to follow.
You will be told what is in the package and how to use them and what not to read or let anyone else find out.
The guide will give a suggested timetable, costume suggestions (don't worry about this), the atmosphere of the room and even a menu suggestion. We have never used their menu but have had dinner most every time. A couple of times we prepared it and sometimes we take it easy and brought meals. A dinner isn't necessary for a successful game but does add to the atmosphere and memories.
This opens the game for you. After all the guests have arrived and been given what they need for the game you pop in the CD and listen to the narrator who gives some back ground and tells what has happened. A few clues or interesting facts may be contained in the tape. Its usually just four or five minutes long. You can play it over again if someone needs to hear it.
A Diagram of the Crime Scene
This can be hung or kept close by so anyone can refer to it if needed. As the game progresses you find out where different events may have happened or who may have been where.
Eight Guest Invitations and Envelopes
This will be your guests first idea as to what may be going on. Before hand think of people you think would like to get together, do a little play acting, and just have some fun. We have had couples where one is more enthusiastic about the premise but the other has always joined right in with the fun and dialog. Once you know who you would like to invite, make calls to them. The total list of eight, including you contains a cast of four males and four females. You must get a commitment from your guests and be sure that everybody can come and will be on time! You don't tell them exactly what they will be doing.
Once you know your guests and it's all confirmed you will send them their invitations. They will not be expecting them. When they open their mail they will find a card inviting them to, in this game, "Rock with Super Star "Hedda Leiss" on a bus trip to the Beefstock Concert. The meeting will be at Hedda's pad near the Burpley Campus July 20 1969."
The actual address and hours of the "meeting" will be on it as will some other very interesting information.
They will be told what role they are playing. On the invitation are short descriptions explaining who they are and what they are. Here is one character.
Record Producer and celebrated playboy Philip Mabong is founder of the wildly successful C.T.& A. Records and has boosted many struggling bands into superstardom. He is best known for producing that immortal ode to the road "Born to Be Vile", by Steppencrap. A hedonist of the higher order, Philip has embraced the hippie movement- and only produces music with the message of peace, love, and chemical enlightenment. Most recently he has made rock artist Hedda Leiss the most successful female artist of the decade and, in fact, has been Hedda's lover for several blissful years.
Costume suggestion: Nehru jacket, bright sports coat with tie-dyed shirt, or ruffled shirt, or no shirt at all. Lots of jewelry.
As you can see the costumes are not fixed. There is much flexibility in choices. The guest can have their own fun putting their own costume together. Remember this game takes place in the sixties in the USA. Other episodes of this game have differing themes. You get the theme that you feel would suit your group. As I stated earlier we have done many. I've been a WWII pilot, A Chinaman, and a host of other characters over the years. We have been guests at the home of others playing this game too. You never know from game to game what kind if character you may be. It is always a lot of fun when everyone come to the door for the start of your party. We have found that some guests may try to stay in character all night. That is best but not always possible depending on your guests. The game flows either way.
Every one will also know who the other guests of the party will be. Not necessarily know who is playing what role though. Let me mention here that before you send out invites you have the opportunity to choose to be the character of your own choice. The fact is, you choose everybody's role. We have found that, after reading the character descriptions, we know exactly what guests will play which characters.
The invitation will have that same kind of short information about all the guests. Here are the names of the other guests.
Jamaica Bomblast,Rastafarian party girl
Timothy Bleary, Mind Expansionist ans spiritual guru
Enya Goddard-Daveeda, Former Miss Wisconsin
Juan Stepford Mann, Astronaut, Air Force Major
Reina Terra, Founder of "Low fee Love" movement and groupie
Nate Ashbury, Student Body President of Burpley U. activist
Burnette DeBrah, Feminist and rising Political Star
Now these names, that are a silly play on words, may reflect characters or other meanings of the times or theme of the party. Other games will do the same for the particular theme you may decide to play.
One sheet of secret clues with a student security report.
Throughout the four rounds of play different clues will be brought into conversation by pre-determined guests. Some are physical evidence such as a will, love letters, threatening letters and such. Each game has its own secret clues based on that particular game.
One sheet of Name Tags
You will have eight name tags that must be secured to each person at game start.
Eight player manuals marked: Philip, Jamaica, Timothy.......
These manuals will be given to each person at the beginning of the game. They are never to open it or move past a particular round unless you tell them to. The guide will help you here.
With these the game will begin with every one reading their personal dossier. This will reveal things they already know about themselves via the invitation and will also include some new information.
Once done each in turn introduces themselves to the rest of the group telling all you need to tell. Some incriminating info may be found. They don't have to share it but they must NEVER LIE.
Once intros are done the CD is played.
Your guide will then tell everyone to start round One. They open their books to round one and read all that is in the book of that round only. NO ONE IS TO START MOVING AHEAD in the BOOK.
After they have digested the info, that will reveal things about themselves and of others, the round begins. In natural conversation style a person starts bringing out a fact or two they have learned. You will see that the conversation will naturally start flowing because one piece of info may be seconded by another with perhaps even more detail. Everyone MUST reveal everything they learned. Again they do not have to reveal any sordid facts about themselves. If, however, they are taken to task about something, they cannot lie. They can try to change the conversation or accuse somebody of a fact they learned of them, but again may NEVER LIE.
Generally we have had different courses of our meal between rounds.
Once the food or all the facts of round one are all finished you move onto round two in much the same way. It really is fun because you start to learn the motives others may have and the opportunities. People may nor seem to be who they try to portray themselves as. The plot thickens and the questioning gets even more intense.
HAVE FUN, BE INVENTIVE!
Remember even if you are not having dinner, take a short break between rounds. Refresh drinks or chips etc. We sometimes will change where we are sitting. We start in the living room over snacks, do intros, and then do round 1.
After the round is completed we then all go to the dining room and do a few rounds during or between courses. Perhaps when dinner is over we will take tea to the living room and finish the last round.
This is all flexible and you set things up as your home allows. One year we had a cook and a maid. They even dressed up for serving and added to the fun. We enjoyed hearing fights in the kitchen with pots and pans clanging a yelling. Moments later other sound started coming from the kitchen that could only be.....
Just have fun. The game really moves along on its own.
Once you get as far as the accusation round, the game changes. Each person, in any manor you decide on, tells all who they think did it and why. At this point even the killer may not know for sure who dun it.
Accusations having been made, everyone turns to the last page. This will sum up who their character is and how they may have been involved.
Now each person will read what the last page says. This will be done in accordance to numbers written on their closing page. Number eight would start. Nobody is to know who is what number yet. You, the host, ask #8 to step up. #8 does so and reads what is on their card. When finished #7 will do their part and so on. Finally you get to #2 and you all find out who #1 is, the murderer. The murderer will then reveal, as some of you may already know, why they did it, how they did it and when they murdered "Hedda Leiss"
THIS GAME Episode #13 Tragical Mystery Tour.
I took the liberty to explain the general manor in which all of these games are played. Many are listed in the Epinions data base, some are not. I am to be reviewing this particular episode so....
......Being a child of the sixties this game came easy to my wife and I. Other guests in this particular party were much younger but all got into the sixties mood. My son, 28 and wife are musicians and our guest from England a computer artist who actually worked with my son designing his new album covers all got into character. A couple other friends of Phil's that I know that at one time worked for and with me were also there. We did have a last minute drop out. One of my daughters just joined in. That is the beauty of the game. Anyone can just walk in at the beginning and start playing. This happened to us once before. In both instances the fill in had to play the opposite gender. No problem and in fact enhanced the game. For us, it was a hoot!
The characters of this game worked well together. The plot found good reason for us to be side tracked as to who the real murderer was. Many had motive and many had the means. After continuing we also found out who had the opportunity.
The relationships with these characters were fun to watch. Those least expected would suddenly have good reason to want to do away with the murdered victim.
The game flowed well and the directions for the leader are easy to follow, and once the game is going, not a lot is needed from the host.
This game, as do all the different episodes, takes on a life of its own. The guests follow there own guide and all flows well. The memories last for years.
Other family game reviews by popsrocks
Family Feud DVD Game
Deluxe Scrabble Play in style!
Monopoly Special Edition
Catch Phrase, a wonderful family and friend game!
Worst-Case Scenario Survivor Game Can you survive?
Encore Deluxe Fun, Fun, Fun!!
CLUE A classic " Who dun it?" game.
Stratego A time tested game of strategy.
Fact or Crap A new game that is fun for 15-adult
Texas Hold'em Poker
Games for adults, but not a "Adult Game"
How to Host a Murder This is our favorite game of all!
How To Host a Murder Mystery, The Watersdown Affair Another in the series.
Men are From Mars, Woman are From Venus